The guy who chooses Washington’s players is undermining the guy who leads them on the field. The Redskins’ problem is the same guy is doing both jobs: Shanahan.
In most organizations, that’s not the case. Many owners believe those key responsibilities are too much for one person. They would rather not have two big hats atop one head.
Coaches are trained to work with the rosters their general managers provide. They’re expected to help players overcome weaknesses and sharpen their strengths by putting them in positions to excel. Some coaches expect to succeed with even marginal players, figuring they just need to “coach ’em up.”
General managers, at least the good ones, view things differently. For them, it’s about critically analyzing players and making honest assessments about whether coaching, even great coaching, would make a significant difference in their performances.
During Shanahan’s first two seasons leading Washington, he has made three horrendous choices selecting Redskins quarterbacks — and that’s at least two too many. Shanahan’s blunders derailed the team on the field, stirred frustration within the locker room and set back the franchise, which owner Daniel M. Snyder had hoped would improve steadily under the two-time Super Bowl winner.
The Redskins cannot afford another big error at the game’s most important position. In Shanahan’s third offseason in charge, they have to get it right.
After a 3-1 start, Washington has lost five straight games. Its offense ranks among the NFL’s worst. Although injuries have contributed to the group’s ineptitude, ineffective quarterback play is Washington’s main problem.
Shanahan, who has ultimate player-personnel authority, believed that either the turnover-prone Rex Grossman or the inexperienced John Beck could successfully direct the offense.
Each has been benched in the first nine games. Neither provides a short- or long-term solution to Washington’s unstable quarterback situation.
Before the preseason, some Redskins people privately raised concerns about Shanahan’s quarterback choices, believing neither Grossman nor Beck was the answer. Then Shanahan said he would stake his reputation on both being effective.
Shanahan’s Rex-Beck backing came after the spectacular failure of Donovan McNabb, who started for the first 13 games last season. Shanahan traded for McNabb because he apparently saw him as an upgrade over Jason Campbell, whom he shipped to the Raiders weeks later. Campbell is a friend of mine, but you don’t have to be his friend to acknowledge he’s better than Beck.
So that’s four poor decisions at quarterback made by Shanahan in two years. Allen should try to prevent a fifth. The Redskins need him to offer another strong voice on the biggest decisions involving players. And if Allen already has tried, he needs to speak even louder now.