So the firing heard across the world – that was expected to happen – happened when the Washington Redskins fired head coach Mike Shanahan this morning. Shanahan’s 24-40 record as head coach was not only the worst record of any NFC East team during his regime, it was the same winning percentage as two of his predecessors, Steve Spurrier and Jim Zorn.
There are many people to blame for the dysfunction at Redskins Park.
Let’s start at the top with owner Daniel “Danny Boy” Snyder.
First of all, I must say that Snyder has kept a relatively low profile the last few seasons of the Shanahan era. You only saw him at Redskins games and rarely behind a microphone. Hell, for the most part Snyder let Shanahan do his thing – until last season.
In the end, Danny Boy couldn’t help himself. He fell in love with Robert Griffin III before the draft and implored Shanahan and Co. to give up several draft picks to move up to the #2 spot to take him (when it was obvious that Shanahan didn’t want to do so). Snyder allegedly pampered RG3 to the point of providing security detail for his wife and inviting RG3 and his family over for Thanksgiving.
No owner – I repeat NO OWNER – should pamper any player that way. That only causes resentment and jealousy among the players – and to a certain extent the coaching staff.
Now let’s examine Shanahan’s role in this mess.
I understand that Shanahan inherited a flawed roster that was in desperate need of an overhaul. I know that NFL Commissioner/Warden/Playa Hater/Complete Bastard Roger Goodell screwed the Redskins (and Cowboys) out of valuable salary cap space for what they did during the uncapped 2010 season. And of course as the saying goes, “coaches coach and players play”.
Shanahan, though, let his ego get in the way of progress.
He tried to pigeon-hole (and subsequently blackballed) DT Albert Haynesworth into a 3-4 nose guard when he was clearly better as a 4-3 defensive tackle. He brought in terrible defensive coordinator Jim Haslett to run said defense when the personnel was made for a 4-3. He made a fool out of former QB Donovan McNabb (remember Shanahan’s silly explanation for why he pulled McNabb on the final possession against the Lions a few seasons ago?). Shanahan did handle RG3 and his injury poorly in the playoffs and this season. Shanahan should have sat RG3 for the first two to three weeks of the season when it was clear RG3 was not physically ready.
Speaking of which, let’s look at RG3 for a minute.
Yes, RG3 was the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year – and for good reason. By all accounts he has a great work ethic, which explains his performance last season (before the injury) and his rehabbing during the offseason.
However, there is a thin line between confidence and “feeling yourself”.
RG3 did not follow his coaches in working himself back during the season, allowing his marketing team to run the “Ready for Game 1” slogans this past offseason. He allowed Snyder to show him with pampered affection even if it meant creating tension in the locker room and undermining his head coach. And for crying out loud he let his daddy interfere with his son’s business in the organization, with his dad going as far as suggesting ownership hire his college coach Art Briles to coach the team.
Now with all of that out of the way, there are questions facing the Redskins going forward. How would their personnel be reconstructed? What are they going to do about their salary cap issues? How are they going to rebuild through the draft with limited picks (remember they traded up for RG3 two years ago?)? And what coach in his right mind would take over this mess?
And make no mistake, the Redskins are a hot mess.