Shanahan has since protested that he didn't mean to say the Redskins' season is over, but we'll say it for him. The Redskins have way too many problems defensively to possibly recover from a 3-6 start. This isn't a team capable of running the table. Let's break it down:
What went wrong
Losing linebacker Brian Orakpo was a crippling blow to a defense lacking a pass rush. The Redskins had a terrible plan at safety going into the season, and that plan went horribly wrong after they lost Tanard Jackson and Brandon Meriweather. The Redskins give up way too many big plays in the back end.
Jim Haslett's defense has grown more stale each year in Washington. They are 27th in points allowed and 29th in yards allowed; there aren't enough difference makers. Ryan Kerrigan is a solid building block but he's not a great run defender. London Fletcher has showed his age at times.DeAngelo Hall is a big name that play just like any other guy.
The offense has to carry the Redskins and it has mostly been up for the task. But wide receiver Pierre Garcon's foot injury and tight end Fred Davis' Achilles injury has put too much on quarterback Robert Griffin III's plate.
What went right
Shanahan keeps saying that this team is better than his previous Redskins squads that won only five and six games. We agree. The 2012 season was always supposed to be about Griffin's development and it didn't take long to realize the kid was the truth (go here to find out why). Shanahan has done a great job bringing RG3 into the NFL. The Redskins have a great mix of traditional offense (play-action, base running) and concepts borrowed from RG3's days at Baylor.
The kid is accurate, tough, and makes very good decisions. All those draft trades were worth it. The offense is very tough to prepare for despite its injuries. They are fifth in total scoring, sixth in yards-per-attempt passing, and first in rushing yards-per-attempt.
In any other year, Alfred Morris would be an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate. The offensive line is playing very well making holes for him and they have pass protected better than expected. Shanahan's schemes are working. On defense, young players like linebacker Perry Riley and defensive end Jarvis Jenkins look like solid building blocks.
What still matters
After a tough game against the Panthers, the Redskins need to make sure Griffin's development doesn't stagnate. The Redskins have done a great job bringing him along as a quarterback step-by-step. That development is really what the rest of this season is about. The Redskins have been very competitive each week. Five losses are by eight points or loss. They have five division games left to show they can close out games better.
What changes are coming
Shanahan needs to win some games down the stretch or the calls for his job will increase. It's hard to imaging owner Dan Snyder changing coaches as long as Griffin is playing well and the Redskins win a handful of games. Why potentially stunt Griffin's development by changing coaches?
Then again, Snyder is unpredictable. He will probably ask Shanahan to fire Haslett, which is a move that is overdue anyway.
This is not a team we'd want to face down the stretch. Second place in the NFC East may not sound like much, but it would be a start. The Redskins can pull that off.Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.