The long, strange power struggle in Washington is over, one of them anyway. The Washington Redskins gave head coach Mike Shanahan his pink slip, according to Mike Jones of the Washington Post.
The Super Bowl-winning coach was given four seasons to revitalize the team, but was largely unsuccessful. His last season in Washington has been marked by turmoil between himself, owner Dan Synder and quarterback Robert Griffin III. The second-year signal missed training camp and struggled through the season before Shanahan made the decision to bench him after Week 14 loss to the Chiefs.
It appeared things would quickly come to a head following the Redskins loss to Atlanta in Week 14. Shanahan held a quick press conference in which he spoke tersely about the season, before walking out. The veteran coach had grown weary of the season, openly discussing the team's struggles.
"I'm tired of talking about the job," Shanahan said shortly before exiting. "If you want to talk about this game or if you want to talk about Dallas or if you want to talk about the Giants, that's great. We're a football team and I'd sure like to concentrate on that."
Shanahan leaves Washington with a 24-40 overall record as head coach there. He led the team to three losing efforts in four years, outside of the team's playoff berth in 2012. He inherited a bad cap situation and middling roster from Jim Zorn, and quickly needed to find an answer at quarterback. This resulted in the unsuccessful signing of Rex Grossman and a trade that brought Donovan McNabb from Philadelphia in 2010. Neither quarterback had success under center, being released or pushed down the depth chart shortly after starting for the team.
Shanahan's renown for scouting and developing running backs continued in Washington. He leaves the Redskins Alfred Morris, one of the league's most talented young rushers. The coach will best be remembered for his mishandling of franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III in the 2012 playoffs. Shanahan continued to play the injured quarterback against the Seattle Seahawks, eventually resulting in a ligament tear that required offseason surgery. Griffin III's recovery carried into the 2013 season where his poor play helped contribute to a 3-13 record.
The quarterback is in place, which make rebuilding the team easier -- but Washington still owe several draft picks to the St. Louis Rams, including their 2014 first round pick. One valuable trade chip could be quarterback Kirk Cousins. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2012 draft and had a lot of success in a reserve role, and in preseason. Cousins could be dealt to a quarterback-needy team to recoup a draft pick, but that is speculative.
It took from 1969-to-2000 for the Redskins to have six head coaches. The team is now searching for its seventh in 13 years. What changed with the organization? Well in case you're not familiar with the timeline, Daniel Snyder bought the team in 1999 following the passing of the team's long time owner Jack Kent Cooke.
The long parade of head coaches since Snyder's arrival -- Norv Turner, Terry Robiskie, Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier, Joe Gibbs and Jim Zorn -- makes it easy for critics to put more blame on the owner than the coach. Snyder's laundry list of questionable decisions and heavy handed approach to the running the team certainly didn't make Shanahan's task any easier but the bottom line is that he didn't get it done in Washington, despite plenty of resources at his disposal.
Despite two Super Bowl's with the Denver Broncos in 1997 and 1998, Shanahan has not been a consistent winner as an NFL head coach. He's only led his teams to eight winning seasons out of 20, so perhaps this tenure was doomed to fail from the beginning.
There is no indication at this time who the organization is looking at to replace Shanahan but they'll have to be willing to deal with Snyder and get results. It probably wouldn't hurt either if RGIII is able to get healthy again.
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