By Mark F. Gray
Any grace period or goodwill equity that the Mike Shanahan regime had hoped to get from fans in the nation’s capital all went out of the window Sunday in St. Louis. Despite the changes in the front office, on the sidelines, and with personnel, the Washington Redskins remained the NFL’s best slump buster with a 30 – 16 loss to the Rams sending them to 1- 3 and reeling into a stretch where they may not win for another month.
Unlike the previous two games where you could point to one culprit for the demise, against the Rams there is enough blame from every phase of the game to go around. This performance was an overall abject disaster. The Redskins were flat to open the game and trailed 14-0 at the end of the first quarter because the defense forgot to get off the bus. They looked unmotivated and out of position and compounded that with their inability to tackle.
Jim Haslett’s 3-4 scheme has turned the unit that was the team’s cornerstone into their biggest liability which couldn’t put the clamps on a St. Louis offense hat played for most of the game without primary weapon. It has turned ends Brian Orakpo and Andre Carter into coverage linebackers who are miscast in that role. After combining for 22 sacks in 2009, Orakpo has three after one yesterday and Carter has been shutout.
Steven Jackson got loose for the Rams first score, a 42 yard touchdown run that set the tone for a performance that was worse than the week before. The Redskins were out schemed and physically overmatched as St. Louis ran for 133 yards mostly behind the greatness that is Kenneth Darby.
DeAngelo Hall, who in a profanity laced tirade last week said it was his defense, missed tackles where he could have stifled two key drives in the second half that the Rams turned into field goals. The entire secondary were culprits in the Redskins allowing the Rams to convert seven of 16 third down chances also.
Those lured into believing that the offense had arrived following Donovan McNabb’s virtuoso performance against Houston saw it regress too. McNabb was solid finishing 19 of 32 for 236 yards with 11 of those completions to Santana Moss and Chris Cooley. However, despite his nine catch, 126 yard, one touchdown performance, Moss fumbled which set up Bradford’s touchdown pass to the immortal Daniel Fells that put the Redskins in a 14 point first quarter hole they spent the whole game digging out of.
Above all, the arrogance of whichever Coach Shanahan – Kyle or Mike – to take Clinton Portis out of the game when he was in a rhythm truly exposed them for who they are. Portis had seven carries for 44 yards in the first half and was the usual punishing pass protector he normally is but they saw fit to reduce him to innocent bystander with only one carry after halftime.
Ryan Torain, signed from the practice quad last Wednesday got as many carries as Portis in the second half and rushed for 46 yards. But he missed two blocking assignments that derailed key plays and left more question for the sidelines and the locker room that nobody has been willing to take accountability for.
Team Shanahan has exhausted all the good will of the Redskins fan base by creating controversy in the locker room which has now made it onto the field. They have been unwilling to modify their game plan to fit the personnel and have done a pitiful job with in game adjustments. The Redskins had no answers for the Rams when it counted most which falls squarely on the shoulders of Mike and Haslett.
To those who have seen this act before, its like watching Steve Spurrier and Jim Zorn led teams all over again.
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