From Albert Haynesworth taking a nap on the field, to the first division title Washington has seen this century, the Redskins have seen a full range of outcomes since Mike Shanahan took over as head coach just three-and-a-half years ago.
Currently sitting at a dismal 3-7 with six games left on the schedule, the debate of whether or not Shanahan deserves a contract extension is in full swing.
To better fuel the deliberation and quarrel, here's an attempt to weigh the pros and cons of another term for the Shanahan administration in DC.
Please note, we talk about this sort of extension now because no one can expect a lame duck coach to behave the way he would if he were to have some job security. Coaches or general managers in their final year often feel their seat getting warm and react accordingly with foolish spending, desperate personnel moves and questionable decision-making.
Without further ado.
Give Shanny a contract extension because:
- Stay the course
When Shanahan came to Washington, the deal was for five years. Five years for the coach and his guys to clean up the mess leftover from the pigsty before them, to bring in fresh faces, to instill a responsible spending habit and to generate wins in the form of a respectable football team.
Technically, team owner Dan Snyder and general manager Bruce Allen wouldn't be living up to their end of the bargain if they ousted Shanahan before the five-year mark.
- Positive change in the locker room
Previously mentioning the loaf of garbage that is Albert Haynesworth was on purpose, demonstrating the absurd consequences Shanahan walked into.
Of course, Shanahan knew he was coming into a crap-storm when he signed up for the gig. And his $7 million annual salary was more than fair compensation.
But even without the win/loss record to go with it, something needs to be said for the type of change we've seen throughout the Redskins locker room and organization. Out are worthless characters of yesteryear, and in are guys with positive attitudes and a team mentality.
Sticking with the same unit can go a long way.
Regardless of their differences stemming from last year and carrying over to this season, wading through all the mess could be invaluable for both Shanahan and quarterback Robert Griffin III. In turn, the rest of the team takes notice of the comradery and embraces it.
- Unforeseen cap penalties
Two years of major cap penalties is probably Shanahan's best argument for why he deserves another year. And we're not talking about light slaps on the wrist, but instead denying a team the chance to sign multiple mid-to-top-tier free agents.
Of course, the way a particular free agent works out for his new team is never guaranteed. Watching a guy perform well for years in one city doesn't mean he'll come to your city for more money and do just as well.
That said, signings like Pierre Garcon and Barry Cofield are encouraging.
Joshua Morgan? Ehh, not so much.
There was plenty of blame to go around following RG3's knee injury suffered in the first round of last year's playoffs. After all the finger pointing and subtle shots, the bottom line was that Robert Griffin III wasn't ready to start 2013.
I was in the camp of blaming Griffin's early season struggles on the fact that he missed the entire offseason. Others seemed to side with the fact that he wasn't healthy.
Regardless of which side you stand, Griffin was clearly not right to begin his sophomore campaign. And while he has improved here and there as the season progresses, it was a slow start that has seemingly riddled the entire year.
Don't give Shanny a contract extension because:
- Overall record
At 24-34 through three and a half seasons, clearly Shanahan doesn't have a win/loss record in his favor. And while cleaning up a large mess can oftentimes require plenty of both patience and time, fans of the NFL don't necessarily follow a code of conduct.
In a league where you're only as good as your record, Shanahan doesn't deserve an extended vote of confidence, or cash.
- Loyal to a fault
It's not breaking news. Mike Shanahan selects his assistant coaches and sticks with them through just about anything.
This season, both defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and special teams coordinator Keith Burns are living proof.
When two of your team's three phases are amongst the worst in the NFL, changes need to be made. Whether you lose a few friends in the process or not, as a head coach you need to convey to everyone that you care and that you're doing whatever it takes to improve the team.
A lot of people seem to enjoy calling out Robert Griffin III for his huge ego. And that's true—the young quarterback has plenty of swag to accompany his freakish athleticism. But don't allow the commercials and documentaries shade the fact that Shanahan the head coach is an egotistical know-it-all himself.
Possessing an ego isn't necessarily a bad thing, especially in the game of football. But in referring to the above comment about being loyal to a fault, sometimes that stems from ego.
Has anyone been able to answer why Shanahan has a history of poor defenses? Why only a few of the defenses from his entire coaching career have hovered right around decent?
Could the idea of bringing in a competent defensive coordinator and allowing him permission to assemble his own staff overshadow the assumed brilliance of Mike Shanahan?
- Refusing to address glaring issues
Adding to the points of ego and misguided loyalty, Shanahan refusing to address glaring issues on his team and throughout his staff can give the impression that he doesn't care.
How long do we have to watch a horrid special teams unit do their best to throw a game away before something is done about the personnel? The coaches?
How many points do the Redskins need to allow over the past three-and-a-half seasons before Shanahan realizes Jim Haslett isn't the guy for this scheme and that perhaps the team needs to look elsewhere?
Jumping the gun and making a brash decision is rarely a smart move. But in the case of Haslett—and even Keith Burns to an extent—Shanahan has seen a plenty large enough sample size.
- Coaching decisions
And that's coaching decisions both on and off the field.
Would anyone give Shanahan a clean-sheet when it comes to time management in live games? Hardly.
Although the story itself is still up for debate, many are resentful toward Shanahan for leaving Griffin in last year's home playoff game. Perhaps that's enough to be done with Shanahan after following it up with a start like the one we've seen this season.
Before Griffin, Shanahan was staking his name on guys like John Beck and Rex Grossman. That was enough for some to think the coach had completely lost his marbles.
Questions like this lead to thoughts of what it would be like with a fresh football-coaching mind in Washington. Not necessarily a young-football mind, but a fresh one.
- Hopeless relationship with RG3?
If any of the turmoil reported by Redskins beat reporter Chris Russell between coach and quarterback is true, shutting down the Shanahan operation after this season is the team's safest bet.
Snyder and the Redskins are on the hook for a pretty penny when it comes to paying Shanahan next season, but don't rule out the chance of an agreed upon buyout.
Trying to right the wrongs of a relationship and repair something that can only be patched and masked with wins is nothing more than avoiding the inevitable. If Shanahan and Griffin can no longer coexist, the Redskins need to cut their losses and move on.
For those who only take a win-loss record into account, the decision on Shanahan's future in Washington is an easy call.
For others, the change and new direction of the team can be encouraging enough to see where Shanahan can take the Redskins with a couple more years.
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