Is Mike Shanahan trying to protect his legacy?
Here is how the Redskins stand after 13 games (after Week 14 of the NFL season):
Record: 3-10, fourth place in NFC East
vs. NFC East: 0-4
vs. NFC: 1-8
vs. AFC: 2-2
Opposition cumulative record (all games played): 91-76-2 (.544 winning %)
Cumulative of teams beaten: 17-22 (.436)
Cumulative of teams lost to: 74-54-2 (.556)
Record of teams remaining on schedule: 15-24(.385)
Offensive MVP: Pierre Garçon continues to play hard even as the offense struggles. If he catches at least five passes against the Falcons, something he has done every game this season, he will have the second-best receiving season in NFL history.
Defensive MVP: Whether he’s doing it for his contract or not, Brian Orakpo is getting it done. The performance ratings on Pro Football Focus are far from a perfect measure of performance but his score is more than three times what of the second-best player on the defense is.
[Related: The mother of all distractions]
Top three storylines:
Uncertainty abounds—It appears that the departure of Mike Shanahan is a matter of if and not win. That has to have a lot of players wondering about their futures in the NFL. Keep a sharp eye on the field on Sunday and look for distracted players.
QB switch—Although there undoubtedly some players who would rather have seen the Redskins stick with Robert Griffin III at QB, there is no controversy in the locker room. Kirk Cousins has the respect of the players after working with the first team during most of the offseason.
Takeaways vanishing—During their current five-game losing streak the Redskins have lost the turnover battle by a combined 6-4 and they have won it only in the Vikings game. Earlier in the year the defense was giving up yards but making up for it by getting takeaways and scoring points. Now, they have just four takeaways in the last five games and haven’t scored since the Denver game.
[Related: Cousins ready to play if asked]
Next three games
Sunday @ Falcons (3-10)—Atlanta hosted the NFC title game last January and now there are some folks calling for coach Mike Smith to lose his job. That’s ridiculous, of course, but the Redskins should thank the Falcons for keeping them from being the most disappointing team in the NFC this year.
Dec. 22 vs. Cowboys (7-6)—This is probably the Redskins’ only chance to play spoiler in these last four games as the Cowboys could have plenty to play for. If the fate of the coaching staff is not already sealed, Dallas getting a key win with the FedEx Field stands loaded with Cowboys fans could be the last straw.
Dec 29 @ Giants (5-8)--When the schedule was written, this had a chance to be a clash for the division title. But now it will simply be an attempt by both teams to have a good ending a sour season.