Shanahan: 'everybody is playing for their jobs'

David Elfin, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ASHBURN, Va. -- There are no signs of a magical turnaround this time for the Washington Redskins - no reason to believe they can reel off a season-ending run like they did last season to capture the NFC East title or close the regular season with five consecutive as they did in 2007 to earn a wild card berth.
The Redskins are three games behind the division-leading Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles following Monday night's 27-6 drubbing at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers. There are far more questions about coach Mike Shanahan's job status than there are about reaching the playoffs.
"I think the players are smart enough to understand that if you are 3-8, everybody is playing for their jobs," Shanahan said Tuesday. "That's the nature of our business. I don't care if it's players, coaches, support staff ... The nature of this game is to find a way to win and if you don't win, everybody is accountable."
Shanahan on one hand attempted to deflect questions about the direction of the franchise until after the season, while also seeming to acknowledge the Redskins have talent issues to overcome.
"I'm talking about winning Super Bowls, I'm not just talking about getting to the playoffs. I'm talking about what it takes to win Super Bowls, and that's when you talk about depth," he said. "You can win 10 games or nine games or eight games and you can win them in the last seconds of the game, then all of a sudden you look at your schedule, look at your injuries (and) it changes every year, but at the end of the day we're talking about what it takes to win championships. That's what I'm talking about."
The offense, which had been Washington's strong suit this year, didn't score a touchdown for the first time since Week 10 of 2011 while producing just 190 yards and 10 first downs, 30 and one after halftime - in Monday night's home loss.
The awful defense surrendered 27 points and 304 yards to a 49ers offense that had managed just 29 points and 347 yards in its previous two games combined.
The ugly special teams gave up 14.4 yards per punt return, more than double San Francisco's average entering the game.
It all added up to a 21-point defeat, Washington's worst at home since a 59-28 drubbing by Philadelphia, also on "Monday Night Football," in Week 10 of Shanahan's 2010 Redskins debut season. That night, quarterback Donovan McNabb, freshly signed to what proved to be a meaningless contract extension, was lousy until the game was well out of reach.
Monday night, second-year quarterback Robert Griffin III, whose vaunted leadership ability has come into question this month for the first time after he dazzled as a rookie, completed just one of his first six passes for minus-1 yard en route to going just 17-for-27 for 127 yards and an interception.
"Everybody wants to talk about the quarterback," Shanahan said. "There (are) always going to be growing pains. He's surely not going to have the game down, without an offseason program (while recovering from knee surgery), going into his second year. ... I was pleased with his effort and how he played."
Pleased with a 58.7 passer rating as the offense produced no touchdowns, 10 first downs and 190 total yards? Please.
"We didn't play well (Monday)," said Griffin. "Right now, we're shooting ourselves in the foot way too often. It's a team game and we have to play better team football. It makes you want to try harder. ... A lot of times, you have to work smarter, too. We have to have a great combination of hard work and smart work."
It has become clear that RG3 needs time to develop his passing game from the pocket with teams game-planning over the offseason to negate the read-option that made him so dangerous as a rookie.
"The drop-back passing game takes some time. It doesn't happen overnight," Shanahan said in response to a question about whether his quarterback has regressed. "Robert is getting better and better every game. He feels more comfortable with it and we're putting him through a lot of situations.
"It's a constant growth in the drop-back game because it's not only reading coverages, it's looking at personnel, it's stepping up into the pocket, getting rid of the football going against blitzes, different coverages, all the things that go with the maturation of being a quarterback. That's something he's going through right now."
Shanahan believes it's important RG3 gets as many repetitions as possible and isn't considering starting Kirk Cousins in his place.
"One of the reasons why we had the success that we had, probably the type of success where he separated himself from every other rookie in the history of the game, is he was able to do some things that other quarterbacks couldn't do," Shanahan said. "We had a dual threat. Now, that threat is not quite there as strong as it was a year ago, but now we go to a different direction - we run play-action, we still run some of the zone-reads. That will come - that maturity will come, but it doesn't happen overnight.
"It doesn't happen overnight, but he's got all the ability in the world to make that big jump and you just have to be patient."
--Defensive end Stephen Bowen, who had started all 42 games since signing with Washington in 2011 as a free agent from Dallas until missing Monday night's loss to San Francisco, has cartilage damage in his right knee that Redskins medical personnel determined could also require microfracture surgery. In that case, the 29-year-old Bowen could be sidelined for six months. He was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.
"Unfortunately, they're going to (operate) some time next week," coach Mike Shanahan said. "He's had a lot of fluid (in the knee) for a few days. When there's a lot of fluid, usually there's a reason why. They think (it's) in his best interests for playing (in the future), that gets operated on. Stephen means a lot to our football team ... with his play and his character."
Former starter Kedric Golston took Bowen's place in Monday's loss to San Francisco.
--Tight end Fred Davis was expected to replace Jordan Reed (concussion) against the 49ers, but played only 10 snaps with Logan Paulsen getting the start amid reports that Davis missed meetings during the week.
"I don't go through what we do with discipline with players, but if somebody does miss a meeting [or] if somebody is late, we've got fines, we've got possible suspensions if I feel a guy is not doing what he needs to do to help our football team win," Shanahan said Tuesday. "Any type of discipline we do have - and we have some pretty strong discipline with missing meetings or being late, those type of things - is because everybody is accountable and everybody's time is very valuable. If I did have something like that with Fred, I would address him individually."
Shanahan is optimistic that Reed will be ready for the Giants game.
-- FB Darrel Young was inactive against San Francisco because of a hamstring injury suffered during last Thursday's practice. Coach Mike Shanahan believes that Young will return Sunday against the New York Giants.
-- WR Josh Bellamy was signed from the practice squad Tuesday. He signed with the Redskins' practice squad Nov. 21.
-- CB Peyton Thompson was signed to the Redskins' practice squad. The 23-year-old played collegiately at San Jose State and spent time on Atlanta's practice squad earlier this season.
PASSING OFFENSE: F -- When you manage minus-1 yard on six attempts in the first quarter and 127 yards for the night on 31 drop-backs, you have had a horrid night. Ultra-reliable WR Pierre Garcon had an early drop and was kept from catching a pass in the red zone because TE Logan Paulsen got in the way. QB Robert Griffin III was sacked four times in the second half. Washington continued to miss TE Jordan Reed (concussion), but WR Josh Morgan was a decent replacement for WR Leonard Hankerson (season-ending knee). LT Trent Williams, who was playing at Pro Bowl level during the first half of the season, badly lost his matchup with 49ers OLB Aldon Smith.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C- -- RB Alfred Morris had his worst game since the opener, producing just 52 yards on 14 carries. Backup Roy Helu managed 26 yards on seven carries. Griffin ran six times for 22 yards as the Redskins averaged just 3.7 yards per carry.
PASS DEFENSE: D -- CB Josh Wilson had a brutal night whether he was covering WR Anquan Boldin or TEs Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald. CB DeAngelo Hall forced Davis to fumble. FS Brandon Meriweather recovered. OLB Brian Orakpo recorded a sack when 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick slipped. DE Jarvis Jenkins took down Kaepernick. Those were the only hits on the 49ers' quarterback. ILB Perry Riley deflected two passes. OLB Ryan Kerrigan has only 1.5 sacks in seven games after recording five during the first four games.
RUSH DEFENSE: A -- Despite playing without DE Stephen Bowen (knee), the Redskins held the 49ers to just 79 yards on 30 carries, not counting three kneel-downs that ended the game. San Francisco star RB Frank Gore managed just 31 yards on 13 carries. SS Reed Doughty had nine tackles, one more than ILB London Fletcher. Kaepernick ran six times for 23 yards, not counting the kneel-downs.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D-plus -- The 49ers were 26th in punt return average and 27th in kickoff return average entering the game, but LaMichael James burned the Redskins for an average of 14.4 yards on five punt returns and 26.5 yards on two kickoff returns. P Sav Rocca's net average was just 34.7 yards. K Kai Forbath hit field goals of 36 and 35 yards, the latter as the first half was expiring. KOR Niles Paul averaged just 17 yards. PR Santana Moss took his lone return 13 yards.
COACHING: F -- When your team is in a desperate situation with the entire nation and their peers around the NFL watching them on "Monday Night Football," they should come roaring out of the tunnel. Instead, Washington went three-and-out on its first three series while producing all of 13 yards. That's an indictment of coach Mike Shanahan's leadership. And after Hall and Meriweather followed Forbath's second field goal by combining to force a turnover at the San Francisco 49 to start the second half, Griffin and Co. couldn't gain 10 yards in four tries. The Kyle Shanahan-run offense that had come oh-so-close to forcing overtime in the recent losses at Philadelphia and Minnesota never got beyond its own 41-yard line the rest of the night. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett inexplicably left Wilson on an island most of the night even though backups David Amerson and E.J. Biggers were healthy. And where the pass rush?

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