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

Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP