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Need to Know: Shanahan says Redskins’ offense did not change for Cousins

Dec 17, 2013, 5:22 AM EDT

Cousins-Morris-in-ATL

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, December 17, five days before the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys.

Nickel coverage

Five notes and quotes from Mike Shanahan’s press conference on Monday

1. Shanahan was asked how the Redskins managed to get through the game with only one sack. Note how he mentions nothing about the offensive line doing anything different. “Like I said, what you’re doing is you’re looking at that film and you’re studying it and you’re making sure you do go through the proper footwork, the proper reads, and the better off you are, the more success you have.”

2. Shanahan said that the offense did not change from Robert Griffin III to Kirk Cousins. I don’t know but I saw a lot more bootlegs from Cousins than from Griffin. “You have the same dropback, you have the same ability to run quarterback keeps or half-rolls or bootlegs, waggles, different types of screens depending what the defense is giving you, so that’s part of our offensive scheme.”

3. Darrel Young was active against the Falcons after missing three games with a hamstring injury. He played only seven snaps before aggravating the injury and leaving. With two games left, it might be time to put Young on injured reserve and bring in someone who can block for Alfred Morris. “He set himself back a little bit. I’m hoping it’s not as serious as it was before. We’ll test him out here over the next couple of days and get a better feel for him.”

4. When asked to talk about how Cousins’ success should be weighed since it came against one of the league’s worst pass defenses, Shanahan turned the subject to sample size. “We’ve had one game. Let’s not get carried away with numbers, OK? We’ve had one game where we lost the game.”

5. I’m not sure why you would ask Mike Shanahan how the Redskins will decide whether to trade Kirk Cousins this offseason or keep him since he probably won’t be here to make that decision. But someone did. “I think that’s what you do is you sit down as an organization, as a staff, as an ownership, and you decide what’s best for the organization, but that’s part of your plan in building a football team.”

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Stat of the day

—Going into the Atlanta game the Redskins were in the middle of the pack in the NFL in turnover ration with a minus-two. After going minus-4 against the Falcons Washington is now 27th in the league at minus-8. With the exception of last year they have been negative in turnover ratio every year that Shanahan has been the coaching them.

Timeline

Days until: Cowboys @ Redskins 5; Redskins @ Giants 12; Opening Sunday 2014 season 265

Today’s schedule: Off day, no availability

In case you missed it

Shanahan assesses Cousins’ play 

  1. manchild157 - Dec 18, 2013 at 9:25 AM

    That’s a great point to bring up. Cousins was sacked once against the Falcons but RG3 was sacked 24 times over his last 5 games. The Falcons aren’t the best defense out there but the same can be said of some of the teams Griffen faced. I believe Cousins hit his wide receivers very quick after the snap before Atlanta’s rush could get to him. I don’t even want to think about the oline letting defenders through, but it makes me wonder for sure.

    • savvyroots - Dec 18, 2013 at 12:54 PM

      I agree 100%. The Falcons may not be that great defensively, but neither were these other teams Griffin faced all season. When I look at the mechanics, the fundamentals, and footwork of Cousins, it reminds me a lot of (don’t kill me here) Drew Breeze and Peyton Manning…As I read in another article, when you watch Cousins footwork, as he shuffles them, his body is aligned with his feet and it enables him to throw precise passes at any time. Unfortunately, you cannot say this about Griffin. And when you are fundamentally sound in these areas, your OL will look much better when they don’t have to protect for 4+ seconds all the time and don’t have to worry about their QB running around (and not knowing where he is, i.e Griffin).

      How many times have we seen RG3 get sacked on the Blitz this year? Too many times, because he doesn’t recognize it (and,or) cannot be decisive on where he’s going with the ball. On the other hand, Cousins was blitzed several times on Sunday, but he called the protection and knew where the ball needed to go when the blitz came, and picked up the first down.

      I will reiterate what I heard what one of the broadcast announcers said the other day, “This is only one game for Cousins, but I saw Cousins do more things in this one game, than RG3 has been able to do all year.” That speaks VOLUMES.

  2. rhinochaserdesign - Dec 18, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    @RichTandler – Let me start that I’ve been seeing you on Redskins Nation and reading your blog for several years now and I truly respect your knowledge and expertise on our beloved Skins. But I have to say that I’m really shocked to the extent that you blindly back Griffin while hanging M.Shanahan out to dry. It’s VERY hard for me to believe that a 2 time Superbowl winning coach is so horrendous and that a new kid is so golden.

    I’m trying to understand your position – I know you want to retain your access to the Snyder organization and I’m sure the only way to do that is to tow the organization’s line. Shanny bad. Griffin GOOD!! But I’ve been following the Skins and Snyder for long enough to know that Danny is up to the same ol’ tricks – falling in love with a player to the detriment of the team. I know this because of the track record – Schoteheimer (sp), Gibbs, and now Shanahan are all just TERRIBLE, right?

  3. Rich Tandler - Dec 18, 2013 at 8:06 PM

    rhino,

    Appreciate your comments. First of all, I write what I think, there is no “company line” that I have to give for any reason. I am free to write what I believe.

    I think Shanahan’s conduct is appalling, trashing Griffin’s character (will get to Griff in a second) through second parties, trying to weasel out of responsibility for the team’s dismal record by blaming RG3, Snyder, anybody else who might be in the line of fire. If you’re looking for me to say much good about Shanahan you’re going to be disappointed.

    First of all, Griffin had a bad year. There is no getting around it. An handful of good games but just as many bad ones. I think a lot of it was due to to his lack of burst due to the knee brace and him having to spend the critical offseason between Year 1 and Year 2 rehabbing the knee instead of honing his game.

    And why did he have to do that? Because Mike Shanahan didn’t have the guts to take him out of a game when he clearly wasn’t right. But I digress.

    Did he say some things that he shouldn’t have said during his many news conferences (most of them league mandated, BTW)? Of course he did. But does saying that he wants to play contribute to 3-11? Sorry, I can’t connect those dots.

    As far as the RG3-Snyder dynamic, we don’t have anything like Clinton Portis going into Snyder’s office and then all of a sudden Zorn gets a call telling him that CP doesn’t have to practice. We have a few dinners and a security detail occasionally being dispatched. Should that not happen? No, it probably shouldn’t but it’s far from uncommon around the league and, again, I can’t connect the dots to 3-11.

    I think Snyder is learning. He’s not there yet. He’s certainly smarter than he was when he canned Marty (huge mistake done for all the wrong reasons, IMO). I will be highly critical of him if he doesn’t come out of this with a personnel director or GM (Bruce can become team president or something) with roster authority and a coach who just coaches.

    I’m going on too long here. But the bottom line is that it takes a lot of people to create a mess this big. But the bottom line is that Shanahan got iron clad total control of football operations in his contract. He holds the lion’s share of the responsibility. And not only is he failing in that but he is trying to deflect as much blame as he can elsewhere while making sure that he gets fired so he can take a year off and get paid.

    Sorry, you’re just not going to hear me say many good things about a guy who is doing that. And while I could be more critical of Griffin I find it hard to gin up much enthusiasm for beating up on a guy when he’s having a ruthless shear job executed on him. There will be plenty of time to dissect his season after the coaching insanity is done.

    RT

    • manchild157 - Dec 19, 2013 at 7:53 AM

      WOW Rich! (insert applause) your insight and clear thinking on this saga is appreciated. Be fun to have a couple of bers and pick your brain.

    • rhinochaserdesign - Dec 20, 2013 at 7:21 PM

      Rich- Thanks for the thoughtful reply. And please don’t take my comments as an attack on your integrity as a writer and journalist. And even with our differing points of view, I will continue to read and enjoy your articles and appearances.

      You make a lot of good points. And you make a lot of points I can understand from your point of view. Such as that it took a lot of people to create the mess we’re in. But there is one statement that I feel you are just dead wrong on: “…while making sure that he gets fired so he can take a year off and get paid.” I don’t see this to be the case. Shanahan, for all his foibles, the thing he rates was mandatory from his players, is character. And, basically, you are claiming that Shanahan is pulling a Haynesworth. I truly believe that Shanahan is making decisions he feels are in the best interest of the team. Many people can question his decisions (and especially question the reasoning he publicly states), but I cannot see him ruining his own reputation and legacy by doing that. It just doesn’t make sense. Much like drafting Kirk Cousins – Shanahan was trashed in the media (I don’t remember your feelings on that) for that move, but in hindsight, it looks brilliant. To me at least. My point is that benching Griffin now is a move Shanahan honestly feels is the right move for the Skins, at this time. Whether it being trying to shop Cousins or trying to figure out if Cousins has a legitimate shot at starting – I think he truly has our team’s best interest in mind.

      So, whether you feel Shanahan should be here next year or not – and there’s plenty of arguments each way – there’s always going to be factors none of us are privy to. And with all the respect I have for London Fletcher, I have to believe that he has the inside information to make the right call. And straight from his mouth – he believes Shanahan is the right guy for the job.

      And as far as Griffin having a shear job against him – I just don’t see it. I haven’t read anything that says Griffin is a bad person. As a matter of fact, I haven’t seen anything really against Griffin as a person. Being too close to Snyder? Let’s face it, he probably is. That’s what guys on the team are saying. And I’m sure you’ve read Mike Ditka’s reaction if that is indeed the case.

      At the end of the day – you and I seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum and, the truth, as is usually the case, lies somewhere in the middle. While we watch it all shake out, I will continue to read your blogs and see your appearances on Skins Nation and other CSN programs. Keep up the good work and HTTR.

      • Rich Tandler - Dec 20, 2013 at 7:32 PM

        Thanks for the reply. I’ll keep it short:

        –The man said on the podium last week that he usually doesn’t tell the truth. That’s “character”?

        –It’s not just me, everyone at Redskins Park believes that the hit pieces on RG3 are coming from Shanahan and his camp. The purpose? To make sure that his relationship with RG3 is so ruptured that he can’t possibly return.

        Proof? Since reporters won’t reveal their sources, impossible to get. But if you wake up in the morning and there is snow on the ground, it’s reasonable to assume that it snowed overnight. That’s what we have here.

        • rhinochaserdesign - Dec 21, 2013 at 9:12 PM

          1. Judging a head coach’s character based on what he says to the media is FAR from accurate. Lying to the media is STRATEGY. It’s about misdirecting your opponnent. Would you say Bill Belichick has bad character?

          2. Did or did not Griffin’s dad come into the locker room post game? You can’t call something a smear job, when the reports are actually true. Are they things Griffin would rather the media not know? Probably, because they’re embarrassing and showsw a certain truth about him. And I won’t dispute that fact the reports come from Shanahan. But your explanation to the purpose is wrong. “To make sure that his relationship is too ruptured…” – Nope. Sorry, that’s weak. And doesn’t make much sense. If Shanahan wanted his relationship ‘ruptured’, wouldn’t it be more effective to throw Griffin under the bus directly too the media? There’s better and easier ways to accomplish that goal.

          What Shanahan is possibly doing is intentionally knocking Griffin down a rung off his little ego trip. I think Shanahan gave Griffin this year to do it Griffin’s way. That obviously failed. (It probably also explains why the play calling was so passing heavy, they let Griffin display how ‘great’ he is.) Now, he’s trying to completely break Griffin down, to build him up again. It’s the exact same philosophy they use in the military training. It seems pretty obvious to me.

          Or maybe you’re right. Shanahan can’t stand what a spoiled little prima donna his ‘star’ QB is – and he wants out.

  4. Rich Tandler - Dec 22, 2013 at 4:46 AM

    Or, rhino, maybe he’s not so much a “spoiled little prima donna”. Maybe he has the same ego that most other star QB’s have and Shanahan just can’t deal with it and is leaking either outright fabrications or pointing out every little incident and flaw to smear him.

    Thanks for the discussion. I think your grip on reality in this matter is quite tenuous. We shall see.

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