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Redskins' coaches plan self-evaluation before making offseason roster decisions

By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 4, 2011; 12:55 AM

Redskins players cleared their lockers Monday, packing their season into duffel bags and boarding flights bound for all corners of the country. The team's coaches, meanwhile, worked throughout the day. In fact, they were due back at Redskins Park first thing Tuesday morning, too, and weren't expected to have a day off until at least the weekend.

Though the 2010 season is finished, coaches still will spend long hours dissecting every tackle, throw and turnover this year. They're game-planning and strategizing as they have each week these past five months, but this time, the Redskins are prepping for a busy offseason, not a football foe.

"Our job is to get better as a football team, as an organization," Coach Mike Shanahan said Monday afternoon, one day after the Redskins concluded their 6-10 season with a 17-14 loss to the New York Giants. "We will do that."

While there will be a lot of work behind the scenes in the next month, Shanahan would not reveal whether he anticipates quick resolution of the two issues that have dominated headlines this season: the fates of Albert Haynesworth, who ended the year on the suspended list, and Donovan McNabb, who ended it on the bench.

"What we're going to do is do what we think is in the best interest of the organization, still with the thought process in mind that we're dealing with people, at the same time," Shanahan said. "It's a fine line there, relative to the evaluation of what direction we're going to go. But we understand both sides of the ledger."

Haynesworth was at Redskins Park Monday for the first time since his Dec. 7 suspension for conduct detrimental to the team. He risked a fine if he didn't show up for his season-ending physical examination. Shanahan did not seek him out for a meeting.

"The last time he was in the building, he would not meet with me," Shanahan said. "So it is what it is. . . . I thought he may stop by; wasn't really sure. He did not."

Shanahan also said he had not yet scheduled a meeting with McNabb's agent, Fletcher Smith III, who blasted the organization after Shanahan benched McNabb last month.

Shanahan would not speculate about whether McNabb or Haynesworth will be with the Redskins in 2011. Both are under contract, but Washington could entertain trade offers or release either player without penalty.

Those will be among the key offseason decisions for Shanahan and his staff. And while there may be no answers for several weeks or months, the research process began in earnest Monday. It's not a simple process, and while other NFL teams are busy preparing for playoff games, Redskins coaches will still juggle a heavy workload.

Each position coach is expected to write a detailed evaluation of each player in his position group.

"They'll put them in a pecking order," Shanahan explained, "strengths, weaknesses, starters, backups, ascending player, a descending player."

Offensive coaches also will be responsible for reviewing the Redskins' defensive players, and the defensive coaches will study the offensive players. Each coach will go through all 16 Redskins games, and make an unbiased assessment.

"He'll write up each one of those players as he sees them, without getting into personalities," Shanahan said. "He'll grade those players. We'll do that with all the different positions."

The coordinators will similarly study their counterparts on the other side of the ball. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will review the Redskins' defense as though he were preparing to play against the unit. And defensive coordinator Jim Haslett will do the same. "Different ways that they would attack," Mike Shanahan said, "looking at the strengths and weaknesses as they see them as coordinators."

That process will take a couple of weeks. Only then will the coaching staff turn its attention to studying all the unrestricted free agents who could hit the market later this year. And then in February, they'll start researching some of the players who will be available in April's NFL draft.

By that point, the Redskins surely will have an idea of what they'll do with McNabb, Haynesworth and several other question marks that dot their depth chart. In the midst of that research, coaches will decide whether there's a space for Haynesworth on the roster, whether McNabb will remain a Redskin throughout the offseason and whether Rex Grossman did enough in his three-game audition to earn a new contract.

"I feel like I have another level that I can reach, and I believe [coaches] think that, too," Grossman said Monday. "So we'll see. We'll see what happens."

About the only likelihood for Washington players is that there will be plenty of changes before they report back to Redskins Park.

Haynesworth declined to comment on his situation on Monday. He is due $5.4 million for 2011, but the money is not guaranteed. NFL sources with knowledge of the situation have indicated that the Redskins are highly unlikely to simply cut him, so the Redskins could spend some of the early part of the offseason determining whether they could trade Haynesworth for a draft pick.

"Moving forward, I don't know what happens," said defensive end Vonnie Holliday, among Haynesworth's closest friends on the team. "But I hope that he uses this as some type of motivation - if he's here, or wherever he is - to take it to that next level and to play, and he learns and grows from this."

"I think there has to be some closure to the situation. . . . They [have to] have an opportunity to talk things out," Holliday said. ". . . With the suspension, they didn't get a chance to talk or communicate exactly what they were both feeling, and the reasons why, and hopefully they'll come to some conclusion after this meeting."

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