Tim Brant on Sports, a weekly commentary on the world of professional and college sports, will run every Tuesday on WJLA.com.
Once again, we enter the month of November wondering what happened to the Washington Redskins.
This team seemed to have so much promise when it beat the New York Giants on Sept. 11th. The 'Skins showed speed, creativity and a new attitude. Mike Shanahan talked about the Super Bowl being his goal. That win was followed by another victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Good Times!
On Monday Night Football during Week 3, the Redskins outplayed Dallas, but lost to the Cowboys. Still, there was a business-like response from the Redskins after the loss in Texas and they genuinely appeared to be a more mature team.
The problems didn't appear until after the bye week, with the Redskins boasting a 3-1 record and a healthy roster. Washington fans seemed intoxicated by the solid start.
But a wounded and embarrassed Philadelphia Eagles team, sporting an ugly 1-4 record, flew into D.C. and, despite having lost four straight games, they exposed the Redskins as pretenders.
Philly spread them out sideline to sideline and made them play in space. The Redskins weren't nearly as athletic as the Eagles and took a serious beating. They haven't recovered since!
The Redskins lack speed. The secondary can't tackle. The offense has gotten predictable.
Now, the franchise is very lucky to have great fans. The Redskins faithful continue to believe in this team despite having their hearts broken year after year, through the reign of Marty Schottenheimer (8-8), Steve Spurrier (12-20), Joe Gibbs (30-34) and Jim Zorn (12-20). All of these coaches under Dan Snyder have left their mark on this franchise.
But Mike Shanahan is now 9-14 and that old, fragile feeling is creeping back into this organization. Injuries have depleted the roster. The confidence is gone. The finger pointing has started and the future is uncertain.
All the attention gets focused on the quarterback position, but there are so many problems on this team. It's on life-support. The offensive line is dinged up, but they are still professional athletes.
Nine sacks against Buffalo?
Prior to beating the Redskins 23-0 last Sunday, the Bills had only four sacks for the season. The "Big Uglies" were really ugly Sunday. Receivers are running bad routes. The defensive front is playing soft and the secondary is more pretty than physical.
Special Teams? When is the last time Brandon Banks had a big return? A blocked field goal? Come on, man!
Here is the bottom line: The Redskins have nine games remaining and they will be underdogs in almost all of them, starting this Sunday at home against San Francisco.
They are at the crossroads of the season. They can go north or south. And it doesn't look good right now for Redskins nation.
Mike Shanahan needs to break all tendencies, self scout his team and rebuild confidence on a ball club that is a whole lot different than the team he had in September.