The ouster of Mike Shanahan as the Washington Redskins’ head coach will be seen as a power struggle between Shanahan and quarterback Robert Griffin III. The Redskins finished with an awful 3-13 record in 2013 after finishing 10-6 the previous season. It can be reasoned that Shanahan and RG III had difficulty getting on the same page in 2013, as Griffin regressed in his development as quarterback of the Redskins. RG III’s poor play led to his eventual benching, which is a total 180-degree turn from the form that made him the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012.
Allow me set the record straight: Robert Griffin III is not a coach killer. Although it appeared that Shanahan and RG III never got along, Redskins’ fans never cared about that. All that mattered was whether or not Shanahan could turn around the woebegone franchise that is the Washington Redskins. Besides, Shanahan is the one with the proven NFL pedigree, winning two Super Bowl titles in the 1990s as head coach of the Denver Broncos.
The current Redskins’ roster doesn’t have the talent close to winning a Super Bowl. In Shanahan’s defense, Washington couldn’t solidify their roster with high draft picks because they traded them for the right to select RG III in 2012. The defense was beset with injuries, as defensive end Adam Carriker, cornerback Richard Crawford and rookie safety Philip Thomas never played a down in 2013 due to season-ending injuries. In addition, the Redskins couldn’t embark on their usual free agency spending spree because of penalties for salary cap circumvention.
Still, Shanahan is supposed to be a shrewd evaluator of talent. It’s his job, as well as his coaching staff’s job, to get the best out of their players. That didn’t happen, as Washington looked overmatched and unprepared in each game they played in 2013. While RG III was off target with his passes at times, the Redskins’ blocking, tackling and pass catching left a lot to be desired in 2013. It’s a wonder that they won any games at all this season, let alone three. That fact wasn’t lost on Dan Snyder, who fired eight assistant coaches in addition to letting Shanahan go. One of those coaches was Shanahan’s son, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Talk about a thorough housecleaning.
While RG III deserves plenty of blame for Washington’s sorry season, it’s Mike Shanahan who brought the misery of losing to its climax. It’ll be interesting to see how RG III responds to his new coach in 2014.