The Redskins lost to the Carolina Panthers on a day when the building was abuzz with dozens of alumni who were in town for homecoming weekend. Robert Griffin III's 74.2 quarterback rating was one of his lowest to date. The 13 penalties for 97 yards was appalling. The underutilization of Alfred Morris and the running game was perplexing. The second game with no takeaways after having 16 in the first seven games was frustrating. The long pass plays given up by the defense were alarming.
But what head coach Mike Shanahan said after the game was the most interesting:
"Obviously very disappointing. A must-win game is a game that gives you a chance to play for a playoff spot. At the midway point, when you're 3-5, it's going to be must-win to get in the hunt. When you lose a game like that, now you're playing to see who obviously is going to be on your football team for years to come. Now, we have a chance to evaluate players and see where we're at. Obviously, we're not out of it statistically. Now we find out what kind of character we have and how guys keep on fighting throughout the rest of the season."
I can see the emotions of a man who was disappointed in his team's effort after a challenge he laid down. but I have difficulty with using the word "evaluate" with seven games left in the season. That word is dangerous to use at this point. Evaluation should have happened in the preseason. This is the talent that Shanahan assembled so the evaluation in year No. 3 of a five-year plan should have already be done and you should know where you are.
I really don't think that when the Redskins play the Eagles on Nov. 18, the goal will be to evaluate players, so I think this is another moment where Shanahan was a little vague in his postgame comments. It has happened before after a game, with the most memorable incident being the game he benched Donovan McNabb. After two and a half years here, Shanahan should know how this media and this fan base respond to Redskins football.
It may be unlikely with this group, but teams do go on second-half runs. I mean, it happened twice when Joe Gibbs returned, so let's not use the word "evaluate" until maybe Christmastime and not right now, two weeks before Thanksgiving. Just a thought.