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Posted at 10:13 AM ET, 12/ 3/2010

Reading Mike Shanahan's mind

By Stephen L. Carter

“So, let’s see. I took this job promising to turn the franchise around. How’s my first year been so far? I’m 5-6. The guys were 4-12 last year, so this is obviously progress. The Redskins fans hate the Cowboys, and I beat them in my debut, and that made folks happy. Of course, the way they’re playing now, and the way we’re playing now, that rematch down in Dallas isn’t looking so good. I also beat the Eagles, although to this day nobody seems to know how, seeing as how my guys never scored again after the first quarter. And Philly certainly got its revenge – but I’m trying not to remember that game. Next up is the Giants.

“Hmmm. Let’s see. The last time I coached against the Giants was 2005 when I was at Denver. We went into the Meadowlands, and had them down by 13 midway through the fourth quarter, and that Manning kid started playing like big brother all of a sudden, and they beat us. My guys stomped the Giants badly four years before that, but those were the Kerry Collins days, or pre-Eli, as they say up in New York.

“These guys they have up there now – well, they’re not so easy to beat. They can pass block, they can run block, their offense eats up the clock, and their defense beats up quarterbacks. Okay, their secondary is a little weak in pass coverage, but I don’t know what difference that makes if your quarterback is running for his life from Umenyiora and Tuck and those guys. Poor Donovan’s taken a lot of hits this year. I’m still not sure he’s the quarterback I want to build on, but he’s tough, and he throws a great long ball, and the guys respect him, and he’s a leader on the field. Stupidest thing I’ve done so far in D.C. was to sit him against Detroit at the end. They were right to get on me about that. But this time, with my offensive line, and the Giants’ pass rush? I’m worried McNabb might get hurt out there. If I see him limping hard after a hit, I’ll yank him. For his own good.

“Now, among the guys that have beaten the Giants this year, I notice a couple of things. First of all, they all play precision passing games with a lot of quick slants. We’re supposed to do that, too, if we could just get these guys to run their routes right and hold onto the ball. I know Donovan throws it a little harder in games than in practice, but you’d think they’d be used to that by now.

“The second thing is, the guys who beat the Giants bottled up those runners and made Eli beat them with his arm. Now, he’s got a great arm, no question. But he does toss up a wounded duck now and then. He’ll force it into double coverage. He’s a guy you can pick off if you get him rattled, especially if he has time to think about it. When they play the hurry-up, he’s a lot smoother. Still, either way, it won’t matter if my guys can’t hold onto interceptions that hit them in the hands. Everybody knows we basically have one guy in our secondary who can catch the ball. And we’re not always so good at rattling quarterbacks – not unless we want to give them some single coverage downfield, and then it’s bombs away.

“Let me see who else is on our schedule after this. Hmmm. Home to Tampa Bay. That’s a may-win. At Dallas. Uh-oh, like I said, they’re on the way back up. Then at Jacksonville, who’s been playing great. And home to the Giants. Ouch. Maybe we can steal one more game this season, for 6-10. With a little luck, we might manage 7-9. I don’t see any way to get to 8-8. Better get the staff together and start looking at college film and planning for next year. We have a lot of work to do in the offseason.”

By Stephen L. Carter  | December 3, 2010; 10:13 AM ET
Categories:  Redskins, Stephen L. Carter  | Tags:  Redskins, Stephen L. Carter  
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My first thought is Gimme a microscope

Posted by: Daveguin1 | December 5, 2010 11:31 PM | Report abuse

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