Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is expected to be a candidate for head coaching jobs around the NFL when the league’s coaching carousel begins spinning next week, several people within the industry said this week.
There are varying opinions, however, as to whether Shanahan will be a serious contender to land a head coaching spot, or merely will be a candidate who gets a taste of the head-coach interviewing process and positions himself to be a leading candidate in future years.
Shanahan, the son of Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan, has overseen the league’s fifth-ranked offense this season. He receives high marks from people within the sport for aiding the rapid development of Redskins rookie Robert Griffin III into one of the league’s most productive quarterbacks.
An executive with another NFL team said this week he regards Shanahan as “one of the guys who should definitely get interviews, and you wouldn’t be shocked to see him offered a job.”
The executive spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to be viewed as prying into other teams’ business.
But another person with knowledge of the NFL coaching market said he hasn’t heard Kyle Shanahan’s name mentioned as a top head coaching candidate for the upcoming hiring cycle. That person said it “makes sense” that Shanahan would be interviewed for vacant head coaching jobs. But some NFL teams seem to remain wary of the Redskins’ failure to make things work with former quarterback Donovan McNabb, the person said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss teams’ pending coaching searches publicly.
Shanahan said Friday he’s not focused on being a head coaching candidate, with the Redskins set to play the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night at home for the NFC East title.
“I’m not thinking about that stuff,” Shanahan said after Friday’s practice at Redskins Park. “I’m getting ready for the biggest game of my life. That’s what I’m focused on.”
Veteran Redskins reserve quarterback Rex Grossman said he expects Shanahan, 33, to be an NFL head coach, whether it happens this offseason or in the future.
“There’s no doubt,” Grossman said. “It’s just when, where and what situation. He just has a great understanding of the whole game, how to relate to players. He’s a great play-caller and people gravitate toward him. Those are the biggest characteristics you need to be a head coach.”
Shanahan and his father designed an offense for Griffin this season that mixes traditional NFL elements with ingredients more closely associated with the college version of the sport. The Redskins have the league’s top-ranked rushing offense. Griffin is the league’s second-rated passer.
Some onlookers have maintained that Kyle Shanahan’s accomplishments with Griffin are diminished because Griffin is such a uniquely talented player. But the Redskins also won an important late-season game in Cleveland with fellow rookie Kirk Cousins starting at quarterback in place of the injured Griffin and playing well, presumably boosting Shanahan’s head-coaching credentials.
NFL teams are likely to begin firing coaches soon after the regular season concludes Sunday. Under NFL rules, Shanahan would be eligible to interview for head coaching vacancies even if the Redskins reach the playoffs and their season is ongoing.
It might be attractive for Shanahan to remain with the Redskins, working for his father and drawing up plays for Griffin. It also is possible that the Redskins will make a strong push to retain Shanahan and keep him off the head coaching market. The person familiar with the NFL’s coaching market said he was not aware of the Redskins making any contractual arrangement with Shanahan to this point to keep him from being a head coaching candidate for other teams.
Grossman said Friday: “I know that he’s in a great situation just from what he’s been able to build within his own offense and what he likes and how to coordinate everything. He’s reaching the prime of his career. A coach’s career may be 30, 40 years. But as a play-caller and coordinating the whole offense, he’s one of the best. Every situation, I’m sure he’ll look at and evaluate…. I think you’ve just got to do what’s best. To speak on it any more, I just don’t really know.”