Despite the three double-digit loss seasons, the 0-8 finish to this campaign and the controversy that swirled around Mike Shanahan throughout this final month, Redskins players still expressed support for the coach and said that he deserves to keep his job.
Shanahan, who is expected to be fired with this year’s 3-13 campaign now complete, talked to his players Saturday night and didn’t discuss his future, but he did tell them that he was proud of the way they had fought down the stretch and maintained their level of professionalism despite the lack of success. After the game, he repeated those sentiments, players said.
And as they have numerous times in recent weeks, players continued to offer their support for Shanahan.
“Yes, 100 percent. I want Coach back,” wide receiver Pierre Garcon said. “We’re building something here. We’ve got great players on offense and defense. If we have a new coach, we have to start all over and try to rebuild again. We’re building something. We’ve done a great job for two years, and hopefully next year, we’ll be that much better.”
Safety Reed Doughty – one of the longest-tenured members of the team – said he understood why Shanahan’s job was at risk, but added that the poor record didn’t reflect Shanahan’s worth as a coach.
“When you don’t win, that’s what happens,” Doughty said. “I’ve been in this league a while, and when you don’t win, I mean, [Giants fans have] asked for [Tom] Coughlin to be fired numerous times, and they’ve obviously won two Super Bowls. I don’t make those decisions. I have no control over that, but I do know from a players’ perspective that what he asked of us, the way he ran things – I, from my own personal experience, think he was a class act, and I enjoyed playing for him.”
Left tackle Trent Williams and inside linebacker Perry Riley both said that the players – and not Shanahan – deserved the greatest amount of blame for Washington’s struggles.
“I would hate to see him get the brunt of the blame for our season when us as players just didn’t play well this whole season,” Williams said. “We had great game plans, we were coached on the right things to do and we continued to come up short. To me, I don’t think it has anything to do with the coaching staff. It’s just us as players.”
Cornerback DeAngelo Hall admitted to banging heads with Shanahan in the past. But he said that he too had come to respect the coach and wanted to continue playing for him.
“Me and Mike’s relationship has been kind of off and on, especially early on,” Hall said. I’ve kind of grown to like him a lot. Definitely respect him, and he’s taught me a lot about this league and a lot about football. There’s never been a situation or a problem I’ve had that I could not talk to Mike about – nip it in the bud. Early on, I think it was kind of tough for us to communicate and get a lot, because the lines of communication were not as open as well as we would have liked them to be. He was kind of getting it third person, I was kind of getting it third person, instead of cutting the middle man out, which we ended up doing over the last couple years. Like I said, I definitely respect him. Love him as a coach and would love to play for him again.”
Santana Moss, another well-respected member of the team, also praised Shanahan for his leadership skills and the relationship he had with his players. But he said that he didn’t think it was his place to lobby to owner Daniel Snyder on Shanahan’s behalf.
Williams also said that while he supports Shanahan, he wouldn’t go to Snyder or General Manager Bruce Allen and campaign for Shanahan’s future.
“I don’t really know how this whole thing goes,” Williams said. “If they’re going to ask for my opinion, then I definitely have an opinion to give them. But I don’t know how this whole thing goes. I don’t think I’m able to walk into an office and pound my fist. That’s above my pay grade. [But] I think 99.9 percent of this team shares that opinion [supporting Shanahan].”