A few comments on Mike Shananan's one hour, 35-minute interview with ESPN980 Wednesday (with a h/t to the Washington Post's DC Sportsbog for transcribing; you can click on links below to read more):
Shanahan was the guy in charge, and during this time he failed to build a team worthy of anything other than one hot stretch. That needs to be said because much of what took place was more of the blame game that has permeated Redskins Park the last, oh, 15 years. Some of it, though, was legit and it was good insight from one party involved. I will say, it's unusual for a former head coach to reveal all that Shanahan did. Coaches often threaten to do so, but almost never do.
I don't doubt a lot of what Shanahan said. If it's true that owner Dan Snyder was telling Shanahan from the get-go that Griffin should be a drop-back passer then it says a lot. Griffin was a very raw pocket passer; to have put him in that position was asking for failure and, likely, more hits. So, no, he was not ready to be a pocket passer, especially from the start. Football people knew that. Now, get him to a point where he didn't have to run a lot? That's absolutely a smart goal.
But, just a guess here, it's not healthy for an owner who is not a football man to be telling a coach how to use a player. As Shanahan said he told Snyder, after meeting with Griffin and hearing some buzzwords that aroused suspicion, “I told Dan, ‘Hey Dan, I just had a conversation with Robert and I think this conversation is coming from you more so than it is Robert. If that's the case, there's no way, unless your owner, your GM, your head coach and your quarterback are all on the same page you win in the National Football League.” I know Shanahan was concerned about the relationship between Griffin and Snyder before the 2013 season.
Shanahan said Griffin talked to him after his rookie season and let him know what plays he thought were “acceptable and unacceptable.” Shanahan said the words sounded like something Snyder would say. I don't blame Griffin for voicing an opinion, but it also speaks to someone reaching a point in his own mind that he had not hit in reality. But you can only do so if you're enabled. That's why, in some ways (definitely not all), the last guy I blame for this is Griffin. And I don't blame him for wanting to limit the shots. The problem was, he took a lot of them in the pocket or when scrambling – and more than a few of those scrambles could have been avoided by throwing to open receivers.
By the way, the stuff about Andrew Luck's protection was a topic during that rookie season, too. I remember conversations about this as a point illustrating how they were keeping Griffin from taking a similar pounding.
I don't know that any of the parties involved ever quite fully took responsibility for their part in this saga. You can speak it, but unless you accept it nothing really changes.
Some of what was said wasn't surprising because it had been reported before: That Snyder was the one behind the Donovan McNabb trade (Kyle Shanahan in particular was against this move) and that they would have drafted Russell Wilson had Seattle not done so. I always found it funny when we'd be told how little Snyder was involved. It's his team and he can do as he pleases. Just own up to it, you know?
We also already knew they had serious talks with Peyton Manning. And we also knew that he would not have traded for Griffin had they known of the salary cap penalties; too much to give up.
Shanahan admitted how much he liked Griffin coming out of college. Glad to hear that narrative hasn't changed because that's what was coming out three years ago, too
A key part of Shanahan's comments to hosts Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro is something he often said during Griffin's first season: that Griffin would one day realize all that he didn't know. Here's part of the quote when discussing the potential trade: “It's gonna take four or five years, it's not gonna happen overnight…But I want you to know that he's gonna have to really commit to what we're doing and he's gonna have to follow the little things and do the little things the right way, both in the running game and the passing game. I said he's got a chance to do things that nobody else has done.”
If this is what Shanahan told Snyder, that it would take this long, it's easy to see why he wants to keep him around. Griffin is entering his fourth season and fell behind in part because of the injury and then a change in coaches. If it's your team and you gave up that much for one guy, you'd better be darn sure he'll never pan out before discarding him.