Monday, November 15, 2010

Week Ten: Shanahilarious

Philadelphia 59, Washington 28

This loss, before a national audience, wasn't bad: it was historically bad. It was the worst first quarter by a defense in NFL history. Philadelphia Eagle Michael Vick had a performance unseen in the history of the NFL (300+ passing yards, 50 + rushing yards, 4+ passing touchdowns, 2+ rushing touchdowns). The Redskins gave up the most points in a half in their history and allowed the most first quarter points by a visiting team in NFL history. The Eagles celebrated the most points in a half in franchise history.

Even the stats that aren't records indicate a total, Republicans-over-Democrats shellacking: just over fifteen minutes into the game, Philadelphia had five touchdowns (more than Washington would score all night) while the Redskins had run just twelve plays for 23 yards. Vick was his own Human Highlight Reel, finishing the first half with a perfect quarterback rating.

But really, in the end, what matters are two things: how it happened and who is responsible. Fortunately, both questions can be answered with three words: Shanahan's staff failed.

The Redskins coaches, blessed with two weeks to prepare, strategize, and practice, put a team on
the field that looked like it had just finished playing Detroit an hour before the Philly game. They were ill-prepared, unresponsive, and unmotivated.

If Mike Shanahan can't prepare his team in two weeks to play a division rival, at home, on Monday Night Football, then why is he being paid $35 million? How is he any better than quarterback coach-turned-head coach Jim Zorn, who was cheaper and didn't hire his son to run the offense? Spare us ESPN commentator John Gruden's effusing over Shanahan and his Super Bowls ("[He's] a great coach. He managed the bye well..[but it's] his team that has not played..."). The proof is in the pudding, and on the biggest stage the Redskins will see this season, he and his shiny Denver Super Bowl trophies comically failed.

Kyle Shanahan's offense were a phantom success. When the game mattered--the first quarter--the play selections were stale flatulence. How bad did it stink? Here's the first quarter: Vick throws an 88-yard touchdown bomb, Washington calls three run plays. Punt. Vick's offense runs five more plays, all different: touchdown. Washington has a 1-yard screen pass, a rushed 7-yard completion, then an interception as McNabb runs for his life. Vick and offense show variety and the series ends with a shovel pass, touchdown.

Young Shanahan's offense, down 21-0 and on the edge of being blown out, walks on the field and attempts two rushing plays and one pass, which was overthrown. Punt. Total output after three series: 21 yards.

Folks, the game was over right then. Moments later, the icing was on the cake when Philly no-name running back Jerome Harrison galloped 50 yards through a half-hearted defense for a touchdown. Shanahan's eventual offensive response--deep passes--came too late to sufficiently impact the deficit.


As for defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, he was completely outcoached by Andy Reid. Sometimes it looked like Riverdale Baptist high school had invited Boise State to a scrimmage. The defense was on its heels for nearly all of the first half: they didn't stop Philly from scoring at will until 35 points later. But until then, Reid's playbook was completely unstoppable. Reverses worked. Shovel passes worked. Draw plays worked. Deep passes worked. Screen passes worked. Runs up the middle worked.

Haslett has answering to do when his players allow over 1000 yards and over 90 points in two weeks.

The worst moment, in a night filled with horrific moments, came after halftime. ESPN's Suzy Kolber reported that she spoke with both coaches during the half. Andy Reid, when asked what his strategy would be while leading 45-14. "Score more points," was his reply. When Kolber asked Shanahan about his team, he was at a loss in explaining the record-setting first period.

"Do you have any ideas?" was his reply.

Ha ha, coach of a national laughingstock. Hilarious.

SCORECARD
OFFENSE: D-. McNabb's strong arm and elusiveness are the saving grace from F-ville. (Sorry Keiland Williams, score your touchdowns outside of garbage time, thanks.) The bigger question is whether those traits are worth a new five year contract...
DEFENSE: F-. This play encapsulates the defense's night: Vick has seven seconds to pass due to no rush, Haynesworth doesn't care enough to get up and pursue, and the nine guys playing the pass let a receiver open for a touchdown. Egad.
Sp. TEAMS: C. Lorenzo Alexander was a lone bright spot, crushing a kick returner as he did last time the teams met. Brandon Banks looked like 75% of his pre-surgery self. He really needs that other 25, apparently.
COACHING: F.
Give Shanahan a modicum of credit for beginning his press conference with the understatement of the season: "I didn't get the players ready."
OWNERSHIP: F. Daniel Snyder's years of mismanagement earned him the privilege of watching his team play the fourth quarter in front of Eagles fans.

THIS WEEK'S FINAL WORD
...goes to my brother, who drove four hours from Virginia to attend the game, only to be so disgusted that he left early and drove another four hours back home. "I asked a guy next to me in the second quarter [as fans began streaming out], 'if the Skins score and no one is in the stadium, does it count?' "


Photos courtesy WashingtonPost.com and NFL.com.

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