In just two offseasons, Mike Shanahan has drastically remade the Washington Redskins’ roster.
After this week’s dismissals of Phillip Daniels and Casey Rabach, only 18 of the 74 players on the Redskins’ roster were on the team before Shanahan arrived.
On defense, just four starters – cornerback DeAngelo Hall, linebackers London Fletcher and Brian Orakpo and strong safety LaRon Landry -- remain from the Jim Zorn tenure. On offense, only two starters – wide receiver Santana Moss and tight end Chris Cooley – remain.
“We got all kinds of new acquisitions, free agents, rookies, you name it, man,” said Orakpo, whom the Redskins drafted in 2009 – the year before Shanahan arrived. “It’s a totally different team than when I first got here. … It’s a business. You’re going to see guys come in and out all the time. That’s something that I got used to when I first got here.”
In the last two years, the Redskins have gotten younger. And on defense especially, Shanahan & Co. have worked to find more ideal fits for the 3-4 opposed to last season when they made do, trying to fit 4-3-style players into the new, very different scheme.
And in addition to finding athletes better suited for his system, the coach also is looking for players with a certain attitude. He says he wants more passionate, football-first, win-at-all-cost, high-character type of players.
When Shanahan discussed free agent additions Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen, the coach talked about how he could tell how much pride both took in their games and their character and leadership ability, and said, “that’s the way you build your football team.”
But Shanahan isn’t scrapping all of the old guard.
“You’ve got to make sure your experienced guys are playing at a high level,” Shanahan said. “They have to love playing and have a passion for the game. They have to play like they’re young. … London Fletcher for example. There’s a lot of age in some players but you can never tell they’re the older players. Some people decide when they get a bit older they’ve made enough money and they’re somewhat retired. I see it in coaches, too. So we’re going to try to put together a football team where we can have a little mixture of both. Mainly, the people that want to go in the same direction and do the things that give you the chance to win are the people we want here.”