ASHBURN, Va. -- When Chris Cooley was a rookie, it was clear to him -- and anyone else with eyes and ears for that matter -- that two players did not want to be in Washington. Laveraneus Coles and Rod Gardner complained quite a bit about then-coach Joe Gibbs. It was not a healthy situation.
“They hated what Gibbs did,” Cooley said. “It was hard as a young player to have them complain every day. As a young player I look at vets saying, ‘this isn’t right.’ It was right, it just had to be guys that bought in.”
And that led him to the Redskins’ current state and the decision that ultimately must be made.
“If you have big players or players you consider leaders who say, ‘Yeah bring Mike back,’ and young guys who buy in then that’s all you need,” Cooley said.
Cooley had a lot to say about his current job in this Friday Conversation. He also had something to add about two coaches in particular -- Mike and Kyle Shanahan. He considers Mike Shanahan a friend; he’s high on Kyle Shanahan as a coordinator. Real high.
I’ll let Cooley’s words carry the day, so here’s his take on what should go into the decision to retain Mike Shanahan.
“It’s fully his relationship with the owner [Dan Snyder] and the direction the owner thinks it’s going, combined with Bruce [Allen]. They know him better than anyone. Mike has a personal relationship with people and a professional relationship. If he has a personal enough relationship with those guys and they understand who he is and what’s going on, then he stays. I love the idea of continuity and I also want continuity among people who want it to grow. If Mike can show the owner that these players do buy in and like the scheme, then bring him back. I’m interested how far it should go. When I was first here Dan would talk to players about what they think. I know he hasn’t done that in a few years. It might be the year to bring in guys like Pierre Garcon or Logan Paulsen and asks them, ‘Tell me what you think about this situation. I want to make the right choice.’
“There’s an atmosphere that can breed success or one that you don’t want to play in…. We’re not far away from winning a Super Bowl. That’s hard for anyone to believe, but that’s the truth. It could be a couple offseason moves and something meshes and you win 12 games. Look at the Chiefs and Panthers. If you think the continuity is there and good and the owner understands what’s [happened], then you bring him back. If you don’t believe in that, it’s not what the media thinks and it’s not about Dan’s image and it’s not about anything with Robert… It’s his believe they are moving the right way.”
And now here’s what he had to say about Kyle Shanahan as a play caller and coordinator.
“As a coordinator, this is the only offense I ever had that truly made sense. I don’t know, man. I think the play calling has been fantastic and the players haven’t executed those plays. It’s not all the time on the players, but I’ve seen play-action and Robert made overthrows. How is the call bad if the play isn’t executed? He does a good job giving confidence to players. I was always 100 percent bought in. I trusted Kyle and I like what he did. I don’t think he grab-bags. I think he gets fascinated with the idea that he is manipulating the defense to get coverages he wants when maybe he isn’t. … It’s hard for a coordinator to just do what works over and over again. I never coordinated and don’t know how hard that would be, but they spend a lot of time drawing up plays and getting to a defense and they want to get to them and I don’t know that you have to. When Gibbs was here we weren’t prolific, so maybe I’m wrong but he had no problem with having just 20 plays in a playbook and just having different ways to get to them. I thought we were pretty physical and pretty good but I do buy into Kyle and I like what he does. I think it’s killing him that Mike’s here because of how he gets portrayed in our media. I think he’s a heck of a coordinator… Kyle is doing an unbelievable job helping Robert grow and getting plays he can execute. Guys believe in Kyle. The players believe in Kyle offensively. I know that. And that’s important. The other thing I know is guys like [Jim Haslett]. There’s never been any rumblings from guys like, ‘[Screw] Haz.’ They like our coordinators.”