Mike Shanahan’s days with the Washington Redskins are numbered

The Post's Mike Jones says Dan Snyder has decisions to make regarding Mike Shanahan's future, but Art Briles is not the answer. (Sarah Parnass/The Washington Post)
Jason Reid
Columnist December 8, 2013

It doesn’t matter whether Mike Shanahan was the source of an ESPN report Sunday that he strongly considered quitting last season because of owner Daniel Snyder’s relationship with quarterback Robert Griffin III. What is significant is that many within the Redskins organization believe the report has irreparably damaged Shanahan’s relationship with Snyder and the team likely will have a new coach next season, if not sooner.

The Redskins’ embarrassing collapse and Shanahan’s poor overall record already had stirred speculation Snyder may fire Shanahan with a year remaining on his contract. Sunday’s report — which claimed Snyder’s bond with Griffin undermined the team dynamic — could prove to be the tipping point. It certainly appeared Shanahan or one of his supporters leaked it in an effort to help the struggling coach repair his image as he exits Washington, which can’t happen soon enough.

Jason Reid is a sports columnist with the Washington Post. He joined the Post’s Redskins team in 2007 after 15 years covering many beats at the Los Angeles Times. View Archive

It’s finally time to acknowledge what has been painfully obvious the past few weeks: Shanahan must go. Griffin’s ongoing friction with Shanahan’s play-caller son, Kyle, the team’s late-season fade and the players’ alarming lack of effort can’t continue.

At a time the Redskins should have come together behind their coach, they became unglued. The Redskins have been a mess throughout a losing streak that reached five games after Sunday’s disturbing 45-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at a mostly empty FedEx Field. The only thing more miserable than the weather was the dysfunction in the football operation.

There’s no doubt Snyder and Griffin get along. They ate Thanksgiving dinner together last season after the Redskins’ victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Texas, and they hung out in the offseason. And it’s clear Snyder’s history of doting on top players (Darrell Green, LaVar Arrington and Clinton Portis were among those who have enjoyed the owner’s attention) has created divisions within the locker room.

The journalist who wrote the ESPN report is among my oldest friends in the business. He’s also close with Shanahan, who would benefit from anything that makes it appear as if he failed in Washington because Snyder continued to meddle. But that dog won’t hunt.

Snyder did more for Shanahan than any coach in his tenure as owner. He gave Shanahan a five-year, $35 million contract and final say over the roster. He permitted Shanahan to hire his son despite his misgivings about father-son coaching tandems.

Shanahan wanted an indoor-practice facility at Redskins Park; the Redskins’ practice bubble was finished before last season. Shanahan requested better food at the complex; Snyder hired a chef. The weight room wasn’t up to Shanahan’s standards; Snyder struck a deal with Loudoun County to improve it.

Shanahan preferred to conduct training camp away from Ashburn; Richmond is the Redskins’ new summertime home. Shanahan believes players need time for their bodies to adjust on long trips; the Redskins leave a day earlier than they used to when they play on the West Coast.

Has Snyder remained completely in the shadows? Of course not. He actively pushed for the Donovan McNabb trade, people in the Redskins organization say, and was out front on the deal to trade three first-round draft picks and one in the second round to acquire the one they used to take Griffin. Snyder, though, hasn’t coached the team to a 24-37 record in four years. That’s on Shanahan. He owns it.

Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen fired Shanahan after he missed the playoffs in six of his final 10 seasons and only won one postseason game during that span. The Redskins, who won the NFC East last season, now have lost five straight to drop to 3-10. And with the way the team has been going through the motions of late, a season-closing, eight-game losing streak is within its reach. Shanahan has lost the team during the slide. He should lose his job, too.

I know what many of you are thinking: Aren’t you the guy who recently wrote Shanahan should receive a contract extension? Yep. That’s me.

But when I backed Shanahan, I couldn’t have foreseen the team would hit what Redskins fans can only hope is rock bottom so rapidly. It’s true a confluence of factors — the NFL-imposed $36 million salary cap reduction, the bill coming due on the record-setting deal to draft Griffin and Griffin’s ongoing recovery from reconstructive knee surgery — contributed to crippling the roster. Still, what has happened in the last five games is unacceptable.

I highly doubt Shanahan cleaned out his office last season, as the ESPN report said. But this much is certain: It’s time for him to pack his bags.

For more by Jason Reid, visit washingtonpost.com/reid.

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