It’s Expectations That Need Adjusted, Not Schemes

Do you ever catch yourself realizing that sometimes things that are cliché are cliché for a reason? I mean there is a reason we thinking people who eat a gallon of ice cream at a time are fat…it’s because they are. Likewise there is a reason that the Redskins  have been labeled a bad team over the last decade, and I hate to break it you Redskins fans…it’s because they have been a bad team.

I know, I know sharpen your pitchforks light the torches it’s time to lynch the Son of Washington guy, but let’s just be real for a minute. The last decade has not exactly been a shining display of football dominance. In fact you could argue that at the very best they have been more of an embodiment of football mediocrity. 

I understand that bashing this team, this owner and more recently this coaching staff has become a complete cliché  but I challenge you fellow Redskins masochists…remember the fat kid. 

There is a reason this team has been the butt of everyone’s jokes, and yesterday I had my moment of clarity and realized why. 
I was in my car listening to Anthony Armstrong address local media during yesterday’s open locker room when I had my light bulb moment
“I think people know what I’ve been able to do for our team last year, they are probably just saying ok he’s out here let’s back up a little bit” Armstrong said, “It’s kind of frustrating when you can’t get on top of defenses like that…hopefully soon something will break”. 

Armstrong is referring to the fact that last year he was a complete unknown in the NFL (playing in a league where the playing surface is turf laid on a grocery store parking lot will do that to a guy) and that this season teams knew what to expect and were adjusting to his game, taking away his strength (stretching the field with his speed) and shutting him down. 

It hit me right then, the reason why everything has been so dark in DC since Redskins Park was turned into a billion dollar game of musical chairs.
This team never makes any adjustments of any kind. 

Dating back to Gibbs’ second tour of duty this organization has been anything but consistent. Constantly during Gibbs’ return I heard “Gibbs can’t make any adjustments because the game has passed him bye” or “He just doesn’t have it any more he doesn’t understand that in the modern NFL you have to adjust to what the other team is doing”.

During the majestic reign of Jim Zorn things started pretty good. During the 2008 season’s 6-2 first half everyone in DC was prepping for a Redskins Super Bowl season, but then something  happened. Apposing teams adjusted to Jim Zorn’s offense and do I really need to revisit the rest of that story? 

The excuse then was that Zorn was over his head and not able to run a team properly…it wasn’t his fault he was just incapable of actually making adjustments in the offense that kept opposing teams off balance. 

Then in January 2010 a beautiful thing happened Mike Shanahan took over as Head Coach in DC. I’m not going to lie all the agitation I had after two years of being Zorned went away pretty much immediately, honestly the hire had that affect on most of Redskins Nation. Fast forward a year and a half and again we find ourselves making excuses for why as soon as the league catches up to our schemes they fail. 

If you believed Skins fans or even some in the local media, you would think that Mike Shanahan is the worst Head Coach in football (never mind the disaster that is Indianapolis) and that his son Kyle should be imprisoned in a max security federal ‘pen for crimes against humanity. 

I find myself wondering, “Why, if every other team in the league can make adjustments and scheme the Redskins to shut them down, can’t Shanford and Son do the same”?

Then it hit me, and the answer is quite simple and you can thank good ‘ole Coach Joe for the answer.

When Gibbs retired again after the 2007 season he stayed on as a consultant to Dan Snyder and his racket ball buddy Vinny. During the absolute debacle of a coaching search that winter Gibbs told Snyder that the most important thing this team needed was something they struggled with while he was back…continuity. 

If you go back even before Gibbs 2.0 pretty much since Norv Turner was let go this team has been anything but consistent (and there is that cliché again). After Nov it was Shottenheimer for a year, then change to Spurrier. Thankfully changed again to Gibbs in 04 who returned the Skins to playoffs in 05, then change again to new offense with Al Saunders 10 billion page playbook and a roster overhaul in 06. Change again in 08 with Zorn and his “west coast” offense that he preached took three years to master. Change again to new offense with the bingo caller in 09, and now change again the Shanahans in 10.

Ask anyone and they will tell you that it takes a few years to master a scheme whether is be offensive or defensive. This is why even though the offense has been erratic over the last few years the defense (until the change to Haslett) had consistently been one of the best in the league. All through Gibbs 2.0 Greg Williams ran the Same Defense, when Zorn took over Greg left the team but new coordinator Greg Blache had the same players and ran the exact same system so there was consistency on that side of the ball.

For this reason I say it is NOT, let me repeat that NOT time to get rid of Kyle Shanahan and his style of offense. When Mike and Kyle took over this roster was an absolute wreck, not to mention the NFL Lockout this year totally robbed Mike and Kyle from their second offseason to teach this system. 

The fact is this; The Redskins lack of experience in this offense (which takes 2-3 years to master for a player) has limited the ability of the coaching staff to throw in adjustments. To put it bluntly for some of these guys its a miracle that they have enough understanding of this system to perform their standard assignments let alone changing it to throw off defenses. Just look at how limited Indianapolis has been since Peyton went down with injury, they obviously do not have a QB that understands that offense in a way that allows them to do what they did schematically with Peyton under center.

All this instability over the last 11 years has really caused fans to lose their grip on what patience is. These things don’t happen over night and Bruce and Mike are building a very firm foundation for this team to be a winner. We forget that Mike himself to Snyder not to hire him unless he was going to give him the 5 years to fix this thing, and even though the team has their issues you have to admit they are going in the right direction.
When it comes to building a winner consistency is key, instead of turnover with coaches and coordinators it’s time that Redskins Nation practice a little patience while the Shanahans overcome a decade of disaster.


About Ray Smith

Ray Smith is the Head Writer and Senior Editor of as well as the Host of the SonOfWashington Podcast. Follow Ray on Twitter @SonOfWashington

Posted on November 3, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Couldn’t agree more with you on this article here. Shanahan’s first draft selections are only in the middle of their sophomore year. That’s hardly enough time for those young guys, that are going to be the future core of this team, to learn the position they were brought in here to play.

    We’re going through a belt tightening in D.C. It’s going to hurt and we’ll go hungry a lot but there is a happier & healthier team on the horizon.

    Nice thought out piece,
    -Our Uncle Skins

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