Kyle Shanahan was nearly two minutes away from going into protective custody in Detroit this past Sunday. However, his father and head coach Mike Shanahan decided to steal the spotlight with the now-infamous benching of star quarterback Donovan McNabb with 1:45 left in the eventual loss to the Detroit Lions.
The local and national up-roar that the decision has started easily has overshadowed every other headline coming from Sunday's disgusting debacle, in which the Redskins held a 25-20 lead with eight minutes to go in the final quarter.
Now, I could write another article on the Mike Shanahan-McNabb relationship, but after watching the first play of the game and every following first-and-10, I choose to move the spotlight and blame towards the play-caller and offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan.
My big issue is the play-calling on first down. There is no doubt that the success of a drive depends on they yards gained on first down, and on Sunday they did not get the necessary yards on that down and that is why so many drives stalled and were unsuccessful.
Since this argument is strongly based off of statistics, I am going to throw a lot of them at you:
- Washington had 22 first-and-10 situations, combining for 2.5 yards.
- Washington dropped back to pass 13 times and rushed nine times on first-and-10.
- When they started with a dropback, they went for an average of 2.9 yards.
- Of those dropbacks, nine went for negative yards or no yards including four sacks, two (10-yard) penalties, one broken QB run and two passes ( one for minus-one yard and one incomplete)
- The four positive plays on dropbacks, included two passes to Moss for a combined 20 yards, one pass to Armstrong for 35 yard, and one broken QB rush for 36 yards.
- Of the 13 dropbacks, six drives ended in punts, four for new downs, one TD, one turnover on downs and one turnover for a Detroit TD
- When they rushed the ball, they went for an average of 2.0 yards.
- On those rushes, just three went for negative yards or no yards including one holding penalty, one carry by Torain for minus-three yards and one carry by Williams for no yards. Those drives ended in one punt, one INT and one FG.
- On the rushes that went for positive yards, they averaged 5.2 yards, and the drives ended in two punts, three for new downs and one TD
Did you follow that all of that?
To put it more simply, although there wasn't a great difference between the drives that started in dropbacks or handoffs. There is a stronger argument that there needs to be more runs.
Now I know these numbers can't account for the atrocious play of the offensive line, but I felt that we gave up on the run too early, not only on first down but on second and third as well. The injury to Ryan Torain at the end of the first half didn't help, but Keiland Williams looked more than capable of carrying a good amount of the load.
It is ridiculous to think that all through spring, OTAs, training camp, preseason and eight weeks into the regular season that this system is a work-in-progress. Yet that is what it is, and after this bye week it better be straightened out.
So Kyle Shanahan, you may be safe for now. However, if you don't balance your attack and pick up solid yards on first down and actually try to get the yards you need on third down, you may be the next Shanahan on the always hot seat in D.C. You can't expect Brandon Banks to save you and give your offense great field position every game.