It’s never too early to start a coaching search. Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder and general manager Bruce Allen should spend the next two months looking for coach Mike Shanahan’s potential successor.
Shanahan is clearly not the coach who can take the Redskins to the next level. Not only is this year a major regression, but take away the 7-0 finish last year and Shanahan’s a miserable 16-32 in Washington.
Snyder’s fear of being called meddlesome by fans is the only reason Shanahan’s status isn’t already in the whisper stage. But the owner needs to be prepared for a coaching change. Shanahan’s a borderline Pro Football Hall of Fame candidate, but his best days are gone. Truthfully, the same thing happened to Joe Gibbs in his second stint.
Shanahan’s not leaving voluntarily, but if the Redskins don’t manage at least a 6-10 record, there are four reasons why Snyder shouldn’t let the coach return for the final season of a five-year deal:
1. Shanahan would take a one-year approach to free agency and mercilessly overspend trying to win now. That approach has already failed miserably during Snyder’s tenure and could haunt for years.
2. Premier free agents might be reluctant to join a lame-duck coach.
3. The Redskins need a new offensive coordinator who can get the most out of quarterback Robert Griffin III, and it’s not Kyle Shanahan. But Mike Shanahan will not fire his son. Seriously, Snyder needs to impose a no-nepotism rule in all future coaching contracts.
4. If the Redskins start badly in 2014, players will quit on a coach who’s leaving and another year would be wasted.
Unless Snyder is willing to extend Shanahan’s contract — and why would he do that given the miserable results — then it’s best to end it a year early.
The Shanahans aren’t the only reason the team has stumbled. Nor has it been Griffin missing the offseason and slowly rounding into form.
But there’s a lack of chemistry between the Shanahans and Griffin no matter what is said publicly. It’s a classic square peg-round hole dilemma coaches are paid to avoid.
The Shanahans were initially afraid to let Griffin run loose for fear his knee would buckle. But Griffin has shown he’s fine and the coaches still won’t let him do what he does best. There’s no excuse for that.
Kyle Shanahan’s play-calling has always been streaky and pass-happy when desperate. Griffin’s newness last year fooled defenses briefly, but now it’s a balanced chess match and Kyle Shanahan is too predictable. During that fourth-quarter avalanche at Denver, Alfred Morris was barely used. Possibly the team’s best runner since John Riggins is routinely abandoned.
That’s what the Redskins need to do, barring a dramatic turnaround: abandon the Shanahans.