It’s been almost two weeks since the ‘Skins exited the playoffs, and Mike Shanahan is still entrenched in the organization, like a stubborn red-faced weed that refuses to be uprooted. ‘Skins fans, I’ve got to ask you – what has he done to earn another year?
I’m a diehard Patriots fan, but I also follow the ‘Skins…or do they follow me? I read the Washington Post for breakfast, listen to sports radio on the way to work, watch the local evening news, and am dating a girl who prays to RGIII each and every night. To sum it up, I can’t get through my day without hearing the latest out of Redskins Park.
So I know what the team has been like for the last decade. I know how this season played out. What I don’t know is how ‘Skins fans can stomach Shanahan after last Sunday’s loss.
When Shanahan came to the ‘Skins in 2010, he was hired as both Head Coach AND Executive Vice President of Football Operations, meaning he had “the final say in all football matters.” There’s only one other NFL coach with the same title and amount of influence: Bill Belichick.
I won’t waste too many words revisiting Shanahan’s first two seasons with the ‘Skins, but suffice to say it was less than stellar – here are some memorable moments:
- Signing McNabb (and extending his contract midway through the season)
- Alienating Haynesworth
- Staking his reputation on John Beck
What do all three players have in common? NONE played in the NFL this year!
Shanahan went and got his franchise QB in the offseason, albeit at a price that would make Al Davis blush. No matter though, because who needs 1st round draft picks for the next two years when you have an All Pro caliber QB leading your team, right..? Shanahan won some good faith with that move, but it didn’t take long for him to sour things.
Remember training camp? Remember inexplicably releasing Graham Gano in favor of Billy Cundiff, the 2012 AFC Championship goat and my personal hero? Remember unceremoniously cutting fan favorite Chris Cooley at the end of training camp? Cooley had been the rock for that offense year-after-year, the same as London Fletcher for the defense and Li’l Sebastian for Pawnee. Show some damn respect!
So after the training camp blunders, the regular season got under way and RGIII appeared to be well worth the investment. Fast-forward to Week 10, with the ‘Skins sitting at 3-6 and Shanahan publicly labeling the season a dud. I don’t believe his intention was to motivate the players to rally. To me, it seemed like he was desperately trying to make his case for more time with the team, ‘rebuilding.’
Why else would a coach risk further injury to his already dinged-up star QB? Mike Shanahan played RGIII because he was afraid his job was in jeopardy. Would a coach who is certain about his place in the organization ignore the advice of world-renown knee doctor, just to win one playoff game? Do you really think Belichick would have put Tom Brady in the playoffs after backup QB Matt Cassell led the team to a 10-6 record in 2009? No, Belichick would have thrown his heaviest pair of Uggs at Brady before letting him play with a half-healed knee. (FYI, the Pats did not make the playoffs that year)
You can get by on reputation alone until your unimpressive body of work catches up to you. Shanahan rolled the dice with the team’s future and lost – do you really want to see what he does next year? MP