A good portion of former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan’s hour-plus long interview Wednesday with Thom Loverro and Kevin Sheehan on ESPN 980’s The Sports Fix concerned his relationship with Robert Griffin III and, often by extension, Dan Snyder.
Shanahan told Sheehan that a report about Griffin coming to him after the season and demanding that certain plays be removed from the playbook was true, and the former coach put the blame on Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.
“It was actually two days after the Super Bowl,” Shanahan said. “He had asked to have a meeting and I really don’t blame that on Robert. I mean, Robert to me, was a young player, he had a heck of a year, he had a serious injury at that time, and it’s me that changed the perception of a person, because I know Dan [Snyder] felt very strongly about Robert being a drop-back quarterback and did not want Robert to take shots. I didn’t want him to take shots, either; all I wanted to do was run an offense that gave him a chance to be successful. I wanted him to get better at throwing the ball away, I wanted him to get better at sliding, but doing the things that I thought gave him the best chance to be successful.
“Yeah, he did ask for a meeting. He did talk about, number one, he wanted change. He mentioned the Baltimore game and the Atlanta game, you know, his injuries. He talked about protection shortening his career. What I tried to share with him is I thought he had probably as good a protection as most rookies do have in their first year because of what he was able to do with the running game. If you compare [Griffin’s protection] to Andrew Luck, it’s not even close. He actually [mentioned] what plays were acceptable and unacceptable, and when he started talking about what plays were acceptable and unacceptable, and that he wasn’t a rookie anymore and wanted to voice his opinion, the term unacceptable is used by Dan, the owner, quite often. So [I had] a little bit of a smile when I heard some of these complaints.”
Shanahan said Griffin was determined to throw more and run less, and that he didn’t want to be associated with running quarterbacks.
“He wanted to be more of a drop-back, Aaron Rodgers-type guy,” Shanahan said. “He did a few more things, and basically what I did is I went and talked to Dan, and I said, ‘Hey, Dan, for a quarterback to come to me, a veteran coach, and share these things, number one, he can’t be the sharpest guy to do something like that, or he’s got to feel very good about the owner backing him up. And since you have been telling me from Day One that he’s a drop-back quarterback and we should do more drop-back, and you guys have spent the last couple months together, I would think, or at least the last month, that this is an extension of you.’ He said it wasn’t. I just told him that the only chance that this kid, Robert, has to get to the level that we need him to get to is for him to at least trust us that we’re going to run the offense that gives him the best chance to be successful. And if not, it’s impossible, because he’s not ready for it. I can see it, that he’s not ready for that type of offense. Not that he’s not good enough, he just has never done it before.”
Toward the end of the 2013 season, which ended with Shanahan’s firing, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported that Shanahan was prepared to quit before the Seattle playoff game because he was frustrated with the way Snyder empowered Griffin. Redskins officials questioned the timing and motivation of the report at the time, with some suggesting that Shanahan was behind the story. Another team official said the Snyder-Shanahan relationship was damaged beyond repair.
Shanahan called Graziano’s report “totally ridiculous” on Wednesday, but didn’t deny that he and Snyder had their differences.
“When I went over and talked to Dan over at his house after I talked to Robert [after Griffin’s rookie year], I just told Dan, ‘Hey Dan, I just had a conversation with Robert and I think this conversation is coming from you more so than it is Robert,'” Shanahan said. “I said, ‘If that’s the case, there’s no way, unless your owner, your GM, your head coach and your quarterback are all on the same page you win in the National Football League.'”
Listen to Shanahan’s entire interview here.