Dead Man Walking: Mike Shanahan
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By Kevin Ross II
Early Sunday morning, way before the Redskins were beaten 45-10 by the Chiefs, a report surfaced from ESPN stating that Mike Shanahan had intentions of quitting after last season. The report alleges that Shanahan had cleaned out his office prior to the Seattle playoff game, and was prepared to leave the team for good.
Things changed for Shanahan following Robert Griffin’s devastating injury, as he was cognizant of the potential backlash that would have occurred if he had bailed on Griffin after putting him in harm’s way during the playoffs.
Allegedly the rift between Shanahan and Redskins Owner Dan Snyder grew into irreconcilable differences, following Snyder’s preferential treatment towards Griffin. It is believed that Dan Snyder placed Griffin on a pedestal, and treated him like a king in front of the other players. Mike Shanahan thought that such treatment was detrimental to his operation as it promoted a culture of favoritism which, in his mind, prevents winning. Usually reports of this magnitude are generally disregarded by the head coach, but Shanahan’s response following the blowout loss to the Chiefs, leads us to believe that the report does carry some truth.
“First of all, I want to talk about some of the things that were floating around this morning. It’s not the right time or place to talk about my relationship with [Redskins Owner] Dan Snyder, or it’s not the right time and place to talk about something that happened a year ago. I will get a chance to talk to Dan at the end of the season, and I will give him some viewpoints from me, and I’m sure he will give me his thoughts. I’m not sure what direction we will go, but we will communicate that at the right time,” Shanahan said.
He added, “I take full responsibility for this game today. I didn’t have the players ready to play. I thought they were ready to play. We did, obviously, horrendous on special teams. We gave up big play after big play. We didn’t tackle like we normally tackle on defense. Offensively, we did a couple of good things, [but] couldn’t get anything going in the second half. I will put that all on me.”
The remarks by coach Shanahan are telling, as this would have been his opportunity to speak about the possible falsehood of the ESPN report. Instead he leaned on political jargon and stated that he didn’t want to talk about something that happened last year.
When a report such as this floats to the surface, Shanahan immediately loses all credibility in the locker room, as his loyalty to his team and players is obviously questioned. How can any player lay it all on the line, for a coach who doesn’t want to be there? How can any player respect a coach who had his office packed away? Coach Shanahan stated that he “thought” he had prepared his team for the Chiefs. But the players have obviously tuned out this coach, and seem to no longer respond to his tactics. This was the worst effort in Mike Shanahan’s tenure with the Redskins and if this was grade school the whole organization would receive a red “F.”
This ESPN report is probably the beginning of the end for Mike Shanahan, who by all means is a dead man walking in Ashburn.
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Kevin Ross is a freelance writer covering all things Washington Redskins. His work can be found on Examiner.com.