Kyle Shanahan defends assistants, says he isn’t trying to part ways with his father

December 19, 2013

Kyle Shanahan: “I’m going to continue to coach here until I’m told that I can’t anymore and I’ll finish that through.” (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said that he isn’t looking for an opportunity that would enable him to part ways with his father and continue coaching elsewhere.

Mike Shanahan’s future, and those of his assistants, remain uncertain with the Redskins headed toward what could be their worst finish in 19 years. As the tenuous relationship between Robert Griffin III and Mike and Kyle Shanahan has become more publicized, it has been speculated that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder could fire the head coach and his assistants. Another scenario that has been tossed around has included Shanahan returning and Kyle Shanahan departing.

Kyle Shanahan in his press conference on Dec. 12 acknowledged that fulfilling his life-long dream of coaching with his father has come with its share of challenges, and admitted that their relationship has subjected him to additional criticisms. An NFL Network report last week said that because of that, Kyle Shanahan had decided that he could no longer work with Mike Shanahan. Kyle Shanahan denied that.

Asked about his future in Washington, the offensive coordinator said, “That won’t be up to me. That’ll be up to our owner to decide if he wants us here. But the report that I want to distance myself from my father is totally untrue. I came here with a goal to win here and I’ll keep trying to do that until they don’t want us here. That’s not a decision that’s up to me, but I’m going to continue to coach here until I’m told that I can’t anymore and I’ll finish that through.”

After his press conference, Kyle Shanahan defended himself against additional criticisms. On Sunday, CBS Sports released a report that portrayed Shanahan as a controversial figure who has received favoritism from his father within the organization.

“If I was in charge, we would’ve seen a lot more free agents and draft picks on offense,” he said.

The sources in that CBS Sports report also pinned some of Washington’s struggles on Shanahan’s decision to bring young coaches from his time in Houston with him to Washington.

The assistants under fire  quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur, tight ends coach Sean McVay and wide receivers coach Mike McDaniel are all in their early 30s. But Kyle Shanahan denied that their youth has been a factor and dismissed the notion that he had hired them because he wanted to surround himself with friends.

“When you talk about the favoritism and say all I’ve done is hire my friends, I brought two people here with me from Houston,” Shanahan said. “You look at any coaching staff in the NFL, when coaches go somewhere, whether it’s coordinator, or head coach, it’s very important to bring with you who you’ve coached with. I haven’t hired friends. I’ve hired two people that I’ve coached with before. Unfortunately, if you’re under 40 years old and you’re on my staff, you’re locked in as my friend because we’re young. These guys aren’t my friends. These guys are guys who did all my dirty work and grinded and did everything for me at Houston and knew the ins and outs like quality controls do. They deserved promotions.”

Shanahan referred to LaFleur and McDaniels, who both coached with him in Houston. McVay hadn’t coached with Shanahan before joining Washington as an offensive assistant in 2010 and then becoming tight ends coach in 2011.

“When I hear people talking about them and they’re not good and they’re inept, that really offends me because it’s so messed up to those guys that people  because of their age, because they’ve worked with me before  that they’ve dogged those guys because our offensive staff, those guys, in my opinion are as good as a staff I’ve been around,” Shanahan continued. “And those guys  these two years, we have moved the ball better than any offense in the history of this 80-year organization. That’s something to be proud of. I think that’s a pretty good accomplishment that nobody’s done it better in all 80 years of a good organization and we couldn’t have done that without these coaches. If people want to really know how good these guys are, ask the players at their position. Ask the tight ends for Sean, ask the quarterbacks for Matt, as the receivers for Mike McDaniel, and then you’ll get an honest opinion, not one from some bitter guy who’s bitter about everything and just wants to hate on people.”

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesdays.

What’s ahead:

●  More from coordinators Jim Haslett and Kyle Shanahan speaking with reporters this afternoon.

More on the Redskins and NFL:

J. Reed done for seasonGriffin listens to Fletcher

Redskins clinch last place in NFL East  | Cousins aims to build

Reid: If Shanahan returned, who’d want to come along?

Redskins, Cowboys sing Fletcher’s praises | Hall of Famer?

Jenkins: Romo isn’t the problem in Dallas

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @MarkMaske | @Insider | Insider on Facebook

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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Mark Maske · December 19, 2013