Shanahan ignored his father’s advice, however, and insisted on following him to Washington as offensive coordinator. The going has been rough — maybe rougher than either Shanahan anticipated.
But after two seasons of failed quarterback experiments, injuries in the backfield and along the offensive line and limited playmakers at the receiver position, the vision in Kyle Shanahan’s head finally has started coming together on the field. And reflecting on the journey to this point, the play-caller sees himself as a wiser, more effective coach.
This offseason — two years after the biggest move was the trade for Donovan McNabb, who failed miserably in Washington, and a year after team brass focused their efforts on upgrading the defense – the Redskins addressed the offense in free agency and the draft.
Now with Robert Griffin III at quarterback, three promising young backs in Alfred Morris,
Evan Royster and Roy Helu Jr., a wide receiver unit led by Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan, Leonard Hankerson and Santana Moss, and an explosive tight end in Fred Davis, Shanahan believes that he finally has the ingredients of a high-powered attack.
“I feel a lot more confident,” Shanahan said Thursday, three days before Washington opens the season in New Orleans. “I think we’ve improved our personnel each year since we got here, and I definitely feel better this year than I did last year, and the second year I felt better than I did the first year.”
Shanahan always had confidence in his system. He saw it work for his father on Super Bowl teams in San Francisco and Denver, and the same offense was helping the Texans progress from basement dweller to playoff team.
“It’s a proven offense, but you need to have everything working together, everyone doing exactly what what they’re supposed to do, getting down their timing,” said quarterback Rex Grossman, a backup in Houston and starter of 16 games in Washington before he made way for Griffin.
The proper blend of cohesion and talent has been lacking. As a result, the tried-and-true offense and the bright, young offensive mind calling the plays were stalled. Last season, Washington ranked 26th in scoring, mustering only 18 points a game and losing six games by a touchdown or less.
Their post-season evaluations convinced Redskins coaches that the problem wasn’t ineffective schemes, but a lack of talent.