The real trend in Shanahan’s player decisions is that he wants a locker room full of guys like Fletcher: self-starters, overachievers, and clubhouse leaders. Not necessarily the most overtly talented guys in the league, but what some people call “character players.”
In the end, the only opinions of Shanahan’s moves that really count are in the locker room. Shanahan has been accused of alienating some in the locker room with his uncompromising ways, especially his handling of Haynesworth and McNabb, but if so, he doesn’t seem to care. He appears to be less concerned with alienation than commitment.
The Washington Post’s Mike Jones reports from Redskins Park on the details and reaction to the trade that sends Albert Haynesworth from the Redskins to the New England Patriots for a fifth-round draft pick in 2012.
Example: By any normal standards, McNabb was a hard worker. But it seems that to Shanahan’s workaholic eye, he didn’t work quite hard enough. It’s worth noting how many Redskins have commented on the relentless work habits of John Beck. It’s unclear whether Shanahan is really serious about considering Beck as his starting quarterback, or simply using him as a rabbit, a pace-setter, while still looking to do something else at the position.
But those who consider Beck an absurd option should check his history: In addition to being dedicated he is smart, mobile, and accurate — he completed almost 70 percent of his passes as a senior at Brigham Young in 2006 — and among the other people who have seen something in him is Joe Theismann. The Dolphins liked him well enough to draft him, and the Ravens liked him well enough to pick him up.
In any case, through him Shanahan has sent an unmistakable message: He will swap out the alienated in favor of the committed, and he doesn’t give a damn about your name value.
None if this necessarily translates into success. The Redskins still have some gaping holes to fill. Arguably no other team is such an unknown quantity, especially at the skill positions: If the season opened this very moment, the Redskins would be going with either Beck or Rex Grossman at quarterback, Ryan Torain in the backfield and Santana Moss, Anthony Armstrong and Jabar Gaffney as their receivers.
The risk-reward factor is off the charts. Shanahan will either wind up looking ridiculous, or like one of the great success stories. Place your bets.