Six questions Mike Shanahan declined to answer

December 8, 2013

(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Mike Shanahan’s Sunday press conference was kind of uncomfortable to watch. Over a bit more than six minutes, the head coach repeatedly took responsibility for Sunday’s disaster, but declined to do much more than that, repeatedly deflecting questions about the thorny issues fans and media members have been discussing for hours. (Mostly, the ESPN.com report that indicated Shanahan was ready to quit at the end of the 2012 season.)

I’m sure Shanahan’s various responses will be all over our web site, but let me present them here, paired with the questions he did not want to answer. These are listed in chronological order; there were several other questions he did answer, which I’ve omitted.

In his opening statement, Shanahan said this:

It’s not the right time or place to talk about my relationship with Dan Snyder. It’s not the right time and place to talk about something that happened a year ago. I’ll get a chance to talk to Dan at the end of the season. And I’ll give some viewpoints from me, I’m sure he’ll give me his thoughts on what direction we’ll go, and so we’ll communicate that at the proper time.

Now the questions:

1. Coach, there’s been a couple times over the course of the last few weeks when something’s come out that wasn’t true, and you did — even in season — say that it wasn’t. Why not do that in this situation? (106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen)

Shanahan: “Well like I said, there’s only one focus I have now….There’s one thing that I’ll talk about, and that’ll be the Atlanta Falcons, or we’ll talk about the remaining three games. So I’m not going to go down that road, because I understand what happens when you’re having the type of season that we’re having.”

2. A couple of weeks ago you said that every player, every coach was playing and coaching for their job. After a loss like this, do you worry at all about your job and the staff the rest of the way? (Paulsen again)

Shanahan: “Well, like I said, my focus is going to be on Atlanta. I’m not going to get away from that….”

So in short, you’re going to talk about what you feel like talking about, but not anything else? (Thomas Boswell of The Post. I’m not counting this as a question.)

Shanahan: “Well, if you’d like to word it that way. I don’t like to word it that way. I’d like to talk about the job at hand, not speculation or my relationship. I’d like to focus on the job at hand.”

3. Mike, have you had a conversation with Dan Snyder since that story came out? (Mark Maske of The Post)

Shanahan: “Like I said, we’ll talk about football, we’ll talk about Atlanta. I’m not going to get into details about my relationship with Dan or about the reports that circled this morning.”

4. Mike, independent of that report, do you want to remain the coach here and do you believe that you will? (Maske again)

Shanahan: “Like I said, you keep on talking about this. And I think I made my point. Any questions about football?”

5. Does Robert start next week? (Joseph White of the Associated Press)

Shanahan: “We’ll talk about all that later. I would say that about anybody, any position. We’ll talk about that — [after] we look at injuries, look at where we’re at, what direction we’re going.”

6. I know it’s difficult for a coach to kind of encapsulate the words right after a game. You called the San Francisco loss an embarrassment, a low point. Walking off the field today, in these quick moments here, can you summarize, put your finger on, describe…. (Dave Owens of WUSA)

Shanahan: “I already told you, I took full responsibility for that. Don’t need to go any further. If you’d like to talk more about the run game and Alfred Morris carrying the ball, we could do that. But I think I made my point. Thank you.”

Then he left.

The Alfred Morris/run game business was an apparently reference to this exchange with Owens last week.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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Dan Steinberg · December 8, 2013