- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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Some lingering thoughts from Monday's events:
If Mike Shanahan isn’t fired Tuesday, then it’s hard to see it happening the rest of the week -- tough to pull the plug once the game preparation gets that heavy. Then again, it’s not as if that truly matters because, you know, the Redskins are 3-10. Still, if you’re going to make this move you need to give your team a chance to process it better (like on their day off). And then if you don’t do it this week, would it happen before season’s end? If they play at Atlanta like they did this past Sunday, then of course. It's well known that the process is underway and options have been discussed.
As of late Monday, one coach texted to say they were deep into prep work for Atlanta. Just like any other Monday. Said it was business as usual. But they know the situation. They knew it before this weekend.
Monday was a surreal news conference. Very odd to keep asking someone about their employment status. Must be very odd to stand up there and keep answering some form of, "Are you getting fired today? Or soon?" It's a weird business sometimes.
We spoke with nose tackle Barry Cofield via phone Monday afternoon. He sounded exhausted/exasperated with the situation. It's funny because the players who have been around here a while know it was worse in 2009 under Jim Zorn in terms of the overall circus. The young players only know this and it has weighed on them.
If you're afraid of playing a quarterback for fear of getting him hurt then you have the wrong guy. Or you have the wrong guys blocking for him. If you don’t think someone gives you the best chance to win, then put it that way. Otherwise, because of the nature surrounding these relationships, it comes across as a parting shot.
What I don’t know is Dan Snyder’s thoughts on the situation. For all I know he might be in favor of sitting Robert Griffin III. I know who won’t be in favor of protecting Griffin: the quarterback himself.
Griffin is not hurt. He doesn't look hurt when he plays. There's a difference between being hurt and not looking like his 2012 self. He's not as explosive as he was last season, but if the only way this kid can play quarterback is if he runs a 4.3 40-yard dash, then, again, you have the wrong guy. He has to alter his style and, yes, he does need to improve aspects of his game that can only be worked on in the offseason. There's still something to be gained by playing. I occasionally see signs of growth, such as his ability to protect himself against New York. I see lots of work that needs to be done and I see too much inaccuracy (one general manager before the 2012 draft said that was his biggest concern). But he needs to play.
If it is the fault of the offensive line, this is why you can't blame the salary-cap situation on all woes. Perhaps they would have signed one starter had they not been socked with the penalty. But that wouldn't have been enough to give Griffin the time he needs in the pocket. They signed right guard Chris Chester in free agency; they drafted three young guys in 2012, including a third-rounder who can't even get active. Point is, they put something into this and yet if/when there's a coaching change there's a chance that Washington will need four new starters along the line -- and only part of that reason stems from the style of play or scheme -- depending on the next coach's scheme.
By the way, I've never blamed it all on the line -- it's too simplistic and easy -- because Griffin clearly takes a longer time in the pocket. And the line was built to play a certain way that the Redskins just can't play right now, not consistently that is. It's the same group that blocked well enough when they played a certain way a year ago. They were never great, but they were effective. When you have a defense that can't stop anyone and a special-teams unit that is horrible, then there's a trickle-down to the offense, too. Just like there's one for the defense when the offense keeps struggling. An ugly cycle. The offensive line is not to blame for this season by any means.
Anyway, that's where Griffin is at in his development; he needs help that he's not always getting. And the line needs more help than it's getting. And the receivers don't get open enough. If the Redskins had a more veteran passer, you might not have these issues. But once you draft a rookie quarterback who comes from a vastly different passing system (and then one who hurts his knee, changing his game), you know there will be growing pains in this area.
One surprise from Shanahan’s Monday presser: What he said about Niles Paul. Here's a guy who cares deeply about what he does and has expressed a strong desire for this staff to return. Maybe he didn't play well (don't know, aside from his one big hit), but still. I have never liked how the special teams were put together this season from the start. Not enough players who want to be on that unit, whether older or younger guys. That’s not just on coordinator Keith Burns, it’s on the head coach.