Giving what could very well be their last press conferences as offensive and defensive coordinators of the Washington Redskins, Kyle Shanahan and Jim Haslett acknowledged the uncertainty of their futures but said that they remain focused on preparing their units for their best possible performances. Both also opted to focus on the positives of their time with the team rather than dwell on any shortcomings.
For weeks, the fate of Mike Shanahan and his assistants has been debated. With the Redskins having lost seven consecutive games and at least 10 games in three of the past four seasons, it’s believed that the Mike Shanahan era could be drawing to a close.
Shanahan has declined to discuss or speculate on his future, and his assistants haven’t been told what to expect following Washington’s game against the Giants. But Haslett and Kyle Shanahan said they haven’t allowed themselves to be distracted.
“This is my 30th year coaching, playing, so I’ve kind of seen it all and gone through it,” said Haslett, who during his coaching career has also served as a head coach and interim head coach. “So, I think just really, it’s just part of the job that comes with the kind of record that we have. I don’t worry about it. I truly try to focus in on the job of trying to win, play well on defense and try to win a game, and whatever happens on Monday, Tuesday or whenever that happens, I really haven’t been through this yet from that standpoint, so I’ll find out.”
Kyle Shanahan doesn’t have as extensive a resume. But he too has worked to block out the distractions and focus on his job. He said that he believes a resolution will come down quickly, but added that he isn’t entirely sure what to expect.
“I really try not to have an expectation,” he said. “When you try to assume what’s going to happen with stuff that’s completely out of your control, I feel like that’s just an anxiety attack waiting to happen. I kind of try to block that out as much as I can. Obviously your wife wants to know — family and stuff — because you really don’t know what’s going to be this situation. But it’s out of your control. When you worry about that stuff too much it’s impossible to focus on the job at hand. It’s not an easy thing putting a game plan together, coaching these guys. I think our players have had some distractions too, but what I’ve been proud of the guys is that we have a pretty smart group of guys who really try not to get caught up in stuff they can’t control. This isn’t something we can control so we go about it day-by-day and really try to, every week, just put together the best thing we can to give us a chance to win on Sunday.”
Both Haslett and Shanahan tried to find the positives in their bodies of work over the past four seasons. Each pointed to improvements that their units had made despite challenges. And both brought up the salary-cap penalties over the past two years when discussing the restrictions that team officials faced when constructing the roster.
Haslett worked with a patchwork secondary for much of his time in Washington and said that the $36 million penalty that prevented the Redskins from fully reloading in the past two offseasons probably had something to do with the defensive struggles.
Haslett praised his players for the improvements they made after a woeful start to this season, however. The Redskins’ defense, which ranks 21st in the league in yards allowed, started off this season on pace to give up historically high yardage totals after getting gashed for 443, 580 and 441 yards, respectively, in their first three games. (That’s an average of 488 yards per game).
Haslett pointed out that in the 12 games since, the Redskins have limited opponents to 326.9 yards per game, which would rank eighth in the league.
“You can say what you want. I look at the way we played the last 12 games and it’s been pretty good,” he said. “Maybe we haven’t had the ideal guys — exactly what you want — but they’ve played pretty well.”
He added, “I look at the positive part. I look at it took us three years, we won the division championship, something they haven’t done around here in 14 years, so I’ll take that as a plus. Obviously, we had high expectations this year, didn’t fall the way you want. But I think anytime, especially in the division you’re in, if you can win that division, something they haven’t done in 14 years, I would say that’s a positive experience.”
Kyle Shanahan pointed to the roster overhaul that the Redskins went through as his father and he worked to improve the offense. They did so despite financial limitations and without a full collection of draft picks, the offensive coordinator pointed out. But with all of those pieces in place next season, he believes that whether he remains with the team or not, the Redskins have a good chance to rank among the league leaders.
“When we came in here, we replaced all 11 starters. We had to do that by our third year. We didn’t really inherit a starter,” Shanahan said. “I think we’ve done that without a salary cap and without too many draft choices, so I do think a lot of these guys that we have on this offense — on a top 10 offense this year and top five last year – I think a lot of them are young players who haven’t cost a lot of money who make the future very bright for this organization. I think you’ve got a guy like Jordan Reed who comes back who I think has a chance to be one of the better tight ends in the league. I think [wide receiver Leonard] Hankerson is a big deal. And that’s just the people that we already have. When you have those people already, if they can stay healthy, you’ve already got a top-five offense and then hopefully there’s actually money next year to be spent, you add a couple more players, you actually use a draft pick, and I think it makes all the difference in the world.”
● The Redskins practice Friday at 11:50 a.m.
● Midday, Mike Jones files five story lines to watch for Week 17.
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