Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan has been in the NFL for a lot of years. He ran the Denver Broncos' offense from 1984 through 1987, served as the Los Angeles Raiders' head coach for an ill-advised season-and-a-half before heading back to Denver in 1990. From 1992 through 1994, he helped put together the offense that made Steve Young a repeat MVP candidate and brought the San Francisco 49ers their last Super Bowl win. He then won two rings on his own with the Broncos as their head coach from 1995 through 2008. And then, we have his very iffy tenure as the Redskins' head man, which is in an uncertain second year.
We point this out not to give you a history lesson, but to bring to your attention that through all these seasons, with all these different teams and different players, Mike Shanahan had never suffered a shutout loss as an NFL head or assistant coach … until Sunday, when the Buffalo Bills blew his Redskins away to the tune of a 23-0 embarrassment.
Of course, since this was a "home game" for the Bills in their second home of Toronto, Shanny could always argue that he's never been blanked in the United States. Somehow, we don't think that will calm the Redskins Nation. As Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post's D.C. Sports Bog pointed out Monday morning, Shanahan actually has a worse record through his first 23 games as Washington's head coach than Steve Spurrier, Jim Zorn, or the second coming of Joe Gibbs — all three of those coaches went 10-13 in that time period, and Shanahan's started 9-14.
Not exactly what team owner Dan Snyder hoped for when he brought Shanahan in as the latest big-name quick fix for a franchise that's been broken in one way or another since Snyder's been in charge. Starting out 3-1 after Shanahan put his reputation on the line for quarterbacks Rex Grossman and John Beck, the Redskins have lost three straight, and both the offense and defense have been sliding downhill.
According to the WaPo's Jason Reid, one of the reasons Washington's offensive output may have been so pathetic against the Bills was that Shanahan, the supposed offensive mastermind, was busy "helping" defensive coordinator Jim Haslett with a unit that had been blown apart in the two weeks before. Little good it did — while the Washington offense gained just 178 net yards, the Bills put up 390. Linebacker London Fletcher was seen yelling at safety LaRon Landry on the field at one point about a blown assignment, and if you took out the 10 yards Beck put up on three scrambles, the Redskins gained just 16 rushing yards on nine attempts.
Yes, there are injuries affecting the offense. Left tackle Trent Williams, receiver Santana Moss, running back Tim Hightower, and tight end Chris Cooley would all have made a difference had they been able to make the trip to Toronto. Perhaps the Redskins would have lost by 10 points instead of 23? Maybe they would have lost two in a row instead of three?
At this point, it's not engaging in hyperbole to talk about Shanahan's time with the Redskins in terms that would include words like "disaster" and "debacle." And if this backslide doesn't stop soon, there's another word that will be used in time.