Since his arrival in Washington, Kyle Shanahan has been a primary target of derision amongst Redskins fans. Given the failed quarterback experiments and inconsistent offensive output, it’s no surprise Shanahan is about as popular in these parts as Troy Aikman.
He’s has had a rough go of it since leaving the high-powered Texans to join his father here, but this latest stretch of games indicates he may finally be ready to bounce back.
Shanahan has rediscovered those offensive chops that put him on the map by uncharacteristicly hitching his wagon to an up-and-coming running game. Prior to the Giants game, rookie Roy Helu had rushed for 334 yards in the previous three games. Mike Shanahan told reporters he wasn’t at full strength on Sunday in New York, yet Helu handled the ball 26 times, giving him 112 touches in the last four games.
The last time the Redskins had a running back carry the ball 20+ times in four consecutive games came in 2008. In fact, Clinton Portis posted more than 20 attempts in eight straight, making him the last true workhorse in Washington.
But that’s about to change. Kyle has displayed a newfound commitment to the run, and Helu is feeding off that commitment. Kyle never abandoned it throughout the Giants game and though the team never ripped off any big gains, it put New York on its heels and then exposed them through the air.
Textbook, two-dimensional football at its finest.
“Like we talked about from the beginning, you like to have that balanced offense,” said Mike Shanahan. “It starts with the running game and, once that running game gets going, it sets up the play-action pass and you control the tempo of the game -- all of the different factors that we talked about that lead to a successful football team.”
Defenses didn’t have to worry about that a few weeks ago, but all of a sudden, a little stability at what was the Redskins’ most unstable position kicked in. Helu is flash, dash and a little bit of smash all rolled into one, and it’s balanced out Kyle’s pass-happy system.
Strangely enough, several of the team’s best offensive performances have come since Trent Williams and Fred Davis were suspended for the remainder of the season.
Normally when your two best offensive players aren’t playing, expectations are low, but the Redskins are doing more with less -- something Shanahan admitted surprised him.
“[It] just says a lot about the guys playing, playing hard,” he said. “They’re working [and] doing the little things during the week to give yourself a chance to work.”
Though it’s still uncertain as to whether or not the Redskins will decide to keep Davis and Williams, each passing week has made Kyle Shanahan even more indispensible. He’s slowly rising above the criticism he couldn’t shake for so long and from all accounts, is here to stay.
Yep, the future is bright for the boy-genius and it’s cemented in Burgundy and Gold.