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Making a Case for Shanahan Surviving Another Year in Washington

by Chris 'Blue Shorts' Lingebach
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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - About a week ago I wrote about how I become obsessively transfixed on EB’s thoughts and words the day after every Redskins’ game, win or loss, because of his unique perspective and effusive passion for the team. To me, he’s the most credible voice on the subject, and I remain adamant I’m not the only one who feels that way.

Despite the unpopular belief (I’m fairly certain nobody read it) that I was being insincere,  I wasn’t. Not even in the slightest. I don’t say this to be self-serving, just to set the scene for what’s to come.

While watching Mike Shanahan’s press conference yesterday – in which he belligerently dodged questions regarding he owner Dan Snyder’s relationship, and seemed to set the stage for his grand exit by declaring he’s considering benching Robert Griffin III – I realized immediately after, I was in need of EB’s take.

Simply put, nobody can read between the lines like that guy. Maybe it takes one to know one, but nobody can read Shanny’s ego quite like EB. He’s just good at reading people, for lack of better phrasing.

So it came as absolutely no surprise, even as everyone – media and fans alike – had written the Shanahan Era off for good yesterday, professing the Snyder-Shanny relationship beyond repair, EB was able to find a hole in that theory.

“There was a tone, it’s hard to lie with everything that comes out of your mouth, there was a tone there that you hadn’t heard before about the offseason,” EB said on 106.7 The Fan on Tuesday. “About the OTAs, about their program, about their future that you didn’t have before. And it makes you wonder.”

“You’re thinking that he is assuming he’s back,” Lurch said.

“No, I’m thinking that it’s an ultimate stalemate, and that Dan’s not going to pay him to walk away, and that he’s not going to walk away from the $7 million, so that’s kind of how he’s operating,” EB said.

“So he may be back?” Lurch asked.

“That could possibly happen,” EB acknowledged. “I could see a scenario, and I said it earlier, a scenario where Dan’s saying, ‘HEY! YOU TOLD ME TO BACK OFF! I BACKED OFF! IT’S YOUR PROBLEM! I’M NOT GETTING BLAMED FOR THIS! YOU FIX IT! YOU TAKE THE BLAME!’”

“And Shanny said, ‘Alright, I’ll be back, but you gotta let me run things my way,’” Lurch said. “‘No more limo rides for the fiance or the wife, no more security guards for them, I make the decisions.”

“Well he doesn’t have to acquiesce to that,” EB said. “Shanny has no say. Shanny has no leverage there.

“Why not?” Lurch asked.

“Because he’s under contract,” EB said.

“Okay, but he can say ‘I’m gonna start Cousins, he’s my opening day starter,’” Lurch said.

“Well he knows that that’s really stupid,” EB said.

Before hearing that segment, if anyone had told me Shanahan’s surviving this media blitzkrieg and sticking around another year, I would have punched that person in the face for insulting my intelligence with such malice. Maybe I’m a sucker for a clever argument, but when I heard EB this morning, I believed him. I began to believe Shanahan remaining in Washington, however unlikely at the moment, is still possible.

Perhaps it’s something deep inside me that desperately wants Shanahan to work out, because any other outcome leads to emptiness and despair; broken promises and yet another false belief that winning could be sustained, not fleeting in Washington. That Shanahan really was the guy to at long last resurrect this proud and far-too-humbled franchise, as advertised upon his arrival.

A naive thought? Maybe.

And yet, still I wonder. Is this situation really broken beyond repair? Or has the media (myself included, loosely) crafted yet another narrative – this time one that so perfectly aligns with the team’s current 3-10 performance, and ties-in enough subplots like the one that’s been building since Griffin and Kirk Cousins were drafted together – that it seems impossible to disbelieve?

One thing is certain: the media will continue to push and push until they get the answers they desire, because that is the nature of their jobs and psychology. Smell blood in the water. Attack. More blood. More. More. More.

Eventually they’ll stumble upon that nugget, that one soundbite that puts the final nail in the Shanahan coffin; a nugget he may even offer willingly in submission.

But getting the answer that completes the story, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s rooted in truth.

Perhaps over the course of four seasons, three of which he’s failed, Shanahan has slowly and systematically succumbed to the constant scrutiny beating down on him, and sought to cover his ass to survive, because just as its the media’s nature to press for answers, surviving is all he knows.

When it comes to determining something as nebulous as whether someone’s entry into the Hall of Fame, image is everything.

Can you really blame a guy for scrambling to protect his name, and a lifetime of built-up good-will with voters who hold his fate in their hands?

Coaching record and Super Bowls aside, when the voters decide, is Mike Shanahan a Hall of Fame coach? That decision could ultimately fall on his lasting image here in Washington.

Remember, it was merely three weeks ago Cris Collinsworth pleaded for the Redskins not to fire Mike Shanahan, at a time when doing so wasn’t nearly the clear and certain outcome it is today — off the heels of the team’s loss to the Vikings, when their season had just begun going off the rails.

“Don’t fire the coach!” Collinsworth shouted. “I mean, they’re going to try and fire the coach at the end of the year. It’s crazy!”

Maybe, just maybe EB was able to look past Shanahan’s half-truths, intentional misdirection and outright lies, and stumble upon a granule of reality yesterday: that things aren’t as bad they seem.

Contrary to popular wisdom, Mike Shanahan can survive another year in Washington.

Although at this point, it may take some sort of divine intervention to revive his tenure from the operating table.

Maybe I should point something else out about that Collinsworth quote. While he did accurately predict everyone would be screaming for Shanahan to be fired, he also predicted something else. Boldly, he predicted if Shanahan can somehow survive the screaming madness, the Redskins would be in the driver’s seat to win another division title in 2014.

And one last thing.

Perhaps it was just a money grab when Shanahan told Snyder not to hire him unless he was given five years.

But sometimes we get so caught up in the firestorm it’s tough to remember how we got where we are today.

Schottenheimer (4 years, $10 million). Spurrier (5 years, $25 million). Gibbs (5 years, $28.5 million). Zorn (5 years, $15).

That’s four head coaches Snyder’s signed to coach 19 seasons for the Redskins. Altogether, they’ve coached nine.

Doesn’t he owe it to the fans to see just one contract through?

All that time and money wasted, only to have the ever-looming black cloud of uncertainty find its way back to Ashburn. Wouldn’t it be nice for once to know a coach did or didn’t work out, with 100 percent certainty, because Snyder stuck to the plan?

Whatever. Nothing matters.

Watch it again. Listen to the questions. Decide for yourself.

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