The Washington Redskins were not a playoff team last season, and not even close to a playoff team. But head coach Mike Shanahan has defended his team’s offense as “playoff-caliber.”
Shanahan gave an interview to the Redskins’ website in which he was asked what improvements he needs to make for the Redskins to have a playoff-caliber offense. Shanahan responded that they’re already there.
“Well, I think we were a playoff-caliber offense this year,” Shanahan said. “But we didn’t have the depth that you need to go through a season. You can’t lose your left tackle, your left guard, your center. You can’t lose your starting running back and tight end, especially your tight end that’s your best blocker in Chris Cooley. And then you lose Santana Moss for four or five games, and a guy like [Leonard] Hankerson who finally gets ready, he goes down. And it’s just part of football. There’s no excuses. But what you have to do is you have to build your football team, where you can lose three or four guys on offense, you can lose three or four guys on defense, you’re deep enough to still win football games. And that is what great organizations do.”
But as Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post points out, the Redskins’ offense was far from great early in the season even before the injuries Shanahan mentions. Washington’s offense was healthy in Week 3, for instance, when it lost to Dallas 18-16 and gained just 298 total yards, with two turnovers.
And, of course, every NFL team has to deal with injuries. Shanahan’s old buddy Gary Kubiak would probably tell him, “Cry me a river” if he heard Shanahan complain about injuries: Kubiak’s Texans managed to make the playoffs despite an injury-riddled offense that lost its top two quarterbacks (Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart) for the season and its best receiver (Andre Johnson) and best running back (Arian Foster) for significant portions of the season.
So whatever Shanahan may say, the reality is that the Redskins’ offense wasn’t good enough last season. A big part of his job this offseason is to make the necessary changes so that the Redskins’ offense isn’t just playoff-caliber in theory, but in fact.