Shanahan opened his weekly Monday news conference by clarifying controversial comments he made immediately following Sunday’s dispiriting 21-13 loss to Carolina, in which he talked about evaluating players for the future after losing what he described as a “must-win game.” Some (most?) observers interpreted the remarks as Shanahan giving up on the season. A lot of fans would prefer it he just gave up coaching the Redskins.
There’s certainly evidence to support that argument: Washington (3-6) has lost three straight and is facing its third consecutive last-place finish in the NFC East, barring a major turnaround after their bye week. But regardless of how the team finishes, Shanahan, whose contract runs through the 2014-15 season, should be given more time to make this work.
My main reason for still sticking with Shanahan? Robert Griffin III.
Through his first nine games, the rookie quarterback has been better-than-anyone-could-have-imagined good. Shanahan and his play-caller son, Kyle, deserve credit for revamping the offense to accentuate Griffin’s skills as a passer and a runner.
By utilizing many of the option-type plays Griffin ran so effectively in winning the Heisman Trophy last season at Baylor, the Shanahans have done everything they could to aid Griffin in his transition to the NFL. The elder Shanahan displayed flexibility we didn’t know he possessed. He adapted to Griffin instead of trying to shove the kid into an old box.
Some would suggest that any football coach who ever watched a minute of game tape would realize Griffin is unique and that the Shanahans simply did what any coaches would have done.
Perhaps. But that doesn’t mean others would have pulled it off as well.
Although he rarely showed it during his first two seasons in Washington, Mike Shanahan is still considered one of the game’s best offensive coaches. When Shanahan finally hangs up his clipboard, he’ll likely be remembered as one of the football’s shrewdest play-callers. And before Kyle partnered with his pops in Ashburn, he was a fast-rising offensive coordinator with the Houston Texans.
But the Shanahans need a top-notch quarterback to succeed.They veered off course while battling Donovan McNabb and briefly losing their minds in believing that John Beck and Rex Grossman were capable of more than holding on point-after attempts.
Griffin got them back on track. Together, the three men are forging a foundation on which the Redskins can build something significant again. If Mike goes, Kyle would quickly clear out his office, too. Having to start over under a new head coach and offensive coordinator would only hurt Griffin’s development. And the Redskins have to be all about what’s best for Griffin.
For the first time in long time, the Redskins have a quarterback capable of leading them to something big. You get the feeling Griffin could be the one to finally add something new to Joe Gibbs’s old trophy collection. Making any move that could potentially set back Griffin would make as much sense as guaranteeing Albert Haynesworth $41 million.