Shanahan has made some big mistakes. In his first season, he got distracted feuding with Albert Haynesworth and was duped by Donovan McNabb. Shanahan’s bad decisions on quarterbacks derailed his second season (you just can’t stake your reputation on John Beck). Overall, though, the Redskins have been better off with Shanahan than they were without him.
But considering that Shanahan has operated with more freedom than any Redskins head coach in the Snyder years, he hasn’t accomplished enough, his critics contend, to warrant receiving an extension. In 2012, the Redskins had a season-closing, seven-game winning streak. Excluding that improbable run, Shanahan’s Redskins record is 12-25.
The Redskins haven’t cracked the league’s top 10 in defense, which they used to do regularly, since Shanahan took over. Statistically, Washington’s 2010 defense was the team’s worst in 56 years. This season’s special teams units seem determined to make a run toward the worst part of the record book.
The return and coverage teams are in disarray. During the Cowboys’ 31-16 victory in Week 6, Harris, a third-year return specialist, had a career night, ripping off an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 90-yard kickoff return that that set up a Tony Romo touchdown pass. If Redskins special teams players are being coached well, they’re not showing it.
A poor record, ongoing problems on defense and major breakdowns on special teams — none of that reflects well on Shanahan. That’s why the stakes are so high for him in the final 11 games.
If the Redskins finish well, Shanahan could argue he still has the team moving in the right direction. He could point to Robert Griffin III’s rustiness after reconstructive knee surgery and the NFL-imposed $36 million salary cap reduction penalty as factors that slowed the team’s progress. Conversely, it could be rough for Shanahan if the team remains on the current road.
Before he agreed to lead the Redskins, Shanahan told Snyder he shouldn’t hire him unless he planned to let him complete the job. And perhaps Shanahan will get the time he initially requested. He just may not get more.
For more by Jason Reid, visit washingtonpost.com/reid.