SPORTS INSIDER – Redskins fire Mike Shanahan, first step to rebuilding the team
December 30, 2013
It’s official; the Redskins need a new head coach.
One day after the Redskins ended the season with their eighth consecutive loss (20-6 to the New York Giants), head coach Mike Shanahan was relieved of his duties, with one year and $7 million remaining on his five-year, $35 million contract.
Just one year after the Redskins won the NFC East, they had one of the worst seasons in recent memory, going 3-13 for the first time since 1994. Yet only a few weeks ago, there was no indication that there would be a coaching change in Washington. That all changed on December 8th, when a report leaked that Shanahan was planning to quit after last year’s first-round playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
He was supposedly unhappy with the relationship between team owner Daniel Snyder and quarterback Robert Griffin III. Snyder was not happy with the report, which the organization quickly dismissed as false. But tensions grew as there was speculation that Shanahan himself was responsible for leaking the report in the hopes of getting fired.
Since the report, not much has gone right for the Redskins. Shanahan promptly benched RGIII, making him inactive for the remainder of the season and starting Kirk Cousins in his place. Despite a strong first effort from the backup QB, the Redskins lost all three games, finishing with the second worst record in the league.
With the season over, the Redskins will now use the off-season to regroup and rebuild. Cousins’ lackluster performances gave few reasons for RGIII to fear for his starting job, while the focus now shifts to filling key positions. Veterans London Fletcher and Santana Moss will likely retire, while players like Brian Orakpo and DeAngelo Hall are rumored to be on the chopping block.
But the most crucial off-season mission for the Redskins will be finding a new head coach that is ready, willing, and able to take the reins and turn the team around. Shanahan, who had coached the Denver Broncos to two Super Bowls before coming to Washington, seemed poised to do just that. Unfortunately, Shanahan was 24-40 in his four-year tenure, posting just one winning season (2012) as Washington’s head coach.
All drama aside, the losing record was cited as the reason for Shanahan’s release. “Redskins fans deserve a better result,” Snyder wrote in an official statement. “We thank Mike for his efforts on behalf of the Redskins. We will focus on what it takes to build a winning team, and my pledge to this organization and to this community is to commit the resources and talent necessary to put this team back in the playoffs.”
Several names are circulating as new head coach contenders, ranging from college coaches Kevin Sumlin, David Shaw and Brian Kelly, to veteran NFL coaches such as ex-Bears coach Lovie Smith and Steelers icon Bill Cowher. Other names in the mix include offensive coordinators Jay Gruden and Ken Whisenhunt. With money as no object to Snyder, the possibilities are almost endless.
Whomever they choose, two things are for certain. Firstly, they had better be in for a wild ride. In the past decade, the Redskins have gone through four head coaches, two of whom only lasted two seasons. Secondly, after this year, there’s nowhere to go but up.