Jason Reid
Jason Reid
Columnist

Redskins’ next coach should have his best days ahead of him

Video: The Washington Post's Mike Jones says the Redskins' loss to the Cowboys in their final home game produced the same errors that plagued them throughout the season.

It’s time for Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to make another coaching change. As distasteful as it may be for Snyder to pay Mike Shanahan $7 million — and reportedly another $6 million to the team’s assistants — not to work next season, any thoughts Snyder had of bringing back Shanahan should have ended Sunday after the Dallas Cowboys handed the Redskins their seventh consecutive loss in an embarrassing 3-12 season.

Assuming the Shanahan era in Washington is all but over after one playoff appearance, three double-digit-loss seasons and way too much drama in four years, Snyder must try something new in selecting the Redskins’ third head coach in eight years: stop chasing yesterday’s great coaches and start pursuing the up-and-coming ones of tomorrow. In order to build a foundation that will last, Snyder should bring in a true general manager, task him with hiring a fast-riser and then let them do their thing.

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The right approach is as clear as the roads to FedEx Field the past few weeks.

As written previously in this space, General Manager Bruce Allen doesn’t possess the scouting chops to improve the talent on the field. As it turned out, neither does Shanahan. Despite having total control over the roster, Shanahan, with one game remaining this season, has a 24-39 record with the Redskins.

Promoting Allen, one of Snyder’s most trusted advisers, to team president would clear the way for a proven player-personnel man to pick players. After Snyder finds Allen’s successor — Redskins director of pro personnel Morocco Brown would be a good in-house candidate — his involvement in a coaching search should be limited to interviewing the person whom Washington’s new general manager selects for the job.

Given Snyder’s record in choosing coaches — who else in the NFL would hire both Steve Spurrier and Jim Zorn? — keeping him far away from the process would be best for the franchise. Any general manager worth his salt should be able to identify potential top-notch young replacements for Shanahan. Several come to mind immediately.

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman, 41, has earned a good reputation while helping Coach Jim Harbaugh revive the San Francisco 49ers. Roman directs a run-heavy offense and has played a key role in the development of 49ers dual-threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Those credentials alone should put Roman’s name high atop any short list for the Redskins’ job.

For Snyder, getting quarterback Robert Griffin III back on track is a priority. Last season’s NFL offensive rookie of the year struggled in his first season after reconstructive knee surgery, clashed privately with Shanahan and his offensive play-caller son, Kyle, and was benched for the final three games. The Redskins, however, still are committed to Griffin. Pairing him with a coach who has guided a similarly skilled signal-caller could be just what Griffin and the Redskins need.

Like Griffin, Kaepernick, after a breakout year in 2012, regressed as a passer this season. But with Roman’s help, Kaepernick is finishing strong — his passer ratings have been higher than 108 in four of the past five games — for the hot 49ers. Those are the kind of results the Redskins want from Griffin next season. Seattle offensive play-caller Darrell Bevell is another coach who could potentially help Griffin get them.

Bevell, 43, is widely respected for assisting Coach Pete Carroll in rebuilding the Seattle Seahawks. Bevell has done his best work in helping dual-threat quarterback Russell Wilson become a star.

A year ago, the former third-round pick joined Griffin and Kaepernick in energizing the NFL with their arms and feet. Of the three, Wilson took the biggest step forward in 2013 while leading the Seahawks to the best record in the NFC.

Wilson, who is listed at 5 feet 11, credits Bevell for helping him reach his potential after talent evaluators considered him too short to be an elite quarterback. The Redskins could use a coach who gets the most out of players. In that area, Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, 46, also gets high marks.

Gruden, whose older brother, Jon, led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl championship, has done fine work with third-year Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. The Bengals have a top-10 offense and Gruden’s name figures to be on a lot of team’s lists. Why not Washington’s, too?

Hiring a true general manager and letting him pick the next coach would be a major change in philosophy for Snyder. A new approach is needed, though, because Snyder’s way of doing things has failed spectacularly for a long time.

The Redskins will finish last in the NFC East for the fifth time in six years. In Snyder’s 15 seasons as owner, the Redskins have had just four winning records and four playoff appearances. That’s not the type of consistency you want.

After giving Shanahan a five-year, $35 million contract and essentially whatever else the two-time Super Bowl winner requested, Snyder will have to start all over again in yet another attempt to finally find the right people to run his franchise. Seems like a good time to go young.

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

 
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