The results thus far from this season cannot be completely measured up to the output of the players on the field, as much as people want to blame them. Yes, they are the ones out there and they must produce, but they are led by someone. That person gives them guidance based on their knowledge or study of the other team to make sure that the 11 guys on the field at that particular time complete their assignments successfully. It’s their responsibility to ensure that in each play, each individual is put in a position where their strengths are used best in order to help their team win. At the end of the day, much like the quarterback, the coaches are given credit for the win, and also get the 21 questions and blame in the event of a loss.
Just thinking back at some of the things I’ve seen over the season, I thought I’d take a minute to give my own personal evaluation on the four guys that run the show in Washington (hey, Mike says he’s been evaluating guys for the past two years straight… why can’t I evaluate them??):
Head Coach: Mike Shanahan
Last season, he came in and was forced to play cards he was dealt. He had to figure out how to work with the people he had inherited, even though he felt some (if not most) of them did not fit his scheme. He did not come in to Washington telling Redskins Nation that it was going to be a 4-5 year rebuild process (even though that’s what he told Dan Snyder: “If you don’t have the patience for five years, then don’t hire me.”). He came in, trading for Donovan McNabb (which also prompted Jason Campbell to ask to leave after he heard about the news from a reporter — not the team… many people report that he was put out, but wouldn’t you ask to leave too???). He told us, “We’re going to win NOW.” It hasn’t happened. I still would have felt more comfortable if he had told us the same thing he told Danny. All that being said, he has changed the culture of this team. He has an unorthodox way of working (somewhat dishonest at times in my opinion) but it got the locker room more disciplined, and got people to think and work together. Can’t be mad at that. He’s probably on the hot seat with half the fans, but he’ll be around.
Offensive Coordinator: Kyle Shanahan
Kyle was part of the package deal. If I can remember correctly, Mike wanted to bring him in at Denver and they said no. Even though Mike said he told Kyle not to come here, you gotta believe in the back of your mind it was all a part of the master plan. Let’s be serious. All that said, Kyle COULD be an outstanding coordinator if he learned to merge the abilities of his personnel with his playbook and took a course in clock management (I still think he needs a co-pilot). Last season, I still believe this team could have been 9-7. The games against Tampa, Detroit, and Houston were all lost on not managing the clock well. He even has made a comment earlier this season about not running the ball so much in the second half with a lead with saying that he wants to “play to win.” Well, changing gears hasn’t earned you anything yet, Kyle. As a matter of fact, if my own research serves me correctly, you haven’t won a single game yet with that method (I’m not exaggerating). He’s had some great games he’s called, and then some really poor ones. And there’s a whole bunch that start of great then he goes in reverse once the third quarter starts. I’d put him in the hotseat, but he’s in the family business and dear old dad is the head of personnel. So, it’s safe to say he’s on “thin ice.”
Defensive Coordinator: Jim Haslett
This guy has probably done the best job out of all the top four guys. He worked through a rough transition to a 3-4 defense at the request of Mike Shanahan while everyone in the DMV was yelling at the top of their lungs to go back to the 4-3 that had made the organization such a tough squad to face on Sunday. The first year wasn’t so hot, finishing in the basement of the NFL in total defense. This year was a complete 180 degree turnaround though. Adding strong draft picks to reinforce the front seven is the biggest reason why they have become what they are. However, he probably could have done a better job to convince Carlos Rogers to stay (even though it seems he was in a bit of a DeSean Jackson situation — work hard for the pay raise and not getting it while watching other free agents come in and get broke off). I sure hope he drafts a guy to replace him. DeAngelo Hall’s play last year thrived off of Rogers coverage skills. It allowed him to make huge plays and we just don’t have that anymore. Still, the team is #6 in the league with fewest touchdowns allowed. All in all, Haslett has done a great job, in my opinion. He’s furthest from the hotseat of them all.
Special Teams Coach: Danny Smith
If there’s anybody who is on the bubble, it’s this guy. Last season under the Shanahan Era, he did a pretty good job. Only a few mistakes. This year, it seems like that number has multiplied immensely. Half the people in DC are ready to crucify Brandon Banks for not getting in the end zone (I swear I see it every week on my Twitter feed) but it’s Smith who calls the return plays and coordinates the blocking schemes. Banks is a super fast guy with a knack for finding the end zone. But he’s 5’7″, 160 lbs (maybe)… and he needs those other 10 guys to help him out. As far as kick coverages, they’ve done a good job. Especially with the additions of Anthony Armstrong and Niles Paul flying down the field making big plays along with the One Man Gang. Plus Sav Rocca is just a stud of a punter (who was formerly a placekicker as well when he played in Australia… I’ll throw that in for free)… probably tackles as well as half the other guys on the team (by the way, did anyone see that tackle Graham Gano made last weekend?? THAT was marvelous). The thing that may nail him to the wall is the field goal unit. The blocked kicks, botched holds, snaps etc… it’s too much. And Mike Shanahan has already deemed it “unacceptable” on more than one occasion. Everyone wants to crucify Graham Gano too. If everything else is right on the kick and he misses it, then okay. But you can’t blame him when no one is blocking. It’s Smith’s job to put the right guys in there to get the job done. Then last weekend the purposeful short kick after gaining the lead in the third quarter was pointless and rendered 7 points for the visiting team. Really? Trying to hold on to a slim lead over the Jets by giving them 50 yard field position? That wasn’t Gano’s decision (which we found out later). It was Smith. His leadership this year in my opinion has landed him in the hotseat more than anyone else. I’d be very surprised to see him come back next year.
Follow Me On Twitter: @NFLHustleBabe