Kyle Shanahan Returns to Face Redskins Seven Months After They Fired Him
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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – The season ended in disaster. Former Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan lost his job and quarterback Robert Griffin III’s reputation lost its shine.
A 3-13 season will do that. Griffin was never really healthy in 2013 after his second major knee surgery. He and Shanahan, who worked so well together in 2012 during his brilliant rookie season, also appeared at odds as the season spiraled out of control.
Shanahan makes his return to Washington on Monday night as the new offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns. The two teams meet in a primetime preseason matchup on ESPN at 8 p.m. at FedEx Field. But don’t expect too much from their reunion.
“I don’t really look at the other sideline during games,” Griffin said. “We’re focused on our sideline, on what we have and what we’re trying to do and I know they’ll do the same.”
Griffin acknowledged later that “It’s not that kind of relationship that we wouldn’t talk” if he and Shanahan see each other on the field before the game.
But if Griffin’s relationship with Shanahan was a tumultuous one, the same can’t be said for backup quarterback Kirk Cousins or former third-string quarterback Rex Grossman. Cousins, drafted by Washington in the fourth round in 2012, appeared in eight games during Shanahan’s final two years as the Redskins’ offensive coordinator.
“I liked [Shanahan’s] passion for the game and, most importantly, his knowledge,” Cousins said. “I always felt like when I came off the field he was putting me in a good position to be successful. And his play calling and his preparation gave me a chance. As a young player you need that because it’s hard yourself to know the game inside and out because you’re still learning as a young player. And Kyle was able to bridge that gap to where I was able to be successful – or at least felt like he gave me a chance to be successful.”
That’s an apt description of what Shanahan faces again in Cleveland, which is witnessing a quarterback battle of its own between Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel, the brash, Heisman Trophy winner who made himself a national figure in three years at Texas A&M. He became the first freshman to win a Heisman in 2012. The Browns selected Manziel with the 22nd pick in the first round.
Grossman has also been reunited with Shanahan. The two were together in 2009 when Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for the Houston Texans and Grossman was a reserve quarterback. Grossman spent the next four years in Washington with Shanahan and started 13 games in 2011. The last two seasons he was the third-string quarterback behind Griffin and Cousins and faces that same scenario in Cleveland if the Browns stick with three quarterbacks.
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