Mike Shanahan, the Redskins coach whose reputation was built on the arm of John Elway and the legs of Terrell Davis, hasn’t had the best 2.5 years in Washington.
Sure, he inherited a bad team from inept Jim Zorn, but has there been improvement? Depends who you ask. From 6-10 to 5-11, the Redskins have looked sharp at times this season thanks to QB Robert Griffin III, who has been phenomenal. Still, they’re 3-5.
Yes, the defense has suffered massive injuries. (Would they be 5-3 without injuries, as Shanahan said? Perhaps.) And yes, they’re starting a rookie at QB, and their high-priced free agent wide receiver is battling injuries. And they lost their tight end (leading receiver) to injury. Does it sound like I’m defending Shanahan? I’m not. The Redskins host lowly Carolina this week, which means an automatic win. Unless Cam does what he did to them last season, and the Panthers win again.
Shanahan doesn’t need me defending him. Take it away, ESPN’s Adam Schefter, on ESPN radio:
They lose to Carolina, they’re struggling, fans are upset. I get it. And I don’t just say this because I have a longstanding relationship with Mike. Who are you gonna go get? You want to fire him? Go ahead, go make that move. Who are you gonna get that’s gonna work better on that offense, with that quarterback, than Mike Shanahan right now?
“Let me say this,” Schefter continued. “Mike’s greatest strength as a coach: He is to offense what Bill Belichick is to defense. And don’t get that from me; ask Bill Belichick that, okay? Bill Belichick has said that on the record numerous times. Mike is a brilliant offensive strategist, okay?
“So again, go make a change and go bring in someone that you believe is better for the team, the overall team. Who is that? Who’s gonna maximize RGIII and that offense better than him? The Redskins, believe it or not, I don’t think have ever been better positioned for the future than they are now. I don’t care if they lose on Sunday to Carolina, I don’t care how dark the season may get – and it may not at all. If you were to pick a team that you wanted to be in the NFC East for the next 10 years, you would pick the Washington Redskins.”
Yes, Adam, we know about your cozy relationship with Mike. I think it’s a preposterous to compare his offensive genius to Belichick’s defensive excellence, but maybe that’s just me.
What’s mind-boggling is to posit that the Redskins are in better shape for the next decade than the Giants. (And if you’ve been reading me for six years, you know I’m a Jets fan.) Eli Manning has two rings and is the most clutch QB in the NFL. Receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz – what NFL teams has two better receivers under 25? Jason Pierre Paul is already one of the five best defensive ends in the league. The Giants – as much as it pains me to say it – have the best GM in the NFL right now in Jerry Reese, who seems to be batting 1.000 in free agency and the draft over the last few years.
The Cowboys have Jerry Jones and the Eagles are about to press reset. But the Giants? No way, Adam. RG3 has played eight games. Eight!
Shanahan’s most laughable move – well, besides hiring his unqualified son to be the offensive coordinator and signing off on a play that put the franchise out at wide receiver against the love-to-head-hunt Steelers – was the John Beck debacle. It still is unclear why Shanahan was gushing over a guy less than 16 months ago, and now that player is a free agent.
But hey, Mike’s knows offense, Bill Belichick said so! [DC Sports Bog]