Sure, you’d expect a team with a top 10 NFL quarterback would out-perform the widespread predictions of it being the NFL’s worst team. But that it took Shanahan, of all people, to elevate Washington from the league’s presumed cellar is a truly magical way to enter the regular season.
What else did Shanahan have to say? You could probably guess. Here, for example, is the former coach, when asked by Patrick about Robert Griffin III’s future in the league.
“I think that’s a good question,” Shanahan said. “I think the first thing Robert has to decide is does he want to go back and run some of the things he did in 2012 that made him a Pro Bowl player and rookie of the year. You know, Robert does have a lot of talents. You could see those talents in 2012. And over the last couple of years, they’ve changed schemes, and you can see being a dropback quarterback isn’t natural for him right now.
“He does have a lot of skill, a lot of talent, very smart guy; he still has a big upside,” Shanahan said. “So the question is — I think everybody’s question — can he go to another team that has run some of the things that he did early in his career when he had a lot of success, and will he be successful? And I think only he can determine if he wants to do that. Over the last couple years, he didn’t want to run that type of system, so I’m not even sure if he wants to do it.”
Shanahan went on to say that the problem was never that Griffin was friends with owner Dan Snyder. Coaches want their quarterback and owner to have a great relationship, Shanahan said, and such relationships were never a problem for him during prior stops in Denver and San Francisco.
“I just think that once the owner and the quarterback decided that the type of offense that we were very successful with in 2012, that you really don’t want to run a lot of those plays, you want to throw more and you want to throw less, and you get other people involved, it takes away from the coach,” Shanahan went on. “And I think Jay Gruden’s in a situation where he’s going to run his attack, and he’s going to get a quarterback that gives him the best chance to be successful running his attack, and that’s based on practices, that he sees guys do every day in practice.
“And he’s going to pick the person that gives him the best chance to win,” Shanahan said. “And that’s what you’re looking for in a head coach, picking out the best players and letting them compete. At the end of the day, players know. A player knows who the best players are, and as a head coach, you better play the best players or else you’ll lose your football team very quickly.”
Shanahan said he wouldn’t have changed any of the decisions he made during his time in Washington, but he did suggest that he would have more carefully monitored how the team was portrayed on social media.
“As the head football coach, you’re kind of naïve, you kind of live in your own world,” he said. “You get in there early, you leave late, you really don’t know what goes on. But when I sat down with Dan, really throughout my first year, Dan was very hesitant with Robert being the type of quarterback he was, because he was taking a lot of shots. And when you run that type of offense, you have to know when to slide, you have to know when to throw the football away, very similar to what Russell Wilson did last year. You know, he did a great job running the football, but Russell Wilson never got hit. He learned when to slide, how to slide, when to throw it away….
“Once you change schemes and you want to go to a scheme that really you haven’t done throughout your career, it does take some time,” Shanahan concluded. “And I don’t think Dan or Robert realized the transition it was going to take for him to take that step.”