An unavoidable exodus for Shanahan, Redskins

December 23, 2013

Coach Mike Shanahan and the Washington Redskins have lost seven straight games, including Sunday’s 24-23 defeat to the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan didn’t take a final glance around FedEx Field as he neared the tunnel after Sunday’s loss. It seems there’s no looking back now.

A coach who just suffered his second straight one-point loss would normally be slumped at the postgame podium — too exhausted and frustrated to say more than a few words. But Shanahan looked relaxed. It’s as if he has made peace with what’s coming as he enters the season finale against the New York Giants with a 24-39 record in Washington.

Shanahan wasn’t the only person exiting FedEx Field for the final time Sunday. Probably half the players and the entire coaching staff won’t be back. It’s time to rebuild once again. With a loss to the Giants, the Redskins (3-12) would match the 1994 team for the most losses in franchise history.

Washington has a young quarterback, running back, tight end and left tackle, plus a receiver who just broke the team’s single-season record for most catches. That’s not a bad offensive core.

But the defense has seven free agent starters, with linebacker Brian Orakpo and cornerback DeAngelo Hall the only ones worth keeping. And no matter how much players talk of staying, money always wins. Players will also head to winning organizations rather than stay with this dysfunctional one.

All special teams players are gone, too. Why keep any? Dallas set up a touchdown off a 62-yard punt return against the league’s worst unit. The only person off special teams that should return is kicker Kai Forbath.

It’s hard to flip a roster by 50 percent, but the Redskins’ problems lie far deeper than their coach, whose Pro Football Hall of Fame candidacy has been shredded in his four years with Washington. Forget rumors of Shanahan heading to Houston or elsewhere. When the coaching carousel stops, Shanahan will be retired.

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will be lucky to find a similar job in the league, and it’s too late for a head coaching college job. The playcalling was shaky, but an even shakier relationship with the marquee quarterback is much more harmful. Kyle Shanahan is now damaged goods.

Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett will find work. Once again, his defense grew better over the season. However, Haslett never gained the right 3-4 personnel, rarely possessed anything of a secondary and was forced to use duct tape by the carton.

The Redskins can’t replace everyone in one offseason, but they must gain a new offensive line and keep Orakpo and Hall. Washington must find a special teams coach who threatens players’ livelihoods if they leave their lanes.

Monday, bloody Monday can’t come fast enough.

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Tracy Krulik · December 22, 2013