The divorce is in the past, but the topic is still fascinating.
Mike Shanahan was fired as the head coach of the Washington Redskins at the end of the 2013 NFL season as rumors of a rift between the coaching staff and starting quarterback Robert Griffin III ran rampant.
On Wednesday, Shanahan was interviewed by ESPN 980 hosts Thom Loverro and Kevin Sheehan, and during the hour-long discussion the former coach shed light on a couple of fascinating incidents. One came after Griffin’s exceptional rookie season that saw the latter injure his knee during an NFC wild-card playoff game against Seattle.
Griffin was apparently unsatisfied with the Redskins’ playbook, wanted changes made and requested a meeting with Shanahan — a meeting that seemed to Shanahan was fueled by team owner Daniel Snyder (quotes courtesy of DC Sports Bog):
"It was actually two days after the Super Bowl," Shanahan said. "He had asked to have a meeting and I really don’t blame that on Robert. I mean, Robert to me was a young player, he had a heck of a year, he had a serious injury at that time, and it’s me that changed the perception of a person, because I know Dan [Snyder] felt very strongly about Robert being a drop-back quarterback and did not want Robert to take shots. I didn’t want him to take shots, either; all I wanted to do was run an offense that gave him a chance to be successful. I wanted him to get better at throwing the ball away, I wanted him to get better at sliding, but doing the things that I thought gave him the best chance to be successful.
"Yeah, he did ask for a meeting. He did talk about, number one, he wanted change. He mentioned the Baltimore game and the Atlanta game, you know, his injuries. He talked about protection shortening his career. What I tried to share with him is I thought he had probably as good a protection as most rookies do have in their first year because of what he was able to do with the running game. If you compare [Griffin’s protection] to Andrew Luck, it’s not even close. He actually [mentioned] what plays were acceptable and unacceptable, and when he started talking about what plays were acceptable and unacceptable, and that he wasn’t a rookie anymore and wanted to voice his opinion, the term ‘unacceptable’ is used by Dan, the owner, quite often. So [I had] a little bit of a smile when I heard some of these complaints."
That’s not all.
"He wanted to be more of a drop-back, Aaron Rodgers-type guy," Shanahan said. "He did a few more things, and basically what I did is I went and talked to Dan, and I said, ‘Hey, Dan, for a quarterback to come to me, a veteran coach, and share these things, number one, he can’t be the sharpest guy to do something like that, or he’s got to feel very good about the owner backing him up. And since you have been telling me from Day One that he’s a drop-back quarterback and we should do more drop-back, and you guys have spent the last couple months together, I would think, or at least the last month, that this is an extension of you.’ He said it wasn’t. I just told him that the only chance that this kid, Robert, has to get to the level that we need him to get to is for him to at least trust us that we’re going to run the offense that gives him the best chance to be successful. And if not, it’s impossible, because he’s not ready for it. I can see it, that he’s not ready for that type of offense. Not that he’s not good enough, he just has never done it before."
Shanahan also denied an ESPN report from 2013 that said he was ready to call it quits before the team’s wild-card loss to the Seahawks because he was angry over Snyder’s relationship with Griffin. However, was there a rift between him and team management? He doesn’t deny this.
"When I went over and talked to Dan over at his house after I talked to Robert [after Griffin’s rookie year], I just told Dan, ‘Hey, Dan, I just had a conversation with Robert and I think this conversation is coming from you more so than it is Robert,’ " Shanahan said. "I said, ‘If that’s the case, there’s no way — unless your owner, your GM, your head coach and your quarterback are all on the same page — you win in the National Football League.’ "