Can Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan save his job? Maybe, but it might cost his defensive and special teams coordinators their jobs.
Washington (3-8) has lost three straight and even Shanahan admitted being embarrassed by the 27-6 thumping by San Francisco on Monday. With five games remaining, the Redskins have a real chance of ending on an eight-game skid.
How would you retain Shanahan after that?
At best, the Redskins can expect to finish 5-11 with a defense and special teams among the NFL’s worst and a quarterback who needs refocusing. They’re in tear-down mode after four years under Shanahan.
Really, owner Dan Snyder needs to hire a new coach and general manager while moving Bruce Allen to handle the salary cap and alumni relations.
Shanahan’s only backers are those afraid of change, but after a 24-35 mark over four years, firing Shanahan would be justified.
Shanahan supporters say: Who would the Redskins get with a better résumé?
The past doesn’t matter. Look for an established NFL offensive coordinator who can work with quarterback Robert Griffin III. Find a sharp assistant general manager. There are good prospects out there. Staying with this sinking staff would waste another year.
That said, the NFL is always about being one year away from a turnaround. Half the playoff teams are new each year. Shanahan knows if Griffin spends the entire offseason learning to read defenses instead of lines for commercials, the offense will be fine, especially with some new linemen via $20 million in free agency spending.
One more chance might work, but only if drastic changes are made to restore fans’ faith.
That means releasing defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and special teams coach Keith Burns after miserable tenures. If Snyder demanded the changes, Shanahan would probably agree.
Are Haslett and Burns the real villains here? Not really.
The defense has so little playmakers. It’s time for linebacker London Fletcher to retire. With the exception of DeAngelo Hall, the secondary has been poor. Haslett has done a good job in past seasons of masking problems and rising to challenges, but it’s not happening this year.
If Shanahan stays, what respected defensive coordinator would come to Washington knowing it may be the coach’s final season?
Snyder would need to give a two-year deal to new staff, knowing the second season may be farewell money if a new head coach comes in 2015 and wants someone else. The new coach shouldn’t be forced to inherit staff, unless the Redskins want to repeat the Zorn era.
If the team loses out, there’s no saving Shanahan. One division title means it’s not a total failure, but overall “not too good,” as predecessor Steve Spurrier would say.