Redskins’ Shanahan expects quick resolution on job

The Washington Redskins have reached the point where they’re

thankful for the smallest of mercies.

Such as the news that Mike Shanahan expects a swift resolution

to his status as coach once the season ends.

That means just one more week of waiting. One more week of

mundane talk about practices, hamstring injuries and game plans.

One more week to discuss how historically bad this Redskins team

is.

One more week of Shanahan making his obligatory statement that

he wants to return for another season, and that his stewardship of

the team has been hampered by an NFL-imposed salary cap penalty.

And that nothing will be resolved until he and owner Dan Snyder sit

down to talk.

“I love these guys,” Shanahan said Monday, repeating the

familiar phrases. “And we’ve been working extremely hard to put

this thing together, and we’ve had a couple of bumps, which we all

know with the salary cap, but I’m looking forward to building this

football team. But, like I said, it’s a situation where I’ll get a

chance to sit down with Dan at the end of the season and we’ll go

from there.”

Asked if the meeting and its outcome will happen soon after

Sunday’s finale against the New York Giants, the coach replied:

“I’m sure it will.” He added, however, that Snyder gets to make the

final call.

At this point, it’s hard to see how Shanahan survives the

season, even if it means Snyder has to eat the final year of the

coach’s five-year, $35 million contract – plus the money owed to

assistant coaches also dismissed to make way for a new staff. The

other options are that Shanahan gets a contract extension or

returns for a lame-duck season.

But both of those seem unlikely given the less-than-cozy

relationship between Shanahan and franchise quarterback Robert

Griffin III.

Snyder doesn’t want a repeat of the dithering that followed the

2007 season, when he was caught off-guard by Joe Gibbs’ resignation

and took a month to hire underqualified Jim Zorn as a replacement.

That move set back the franchise for several years.

If he does fire Shanahan, Snyder will no doubt have a favorite

candidate – the trendy names include everyone from Art Briles to

David Shaw, Ken Whisenhunt to Russ Grimm – lined up for an

interview in a matter of hours.

Meanwhile, the Redskins (3-12) are one defeat away from their

worst record since 1994, when they were 3-13 in Norv Turner’s first

season as coach. A loss Sunday would also give the Redskins their

first eight-game losing streak in more than a half-century, since

they dropped 17 straight over the 1960 and 1961 seasons.

Shanahan has clinched his worst record in his 20 years as a head

coach; he went 5-11 with the Redskins in 2011. A loss Sunday would

give him a 24-40 record in Washington, the same regular-season

winning percentage (.375) as Steve Spurrier and Zorn – two regimes

that ended in failure after two seasons.

The Redskins now sit alone as the second-worst team in the NFL,

one game ahead of Houston (2-13), which has already fired coach

Gary Kubiak. Perhaps no one is enjoying Washington’s season more

than the St. Louis Rams, who will have a premium first-round draft

pick in the spring as part of the trade that allowed Shanahan and

Co. to select Griffin last year.

At least the Redskins have played competitive football recently,

losing by one point to both Atlanta and Dallas in the two games

since Kirk Cousins took over at quarterback for Griffin.

But any thoughts that Cousins would energize the offense and

create some sort of QB controversy for next season – or, at the

very minimum, increase his trade value – haven’t come to fruition.

Cousins committed three turnovers against the struggling Falcons,

then appeared to overcompensate by playing more conservatively

against the worst-in-NFL Cowboys defense.

And, of course, the Redskins much-maligned special teams units

gave up another long punt return. Washington is allowing 18.5 yards

per punt return, within striking distance of the record of 18.9

allowed by the 2010 San Diego Chargers.

The Redskins also blew a nine-point, fourth-quarter lead, and

again had issues with clock management. All familiar stuff.

“It’s always tough to lose,” Shanahan said. “We felt like we had

the game under control.”

Notes: LB Nick Barnett has a third-degree tear of the MCL in his

left knee and will need six weeks to recover. He’ll be placed on

injured reserve and replaced by LB Will Compton from the practice

squad for the final game. … Shanahan said LB Brian Orakpo is “day

to day” with a right groin injury.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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