Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan may be without a job in the coming weeks. Reports have suggested that Shanahan and owner Daniel Snyder could part ways once the regular season reaches its conclusion, and those reports are not exactly new. There has been talk of this all season, ever since it became clear that the Redskins were going nowhere fast.
Over at the Washington Post, they published a huge piece on Shanahan's tenure and what has exactly went wrong. Of particular note early on in the piece is the suggestion that "Snyder and Shanahan are deeply divided, and people in and around the organization are increasingly convinced that the two will part ways shortly after Sunday's game."
In other words: the writing is on the wall. But what exactly does it say, and why does it have to be there? What exactly went wrong in Washington over the past four years? Plenty, as it happens.
The numbers themselves speak plenty: Shanahan has just a 24-39 record as a head coach in Washington, and only one playoff appearance. Unfortunately, that appearance was marred by the injury to quarterback Robert Griffin III and the controversy surrounding the team's handling of said injury that followed.
But at the root of the issues that have caused the organization to appear, at least from the outside, in shambles is simple, according to the piece: the balance of power.
When Shanahan signed on, he insisted on total control over football operations. Snyder, eager to have Shanahan under contract, allowed this to happen, but there were apparently multiple times in which Shanahan felt this power was threatened. "... the mere perception it was slipping away repeatedly caused Shanahan to go on the offensive to seize it back," the report suggests.
Two specific incidents are referenced in regards to Shanahan having to have total control: the Albert Haynesworth situation and one relating to Donovan McNabb. Haynesworth saw his position switched despite having an NFL record-making contract at his previous position, and Shanahan refused to budge. Then he forced Haynesworth to take a conditioning test every practice session, tests that Haynesworth failed.
Snyder supported Shanahan in all of that, despite the media circus that surrounded it. With McNabb, Shanahan's son, Kyle, did not like the idea of McNabb coming to town, and even insulted McNabb in front of the rest of the team. McNabb was eventually benched for Rex Grossman. As noted by the article, the message was clear: "The Shanahans were in charge, and challenging their authority had consequences."
Then there's all the issues regarding Kyle. According to the piece, one team official "familiar with the roster's salary structure" implied that Mike would give priority for making moves to benefit the offense due to it being managed by "his kid." There's not a better way to alienate someone than to show favoritism toward someone else.
Whether or not that was actually the case, it certainly doesn't help the perception of Shanahan's ability to have a handle on every aspect of the team. Then we get to Griffin and all of the issues with his handling. Shanahan restricted Griffin's contact with the media, and there were play-calling issues that Griffin wasn't a big fan of. There was talk of Griffin being put in unnecessary danger, and that peaked when Shanahan left Griffin in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles last season, in which Griffin was clearly too hurt to play.
With Griffin still not healthy, according to the piece, "the Shanahans" sat with Griffin to go over plays they would and wouldn't use. "The men agreed to leave the zone read mostly out of the game plan, relying more on Griffin's passing, according to this account. But when the offense took the field, Kyle Shanahan called one zone-read play, then another," according to the piece.
On top of all of this, you have the fact that Snyder clearly believes in Griffin. It's reached a point where Snyder is going to side with Griffin, and if siding with Griffin means getting rid of the Shanahans, it certainly seems likely to happen. Be sure to click on for the full read, as there's a lot of informative stuff in the Washington Post piece.