The Redskins have made so many right moves that it’s hard not to notice. In a recent conference call with reporters, ESPN analyst Jon Gruden gushed about how Shanahan has put together the Redskins.
“Trent Williams is a Pro Bowl left tackle. Griffin was the rookie of the year. Who thought Alfred Morris was going to run for 1,600 yards? I didn’t,” the former Super Bowl-winning coach said. “They’ve done a nice job assembling a receiving corps that’s very good. . . . I like the way [they signed] Pierre Garcon via free agency. It’s really a well-constructed roster.”
And it’s one that some Redskins observers believed Shanahan, based on his mixed results in Denver, was incapable of building.
Shanahan’s 2006 Broncos draft was about as good as it gets: quarterback Jay Cutler, wide receiver Brandon Marshall, linebacker-defensive end Elvis Dumervil and guard Chris Kuper have all been selected for the Pro Bowl. Tight end Tony Scheffler and wide receiver Domenik Hixon have been solid contributors to teams throughout their careers.
Shanahan, however, also had several high-round draft busts and made many questionable moves in free agency, especially on defense, when he had roster control in Denver. It was said that Mike Shanahan the general manager got Mike Shanahan the coach fired. Although Shanahan’s first two seasons in Washington were 11-21 bad, he slowly made positive additions. The arrival of Griffin greatly accelerated the roster revival.
For Redskins player-personnel staff, the biggest difference in how business is done under Shanahan is that Shanahan actually listens to the people paid to give him advice about players. It used to be that scouts would spend the whole year compiling information in preparation for the draft and free agency, and then the people at the top of the franchise often ignored their suggestions in favor of chasing high-profile players incapable of providing a championship foundation.
Scott Campbell, director of player personnel, and Morocco Brown, director of pro personnel, have earned Shanahan’s confidence through the results they produce. Brown could run his own shop someday soon. Campbell and Brown understand Shanahan expects a no-stone-left-unturned approach in finding players, “and Scott, Morroco, every one of our assistant coaches, college scouts and our pro scouts know that that’s how you eliminate mistakes,” Shanahan said. “When you bring in guys like Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen, and they become your captains, and you get a guy like Pierre [Garcon] . . . it’s just not by luck. You draft a guy like Kerrigan . . . it’s because everyone in your organization understands what you need.”
Shanahan is getting what he wants. And that’s why the Redskins’ roster is a whole lot better than it has been in a long time.
For more columns by Jason Reid, go to washingtonpost.com/reid