Shanahan: Turnovers biggest difference from '12

Shanahan: Turnovers biggest difference from '12
November 26, 2013, 11:15 am
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Shanahan, Redskins embarrassed by 49ers

There’s plenty of blame to spread around for the Redskins’ current predicament. Uneven quarterback play. Consistently poor defensive efforts. Slipshod special teams. 

But there’s another problem that’s dragging them down this season: a spike in turnovers.

Through 11 games, the Redskins have turned the ball over 19 times, which is the sixth most in the NFC and tied for the 11th most in the NFL. By comparison, they turned the ball over just 14 times in 16 regular season contests last season. That was the fewest in the league—and a big reason for the team’s second half surge.

This season’s sudden increase was not lost on Coach Mike Shanahan after Monday’s humbling 27-6 loss to the 49ers.

“If you take a look at our team from last year, our defense was ranked 28th, special teams was ranked 31st and offense was ranked fifth,” Shanahan said. “It has been almost identical to that this year. But we have turned the ball over a lot more this year than we did the year before.”

[RELATED: Where is the weak link for the Redskins?]

Quarterback Robert Griffin III took good care of the football as a rookie, throwing only five interceptions in the regular season. This year, he’s been asked to throw the ball more and, on 11 occasions, it’s ended up in the hands of a player on the other team.

Last week’s loss in Philadelphia ended on an ill-advised heave into the end zone on a third-and-1 inside the Eagles’ 20. On Monday night, the Redskins committed just one turnover. But the 49ers parlayed it into a field goal and a commanding 10-0 first half lead on the road. On the play, Griffin was attempting to elude linebacker Aldon Smith when he under-threw a pass intended for Pierre Garçon. The ball settled into the hands of safety Donte Whitner, who returned it to the Redskins’ 49-yard line. Five plays later, Phil Dawson kicked a 29-yard field goal and the 49ers had momentum.

“When you turn the football over, you don’t win, you don’t have a chance to win,” said Shanahan, who was not specifically referring to Griffin’s interception against the 49ers. “That is one of the reasons why we did go to the playoffs [in 2012].”