He had his franchise quarterback, a promising running back and a team that was playing inspired. The year ended in a division championship and an early playoff exit, but there was hope—something that hadn't been around in a long time.
Since then, the Redskins have lost that hope.
The team is underperforming, questions are rising out of the organization as to who is to blame, and the franchise itself is becoming a joke; it has now lost five straight games (to mostly mediocre teams) after starting the season at a disappointing 3-5.
Sure, players like Robert Griffin III could be doing better, but it's the coaches that have been the biggest hindrance to this team in 2013. Although RG3 is not without blame, you have to think the Redskins would rather have him than the Shanahans.
What's also not working in favor of the coaches, Shanahan Sr. specifically, is the report that surfaced Sunday. According to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com, the Redskins coach was prepared to leave the team at the conclusion of last season.
Shanahan in fact stayed because he did not want people thinking he was leaving the team because of RG3's torn ACL.
His main motivation for the possible move was Griffin III's relationship with the team's owner, Dan Snyder. Shanahan mentioned one specific case where Snyder was checking on RG3 in the locker room after Kirk Cousins had led them to victory over the Cleveland Browns.
Shanahan explains how Snyder heavily favored Griffin III over the other players and that Griffin III got special treatment because of it—special treatment in the form of Snyder's personal driver escorting RG3's now-wife to road games.
If you're the coach, regardless of whether you're right or wrong, you won't be around for too long if you and the owner don't see eye to eye, no matter how many games you've won (see: Jimmy Johnson-Jerry Jones feud). Especially given their most recent, horrifically embarrassing loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, now seems as good a time as any for Snyder to make the move and fire Shanahan.
It's a lost season, they're without a first-round pick and everything seems to be getting worse.
If I'm Mr. Snyder, I'm using the rest of 2013 to evaluate my roster and coaching staff to see who's staying and who's going. Trade away the expendable yet valuable players (e.g. Cousins) and build through the draft. They've already got a franchise quarterback—which is the hardest thing to do for most teams—so they're already ahead in some departments.
It's time to admit defeat with the Shanahan era and move on with the young team.