By Kevin Ross II
Following the brutal defeat by the Chiefs on Sunday, it seemed pretty clear that Mike Shanahan’s days as the Redskins head coach were down to the final hours or even minutes. Most awoke on Monday morning hoping to see breaking news on their Twitter feeds. But there was no such news as Shanahan made it through the night, had a meeting with Daniel Snyder in the morning, and now appears to be on the same page as the owner.
Mike Shanahan’s tone during Monday’s press conference spoke to a guy who was reassured by his boss, that he would remain the team’s head coach. Shanahan was uncharacteristically blunt and precise during this session with the media and chose his words carefully when speaking about the potential benching of quarterback Robert Griffin III. And if Griffin is benched against the 3-10 Falcons, he’ll be benched for the remainder of the season according to Shanahan.
The media expected the coach to answer questions about the looming report, which eluded to him being prepared to quit following last season. But instead Shanahan seemed focused on the long term operations surrounding the team, and leads us to wonder what exactly was said in his conversation with Dan Snyder. Shanahan used his nationally televised press conference to make the case that benching Griffin is in the best interest of the Redskins long term success.
“The one thing about the quarterback position, or at least our quarterback position, he’s never had an offseason. He’s coming off an ACL/LCL surgery. We’ve got three games left and we’ve had 24 sacks in five games. That’s a little bit unusual. That’s a lot of wear and tear on the body. So that was just some of my thoughts, especially going against a team that’s had two sacks in five games and we have six sacks. I want to make sure that he is healthy, and it doesn’t mean that he’s not going to go that direction, but if he did get injured I think I might be very disappointed going into the offseason that he’s not there for whole offseason. It’s very important for him to be there. And if he did play and something did happen to him, I think it would set our franchise back.”
Shanahan later stated that he’ll make the final decision on Griffin’s availability on Wednesday. And the obvious and correct decision would be to sit Griffin for the remainder of this meaningless season, as he should have never suited up against the Chiefs.
Mike Shanahan wears two different hats for the Redskins—he’s their head coach and he’s the general manager. The head coach will want to win every game, no matter what the standings say, but a general manager must be concerned with building a long term winner. The general manager role seems to be the driving force for Shanahan being so blunt about benching his starting quarterback. And the underlying layer of benching Griffin would circle around Kirk Cousins as the team will attempt to drive-up his trade value in hopes of recouping a No. 1 pick.
Well it’s day two after Sunday’s debacle and Mike Shanahan is still the head coach, still doing business as usual preparing for Atlanta, and still looking at things from a long term perspective. And if you take his press conference words as truth, his relationship with Dan Snyder is peaches and cream.
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Kevin Ross is a freelance writer covering all things Washington Redskins. His work can be found on Examiner.com.