Redskins Not In A Slump: This Is Reality

3:18 PM, Oct 14, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- These Monday columns from me are starting to become shorter. There isn't a whole lot to elaborate on about the Redskins besides the fact that they are a lousy football team without a first round pick. Washington's only saving grace up to this point? They aren't as bad as the 0-6 New York Giants. Well, at least not yet. 

We're heading into week seven of the NFL season and the Washington Redskins have only one victory -- a win over the Oakland Raiders with their backup quarterback Matt Flynn. That game was close in the fourth quarter, by the way.

Sunday's 31-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys wasn't of the pathetic variety, but Washington fundamentally lost the game themselves. Defensively, the Redskins completely eliminated the threat of Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten -- not a small task. But because of some play calling miscues in the red zone and one of the worst special teams showings in franchise history, the Redskins hopped on a red-eye jet to a despondent city, ready to give up on their cherished sports team.

What is now crystal clear: it's time to stop harking back on the seven game winning streak from the 2012 Redskins season, because the further away we are from it, the more freakish and lucky it appears.

Even though Robert Griffin III looked the best he has since week 13 of last season against the Giants, around NFL circles, new labels are going to start to be tacked on to his once untouchable name. Griffin deserves every last bit of it too.

He'll be called a sophomore slumper. 'Where has his pinpoint accuracy gone'? They'll say he can only succeed in gimmicky offenses. 'Can RGIII ever be a successful pocket quarterback'? Then comes the obvious knock on his mental toughness, that he's more concerned with his public image than doing what's necessary to be a leader of a football team. 'He's a nicer version of Cam Newton'.

Griffin's Redskins have come crashing back down to earth. And in a quarterback league, it is his fault. He will admit that. If he was playing at the level he did last season, the Redskins wouldn't be sitting at 1-4. At this very moment it's painful and embarrassing for Redskins fans to see the rest of the NFL laugh at Griffin. I ultimately think this could be the best thing possible for his long term success. I predict, if the Redskins do finish 6-10 or worse, Griffin will hibernate this offseason away from the spotlight, in order to come back to the machine he was his rookie year. Endorsements do pay his bills, but winning will satisfy his elephant sized heart. Like I penned after the Detroit loss, Griffin thrives on being counted out. The insurmountable odds likely will carryover to next season, but I believe he can embrace the underdog role in 2014.

The dejecting part for the Redskins is that they should've been able to survive a sophomore slump from Griffin, to at least post a competitive record. But the regression is all across the board, which falls on Mike Shanahan's shoulders. At the forefront is Kyle Shanahan's play calling.

Last season the Redskins ran 190 plays on third down -- the fewest in the NFL. The prodigal son gave defensive coordinators hemorrhoids in film sessions last season with his inventive ways. Now? This new sloppy version of the read option is at times unbearable to watch and has a trickle down effect on the passing game. Receivers can no longer prance wide open in the middle of the field. Outside of Pierre Garcon and maybe Jordan Reed, nobody can be counted on to find separation. And the lack of deep passing plays called down the field to at least attempt to open things up has been mystifying. Griffin's deep ball is a major strength. It seems as if Shanahan didn't come up with 'plan B' in case defenses caught on.

But you can't single out Kyle Shanahan now without mentioning the offensive line, a problematic staple in D.C. since Joe Gibbs originally retired. Besides special teams against Dallas, the offensive line is second to blame. Griffin rushed for a season-high 77-yards because he had too -- the pocket collapsed on majority of his drop backs. What's sad is that the Redskins front office was so convinced this offensive line was a legitimate unit, they didn't even select one lineman in seven draft picks.

There is one bright spot in this horror story. Owner Dan Snyder did not extend Mike Shanahan's contract following the NFC East crown. The Snyder of old would have laid paperwork for lucrative deal on Shanahan's desk that very Monday after the playoff berth. With age, Snyder has become wise. The Redskins are not married to the Mike Shanahan, whose contract expires after next season.

Unlike the Jim Zorn and Marty Schottenheimer eras, Snyder wants Shanahan to succeed. But if 2013 and 2014 come and go without playoff wins, it'll be hard to make a case to bring back the elder Shanahan, who will be 62-years-old.

There's a chance to correct this horror story by then. But if not, I have a perfect candidate to replace Shanahan. Art Briles, the current mastermind head coach at Baylor. He comes RGIII approved and will bring a prolific passing attack, instead of a run-first approach.

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