Now in his third season, Mike Shanahan is considered by many to be on the coaching hot seat in Washington. His 11-21 record is one win less than his predecessor Jim Zorn, who was fired after his second year.
Shanahan's attempts to improve the team through free agency in the last two years have not been successful. For a man who is known for developing quarterbacks, the Donovan McNabb and John Beck experiments failed miserably.
With all that being said, Shanahan has a better chance of being successful this year, as the Redskins have another year of experience and the team has better athletes than it has had in a long time.
Here are five reasons why Shanahan will get things right in 2012.
It seems that Mike Shanahan has put all of his eggs in the Robert Griffin III basket. Shanahan and the Redskins gave up their first- and second-round draft picks this year and their first-round picks for next two years.
With that being said, Griffin seems to have all the makings of a franchise quarterback. The Heisman Trophy winner has shown that he as excellent quarterback skills, amazing athletic abilityand great leadership qualities. There is not a whole lot more Shanahan could ask for.
Griffin fits the mold for the quarterback that Shanahan likes. With his abilities, Shanahan will be able to open up the playbook in ways that he has not been able to so far in Washington. With his play, Shanahan and the Redskins will have a much better year in 2012.
Pressure is an interesting thing. Coach Shanahan will be under a lot of pressure from the outside to develop this team and turn it into the contenders that the Redskins and fans want it to be. In two seasons he has done very little. Shanahan is making $7 million a year, which is a lot for just 11 wins in two years. Many of their decisions, like the McNabb experiment, have gone poorly.
With that being said, it is clear that it is going to take time for this team to be in serious contention. It has new free agents that do not have experience in his system, a rookie quarterback who is going to have his rough spots as he tries to develop and overall a fairly young team. There are going to be some growing pains, but owner Dan Snyder, and hopefully the fans, know that. There won't be instant success, but there will be signs of life.
An example of this would be last year's Carolina Panthers. The Panthers drafted Cam Newton No. 1 overall, and he had a fantastic rookie season, setting several NFL rookie records. Yet his team was just 6-10, one win better than the Redskins. There is still a lot of excitement in Carolina, though, because the team and the fans can see the potential.
That could be the case for the Redskins this year. Although the win column may not reflect it, the team is already much improved from last year. With the understanding that it is going to take a little time for the team to develop, there is less pressure there than you might think.
Albert Haynesworth, Donovan McNabb, John Beck, $36 million cap penalty. Yeah, it makes me feel sick too.The Redskins' decisions the past couple of years have not been pretty bad, and pretty costly. However, it looks like the Redskins have learned from their mistakes.
The Pierre Garcon signing was a good one. Garcon is coming off the best statistical season of his career in which he had 70 catches for 947 yards, all with one of the worst teams we've seen in a while. Now Garcon is on a team with a better quarterback and will have better help around him.
Josh Morgan was another good pickup. A native to the area, Morgan was excited to play for his hometown team. He has shown a lot of potential, but was injured for much of last year. But that might have helped the Redskins, as they were able to get him at a much lower price than they otherwise would have.
Finally, I think picking up Raheem Morris as the defensive backs coach was one of the most underrated things that the Redskins have done this offseason. Morris is a young, energetic coach who has head coach experience. Along with Jim Haslett, having another on staff with the experience of being a former head coach is a plus, and should help the team in its development.
It looks like Shanahan and the Redskins are finally making better decisions, which will lead to better results on the field.
I have heard on both ESPN and the NFL Network that it takes a coach about three years to really settle in and put together a team that he wants. Well, this is Shanahan's third year, so we should start seeing results.
Shanahan had to repair a team that had struggled for several years, and had just been grabbing free agent after free agent to temporarily fill holes. Now he has built the team that he wants, with players from the draft as well as young free agent additions.
The switch to a 3-4 defense didn't speed up the process. The team had been built around the 4-3, and its personnel fit that. Now Shanahan has been able to adjust the roster with players that fit the new scheme. With two years of experience and players more suitable for the formation, Jim Haslett and Shanahan's defense is now ready to excel (well, at least the front seven, we'll just have to wait and see about the secondary).
Shanahan's offense is now into the players' memory, and players like Rex Grossman will be able to help explain it to Griffin and the younger players. With the team on the same page, Shanahan's Skins will be much better.
This one is based off the previous four ideas. The Redskins now have a good quarterback with a lot of ability and promise in RGIII. They have the ability to just let the ball fly and take things with the idea that there will be a learning curve for the young team. The team has made smarter decisions and added better playmaking players. Finally, the system is now fully in place.
With all that in mind, Shanahan and the Redskins will finally be able to let the offense loose. No more managing the game with Rex Grossman. Expect a lot of roll outs and run plays for RGIII, deep balls for Garcon and Morgan, screens to Santana Moss, checkdowns to running backs Roy Helu and Tim Hightower, and out routes to tight ends Fred Davis and Chris Cooley.
It should be an exciting time to watch the Redskins. They will have more flexibility and trust in this offense. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will have more options than he's ever had before, which is exactly what Mike Shanahan wants.