That’s a lot to work with, and few are more qualified than Shanahan to teach the art of playing quarterback in the NFL.
As an assistant coach with the Broncos, Shanahan counseled Elway, who was turnover-prone in his first few seasons out of Stanford. Elway became one of the greatest quarterbacks ever (he’s No. 1 on my list), and Shanahan played a major role in his development.
When Shanahan returned to lead Denver late in Elway’s career, the synergy of Shanahan’s vision and Elway’s skills resulted in consecutive Super Bowl titles.
When Shanahan was the San Francisco 49ers’ offensive coordinator, he helped another Hall of Famer-to-be, Steve Young, finally break through and win a Super Bowl. Once again, teaching and talent were a winning combination.
Elway and Young could do everything Shanahan asked of them. No throw was too difficult; no play too complex. They also thrived under pressure. It would be ridiculous to compare Griffin with two of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. He hasn’t accomplished anything yet. No one knows for sure how Griffin will respond late in a game with the outcome undecided.
But Shanahan has proven he’s among the best at building around athletic, physically gifted quarterbacks.
Preparing for his third season, Shanahan can’t rely on Grossman or fellow journeyman John Beck.
The Redskins reportedly are willing to offer a lot, including multiple first-round picks, to move up in the draft to select Griffin. Because a move this big would have an impact on the franchise for years to come, for better or worse, it wouldn’t be surprising if owner Daniel Snyder had significant input on the decision.
Snyder is paying Shanahan $7 million annually over a five-year contract; thus far, the result has been consecutive last-place finishes in the NFC East. In his third season, Shanahan needs to begin to deliver, and to do so, he needs the ingredient that has always been key to his success and that has been missing in Washington.
If the Redskins acquire Griffin — likely paying a steep price to do so — they would surely make a long-term commitment to his development. Regardless of the Redskins’ performance the next two seasons, Shanahan, presumably, would remain in his position to groom Griffin.
Hoping to write a glorious closing chapter to his coaching career, Shanahan came to Washington to rebuild the Redskins. He still has time to make it happen.
But to finally get going, Shanahan has to get RG III.
For Jason Reid’s previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/reid.