LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 6: Coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers (left) and Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins shake hands after the game at FedExField on November 6, 2011 in Landover, Maryland. The San Francisco 49ers won, 19-11. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
This week's edition of Chain Reactions looks at the Redskins "rebuilding progress, confirmation Mike Shanahan was right about Fat Albert, Randy Edsall getting ready for a political career and the Capitals being dubbed as "losers."
These are tough times for the Washington Redskins after suffering a third straight loss Sunday at the hands of the much-improved San Francisco 49ers. John Beck has been beyond awful the last two weeks. It got so bad on Sunday that fans were clamoring for Rex Grossman to come in off the bench and save the day. On the bright side, Mike Shanahan and Jim Harbaugh shook hands with an incident.
It all sets up for an interesting week heading towards a match-up against Beck's former franchise in the Miami Dolphins, who suffered in the "Suck for Luck" sweepstakes by picking up their first win at Kansas City.
In this week's edition of Chain Reactions, we explore the semantics of a rebuild, how far along the Redskins are in the process, Mike Shanahan gets one over on a coaching genius, another local football coach rivaling Shanahan and the Capitals being called "losers" by one of their own.
Whether it is a "Rebuild" Or Not, Redskins Far From Finished Product
Remember in the off-season when Mike Shanahan ratcheted up the expectations with his "reputation" being staked on the quarterbacks and then shared the story about how his wife noticed his excitement about the makings of a "special season ahead?" Now you do.
With this in mind, it should not surprise anyone that he is having a hard time admitting this franchise is rebuilding. During Monday's press conference, which was sponsored by dictionary.com, the coach continued to prepare for his post-football career as a politician. In case you were in a coma or out of the country read the Sports Bog's Dan Steinberg to get caught up.
to repair, especially to dismantle and reassemble with new parts: to rebuild an old car.
to replace, restrengthen, or reinforce: to rebuild an army.
to revise, reshape, or reorganize: to rebuild a shattered career.
I think the "rebuild" stuff seems a little hollow anyway. There is no franchise quarterback, and don't fool yourself. Until they choose one and choose the right one, it does not matter. In a league where the rules have never been more favorable to throw, the Redskins' passing game looks like they would struggle in the Tiny Football League.
The offensive line depth is still a huge problem as well. They lack a true No. 1 wide receiver, although they are hopeful Leonard Hankerson can be that guy. He showed some positive signs in his first start and he already has done more than Devin Kelly and Malcom Thomas (done on purpose) did. Fred Davis has done some good things this season and running back Roy Helu is obviously better than Ark Monk already.
Defensively, they have gotten better. However, they have issues at linebacker and in the secondary and are not an elite defense that could carry you through the offensive struggles. Special teams have been better in the kicking game, with Graham Gano hitting a franchise-record 59-yarder Sunday and Sav Rocco being the best punter in a long time, but much worse in the return game.
The long and the short is the "rebuild" is far from finished, if you want to use that word.
Shanahan Gets One Over on Belichick
Sure, the money has been spent, and Redskins fans will always have the humiliation and memories of the bad relationship with Albert Haynesworth. Still, I feel like doing an end zone dance over the fact that we have affirmation that he is a "turd," as former All Pro Warren Sapp so accurately put it. I know it is childish and like dumping a high maintenance ex-girlfriend and hoping her next relationship fails. It should not matter since you have moved on, but it does.
Remember how everyone in Redskins Nation not named Shanahan was convinced that Fat Albert would become a stud again working under the greatness of Bill Belichick? Instead he was dumped after just eight games. He went out with a bang, sitting the final 24 minutes of last Sunday's loss to the Giants after reportedly getting into sideline argument with his position coach. Wait, there's more. From one persons perspective he quit ... sounds familiar.
We thought about writing about Haynesworth's struggles last night, but waited until we talked to a few NFL personnel executives to see if they came away with the same opinion.
"On the ground three-straight times and didn't seem at all to mind!" one said. "Just stopped moving his feet on each play."
"Those were three really bad plays," the other said.
Haynesworth needed to go, and sources said some Patriots players were grumbling about that, but coach Bill Belichick was already moving in that direction.
Albert likely will be OK even if he never plays football thanks to his Redskins lottery winnings. However, at least the NFL's most Beautiful Mind in Belichick agrees with the Redskins' assessment. Maybe the "Dream Team" Eagles (3-5) will give him a shot. Can it get any worse for them?
Another DMV Football Coach Ready for Capital Hill
I remind despondent Redskins fans all the time: at least it is not as bad as Maryland football's season. They usually respond with, "hey jerk, thanks for reminding us we like the Terps too." Anyway, I often make light of the fact that Shanahan is always
lying telling a Shanahan to the media and sometimes gets caught in them.
He's not the only football coach in the area that has been known to stretch the truth or spin. I give you Randy Edsall of the now-2-7 Terps.
"When you are installing a program, there is more than just wins and losses," Edsall said. "I just feel that it is the total program that we are installing that just has to be developed. So we are winning in a lot of areas. We are just not winning on the field right now. But that will happen."
Charlie Sheen should sue him over the use of "winning." I am still trying to figure out why Edsall thinks this is a first-year program or an expansion NFL team. I have news for the coach: this was a solid enough roster he inherited. Instead of playing to his players strengths, he decided to break every one of them, including his promising young quaterback Danny O'Brien.
Maybe Edsall can call Shanahan to learn what a "rebuild" is and understand that he never needed one.
Caps are "Losers"
Maybe Mike Knuble was just having a bad night. The alternate captain was recently demoted to the fourth line, so you can't blame him for being a little on edge. The Caps have also lost four of their last six. What he said is worth a watch.
My take is this. Although it is extremely early in the NHL season, this is a great sign for the Capitals. Not only was the message sent this off-season from George McPhee that there would be a cultural change, the coach continues to send the message and now one of the teams leaders is taking it upon himself to call guys out. This can only help them come the postseason.