Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
Shanahan was all smiles with owner Dan Snyder back in January 2010.
When Shanahan was officially unveiled as the new head coach of the Redskins in 2010, the buzz words became "culture" and "change." The idea was that a two-time Super Bowl winner brought credibility to a franchise that almost lost all of its own during an embarrassing 2009 season.
The Redskins had just crashed and burned to finish 4-12 under the stewardship of Jim Zorn, a comic figure hopelessly out of his depth. When that farcical campaign ended, Zorn was gone.
So was Snyder's puppet, Vinny Cerrato who had misused almost unchecked power over personnel decisions. Sherman Lewis, the offensive play-caller Snyder dragged out of a bingo hall, was also sent packing.
With the comic relief hitting the road, now was the time to get serious. Cue Shanahan and his two Lombardi Trophies and new general manager Bruce Allen.
The general consensus was that finally the dysfunctional NFL franchise in Washington had got it right. Barry Svrluga, a staff writer for The Post at the time, was quick to emphasize Shanahan's glowing resume and how it lifted the profile of the Redskins:
Though Shanahan was criticized at the end of his tenure in Denver for failing to get the Broncos to the playoffs for three straight years -- including a collapse over the final three games in 2008 that cost him his job -- his record with the Broncos trumps anything the Redskins have accomplished during the same time period. In Shanahan's 14 years with the Broncos, he had nine winning seasons, seven with 10 or more victories. Over that same time period -- from 1996 to 2008 -- the Redskins had five winning seasons, two with 10 victories.
When news spread among Redskins players of Shanahan's hiring Tuesday night, most were ecstatic. Middle linebacker London Fletcher, for instance, called him the "face of the franchise," and cornerback DeAngelo Hall said Shanahan was a man "people are going to respect off his name alone."
On Wednesday, that endorsement was backed up by some of Shanahan's former players.
"Mike Shanahan's a Hall of Fame-caliber coach," said ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth, an offensive lineman who played for the Redskins and under Shanahan in Denver. "How can you go wrong with that? There's no question, from a credibility standpoint, I think that's the number one thing, you instantly [as] a franchise garner a certain amount of credibility from a guy who's been there, who's done that, who's won two Super Bowls and consistently won in that league."
But hidden amid all the hoopla surrounding this supposed "can't-miss" hire, there were some early warning signs of what was to come.