The effort the Washington Redskins delivered Monday night in a 27-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers was the definition of flat, putting to bed any hope that the 'Skins could make a mad dash to the playoffs for the second straight year.
Flat enough, in fact, that it has to concern team owner Daniel Snyder.
Snyder has developed a reputation for being impatient with his head coaches, and the effort level just doesn't appear to be there for Mike Shanahan as things go from bad to worse in Washington. So even though there's a decent chance Snyder is planning to allow Shanahan to enter the final year of his contract in 2014, you'd have to think more pathetic performances like this one could cause him to do something rash.
Against San Francisco, the 'Skins looked like a team playing out the string. That doesn't necessarily mean they've quit on the coaching staff, but it's a possibility. And even if they've begun to lose confidence in Shanahan, a chink in the armor in November could certainly lead to conditions that merit a divorce on Black Monday.
Franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III was under attack from start to finish Monday night, and neither the running nor the passing game had a chance to click. The pass protection has become comically bad, and the defense has proven that it doesn't have the expertise to compensate.
"We haven't got dominated like that since I've been here," said Shanahan during his postgame press conference. The Niners are good, but that can't be the only reason, can it? This Redskins team is a lot more talented than the 2010 or 2011 editions, so if Shanahan believes this was their worst performance of his reign, the effort has to be called into question.
Shanahan is a very good coach with an exceptional offensive mind and a strong nose for up-and-coming talent, but Andy Reid possesses those very same traits and everyone knew Reid had to exit Philadelphia once that effort level appeared to be dropping. Once you've lost even part of a locker room, it's extremely hard to get that back.
"We're not quitters," said Griffin after the game. We wouldn't expect him to say anything else, though, and the fact that he felt the need to state that despite the fact the question he was answering didn't have anything to do with quitting is a tad curious.
|Lowest-rated games of RGIII's career|
|Week 8, 2013||Broncos||45.4||4.4|
|Week 6, 2013||Cowboys||58.3||6.3|
|Week 12, 2013||49ers||58.7||4.7|
|Pro Football Reference|
Even if the relationship between Griffin and Shanahan is abrasive, that alone can't possibly be enough to merit Shanahan's firing. But it can be a factor, and when you combine that poor relationship with what's happening on the field, you have to wonder.
Shanahan is ultimately responsible for what's happening here, which is why it wouldn't be surprising to see players lose confidence in him.
After all, he built the offensive line, handpicking the experienced veterans who are consistently playing the role of turnstiles in front of the biggest investment in franchise history. He runs the draft and has the final say on personnel decisions, and right now, the personnel isn't performing well enough.
As a result, RGIII is constantly running for his life and the defense can't stop anybody. That's on Shanahan. The offensive scheme that just hasn't been working this season? That's his. And Griffin undoubtedly has that in mind as he takes shot after shot week after week.
Following Monday's game, Griffin avoided throwing coaches and teammates under the bus, but he also refused again to take on the blame for what happened. By no means does he deserve all of the blame, but you get the sense he's grown frustrated with his lack of protection and a lack of help from his receivers.
If indeed that's the case, and if some of his teammates agree, things could continue to get worse in Washington over the season's final five weeks. And if that happens, Shanahan's job won't be safe.