(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Here’s a new theory on why the Mike Shanahan Era in Washington didn’t work: not because “My Way Mike” was too inflexible and dictatorial, but rather because he was too soft.

“I don’t know what happened there,” Terrell Davis, Shanahan’s one-time star running back for the Denver Broncos, told ESPN 980’s “The Sports Fix” this week. “I don’t know what happened there,” he repeated. “I actually spent some time in the [Redskins] organization with Mike. I did a three-week coaching internship. And just from my observation, what I saw was a little bit of sort of the ‘Grandparent Syndrome.’ You know how when you’re harder on your kids, and then when your kids have kids, you’re not as hard on them? I felt that part of that was a little bit of how I saw Mike.

“I was at practice one day, and I remember looking at practice like wow, if we practiced like this, we would start practice over,” Davis went on. “So this is not the man I’m used to seeing. And that’s probably a small piece of what happened there. It’s really tough to build a team. It’s really tough. And we had a team that was unique. We didn’t have a lot of first-round draft picks on the team that we had in Denver. And sometimes you think you can build a team like that, but when you get a club like that, it’s special. And it’s almost like to try to replicate that is almost impossible.”

Davis, like many former Shanahan players, had predicted that Shanahan would be a great success in D.C. Like many of those former players, he still seemed in shock that things didn’t go as expected.

“I thought it would work,” he said. “Listen, all I know is the coach that coached me in Denver. I don’t know what happened when he walked in those doors with Daniel Snyder. I have no idea. But Mike was a good coach. And I felt that he could bring something to the table, which was a coach who understood how to get a team to a Super Bowl, understood how players practice, understood how to get the best out of his players. And for whatever reason, it just didn’t work.”

(First seen on CSN Washington)