1. Emotional Meter Update: Last week, I was angrier...the loss to the Giants stung more for a variety of reasons. This week, I am fending off that "How could I be so stupid?" feeling. I feel like the one in the relationship that threatened to shut this thing down only to be persuaded not to because the other person said, "I can change! I promise!" Before I get barraged by folks who will say that I am expecting too much out of this group, let me just say that the loss is not what is making me so upset. The Redskins put some things on display in Pittsburgh that were very similar to things we have been watching for years. The unhinged DeAngelo Hall was just part of it. The drops were just part of it. The special teams gaffes were just part of it. What we are seeing on Sundays is once again looking like an extension of a house that is not in order on every other day of the week. THAT is something we are qualified to diagnose, because THAT is something we have seen a lot of in recent memory. What's worse, this organization continues to spin things that don't need to be spun.
2. Our website generates a ridiculous amount of intelligent, thoughtful debate on our favorite team. The prevailing sentiment continues to be excitement about the future of this team--a sentiment I share. Do we like losing? No. Can we see a little bit of light ahead of us in this tunnel? I think we can. At what point should we be the tiniest bit insulted as a fanbase when we are told that Jim Haslett continues to be doing as well as Mike Shanahan is suggesting? At what point in time should we feel the tiniest bit insulted when we are told that Danny Smith continues to be one of the best special teams coordinators in the league? The votes of confidence are beginning to sound like PR propaganda, which is exactly what I was referring to in the first point.
3. This organization continues to believe that they can plant the message in your brain and you will blindly follow and believe. The problem is that, when you are losing year in and year out, you would think that the message should change. Adjustments have to be made to the way the message is delivered and disseminated. We continue to get votes of confidence for bad performers. Who is running this spin zone anyway? Jim Haslett? Don't give me, "We could be 5-3." That is MY job to say--and get laughed at after saying. (We COULD be 5-3! Cue the appropriate response: "We could also be 1-7!")
4. Don't blame injuries, either. Losing Orakpo and Carriker hurt our front seven severely, yet we continue to defend the run rather decently...for the most part. It is when you point to the losses of Brandon Meriweather, Jordan Bernstine and Jonathan Goff as being major factors to our defensive woes that I find myself shaking my head. Did the guy who penned Romney's 47% remark find some time to send the Redskins that gem? Come on...Jordan Bernstine? Jonathan Goff? We're all of a sudden not giving up 300+ yards a game in the air with those guys? Every team has injuries. Who among us is convinced we weren't ever going to be good in the secondary, with or without those guys? We're not stupid...just stupidly devoted. I think we are more than capable of hearing the truth--a truth we see with our own eyes.
4. If every coach had an all-star roster, every coach...would look like a great coach. I have defended Haslett in the past by saying that we simply don't have the horses for him to do what he wants to do. At some point that message no longer adequately rings true. In every sport that requires defensive players and coaches, you have examples of guys doing more with less, guys doing less with more and guys doing less with less. Personnel will always be one of the reasons for success or failure, but it can't be offered as some kind of golden excuse that works in perpetuity. Jim Haslett has officially established himself as a coach doing less with less these days. That is a reason for removal.
5. The message we got on Sunday in Pittsburgh was loud and clear--at least one or two defensive players seem to have checked out. We reported after week two that things were brewing in the locker room and that players were not 100% together behind Jim Haslett. I would argue there continues to be evidence of that on the field.
6. I am not sold on the midseason firing of a top coordinator. In addition to the turmoil and distraction it causes, most of the same problems that were there before remain after the firing. If and when the situation becomes so toxic that behind-the-scenes disarray manifests itself into on-the-field disarray however, this move has to at least be unholstered. I think we could very well be approaching this stage in the play I like to call "The Metamorphosis of a Shitstorm." The Redskins would be the toast of Broadway if this play were put on up there.
7. We are in Year Three of the Shanaplan. Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't we told--by Shanahan--that the defense was the first side of the ball that he addressed in his renovation? I see plenty to be excited about on offense. I have no problem getting pumped up about the future of our offense around guys like Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Trent Williams and yes...even Leonard Hankerson (see? I can be blindly homerific when the mood strikes me). On defense, we have problems that one draft can't fix. One free agency period with limited cap space won't fix them, either. It is time to get real about a change in coordination. I am not even talking about 3-4 versus 4-3, or basic defensive philosophy. In Year Three, we are moving backwards. The losses of Jordan Bernstine and Jonathan Goff notwithstanding, we need new leadership. We need to see what the next guy can do with this deck of cards.
8. Assuming for just a moment that the locker room isn't imploding on itself, I see little reason to jettison Haslett over the bye, but I do support removing him in favor of a new defensive coordinator during the offseason. While I would be slightly tickled to see the move made now, I don't want the interim guy to get lost in the madness that would ensue. For better or worse, the interim coach would be inextricably tied to the mess that our defense has become, and in the case of worse, it could ruin a perfectly good opportunity to get and keep the right guy.
9. As for Danny Smith, the worst thing I will say about this good man is: our special teams just aren't special. They have not been special for a while, and given that Smith is the most tenured guy we have on the sidelines, it would seem that enough chances have been extended. It is one thing to keep a guy like Smith to help hold the hands of men like Steve Spurrier and Jim Zorn. When you have Mike Shanahan, that is no longer necessary. It is more important to get the between-the-whistles action firmed up. I do believe Danny Smith has been let down by poor execution on the field, but I also believe that it is time to bring in some fresh blood this offseason to try and provide a necessary spark to a part of the team that is responsible for providing a spark to the rest of the team.
10. I would suggest most of us agree on most of this. Despite that, there are very few--perhaps zero--among us prepared to put away our colors and stop emotionally investing ourselves in this team. Give me the Shanahan that was candid and open about his vision that was always going to take time. Don't tell me that this train is "Haslett or Bust." Competition at every position has been a hallmark of the Shanahan Era in Washington. Don't tell me that this philosophy stops short of the coordinators.