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Redskins and Mike Shanahan reach agreement
Several people intimately tied to the Redskins' organization said earlier in the day that Shanahan's hiring would signal an important direction change for a franchise that has floundered in recent years, missing the playoffs in eight of 11 seasons since Snyder took over as owner.
"I think they're reorganizing things," said Gibbs, the Hall of Fame coach who served two stints with the Redskins. "I think as a Redskin fan, we're all hoping that this will be over with, that the Redskins will return to being a real solid contender every year in what I think is one of the toughest divisions."
Former Washington quarterback Joe Theismann looks at the past couple seasons of Redskins football and sees similarities with the years that directly preceded Gibbs's second turn as Redskins' coach. In 2004, Gibbs inherited a team that had just turned in a 5-11 season. Worse, Theismann said, the organization had lost its way.
"That was the one thing that coach Gibbs did when he joined the Redskins, he brought that sense of pride and discipline and accountability back to the entire organization -- not just the players, but it stands for everybody in the building," Theismann said.
Before Shanahan accepted the job, he spoke with Gibbs, according to league sources, and the Hall of Fame coach vouched for Snyder and encouraged Shanahan to take the job.
In Shanahan, Theismann feels the Redskins have locked up a coach who can again right the ship -- just as Gibbs had done six years ago -- because the two coaches share much in common.
"They're demanding to the point where they want you to be the best that you can be," he said. "They're going to do everything they can to support you, but they're not going to tolerate your ineffectiveness as an individual to try and get the job done. That has been somewhat of a tolerant situation over the last couple of years."
That means the toughest task facing Shanahan might not involve the roster or selecting a starting quarterback or preparing for this spring's draft.
"I think his challenge will be changing the culture that has now seeped into what the Washington Redskins have become," he said. "And I think he's going to be capable of doing that."
It's going to involve juggling a lot of different personalities, from the owner's office to the locker room. But players say he's earned their respect before even setting foot in Redskins Park.
"You know he's a great leader," said cornerback DeAngelo Hall. "But to have that name, Mike Shanahan, associated with the Redskins is big for us, it's big for the fans, and it's just great news."
Shanahan, regarded as one of the league's top offensive minds, has accepted a job that isn't limited to wearing a headset on Sundays or drawing up creative plays. He's expected to work with general manager Bruce Allen similar to the way he had with former Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist. In Denver, Sundquist oversaw the draft and player acquisition, but Shanahan had final say on every roster move.
"He knows how to run an organization," said John Lynch, a retired Pro Bowl safety who played for Shanahan from 2004 to '08. "I think he'll be good in Washington."
Shanahan is likely to make the search for a new quarterback a priority. Coming off a 4-12 season, the team holds the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft. According to a league source, while Shanahan will likely use that pick for a quarterback, he would still bring Campbell back to Washington for one more season. Campbell will likely be a restricted free agent, which means the Redskins can match any other team's offer.
Lynch is not the only player who worked closely with Shanahan to express such optimism for the Redskins' new coach. Champ Bailey played five seasons for Shanahan after the Redskins traded him for Portis in 2003, and spoke to the Denver Post on Monday.
"If anyone can get it turned around, he can," Bailey said.
Jason Reid, Barry Svrluga, Les Carpenter and Dan Steinberg contributed to this story.