One constant for the Redskins this season has been deferring the ball until the second half after winning the opening coin flip.
That, however, changed Thursday.
Coach Mike Shanahan reversed course at Cowboys Stadium and elected to receive the opening kickoff. His reason? It’s playoff time, baby.
“What I always do in playoff time is always take the ball. I’ve always done that,” Shanahan told reporters. “I just said, ‘Hey, you go in the playoffs and everything else really doesn’t matter. It’s your last game and you’re playing for it all.”
Shanahan said he would have elected to receive the opening kick against Philadelphia, too. But the Eagles won the flip.
It’s a different approach for Shanahan, who had previously deferred the ball until the second half each of the six times the Redskins won the flip in Weeks 3-9. When asked about deferring last month, Shanahan explained that he was playing the percentages after being shown a statistic that suggested teams “that defer win well over 60-percent.”
The Redskins’ desperate situation, though, has forced the veteran coach to rethink that approach. It also meshes with comments he made last week about an increased sense of urgency around the team these days.
“We’re treating each game as your final game because you look at the records and know what you have to do,” Shanahan said. “That’s the way we approach it.”
The Redskins are 2-4 when electing to defer and 1-0 when choosing to receive (although they did not score on their opening drive against the Cowboys).