Washington Redskins 2012: How Long Does Mike Shanahan Have to Rebuild 'Skins?

Brian Paxton@@thebrianpaxtonContributor IIIJuly 20, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 01:  Head coach Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins watches from the sidelines during the second half against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on January 1, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

If there's one thing Redskins owner Daniel Snyder isn't known for, it's patience. After taking over in 1999 he made one of the worse mistakes of his career right out of the gate: firing General Manager Charles Casserly (who played a major part in assembling the 1991 Super Bowl championship team) so he could hire Vinny Cerrato.

While that move could have been excused, he proceeded to make bad decisions throughout the next decade as owner. The most troubling sign of the franchise's turmoil was the revolving door at the head coach position. Snyder employed the following coaches in ten years, one of whom left with a winning record:

  • Norv Turner (17-12)
  • Terry Robiskie (1-2)
  • Marty Schottenheimer (8-8)
  • Steve Spurrier (12-20)
  • Joe Gibbs (30-34)
  • Jim Zorn (11-15)
  • Mike Shanahan (11-21)

After the 2009 season—arguably the most humiliating year in Redskins' history—the two would later be labeled "Dumb and Dumber" by the local media. After a year of the Jim Zorn debacle, who infamously utilized slip-n-slides and dodgeballs as practice tools, Snyder finally came to his senses. Cerrato was urged to resign during the season, and Zorn was excused from his duties after the season.

With the removal of Zorn and Cerrato, Snyder finally showed the fan base that he was committed to winning. During the season he hired Bruce Allen, son of famous Redskins coach George Allen, as general manager. With Allen in place the two set out to get Snyder's long-time coveted head coach, Mike Shanahan. After Denver let Shanahan go the previous season, he took a year off and studied the game from afar. When Snyder came calling to offer the job, Shanahan explained to him that it would take five years to return the team to contention.

In the third year of that plan, Shanahan has secured a franchise quarterback, a left tackle, a formidable pass rushing duo in Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo, a healthy stable of young running backs and competition at every position.

While the record doesn't show it, the rebuild has taken huge steps towards completion. There are currently just 11 players left over from the Cerrato era. A staggering number given that the front office has made that transformation in just three short years, and a sobering reminder of the lack of talent in Washington over the years.

Is Shanahan under pressure to win now? Yes, but Snyder will give him the following two years to complete his vision as promised. The fans might complain and start to question his leadership if they have to endure another losing season, but the addition of Robert Griffin III has brought with it a wave of excitement in the D.C. area. But with that excitement comes hope and with hope comes expectations, however unrealistic those may seem.

RGIII will be forgiven for almost anything that happens during his rookie campaign. But during his second year, and the fourth year under Shanahan, the pressure in D.C. will start to build; For now it would appear that his seat hasn't turned hot just yet.

But for a fan base that's endured two decades of disappointment and heartbreak, anything could happen.