By Kevin Ross

155477444 The Finish Line In Sight for Mike Shanahan’s Redskins

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

“One of the keys to happiness is having dreams. One of the keys to success is making them come true.” This is the mantra that Mike Shanahan choses to live his life by, and is documented in his book, “Think Like a Champion”. 
Mike Shanahan is the ultimate steward of planning, preparation, and hard work.  Things are never done by chance with Mike Shanahan and he believes that if his plan is executed properly, the outcome will have room for only one result: Winning.  Coach Shanahan used his book as a platform to allow onlookers a few glimpses into his personal life as a coach, husband and father. 

 “Back in the spring of 1994 when my son, Kyle, was in the eighth grade, he had to run the mile for the high school he was scheduled to attend the following fall.  When he got back home, I asked him how he did.  Not good, he answered.  He finished twenty-fourth, with a time of 7:48.

“What was the best time?” I asked.

“A five-fifty-one,” he said.  “Boy, I wish I could run like that.”

There it was again, rearing its ugly head, The Wish Syndrome I despise, wishing for something rather than planning to do it.

Well, I told Kyle, “I can guarantee you one thing. If you do what I ask you to do for the next six weeks, and not any more than one hour and fifteen minutes a day, five days a week, I can guarantee you that you will win the mile. Do I have the commitment?”

“Yes!” Kyle said.

Well, the first thing we did was break down his training methods, which were a study in misspent energy.  He was going out and running one mile at time, working hard as so many of us do, but he was working ineffectively.  He didn’t even realize it. So I prescribed a new plan, altering his training methods, I had him run 40-yard dashes, 100-yard dashes, 200-yard dashes, smaller incremental distances leading up to a mile.  He did it five days a week, for six straight weeks.  And the next time he ran that mile, he dropped his time to a 5:46. He went from twenty-fourth place to first.”

This passage extracted from Mike Shanahan’s book, represents a microcosmic view of how the ball coach views life and how he conducts business. The struggling, slow, and 24th place Kyle Shanahan might remind you of the state of the Washington Redskins when Mike Shanahan took over following the Jim Zorn era. 

Mike guaranteed success only if Kyle was willing to commit for the long haul of six weeks. And after the allotted time frame, Kyle brought home a championship.  And therein lies the reason why Mike Shanahan would only sign a contract to coach the Washington Redskins if, Daniel Snyder agreed to be committed for the long haul and honor all five years of his contract.

It took Kyle six weeks, but it takes years to overhaul player personnel, coaching personnel, training methods, and the overall dysfunctional culture that had become the norm for Washingtonians. But even with all the preparation in the world, that is still not enough to guarantee victory in the National Football League. 

It usually takes a little bit of luck combined with a great work ethic to win.  And Washington’s luck came in the 2012 draft when the franchise traded up to draft what is proving to be a transcending figure to professional football. 

Robert Griffin III at the age of 22 is still considered by many people’s standards as a kid.  But this kid is not your average 22 year old, and  is already the face of the Washington Redskins organization, the face of Subway, but more importantly the face of the entire NFL. 

Entering the NFL from the University of Baylor, RG3 was surrounded by so much hype and expectations that it was thought to be nearly impossible for him to live up to the bill. But what’s baffling everyone is the fact that he has actually exceeded those expectations, and is in serious discussion for league MVP. 

The one topic that has been on the table for football experts all around the country is this: The Giants will be the first team that has seen RG3 twice, and know what to expect.  How will that effect RG3? 

That’s a decent question to pose, but look at it from this perspective: This will be the first time that Robert Griffin has seen a defense twice.  Griffin III might be even better than he was during the first meeting, because he knows what to expect from the New York Giants. 

The key to the Redskins beating the Giants will be RG3 continuing to be RG3. Meaning, Griffin needs to continue to be the league’s most efficient quarterback, and it starts with limiting his turnovers. Robert Griffin’s greatest statistic may be the fact that he only has thrown 4 interceptions this season.  To put things into perspective, last season at this time Rex Grossman had compiled 18 interceptions, and had thrown for 3 less touchdowns than RG3. 

If Robert can do more of the same against New York, the FedEx faithful should be able to will this team to victory, in what has been deemed as the biggest game in the last 5-10 years for Redskins Nation.

A win this week might catapult this team to post season play, but it might also signify that the finish line is in sight.  

For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Redskins news, see CBS Sports DC.

Kevin Ross is a freelance writer covering all things Washington Redskins. His work can be found on


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