After Bright Start, Redskins Dim; LaRussa Retires on Top


November 1, 2011
Ceci Ferrara
Sports Writer
Sports Insider

Just a few weeks ago, the Redskins looked like a different team. They were energized, competitive and most importantly, they were winning games. But ever since their bye week — a week meant for rest and a chance to refocus — they have been on a downward spiral that has left them at the bottom of the division. Having lost four out of their last five games, they are struggling to stay relevant.

Sunday’s 23-0 shutout by the Bills was the first of Mike Shanahan’s 267-game career as a head coach. And was it ugly. John Beck, who last week showed promise, seemed to be getting sacked every other play, boosting the Bills season total to 13. They had just four in their first six games. But a sacked quarterback is less indicative of a poor QB and more evident of a weak offensive line, which is exactly what the Redskins have (and what Buffalo took advantage of). The nine sacks were a franchise worse for the injury-ridden Skins, in a football game that even radio commentators dubbed at one point as “embarrassing”.

The Redskins best chance to put points on the board came in the second quarter when Brian Orakpo recovered a Buffalo fumble at the Bills’ 31-yard line. Instead of driving down the field, Beck was sacked twice, and the Skins had to settle for a 49-yd field goal attempt. It was blocked by the Bills, who took over and finished the first half up 13-0. Unable to ever get things going – neither offensively, nor defensively — the Skins ended with a shutout for the first time since December 2009, when they lost 17-0 under then coach Jim Zorn.

While Shanahan noted afterwards that he had never before been shutout and found it “humbling”, the fact remains that in his second year as head coach not much has changed. When he came to Washington, he promised a new team, and has twice failed to deliver. These are the same old Redskins – inept, ineffective, and in the world of NFL playoffs, irrelevant. If he cannot be the leader that the team needs, perhaps he should go the way of  Spurrier, Marty Schottenheimer, and Jim Zorn. Maybe that’s harsh, but whatever he’s doing isn’t working. This isn’t Denver, and you don’t have John Elway. Either get it together or get out.

Tony LaRussa Retires After 33 Years

Just three days after his team made their improbable playoff run to win the World Series in a deciding Game 7, the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals since 1996 announced his retirement from Major League Baseball. While his subpar playing career spanned just six years in the 60s and 70s, his 33-year managerial career is the all-time third best.

He leaves the game with 5,097 games managed, a .536% winning percentage (2,728 – 2,365), and three World Series titles. While he won a championship with the Oakland Athletics in 1989, he is remembered most recently as the skipper of the Cardinals, where he has truly shined over the past 15 years. His time in St. Louis is highlighted with two World Championships (2006, 2011) and the NL Manager of the Year award in 2002.

While LaRussa reportedly told the organization’s upper management about his plans to hang ‘em up back in August, none of his players or coaches had any idea until after the Series was already won. His players, who credit him for their winning ways, were reportedly unable to hold back tears when he told them. It is a bittersweet ending to a fairytale season.

LaRussa will now embark on his life post-baseball. He will surely be missed, not only by those in St. Louis, but also by those who recognized his love and dedication to the game, and his ability to maneuver a roster better than most. He will be up for consideration into the MLB Hall of Fame in December 2013 and is sure to be a first ballot inductee.


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