Two discourses -- one brief, one not-so-brief -- on the loss that ended Washington's 2012-13 season.
Dan Shiferaw was at FedEx Field Sunday, so we'll leave the majority of the authoritative thoughts to him (and they'll be along later). For the time being, a couple thoughts from us.
1. It's time for the Redskins to take the FieldTurf plunge. We're no horticulturists, but FedEx Field simply isn't designed for natural grass. The stadium is a large, enclosed structure that allows for sun, rain, and little else to reach the ground. Unless the Redskins want to undertake more costly renovations to allow proper aeration, it's time to bring in the new stuff. Because that field was a disgrace Sunday night, a dog track with yard lines and hashmarks whitewashed on, unfit to be seen by millions in a nationally televised playoff game, much less tramped on 22 players at a time. For a league that makes billions of dollars hand over fist, having one of its most valuable teams offer a safe, fair track isn't too much to ask.
2. Mike Shanahan can fairly be called a lot of things. We don't believe that he is a sadist or a sociopath. His body language during his postgame press conference (admittedly viewed through the medium of TV) suggested that he had begun second-guessing himself the second Griffin crumpled to the turf in the fourth quarter. (We thought we observed similar body language in 2010 regarding the manner of the benching of Donovan McNabb, though not the benching itself.)
If you ask us, Shanahan had a Grady Little moment Sunday. Some would say he choked. Some might say he panicked. Some might use another word again. Regardless, here's what we think happened: Shanahan knew and could see that Robert Griffin III wasn't himself. However, with Washington's lead dwindling and eventually falling away, it became harder for Shanahan to insert Kirk Cousins and ostensibly remove his best player from the field just when he was ostensibly needed most. As a result, Shanahan seized on any affirmative response from RGIII, no matter how untruthful, as proof of his ability to go. (For the record, we would have pulled the trigger after the interception on the deep ball in the second quarter.)
It was a gamble, it failed spectacularly, and there's no question a heart-to-heart between Shanahan, Griffin, Bruce Allen, Daniel Snyder, and especially Dr. James Andrews is required to get everyone on the same page. But accusing Shanahan of garden-variety meatheadedness, we think, doesn't get us anywhere.
Thanks for reading our coverage all season long. As we said, Dan will have his thoughts here shortly, and we hope the gif above will give you a good chuckle throughout the summer.