- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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ASHBURN, Va. -- Add one more person to the list of people who felt the Washington Redskins should have run the ball more in the fourth quarter: offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
But that comes with a caveat. There are only a couple times Shanahan wishes he had called a run.
“Obviously I look at myself, too, and I would have done a lot of things differently,” Shanahan said, “because we got our [butts] kicked in the fourth quarter and that starts with me.”
The one play that Shanahan wishes he had called a run came on the one series I felt really got away from the Redskins.
The first series? They set up the first-down play well, had eight Denver defenders in the box and a wide-open receiver. The design was perfect; the execution failed because the pass was behind Josh Morgan. On third down, receiver Aldrick Robinson was open and dropped a high but catchable ball.
“Those plays were open and it was open because we were committed to the run all game,” Shanahan said. “That’s what opened those plays up and we didn’t make those plays.”
The next series Washington went pass, run, pass/sack/fumble.
But that third series, with Denver’s stadium rocking, was a play-calling swing-and-a-miss. The Redskins were only down by 10; more than 11 minutes remained and they needed to return to what worked. Instead, they opted for another pass.
“That third series in particular started out with a play-pass I wanted versus a certain coverage,” Shanahan said. “And I didn’t get that. That’s one play in particular I wish I ran.”
Shanahan said he did not realize until after the game the run-pass disparity in the fourth quarter. They had run the ball on six of their eight plays in the third quarter.
“I don’t like it either,” Shanahan said. “I know we’ll do better. I know what we want as a philosophy. We want to be balanced. We weren’t balanced there in the fourth quarter. I can attribute it to a bunch of things. It’s not something you want to do as a playcaller.”
A big problem was that Washington failed to have a drive longer than three plays on its first four series of the final quarter. The Redskins ran only twice in the fourth quarter, once for 6 yards and then for minus-4.
Shanahan had been trying to set up some passes with the runs he called in the third quarter.
“You don’t just want to do the same thing the whole game. Sometimes you have to switch it up,” he said. “You want to keep them off-balance, come out and get a play-pass that you have set up. I could have run on a couple of second-and-10s there, but I chose to pass it and did a couple screens, too, and it didn’t work out.
“It’s not like we’re sitting in there as a coach saying, ‘We’re getting away from the run game.’ That’s what we’re planning on doing, we’ve been doing all game. But you call plays to attack coverages, you call play-passes that you’ve been trying to set up through the run game and when you end up punting it’s hard to get those other calls.”
15hJohn Keim and Adam Caplan