In the game billed as the NFL’s “Game of the Week,” Mike Shanahan took his Washington Redskins to Denver to face the Broncos, a franchise he led to two championships in the late 1990s and helped to one other Super Bowl appearance as an assistant.
At first, it looked like Shanahan had turned back the clock and had his new team on the brink of an upset of his old team. The ‘Skins played the one-loss Broncos to a 7-7 first half tie, forced Peyton Manning into a pair of turnovers to start the 3rd quarter and parlayed that into a 21-7 lead with just 22 minutes left to play.
That’s the extent of the good news.
From there, Denver went on an epic tear – 38 unanswered points, 31 in the 4th quarter alone. The Redskins inexplicably got away from the run, put the game on the shoulders of the still-rusty Robert Griffin III, and the team as a whole collapsed as a result.
It’s not that I expected the ‘Skins to outright win this game. Staying within striking distance would’ve been enough given how good Denver is. But getting up two touchdowns on anyone shouldn’t end in you getting blown off the field by 24 points. Terms like “institutionalized failure” and “organizational arrogance” get tossed around when that happens.
I’m not what you’d call a Mike Shanahan fan. However, the ridiculous “he’s only got two Super Bowls because of John Elway” argument has put me in a position to look like I am. Winning two championships is nothing you can trivialize because of the presence of a Hall-of-Fame quarterback, especially when said quarterback was groomed by Shanahan for the majority of his career.
But his time in Washington isn’t doing anything to back the haters off of Shanahan. He’s now 23-32, mainly because he’s whiffed on some his most crucial decisions here. He went all-in on a washed up Donovan McNabb in 2010, red flags be damned. The following season he staked his reputation on Rex Grossman and John Beck, two guys who are essentially out of the league now. I loved the trade up to get RGIII, but now (admittedly with hindsight as an aid) it’s starting to look like Russell Wilson would have been the better bet at a fraction of the price.
Speaking of RGIII, the current level of play calling could get the kid killed. No, I’m not one of those “STOP RUNNING HIM!” people. Count me among the “This Offensive Line Isn’t Good Enough To Pass Every Down Like Denver” crowd. Doing anything other than relying on the running game sets this offense up to fail.
Before the season, I thought the Redskins could be an 11-5 team. What they are is 2-5 and only a half game out of being the worst team in the league’s worst division. Washington’s incredible finish last year is a reminder that the team is not done yet, but a home loss to the Chargers followed by a loss in Minnesota next Thursday (yes, even on a short week) could lead to a pitchforks-and-torches revolt in Ashburn.
Shanahan has one more year on his contract, without even a whisper regarding an extension. If this team suffers another sub-.500 letdown, it’s a strong possibility this is the last we see of Shanny and Son in D.C.
At least, until he returns with another team. I just wouldn’t bet on seeing a reception as warm as the one he got in Denver.
And now we recap:
Panthers 31 Bucs 13
Perhaps Steve Smith’s chess/checkers remark about Cam Newton Steve Smith’s chess/checkers remark about Cam Newton is true. Since everyone is going check mate on Tampa’s sorry ass, we’ll just have to wait and see what Cam does against actual NFL- quality competition.
For years, I’ve made the assertion that Jason Campbell could at least be a competent NFL starter if paired with a great offensive coordinator like Norv Turner. His 105.4 QB rating against the top defense in the league proves I’m not totally off-base.
Oh, and KC is the first team to finish with the worst record in the league and start 8-0 the following season. If Andy Reid isn’t Coach of the Year, I don’t know who is.
Giants 15 Eagles 7
Speaking of Reid, how’s life after Big Red going, Philly?
Dolphins 17 Patriots 27
The last four weeks, Tom Brady is playing more like Wayne Brady. He also has a throwing hand that’s swollen to the size of Gillette Stadium. Yet New England keeps winning. This defies logic.
Bills 17 Saints 35
With his five touchdown passes against Buffalo, Drew Brees now has more five-TD games (eight) than any other QB in NFL history. Apologies to Peyton Manning, but I’d rather take Brees if I’m trying to win a Super Bowl in 2013.
Niners 42 Jaguars 10
Given the average margin of defeat for Jacksonville this season, this is the first time I’m actually OK with the typically ridiculous, “Could (insert worst team in the NFL here) beat an SEC team?” line of questioning. It doesn’t matter if they play in the US, UK, or Narnia, the Jaguars are just awful.
Jets 9 Bengals 49
Andy Dalton is the first QB since Dan Marino to throw for five TDs against the Jets. I can’t, Cincinnati. I just can’t do this anymore.
Steelers 18 Raiders 21
Pittsburgh … that ain’t the Steel Curtain anymore. Terrelle Pryor’s 93-yard TD run is the longest ever for a QB, and better than the two longest runs in Bo Jackson’s career. The Steelers let that happen. The Steelers.
Redskins 21 Broncos 45
If there were Bravehearts on the field, it wasn’t the team from Washington. Even with the four turnovers, Peyton Manning nailed down his fifth MVP by throwing for over 350 yards and 4 TDs on two injured ankles.
Falcons 13 Cardinals 27
That’s a wrap, Atlanta. You’re done. I hope you enjoy your status as the most disappointing team in 2013. (Yes, that’s a hint that midseason awards are coming next week.)