Blank stare for Shanahan

Blank stare for Shanahan
October 31, 2011, 12:39 am
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Because he was standing at the podium minutes after what most of his players called an embarrassing loss and what most of his teams fans ventured to Twitter to rip him, his son, his quarterback and his boss, Mike Shanahan can be forgiven if he misremembered.

Yes, the Redskins downright awful 23-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills Sunday in Toronto was the first shutout of Shanahans 267-game NFL coaching career.

Ive never been in that situation before, college or pro, he said. Its a tough one to take.

His resume dating back to 1975, Shanahan was right. Almost.

Just once before Sunday had Shanahan been coaching on a staff that was blanked, goose-egged, shut out, zeroed, etc. his second game in the NFL, when as Denvers receivers coach, Chicago pinned a 27-0 loss on the Broncos.

That day and Sunday. Thats it.

Not in 99 games as an assistant at Oklahoma, Northern Arizona, Eastern Illinois, Minnesota and Florida.

Only twice in his 413 NFL games as an assistant with Denver and San Francisco and a head coach with the Raiders, Broncos and Redskins.

Its pretty humbling to take that, Shanahan told reporters.

But it may not be the last ... this season.

All of the Redskins flaws were on display in Toronto. The offensive line broke down, allowing nine sacks (tying the franchises single-game high). The receivers couldnt get open (a combination of average veterans and not-ready youngsters). The quarterback, John Beck, was battered (whether all of them were his fault or not).

And the Redskins could gain only 178 yards against a Buffalo defense that entered the game surrendering at least 413 yards in its last five games.

Yet the Redskins started punt, punt and punt. They could only get a blocked field goal and a punt from the defenses two takeaways. Even when in the game, they couldnt rush it, finishing with season lows in attempts (12) and yards (26).

The problem was exposed for all to see: The Redskins dont have the offensive talent to compete against the NFLs best defenses, much less a unit like the Bills, who give up yards but are opportunistic (they now have 14 interceptions).

And things dont figure to get any better.

Nine games remain and more injuries are bound to crop up. If the offensive line keeps breaking down, so will whoever plays quarterback and probably running back. If the young receivers cant begin separating from defenders, the sacks and hits on the quarterback will add up.

There may be more shutouts to come or weeks where the Redskins are challenged to reach 15 points.

So what are the solutions? Slim pickings, folks.

The postgame chatter on Comcast SportsNet was zeroed in on offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and his play-calling. Dads not taking over the play-calling, but in last seasons first Dallas game, when he was wired for NFL Films sound, Mike was heavily involved and should remain that way.

Switch the quarterback? Only if you want Beck healthy to start the 2012 opener.

Go get some veteran help? Who? Players are going down all over the league, and any serviceable option isnt standing on the curb waiting for a tryout.

Admit the Redskins are rebuilding? Absolutely, even more losses wont make Shanahan admit that 2011 is a wash.

But at 9-13 during his Redskins tenure, he is close to coming to a fork in the proverbial road nonverbally acknowledging this team isnt ready to put together a winning streak anymore especially if his small shutout total keeps rising.

Contact OHalloran at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com.