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Washington Redskins: Why Mike Shanahan’s to Blame for 1-4 Start

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COMMENTARY | A discussion about the struggles of the 2013 Washington Redskins should begin and end with head coach Mike Shanahan.

As tempting as it is to associate the Redskins' rough start with factors such as Robert Griffin III's rust or the poor play of the defense, the primary blame for the team's lack of success this season can be laid squarely at the feet of their two-time Super Bowl winning head coach.

Here's why.

The starting quarterback situation

With Robert Griffin III returning from his ACL injury, conventional wisdom suggested that until RGIII was mentally and physically ready to assume the demanding reigns of the starting quarterback position, capable backup Kirk Cousins would hold down the fort as the team's band aid at signal caller.

Whether it was for one or several games, the team would be in good shape with "Captain Kirk" leading the way until Robert was healthy. Of course, that hasn't been the case as Shanahan inserted RGIII as the starter at the beginning of the regular season.

Operation Patience has unfolded at the expense of winning football games, as a clearly rusty RGIII continues to work through the arduous task of regaining his form through regular season action instead of via the preseason reps he didn't receive.

As head coach of this football team, Mike Shanahan's job is to trot out the players who provide the best opportunity to win. Although RGIII is steadily improving, there's a case that can be made that, as a result of his ongoing recovery from ACL surgery, he wasn't the team's best option at quarterback at the onset of the 2013 campaign.

Therefore, Mike Shanahan's mishandling of the quarterback situation is one of the main reasons why the Redskins are the not-so-proud owners of a 1-4 record.

Inconsistencies in all phases of the game

Outside of RGIII's rust, the poor play of the defense has received a lot of the blame for the Redskins' overall struggles. However, the team's deficiencies extend beyond the defensive side of the football.

Overall, the Redskins have struggled at one time or another in all phases of the football game this season. Yes, it was the defense that played horrid during the team's 0-3 start as they relinquished yards at a record-setting pace.

However, the offense has experienced its share of troubles well, mostly as a result of RGIII working out the mental and physical kinks associated with recovering from a torn ACL.

Special teams have been anything but special this year, as evidenced in the Redskins' Week 6 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas return man Dwayne Harris did his best Devin Hester impression as he carved up the Redskins' special teams with 222 total return yards, including an 86-yard scamper to the end zone on a punt return and a 90-yarder that set up another Cowboys' score.

The Redskins' woes on special teams didn't just rear their ugly head in Week 6; they've been a consistent unwanted presence for the entire 2013 campaign.

Replacing an injured Richard Crawford as the team's return specialist, Chris Thompson has had a myriad of issues returning punts and kicks. He was finally replaced by Josh Morgan in Week 6 against Dallas, who didn't fare that much better as the team's primary returner.

As the head coach of the football team, Shanahan is the one who's ultimately held accountable for the team's performance and in 2013; he's done a terrible job of leading his troops to victory in all aspects of the game.

So instead of pointing the finger at Robert Griffin III or the defense, the blame for the Redskins' 1-4 start should be cast mainly in the direction of head coach Mike Shanahan.

Read More From This Contributor:

Washington Redskins Should Sign Josh Cribbs as Return Specialist

Washington Redskins: Three Reasons Why the Defense Will Improve

Drexel Perry's a freelance writer who recently moved back to the Washington D.C. area. For additional football talk, follow him on Twitter @DrexelPerry.

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