Mike Shanahan was once a great coach.
Upon taking over for the Broncos in 1995, led by John Elway and Terrell Davis, the team won two Super Bowls. After the two play-makers retired, Shanahan continued to lead the team to multiple 10-win seasons and playoff appearances, and was seemingly able to turn any running back into a 1,000-yard rusher.
However, the NFL is the league where the motto is "what have you done for me lately?" As a result, Shanahan has went from a coach who everyone seemed to want after the 2008 season to a coach who can't get it done in one season, and from that to an embarrassment over the past month.
Due to all the trouble, Mike Shanahan needs to be led go, as he's incompatible with the Redskins; here are 10 reasons why.
In the rivalry between the two, Haynesworth seemed painted as the bad guy, someone who couldn't pass a physical and wasn't playing well despite a $100 million contract. As a result, Shanahan suspended him the final four games.
While it sounded like it may be justified, once you factor in all the other problems Shanahan has had, I'm not so sure. Was Haynesworth the first of many scapegoats for the Redskins' problems, or was he as poisonous as claimed?
Either way, the two were incompatible, and that hurt the team.
Under had coach Jim Zorn, despite the issues, the Redskins went 8-8 their first season, only to fall to 4-12.
They had a similar, possibly better team on paper, to use this season under Shanahan, and they are 5-8 and will likely go 5-11.
That falls right on the lap of the coach.
When does hiring family members work out? It does once in a while, but it usually blows up in your face. When Mike Shanahan joined the Redskins, he brought in his son, Kyle Shanahan, to be offensive coordinator.
He had a good enough resume as OC for the Houston Texans, but if there's problems on offense, who's Mike going to blame, his son or the players?
You answered that for me, and that's what has happened.
Clinton Portis is a great running back when healthy. However, he spent the final few games of 2009 on injured reserve, and did the same this year. You need a capable backup when that happens. So, what does Shanahan and company do?
First, they release longtime capable backup Ladell Betts, who simply joined the Saints and became their backup. They signed Larry Johnson and brought him in to help Portis. As a result, they cut him two games into the season and bring in Chad Simpson, a guy who was cut by the Bills.
The running back situation is now Ryan Torain, Mike Sellers, and various others who barely played in the league. Torain was actually cut before the season but was re-signed a few weeks later. He also happens to be, you guessed it, a Shanahan boy, having played for Denver in 2008. No wonder they're 26th in rushing despite Torain's one amazing game.
I think Fanhouse columnist Kevin Blackistone said it better than I could in his article, "Mike Shanahan's Ego Consumes Redskins." It reads: "More disturbing, the Haynesworth episode evidenced that Shanahan is willing to absorb whatever cost in order to win his way, whatever way that is, increasingly less as it is. With Haynesworth it meant trying to shove his square body into a round hole."
Harsh, but it looks increasingly right. Beyond that, Shanahan seems ready to have an excuse for any bad play, placing the blame on others rather than accepting that it's at least partially his fault the team's bad.
To start from the beginning, backup Rex Grossman was signed in March, taken from the Houston Texans. Who else was part of Texas the previous season? Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, so you know that Grossman is on the duo's good side.
In the October 31st game against the Detroit Lions, McNabb was benched in the final two minutes because it was said that Grossman was "more prepared" for the two minute offense. In other words, a quarterback who I'm surprised is still in the league is better prepared for a two-minute drill than a 10+ year veteran who has been in this situation many times before?
What makes it worse is Shanahan changed his excuse for benching him a few times afterward. It's unacceptable for any coach to waver with a non-answer like that. What makes this worse is the game was not out of reach; McNabb could have easily rallied the team and gotten a win out of it had he been given the chance; the Lions aren't exactly known for tackling.
By benching McNabb for Grossman both times, combined with the situation with Haynesworth, you would have to look far and wide to find a locker room as beat up as the Redskins. One player said of the benching, "The guys are extremely pissed," and I couldn't blame them. If I were a Redskin, I would demand a trade in the offseason, and I consider myself a loyal man.
If the players you coach have no trust in you and have no desire to play for you, you're a lost cause. This is what's now happening with Shanahan.
We know of Haynesworth and McNabb's issues with Shanahan. What's fallen under the radar is the rotating door that is the punter position. Graham Gano could be released before the season ends, and they are trying out kickers t use for this week. This I wouldn't mind so much, as Gano's made 22 of 32 field goals. That's a terrible percentage.
Of course though, Shanahan says he has the utmost confidence in Gano, and instead released punter Hunter Smith, who had been punting just fine. Instead, he was released because he struggled with a hold to cause Gano to miss the extra point in a 17-16 loss, though Gano had already missed two other field goals that game.
Smith became scapegoat number two in Shanahan's regime as they brought in their third punter of the season, Sam Paulescu.
McNabb was brought in in hopes that he could be the next John Elway for the Redskins. Instead, McNabb did have his problems this year. He has a career high in interceptions, a career low rating (77.1), and has his lowest completion percentage (58.3 percent) since 2006.
Having said that, raise your hand if you think Rex Grossman is the better option, and can turn the team around and bring them to a .500 record to end the season. If you raised your hand, I would never hire you as a coach. McNabb's "bad" completion percentage actually beats Grossman's career high, as does his rating this year.
This would be the last straw, creating scapegoat number three. Yes, McNabb's playing worse than he did with Philadelphia. Is that the product of aging? To an extent, maybe. However, he was on pace to break his personal record for most times sacked in a season, so is Shanahan going to bench the o-line too? Of course not.
Let's say you're the owner of the Redskins, Dan Snyder. You fired Jim Zorn after a 12-20 record for two seasons, same for Steve Spurrier, and fired Joe Gibbs after four seasons of going 30-34. Say what you want about Zorn or Spurrier, but Gibbs dealt with a truckload of injury in 2007 and still got the Redskins to the playoffs, and he was fired.
If you're going to fire those three, who actually seemed to go their best and try, then you have to fire Shanahan, who seems to be destroying the team. If you keep him after firing everyone else, maybe it shows loyalty to him, but it makes you look like you have no clue what you're going. Firing Shanahan is your only option.
Perhaps some of the blame does fall on Snyder, who has been criticized for many years about his style of ownership, but that can't be fixed. Shanahan can.
Look at everything Shanahan already done this season. Playing mind games with the players, keeping them from knowing which quarterback will be starting, and using players as scapegoats. It's lowbrow behavior.
If he remains on as Redskins' head coach in 2011, this could end up being a historically bad team. It's goign to be hard for anyone to give their best effort with him there, and it will be a long year in D.C.