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New Quarterback, Same Story for Redskins Offense

Offense not progressing under Shanahans

By Jack Anderson
|  Sunday, Oct 23, 2011  |  Updated 8:27 PM EDT
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Redskins at Panthers

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CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 23: John Beck #12 of the Washington Redskins fumbles the ball as he is sacked against the Carolina Panthers at the Bank of America Stadium on October 23, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

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Rex Grossman had a 103-degree fever and London Fletcher was throwing up on the sideline. The Redskins 33-20 loss to the 1-5 Carolina Panthers was pretty difficult to stomach from the couch, as well.

John Beck, making his first start since 2007, overshadowed the Panthers all week, but unfortunately he forgot to show up until the Redskins trailed 16-6 in the third quarter.

Beck pulled it together after a poor start -- most notably leading a seven-play, 82-yard drive in which he completed all four of his passes and ran for a touchdown to make it 16-13.  But before and after that, he struggled, fumbling on his first possession and failing to convert a key fourth down in the third quarter.

Working with a short field after sacking Beck on fourth down, Cam Newton completed a 37-yarder to Brandon LaFell and then dashed into the end zone to give Carolina a 16-6 lead.

The touchdown sparked Carolina and Beck couldn’t do enough to overcome its 24-point second-half outburst against the Redskins defense.

Newton was magnificent, hitting receivers in stride, squeezing the ball into the tiniest of windows and victimizing what once looked like a respectable defensive unit.

Mike Shanahan must have taken a quick look across the sideline and wondered what could have been had the Redskins been a factor in the Newton sweepstakes. He’s that once-in-a-lifetime find -- one of those elite quarterbacks in the making Shanahan so desperately covets.

Instead the head coach is dealing with Beck and an offense that looked remarkably similar to the same one we’ve seen for years. It was another stagnant effort from a unit Shanahan has expressed so much confidence in since his arrival.

Which begs the question: Why does he believe in them to such an extent? We're not coaches, but even the casual observer can point out the lack of coherency on offense.

The Redskins didn’t need to overthink their final first half possession. They were getting the ball to start the second half tied 6-6, but Beck threw short over the middle to Jabar Gaffney, who fumbled, allowing the Panthers to score before halftime.

When an offense is on the right page, that doesn’t happen. The coaching staff once again grossly overestimated its capabilities and it made a difficult game nearly unwinnable.

In fairness, it was Beck’s first start of the year, but it doesn’t alter the fact the offense’s inefficiency has run rampant under Shanahan. He was supposed to turn things around, but through a year and a half it’d be optimistic to say there’s even been progress.

And it wouldn’t be nearly as maddening if he would cease singing the praises of two bad quarterbacks. Week after week, he’s been emphatic in defending them when they’ve done little to back him up.

It becomes even more concerning when you consider Carolina’s success offensively. Newton is a special player, but the rest of the Panthers have elevated their respective games to give Ron Rivera a team on the rise.

On Sunday, they thoroughly outplayed the Redskins on both sides of the ball, serving as another reminder this team is still stuck in neutral.

“I got to do a better job getting these guys ready to play,” Shanahan said. “We should have played better than we did.”

Come to think of it, Shanahan sounded sick to his stomach, too.

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