I know there are reports that head coach Mike Shanahan might return, but it still seems hard to fathom. I know the reports said Shanahan wants to return and I’ve also heard that owner Dan Snyder still likes Shanahan. And it’s never easy for an owner to pay out approximately $15 million to a staff that he must fire and then shell out just about as much for a new one.
Under one scenario, Shanahan would tell Snyder that he needs to let him do it his way. Shanahan already has complete control, though it does not sound as if the coaches were all in on the Donovan McNabb trade (which means someone else above them was). Now stories are coming out that Shanahan felt they gave up too much or perhaps that he wasn’t all in on Robert Griffin III.
At the time, we only heard that Griffin was the guy Shanahan, and the Redskins, really wanted -- even ahead of Andrew Luck (or, at the least, it didn’t matter). Whether that's true or not, only they know. But the point is, the narrative has changed. Also, nobody mentioned the severe cost of the trade a year ago at this time.
For Shanahan to return, he’ll need to clean house on the coordinators. Obviously he would not fire his son, Kyle Shanahan, as offensive coordinator. So this means Kyle would find a job elsewhere. But, and this is sort of important, if I'm Snyder the one question I ask is this: You put this staff together, why should I believe the next one will do better things?
And then Snyder would have to give Mike Shanahan an extension. I can't see Shanahan wanting to coach as a lame duck, not with a quarterback in RG III that he perceives as having too much power. Whether that’s true or not, it’s the perception of the head coach, so he’d want to make sure everyone knew his authority. Coaching in the last year of his contract would undermine that desire. There’s no doubt he’d also want Snyder to not have a chummy relationship with Griffin.
As Louis Riddick said Friday, it’s Snyder’s right to have a relationship with his players. He just can’t take it too far or it does hurt the coach. I’ll say it again: the other side would say that the relationship just isn’t that close. But perception becomes reality.
You can’t justify a contract extension after this season. If you do give one, hold off on sending out those 2014 season ticket renewal packages until after a couple free agents are signed.
Even if all that happens and Shanahan returns ("So you’re saying there’s a chance,"), then you’ll still get a lot of this throughout 2014: "How is the relationship between Griffin and Shanahan?" Do you want that hanging over your franchise’s head again? A lot of damage needs to be repaired. This is not about a quarterback disliking his coach; it’s deeper.
By the way, if Shanahan somehow stays and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is out (which seems likely), then if I’m a new coordinator I’d say: I need to hire my own staff. The best defenses I’ve seen in Washington have come when the head coach hired a coordinator and let him do his job.
Add it all up and it would be hard to see all of this coming together. My hunch remains that a new coach will be here in 2014. It doesn't make a lot of sense for this to continue.
Kyle Shanahan continues to be caught in the middle of this mess, with two stories that came out Sunday (from NFL Network and CBS Sports). Shanahan said via text Sunday night that the NFL Network report was "100 percent not true." He said he wants to finish what this staff started.
I also know that I’d heard some of the same charges (without as much detail) a year ago that Jason LaCanfora wrote about in his story regarding favoritism paid to Shanahan by his father. The hard part for Kyle is that, because his father is the coach, if anything goes in favor of the coordinator, then the motivation will be questioned. Again, it’s all about perception.
I don’t doubt for a minute that Kyle would like to coach elsewhere and separate from his father in an effort to again make his own name. Kyle has never liked when people refer to the father and son as the "Shanahans." He wanted to coach with his dad, but if he really wants to become a head coach, it's time to break away from his dad and work for a coach with no strong ties to his past.
A year ago Kyle Shanahan was a name to watch for future head coaching positions -- especially with another strong season. I had been told before last offseason by a couple of league sources that they didn't think he was ready to be a head coach, but he was moving in that direction. Now Shanahan will have to go off on his own to prove that he is a good coordinator. Yes, he has his faults, but I do think he's a good coordinator.
I’m not alone in that thinking. One defensive coach, whom I greatly respect and who has faced the Redskins, called Kyle Shanahan an "above average coordinator ... I think he would be outstanding with the right head coach." He also said one of Shanahan's weaknesses is play-calling in critical situations.