One thing I've learned covering the Washington Redskins: It's always interesting. Even at 3-9, the Redskins remain a team that gets a lot of attention, as much because of the circus atmosphere than results as anything. So it is with this story by Dan Graziano from Sunday morning.
Anyway, here's what I know and don't know:
I haven't heard that owner Dan Snyder and coach Mike Shanahan don't get along. I haven't heard that they have a chummy relationship, either. I think it's usually better for the coach here if they are a little tighter. But they're not. Thing is, I don't know that it's an unworkable relationship, and I think that having Bruce Allen as an intermediary helps.
I have a real hard time seeing Shanahan being here for his fifth season after reading the story. Certain dynamics won't change. Safe to say Shanahan knows that as well. And if I'm Snyder, I'm not happy that this news came out. He can justify a move because the Shanahan regime has not produced the way he hoped.
The timing of the leak makes me wonder. From what I understand, there was no connection drawn by the person who provided the tip and this, but it's curious that Shanahan's name is being mentioned as a possibility for Houston's opening. If Shanahan indeed has reached the point that he wants to leave, it makes sense to have a story like this come out. If he thinks he's going to get fired anyway, why not now? It would give him a head start on other candidates. Houston is an attractive job and the organization is run much differently.
Again, I wasn't told that all these dots were not connected. Just my own thoughts, but it makes sense. My guess also is that the Shanahans have grown tired of being portrayed in a certain light. Kyle Shanahan clearly wanted to discuss certain play calls at the end of last season and in the playoffs during his news conference Thursday. Reputations are at stake here.
If the Redskins change coaches, they still will be able to find someone else. Some coaches will stay away, but the combination of money, free-agent spending and a young potential franchise quarterback will always convince a coach he can win here. Snyder did build a bubble and moved training camp for Shanahan, and he will spend. I don't know that Snyder was really working against Shanahan.
I had heard earlier this year that Shanahan was not thrilled with the Robert Griffin III-Snyder dynamic. But what coach would be? That doesn't mean Snyder can't have a relationship with a player who is arguably the most important one he's ever acquired. But it does mean it leads to issues. And it can make any young player feel more entitled. And it can make any coach annoyed when that happens. By the way, others in the organization say the relationship between Snyder and Griffin is not as close as portrayed.
I remember Norv Turner telling people years ago that he was willing to quit, a charge he denied, early in Snyder's tenure. But he didn't. And I don't know many people who are willing to walk away from $14 million. That doesn't mean there wasn't real dissatisfaction or an urge to make a move. A Redskin spokesman has strongly denied the report. They always do; sometimes it's legit and other times it's not.
It would be good for Snyder to talk; there are a lot of issues building and it would be good to hear from the guy in charge. Of course, if he has no idea what he wants to say in terms of Shanahan's job and the future, then should he really say anything? That's the thinking. But there are a lot of leaks and stories, which often occur in 3-9 seasons. At some point, the owner -- or Allen -- will have to address them.
Why all this talk about last season now? Because it matters to the future. The way Kyle Shanahan and Griffin perceive what happened at the end of last season, and during the playoff loss, matters regarding what might happen going forward (or how their relationship is). It's a factor in any decision and can't be ignored.
Griffin isn't a bad guy. Is he perfect? Far from it, just like everyone else. I wonder if it's always tough for 23-year-olds to realize this when you've received the adulation he has over the past couple of years and when the owner treats you differently. It's probably a natural reaction. That doesn't mean it's healthy. Griffin hasn't made any strong endorsements of either Shanahan. It's telling.
Again, Snyder is allowed to have a relationship with the most important player he's ever acquired. But I know in the past when this has happened, other players in the locker room notice.
There will be pressure on Griffin going forward if this regime blows up. Fair or not, there will be a perception that he had something to do with it because of his relationship with the owner or because of what he thought of the Shanahans. I know a lot of players like this offense and like playing for Mike Shanahan. Griffin's image hasn't been shattered, but it's not nearly what it was a year ago. Winning repairs any image; just ask Kobe Bryant or LeBron James (who took a tumble for different reasons).