Posts Tagged ‘Mike Shanahan’

Will Shanahan be fired as Redskins coach?

November 10, 2013

I personally think he’ll stay barring a huge collapse. But it has to be brought up with a likely third losing season in four years. See my article at Bleacher Report.

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Rex Grossman leads Skins to 28-14 win over Giants at FedEx Field

September 12, 2011

At least for now, Mike Shanahan’s decision to start Rex Grossman over John Beck has turned out to be a good one. Grossman led the Redskins to a 28-14 win over the Giants at FedEx Field. Grossman was 21-of-34 for 305 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

To read my article about Shanahan’s decision to start Rex on Examiner.com, click here.

Don’t make McNabb a scapegoat – Shanahan deserves some blame for Redskins’ disappointing season.

December 19, 2010

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan deserves some blame for Washington's 5-8 season. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

Donovan McNabb deserves part of the blame for the Redskins’ disappointing season, but Washington could have been successful with the six-time Pro Bowl quarterback if coach Mike Shanahan had made better personnel and coaching decisions.

Shanahan benched McNabb for the final three games of the year Friday.

If the Redskins had avoided a few disastrous mistakes, McNabb could have led the Redskins to a respectable season this year.  In that scenario, McNabb could have continued to start next season while a rookie quarterback drafted in 2011 would have been groomed a year before starting.  Now the Redskins will play Rex Grossman or acquire a veteran next year to hold the fort down anyway before a draft pick starts.

McNabb didn’t perform up to expectations, with 14 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, but he didn’t have much help, and he shouldn’t be made the scapegoat for the Redskins’ problems.

To see how the Redskins could have won with McNabb at the helm, and which mistakes could have been avoided, click here for my article on Examiner.com.

Cooley talks about Redskins’ season, Shanahan, Dallas, and Mitchell

December 15, 2010

Chris Cooley participated in a promotional event for FedEx Office Tuesday in Washington. Photo by Mike Frandsen

I caught up with Redskins tight end Chris Cooley Tuesday at FedEx Office in Washington for a brief interview for Examiner.com. Cooley was participating in a FedEx promotional event.

Cooley, in his seventh season with the Redskins, said that the team is very motivated to play Dallas this week.

He likes the discipline Shanahan has instilled in the team and is optimistic about the future.

Cooley defended himself against criticism by former Redskin Brian Mitchell.

The former Pro Bowl tight end said he’s 100 percent healthy now and he hopes and expects to end his career in Washington.

When asked about ex-Redskin Colt Brennan, Cooley said the former quarterback is up and walking around after his car accident last month.

Click here to read the interview on Examiner.com.

Redskins get passing grades at halfway mark; McNabb and Shanahan each get a B-

November 7, 2010

At the midway point of the season, the Redskins are 4-4 and have as many wins as they had all of last season.  Coach Mike Shanahan has improved the discipline and attitude of the players, and the Redskins are 2-0 in the NFC East.  But before calling this season a success so far, remember that last year’s team lost several close games, and when coach Jim Zorn was stripped of play calling duties, it signified Washington essentially throwing in the towel.  Otherwise the 2009 Redskins might have easily won seven or eight games.

With that in mind, here are the Redskins’ mid-term grades.  There aren’t any A’s but no units have failed either.

Quarterback: B-.  At first glance, Donovan McNabb isn’t having a great season.  His passer rating of 76.0 is the worst of his career and his accuracy has been up and down.  The six-time Pro Bowl quarterback has more interceptions (eight) than touchdowns (seven).  However, McNabb is playing behind a porous offensive line with inconsistent, inexperienced running backs and a receiving corps that is one of the worst in the NFL.  Still, McNabb’s leadership has helped Washington to as many wins as it had all of last season, and he has already become the Redskins’ best deep passer since Mark Rypien played nearly 20 years ago.  There may also be something to what coach Mike Shanahan says about McNabb being banged up and having hamstring problems, because power and accuracy on throws stem from the legs.

McNabb has also had to learn a new offense as well that is very different than the short passing game he ran in Philadelphia.  Despite media reports that McNabb will move on via free agency at the end of the year because of his recent benching by Shanahan, there’s no reason he can’t stay and in fact it would be hard to find a better option in free agency or coming out of college.

Here are a few other excerpts from my article on Examiner.com:

Wide Receivers: D. Santana Moss is a solid pro and is having his usual strong season but is best suited to being a number two or slot receiver.  Moss’ 48 receptions are 19 more than the rest of the team’s receivers combined.  Other than Moss, this may be the thinnest receiving corps in the league.

Cornerbacks: B-.  Carlos Rogers is a solid cover corner but couldn’t catch a cold if he spent the season teaching kindergarten.

Coaching: B-. Shanahan is a good football coach who wins games.  Unfortunately, his alter ego, “Shenanigan,” plays games that hurt the team.

For the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

 

Shanahan’s bizarre decision to bench McNabb still makes no sense

November 4, 2010

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan's decision to bench Donovan McNabb for Rex Grossman was unexpected, and, perhaps, indefensible. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan’s decision to bench quarterback Donovan McNabb for Rex Grossman with less than two minutes to go and the Redskins down by six in Sunday’s 37-25 loss to the Detroit Lions was indefensible.  See my article on Examiner.com here.

It just gets curiouser and curiouser.  First, Shanny said McNabb didn’t have as good of a command of the 2-minute offense as Grossman.  Then he said something about McNabb not being in good cardiovascular shape because of injuries.  Let’s face it – the whole thing is weird.  McNabb hasn’t played that well, but the Skins don’t exactly have a good running game, a passable receiving corps, or even a solid offensive line.  And the defense gives up tons and tons of yards. (So much for the technical analysis in this article).

Maybe Shanahan is trying to show the team that no one is above anyone else.  He messed with Albert Haynesworth by not playing him against the Colts, benched Derrick Dockery, and cut Devin Thomas. And at other times during the season, Haynesworth has played sparingly, despite the fact that he has shown he can be dominant against both the pass and the run.

Washington traded for McNabb last spring for these moments, because he has been one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL for the last decade. Grossman is a journeyman, he hadn’t played in a regular season game since last year, and he is known as a streaky player.  McNabb has a reputation as a leader, and already led a comeback this season against Green Bay.  No quarterback has more 50-yard passes this season than McNabb, and with no timeouts, long passes would have been critical.

McNabb has made the Redskins a significantly better team than they were in 2009, already leading Washington to as many victories as it had all last season.

One scary possibility on this Halloween is that the decision came from up above.  Last year, in a bizarre, unprecedented move, Redskins owner Dan Snyder took away coach Jim Zorn’s play-calling duties and hired former NFL offensive coordinator Sherman Lewis to call plays from the booth.  Lewis had been calling bingo games since his retirement in 2004. If a frustrated Snyder hastily gave orders to Shanahan to replace McNabb with Grossman late in the game, Shanahan should have ignored him and dared him to fire him.

Of course, any talk of Snyder’s involvement is purely speculative, and it’s much more likely that Shanahan is sending a message to the team with these moves, that it doesn’t matter your draft pedigree, and that even McNabb, a six-time Pro Bowl quarterback, can be benched for poor performance.  But it’s not loyal to your franchise quarterback to pull him late in a close game.  It’s insulting. It’s very doubtful that former Hog Russ Grimm would have made that decision had he been head coach.

To see the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

 

Redskins should not trade Haynesworth because they need better pass rush

September 20, 2010

Albert Haynesworth and the Redskins should compromise so that Albert can put on his helmet and play. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

Although it’s tempting, the Redskins shouldn’t trade Albert Haynesworth.  I make the case in an article on Examiner.com.  If Sunday’s 30-27 overtime loss to the Houston Texans showed anything, it’s that the Redskins could use another pass rusher besides Brian Orakpo.  True the Skins got 5 sacks, but the Texans threw the ball 52 times, and Matt Schaub had time to throw.

And although Haynesworth is not a pure pass rusher, he can line up at defensive end sometimes and also create space for the other players like Andre Carter and Adam Carriker.

Haynesworth didn’t play against the Texans because of a sprained ankle.  It’s possible that the Redskins didn’t want him to reinjure the ankle since they’re trying to trade him.  Or maybe Shanahan was showing Albert who is the boss and punished him by not only not starting him, but not playing him.  Or maybe Albert refused to play.  Of course, this is speculation, but something about the situation doesn’t seem right.

Both sides probably want a trade, but there’s a very real chance it won’t happen if the Skins can’t get enough.  So my point is that everyone should make the best of the situation and Haynesworth should try to have the best year possible.  Line him up at nose tackle, defensive end, and alternate between the two.  Shanahan is trying to change the culture at Redskins Park, but talent is talent, and a motivated Haynesworth can make a huge difference.

To read the article on Examiner.com, click here.

Redskins could regret decision to not sign running back Brian Westbrook, who went to 49ers

August 18, 2010

Mike Shanahan and the Redskins walked away from a chance to sign running back Brian Westbrook, who signed with the 49ers. (Photo by Mike Frandsen)

The Redskins made a decision that might end up haunting them for years, letting Brian Westbrook sign with the San Francisco 49ers Monday despite the fact that Washington has no established third down running back.

In a passing league that necessitates a running back who specializes in catching the ball and getting yards after the catch, the Redskins will apparently go with Ryan Torain, who has played two NFL games, out of the backfield in third down situations.

The Redskins should have signed Westbrook.

It’s not as if Clinton Portis and Larry Johnson are awful at catching the ball. However, they are a far cry from the third down specialists that every successful team needs to have. Portis is a good blocker but has never distinguished himself as a good receiving back. Willie Parker is even worse. Parker had only nine receptions the last two seasons combined even though he carried the ball 308 times.

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

MRI on Washington Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth shows no damage to knee

August 7, 2010

Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth underwent an MRI Thursday that found no damage to his knee. Haynesworth has complained of soreness in the knee after failing a conditioning test required by coach Mike Shanahan. Haynesworth has not participated in practices yet but is instead observing drills and worked with defensive coordinator Jim Haslett after practice Thursday.

After missing spring workouts in protest of the Redskins’ new 3-4 defensive scheme, Haynesworth has to catch up to learn the defense. The former All-Pro defensive tackle and 100 million dollar man has lost approximately 35 pounds since last season when he missed four games due to injuries.

Shanahan has made a point to prevent Haynesworth from practicing until he passes his conditioning test. Will Shanahan relent and allow Haynesworth to practice if he continues to fail the test? If Haynesworth doesn’t pass the test will it become a major distraction?

Here are some other training camp questions:

To see the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here

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Washington Redskins get better with Donovan McNabb trade, Philadelphia Eagles get worse

April 5, 2010

By trading quarterback Donovan McNabb to Washington, the Philadelphia Eagles just made themselves much worse, and made one of their greatest rivals, the Redskins, much better overnight.

New Redskins coach Mike Shanahan gets a quarterback with a strong arm, good mobility, great experience, and excellent leadership skills.

Meanwhile Eagles coach Andy Reid has given the keys to the offense to Kevin Kolb, a quarterback who has thrown four touchdowns and seven interceptions in his career.

McNabb could mean the difference between six wins and nine wins. And nine wins can make the playoffs. Heck, nine wins can even make the Super Bowl – see the Cardinals from two seasons ago.

Ok, let’s not get too excited. Nobody expects that to happen, but it has been said that the NFL stands for “not for long.” These days, teams get better – or worse – fast.

Look no further than last year’s Super Bowl champs, the New Orleans Saints, who finished 8-8 the previous year.

When Redskins general manager Bruce Allen made this move, he could have quoted a phrase made popular by his late father George, the Redskins Hall of Fame coach from 1971-77: “the future is now.”

But those who think that McNabb is part of a new “Over the Hill Gang” should look at Brett Favre. If Favre can play past the age of 40, then McNabb at 33 may have several good seasons left.

Also remember that McNabb has become the Eagles all-time leading passer in victories, completions, yards, and touchdowns despite only twice having a great receiver.

The first time was when the Eagles had Terrell Owens and they made the Super Bowl, losing to the New England Patriots 24-21 in 2005.

The second time the Eagles had a great receiver during McNabb’s tenure was last season when DeSean Jackson came into his prime and the Eagles ended up with 11 wins.

The Redskins now have a franchise QB and depth at running back with Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson, and Willie Parker. One of those three may go. All four of these players have something in common, though – they have something to prove.

Obviously the Redskins need to address the offensive line through the draft. They also need a third-down running back who can catch the ball. Another receiver or two would be nice to complement starters Santana Moss and Devin Thomas. McNabb and Chris Cooley should connect for at least 70 passes.  The defense is already solid.

But quarterback is the most important position on the field. And the Redskins finally have a great one.

McNabb is the best Redskins quarterback since Joe Theismann, and yes, it has been 25 years since Theismann’s last season. Mark Rypien was the Super Bowl MVP after the 1991 season, but Ryp had a relatively short career.

It’s not out of the question that the Redskins will still take a quarterback in the draft. McNabb could leave after the season.

Or, McNabb could be the Skins’ starter for the next five years.

Don’t underestimate the power of motivation. It can go a long way. McNabb will be pumped to play against the Eagles and to prove that Philly was wrong.

As for the Eagles, they will now likely be a few games worse than the 10 or 11 wins they usually get.

McNabb is not Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, or Drew Brees. But he’s clearly a top ten quarterback, and he’s a top five QB when he’s at his best. The only knock on McNabb is that is accuracy is sometimes a little off.

But overall, McNabb is a franchise quarterback – a sure thing. If history shows us anything, it’s that playing an unproven quarterback is a crapshoot.

For every Manning, there has been a Ryan Leaf. For every McNabb, there has been an Akili Smith (drafted one spot after McNabb in 1999).

Don’t forget, Heath Shuler, Patrick Ramsey, and Jason Campbell were all first round picks, and only Campbell has become a regular starter, and a mediocre one at that.

Campbell, who started three and a half seasons for the Redskins but struggled with different systems and shaky offenses, will likely go to another team.  Newly signed Rex Grossman should be the backup.  Colt Brennan, who was on injured reserve last year, may also be headed elsewhere.

Kolb did play well last year while filling in for McNabb for two games, throwing for over 300 yards each game and going 1-1.

But with McNabb, the Eagles were always on the verge of getting to the Super Bowl. How often does a quarterback lead a team to a Super Bowl in his first year as a starter? Hardly ever, except for Brady.

The Eagles also let a top ten running back, Brian Westbrook, depart this year although Westbrook had a couple of concussions last season.

Did Reid outsmart himself? Is he trying to prove he can win with a new quarterback?  Is it ego, or is the economy so bad that the Eagles were trying to save the money from McNabb’s salary?  Did the decision come from the owner’s box?

Say what you will about Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, but he will pay to put a winner on the field.

Ever since Eagles fans booed McNabb when Philadelphia drafted him second overall in 1999 instead of Ricky Williams, McNabb has never been fully accepted in Philadelphia.

But those fans miss the point. The object is to put your team in a position to win, which McNabb has done year after year.

We’re talking about a city that booed the greatest third-baseman of all time, Mike Schmidt.

These are fans who booed Santa Claus.

McNabb is too good for Philadelphia.

Welcome to Washington, Donovan.

To see my article on examiner.com, click here.