Not me. Not after what I’ve seen covering this franchise.
Shanahan did not lose. Approving the Haynesworth trade was actually Shanahan’s finest hour with Washington. In fact, in choosing to dump Haynesworth, he did something even more important than winning: He provided sound leadership.
On the day players reported for training camp, the person in charge of Washington’s football operation made the best football move of his tenure.
Beginning his second season with the Redskins and hoping to rebound after a bad first one, Shanahan did what he needed to do on successive days: He traded quarterback Donovan McNabb to Minnesota on Wednesday and then put needed distance between the Redskins and Haynesworth. Those two subtractions are actually investments that may yield big dividends for Shanahan in the locker room.
Haynesworth was not welcome at Redskins Park. Coaches and players were united in the belief that having Haynesworth on the roster, even during the preseason, would be a very bad thing. Long-term team chemistry was at risk.
And with his assistants and veterans watching, Shanahan scored big.
He showed them he could put aside his ego if that’s what a bad situation requires. He conceded that his presence alone no longer may be enough to make everyone conform. Shanahan again stirred confidence, much of which was lost during last season’s 6-10 debacle, that the overall good of the franchise is his primary focus.
After joining the Redskins, Shanahan often waxed nostalgic about his days with the Denver Broncos, sharing anecdotes illustrating his ability to persuade players to commit to his program. He clearly took pride in his reputation for being a no-nonsense coach who gets the most out of players.
But that was a different time in a far different organization.
The stern approach Shanahan once used so well in pushing some players to become Pro Bowlers had no chance of succeeding with Haynesworth. Not after Haynesworth had become the game’s best player at his position and pocketed millions before ever encountering Shanahan.
During the Haynesworth drama last season, Shanahan seemed to ignore voices of frustration throughout the Redskins’ training complex. He was so consumed with beating Haynesworth, some Redskins employees feared he would keep the disgruntled 10-year veteran on the roster the entire 2011 season and list him as inactive for each game.
That was a potential doomsday scenario, they say, because it would have been foolish to commit a $5.4 million salary cap number to Haynesworth with the entire cap at just $120 million. Coaches would rather put that money to better use. Haynesworth’s roster spot, players said, should be used on someone who wanted to help the Redskins.