Feed Hightower, Feed DC

The loss to Dallas was disappointing for obvious reasons. A chance to start the season 3-0 and beat the archrival on the road would have put the young ‘Skins on the map. It would have filled the city of Washington with countless numbers of enthusiasts and would see the Redskins rise again on ESPN’s ‘power rankings’. Unfortunately, however, the Redskins suffered a loss where they did not allow a touchdown.

Many fans have started thinking of the past two decades all over again. While the loss was frustrating, the Burgundy and Gold showed they are only a few aspects away from being a good team. Namely, a quarterback, a few less blitzes, and a few more runs late in the game.

Most fans are quick to blame Jim Haslett, Rex Grossman, and DeAngelo Hall for their loss in BIG D. I too was cursing Grossman and screaming at D. Hall during the pivotal parts of the game with the rest of Redskins nation. I even questioned Haslett’s blitz call for numerous hours after the game, but was not content with what just happened to entirely blame them. After cooling off from the loss, I found myself questioning Kyle Shanahan more than anyone else. Mainly I thought…why put the ball in Grossman’s hands?

In my previous posting I warned ‘Skins fans that Grossman turns the ball over far to often. So when the Redskins took the field clinging to a 4-point lead and began passing, I immediately began feeling a sense of dread.

Kyle Shanahan has escaped the ire of Washington because of Hall’s words and Haslett’s blitz call, but you cannot overlook the fact that the younger Shanahan abandoned the run early in the second half. To validate my point, here is a look at the Redskins lone touchdown drive:

Tied at 9, the Redskins took over the ball for the first time in the second half. They promptly moved down the field for the go-ahead touchdown and took control of the game. Why is this important? Because Tim Hightower was the featured player on the drive. It seemed as if he had a hand in every play-call. Behind his hard running and critical catches out of the backfield, the ‘Skins marched down the field and scored their only touchdown. Why abandon that style?

After his TD, the Redskins led 16-9 with a quarter and half to play. The defense was playing well and Mike Shanahan loves to run the football. All are ingredients for a winning football team. The occasional play-action pass would keep the Cowboys honest and Washington was going to walk out of Dallas 3-0.

However, Kyle Shanahan had other plans. For the remainder of the game, the ball was put into Grossman’s hands and every drive stalled from there on out.

The Monday Night crew loved how the Redskins were staying aggressive, but I was left flabbergasted, as Hightower became an afterthought. Suddenly, Washington was throwing at a clip of 3:1. The ‘Skins didn’t sniff the red zone again because Grossman couldn’t sustain drives despite a decent showing from the offensive line.

With each stalled drive, the Cowboys kept inching closer behind Romo and Dan Bailey.

For Redskins fans, the clock seemed to sit still. Rex routinely could not make the opposite hash throw and nearly had a few intercepted. Eventually, Grossman was going to make a mistake. He had already thrown an awful interception on the Redskins half of the field and dread was setting in with every drop back.

My point in all this? Kyle Shanahan deserves just as much of the blame as all those previously mentioned. Haslett was put in that situation because the younger Shanny refused to stick with what was working. Now we are stuck with asking ourselves…What if? Hightower may have a history of fumbling, but every Redskins fan must feel more confident in him than Grossman.

Make that 13 turnovers in 6 starts and counting for Rex.

Hopefully Kyle Shanahan will learn from this game and continue his evolution into a solid offensive coordinator. The Redskins are a few key pieces away from being a solid team. The central piece, obviously, is the quarterback. The Burgundy and Gold need someone who can make the throws and manage a game.

How many times have you heard that in DC?

It is only natural for the frustrated fan base in Washington to call out the obvious scrap goats. But I ask you all not to give up. This is a team on the rise. Just ask Shanahan to reevaluate his game plans. Feed Hightower and feed DC wins.

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