Kyle Shanahan remains on the offensive with Redskins

After a dramatic week of leaked reports and memorable press conferences for the Redskins, the Post Sports Live crew predicts what the team will do next. (Jayne Orenstein/The Washington Post)
December 19, 2013

Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said Thursday he isn’t looking to part ways with his father and continue coaching elsewhere.

Mike Shanahan’s future, and those of his assistants, remain uncertain with the Redskins headed toward what could be their worst finish in 19 years. As the tenuous relationship between Robert Griffin III and Mike and Kyle Shanahan has become more publicized, speculation continues that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder could fire the head coach and his assistants. Another scenario includes Shanahan returning and Kyle Shanahan departing.

“I came here with a goal to win here and I’ll keep trying to do that until they don’t want us here,” Kyle Shanahan said, responding to a question about an NFL Network report that he could no longer work with his father. “That’s not a decision that’s up to me, but I’m going to continue to coach here until I’m told that I can’t anymore and I’ll finish that through.”

Shanahan also did his best to squash rumors of conflicts between Robert Griffin III and his coaches, saying “Robert is very coachable. He came out of a system that wasn’t really similar to ones in the NFL. He’s been awesome to work with since we’ve gotten him. He’s tried everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s gotten better in a lot of areas. We’ve asked him to do things that he hadn’t done before until he got here. I think he did a hell of a job with that stuff last year. He’s continued to grow this year.”

Shanahan also refuted a CBS Sports report that pinned some of Washington’s struggles on the coaches who came with Shanahan from his time in Houston.

The assistants under fire — quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur, tight ends coach Sean McVay and wide receivers coach Mike McDaniel — are all in their early 30s.

“When you talk about the favoritism and say all I’ve done is hire my friends, I brought two people here with me from Houston,” Shanahan said. “You look at any coaching staff in the NFL, when coaches go somewhere, whether it’s coordinator, or head coach, it’s very important to bring with you who you’ve coached with. I haven’t hired friends. I’ve hired two people that I’ve coached with before. Unfortunately, if you’re under 40 years old and you’re on my staff, you’re locked in as my friend because we’re young. These guys aren’t my friends. These guys are guys who did all my dirty work and grinded and did everything for me at Houston and knew the ins and outs like quality controls do. They deserved promotions.”

Shanahan referred to LaFleur and McDaniel, who both coached with him in Houston. McVay hadn’t coached with Shanahan before joining Washington as an offensive assistant in 2010. He became tight ends coach in 2011.

“When I hear people talking about them and they’re not good and they’re inept, that really offends me. . . . Those guys, in my opinion are as good as a staff I’ve been around,” Shanahan continued. “These two years, we have moved the ball better than any offense in the history of this 80-year organization. That’s something to be proud of. . . .

“If people want to really know how good these guys are, ask the players at their position. Ask the tight ends for Sean, ask the quarterbacks for Matt, ask the receivers for Mike McDaniel, and then you’ll get an honest opinion, not one from some bitter guy who’s bitter about everything and just wants to hate on people.”

Redskins players have come to Shanahan’s defense throughout the season. Early in the season, when the offense repeatedly got off to slow starts, players blamed themselves and said that Shanahan’s play-calling wasn’t to blame.

Later in the year, the Redskins solved the first-half struggles, but then failed to close out opponents. Shanahan again came under scrutiny, and questions arose about the balance of his play-calling. But his players again insisted that the offensive coordinator had put them in position to succeed.

The Post's Mark Maske talks about Mike Shanahan's future with the Redskins and why he can't have both Robert Griffin III as the franchise quarterback and a legitimate competition for the role with Kirk Cousins. (Jayne Orenstein/The Washington Post)

The conflicts between Griffin and both Shanahans, and Mike Shanahan’s perceived rift with Snyder, have further fueled speculation thatthe situation is beyond repair.

But linebacker London Fletcher on Wednesday endorsed Mike Shanahan and said that Snyder should weather the storm and give the head coach an extension.

Meanwhile, backup quarterback Rex Grossman said Thursday that a departure by Kyle Shanahan would do more harm than good.

“Kyle is invaluable to this offense and I think that, in my opinion, just being in the league for 11 years, teams that are successful have continuity,” said Grossman, who played under Shanahan both in Houston and the past four seasons in Washington. “Quarterbacks across the league, if you look at them — obviously you can have a different coordinator and sometimes it works — but the great ones, for a period of time, it’s the same system that they grow in and the same offensive line, and they’re able to change plays and do things, and each year, you grow and get better.

“That’s not to say each year’s a success, but this year, everybody’s learned a lot even though it hasn’t been successful. Taking a couple months off and then coming back, I guarantee you it’d be a successful year. Everybody would be on the same page and would be hungry and be intense. To start over with a new coordinator and new thought process, it wouldn’t work as well, in my opinion.”

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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