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Steve DeShazo: Redskins vs. Packers
By Steve DeShazo
LANDOVER, Md.--Anyone who has dealt with a building contractor knows that no construction job ever moves as quickly as you'd like. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither does a 4-12 football team become a winner overnight.
Still, Mike Shanahan is starting to sweep away a little of the dust from his renovation project, and we're starting to see some encouraging results. Yesterday's improbable 16-13 overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers was an early byproduct of Shanahan's ongoing extreme makeover of the Washington Redskins.
"Two years ago, this isn't a game we were able to win," safety Reed Doughty said. "Even two weeks ago. This is a big win--one of the most special wins since I've been here."
Forget for a moment the opponent (a Super Bowl contender) and the fashion (overcoming a 13-3 third-quarter deficit) of a win that came one week after a 17-12 victory at Philadelphia. Those are significant enough for a team that's accustomed to folding like origami.
But this victory had Shanahan's fingerprints all over it. This is quickly and decisively becoming his team, as he instills confidence in his charges and distances himself from the egregious personnel miscalculations made by his inept predecessors.
Two days ago, Shanahan cut receiver Devin Thomas, one of three unproductive second-round draft picks made in 2008 by former vice president Vinny Cerrato. Another, wideout Malcolm Kelly, is on injured reserve; the third, tight end Fred Davis, has three catches in five games. Thomas was averaging 28 yards per kickoff return, but Shanahan wasn't impressed by his work ethic or lack of offensive productivity.
And yesterday, Shanahan deactivated left guard Derrick Dockery, one of Cerrato's big-money free-agent signees. Low-profile Kory Lichtensteiger, who had been splitting snaps with Dockery, played the whole way.
The immediate results weren't always pretty. The Redskins' running game was nearly nonexistent yesterday, and Donovan McNabb spent part of the day on his back (and another part of it running frantically to avoid that fate). Those are problems that aren't going away. Said linebacker London Fletcher: "[McNabb] has great presence. I just wish we could keep him upright a little more."