QB problems are Shanahan’s Redskins legacy
If these are indeed Mike Shanahan’s final days with the
Washington Redskins, his legacy will be the inability to make
things work at quarterback.
From Donovan McNabb to Rex Grossman, from John Beck to Robert
Griffin III, for one reason or another Shanahan has whiffed at the
most important position on the field in his four years in D.C. Just
when Griffin appeared to be the answer, a knee injury, a losing
season and questions about chemistry have created a circus
atmosphere around the Redskins (3-11).
The irony is that the Shanahan is associated with one of the
most successful coach-QB combos in recent NFL history. He and John
Elway won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998 with the Denver
Broncos, although Shanahan doesn’t pretend it was a rosy
”Me and John Elway used to have knock-down, drag-out fights all
the time,” Shanahan said recently. ”And that’s part of being a
competitor, and that’s another reason you have great relationships
with your quarterbacks.”
In Washington, where he has final say over the roster, Shanahan
had his rebuilding project severely hampered by his choices at QB.
An Easter 2010 trade sent two draft picks to Philadelphia for an
aging McNabb, who was praised at his introductory news conference
as a second coming of Elway.
”People were saying John Elway should retire,” Shanahan said
that day, ”until he won the Super Bowl.”
McNabb lasted 13 starts. There were communication breakdowns. He
wasn’t receptive to making changes in his game. After he was
benched with three weeks to go in the season, he said he felt
”disrespected.” His agent made blistering statements about the
coaching staff. He was shipped to Minnesota after the 6-10
In 2011, Shanahan simply misjudged what he had in Rex Grossman
and John Beck, but nevertheless doubled down by declaring at the
start of training camp: ”I’ve been doing this for a long time. And
I put my reputation on these guys that they can play.”
Grossman went 5-8 as a starter and threw 20 interceptions. Beck
went 0-3 and managed to get sacked 10 times in one game.
”Everybody’s looking for a franchise quarterback,” offensive
coordinator Kyle Shanahan said at the end of the 5-11 season. ”You
want one of those guys that there’s no question about.”
So along comes Griffin, Heisman Trophy winner, No. 2 overall
draft pick and NFL offensive rookie of the year – a run of quick
success that empowered him enough to publicly call out Shanahan for
”mistakes” made in last season’s playoff loss to Seattle. He then
publicly disagreed with the coach’s practice plan at training camp
while working his way back from major knee surgery.
Much like McNabb, Griffin had trouble adjusting to some of the
concepts the Shanahans were teaching. As there was with McNabb,
there is palpable tension between coach and QB. And just like
McNabb, Griffin was benched for the final three games while
medically cleared to play, this time justified by Mike Shanahan’s
explanation that Griffin needs to be healthy for offseason
Mike Shanahan has said he is Griffin’s coach and ”not
necessarily his best friend.” Finding the right balance can be
tricky. When there were issues with McNabb, Grossman or Beck, the
starting quarterback changed and the coach stayed. This time, even
though Griffin is temporarily sitting out, the final result could
be the other way around.
”I just think that relationship grows in time and the more time
you spend together, I think the better the relationship gets,”
Shanahan said Thursday. ”You’re going through some tough times.
You’re going through some great times. But all relationships
develop, and a lot of times when it’s stressful, sometimes it’s a
little bit tougher than when things are all going great.”
Notes: Kyle Shanahan said Thursday it’s ”totally untrue” that
he wants to coach elsewhere next season and thus distance himself
from his father. ”I came here with a goal to win here, and I’ll
keep trying to do that until they don’t want us here,” he said.
”That’s not a decision that’s up to me, but I’m going to coach
here until I’m told that I can’t anymore.” … FB Darrel Young
(hamstring) remains limited in practice.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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