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POINT/COUNTERPOINT: Debating Shanahan's 5th Season & Related Issues

December 7, 2013 in Redskins Personnel

By Staff Writers Steve Shoup & John Manuel:

 

The Washington Redskins are a bad team and there is plenty to discuss since our last Point-Counterpoint which was probably how far will this team go in the playoffs.  Week by week the wheels have come off of the Redskins as the situation gets uglier and uglier.  Since a return to the playoffs has long passed, what is the state of this team?

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JOHN:

Let’s start with the situation at the top.  Well the top is Dan Snyder and he is going nowhere but where do you stand on Mike Shanahan returning for a fifth season as VP and coach?  I have wavered on this for a couple weeks now as a defender of Mike Shanahan during his time in Washington.  I have been for his return in the past few weeks because I think we should ride this out with Shanny as coach.  Problem is he will need to make changes if he is to come back.

I am at the point like many that all three coordinators should be let go.  Would Shanny do this?  Especially with his son?  I am not even positive he will be willing to get rid of Haslett and Burns after the season.  So I am at the point if he not willing to make these changes it is probably best to make a change at the top.

Am I scared what will happen when Dan Snyder looks for another coach?  Of course I am.  But my decision on Shanahan comes simply down to what he does with his staff.  Then again, how much with the quarterback or his dad play in the decision.  I joke, but I really don't because the PR moves to undermind Shanny are in full effect and could force him out no doubt.  I know where you stand on this but let it all out!

 

STEVE:

I have never been a Mike Shanahan fan, but this really has sealed the deal for me. Currently he has a .400 record as the Redskins head coach and is guaranteed to have 3 losing seasons overall and three losing seasons against the division. Shanahan's only "winning" season took an unlikely 7 game win streak (which had a lot of things break the Redskins way) and playing a style of offense that is clearly unsustainable in the NFL and may have set back Griffin's development.

The real nail in the Shanahan coffin for me is this season. Despite all the picks and resources used on the offense we still have a team that really hasn't played a good 60 minute game (and this is just on offense). We sacrificed the defense the last few years so we shouldn't be shocked that they are giving up 30+ points a game. But our offense is supposed to be special and they've failed to score over 20 points in nine of the Redskins games this season. With the exception of the 49ers the Redskins haven't seen much in the way of defensive talent this year (that changes this week with the Chiefs added to the list). And still to this day much of the Redskins offensive success has come late in the game when it is already out of reach. That is just unacceptable for Mike Shanahan to be that ineffective on that side of the ball.

If Shanahan is gone (please let it be so), where would you like to see the Redskins coaching search go? Former top HC (Cowher, Gruden, Billick), top college coach, offensive genius OC or strong defensive minded DC?

 

JOHN:     operation patience2

The obvious selection is RG2.  Since it covers the Rooney Rule, Redskins One would only have to take one trip.  It’s funny because Snyder has tried everything in the past so far.  Hard-nosed successful veteran coach, innovative college coach, hall of famer who can return the team to glory, so-so hot assistant and back to successful veteran coach.  I would have to say none of them have worked out very well so far (even Gibbs left the situation not very good.)

I think everyone's first thought is to find a coach that will work well with Griffin and the number one concern is their relationship.  Screw that.  Washington should hire the best football coach possible no matter if Griffin gives it his blessing or not.  That coach may have a tough time then "gaining the so-called trust" of RG3 but if he is good he will be able to work that out.  That is what good coaches do.

Cowher seems to be having fun on TV and in music videos so I would be surprised if he coaches.  Guys like Art Briles, Kevin Sumlin and David Shaw will for sure get calls from Snyder but they have signed long term college deals to stay.  Then you have Jon Gruden who will be everyone's obvious target much like Shanahan 4 years ago was.  I think that Gruden can coach and would be able to bring in a very good staff.  I am not sold on him completely but it may help my biggest fear which is both Shanahan and Allen out and Snyder back in control.  With Gruden, Allen would most likely stay around.  Plus, Gruden has dealt with Al Davis so if he takes the job he knows what he is getting into.  I would also hope he would bring in a true personnel guy also in not leave all decisions to him and Allen.  I think Gruden would do that.  Funny thing is I am 50/50 on Shanahan and then 50/50 on Gruden.  I guess I have 4 weeks to decide what is the right path.

Since you have Shanny already waiting on Will Muschamp's firing and the Florida job or something else.  Where do see them looking at as a possible coach?

 

STEVE:

My guy would be Bill Cowher even though I don't think he leaves the comfort of doing TV, but I think he would be a great hire among the former coaches. Cowher is a guy who won regardless of who his quarterback was or running back. He's also a guy who's on record for saying that he'd only return to coaching if he would have a strong personnel guy running the front office. That is what I want from my coach, a guy who is adaptable and realizes his own shortcomings, so basically the exact opposite of Mike Shanahan.

Lovie Smith would be another former head coach I'd consider and is probably more reasonable an option.  Assuming that Cowher is not an option, I'd turn my attention to some of the top defensive coordinators like Ray Horton and Mike Zimmer. I know a lot of people think bringing in a top offensive minded coach for the top spot to hopefully develop RGIII, but it really isn't needed. Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton are all recent young quarterbacks who have a defensive minded coach and are doing pretty well. I know you can find some good offensive coaches (Mike McCarthy, Andy Reid, Sean Payton, Jim Harbaugh), but the Redskins have gone for offensive coaches for the last 3 decades (with the exception of two years, Pettibone and Marty Ball), outside of Gibbs it has never worked. I want to see a different direction for this team, one that prioritizes the defensive side of the football and I think a good defensive hire is the best way to do that.

As for college coaches and offensive coordinators there are some I like, but they are all secondary options. All I know is I will be quite happy when the fan base stops calling for Art Briles as an option. Even if he didn't land that big extension, do we really want the guy whose offensive system wasn't conducive to the NFL take over the full reins here? I think his system is great in college, but I don't see much that transfers to the next level and RGIII's development is proof of that. Also, it's pretty likely that he just doesn't want to leave the college game (or the state of Texas).

What other changes do you want to see? New schemes on offense or defense? Overhauling one side of the ball?

 

JOHN:

Done.  You sold me on Bill Cowher.  We can end all here with a 5 year $50 million dollar and all you can eat Johnny Rockets offer.

I have a hard time seeing either the offensive or defensive schemes change if Shanahan is back.  Just because I don't see him firing Kyle and even if he did get rid of Haslett I think they would stay in the 3-4.

It is crazy how three months have changed the perception of this roster.  Guys like Bowen, Morgan., Montgomery, Chester and Jenkins have gone from players with hope to true disappointments quickly.  If you want a positive at least there is promise at key spots like QB, RB, WR, TE, LT and OLB even though we could find faults this season there.  Griffin (injury and regression), Morris (forget to give him the ball), Garcon (maybe not a true #1), Reed (injury concerns for the future), Silverback (refs hate him), and Orakpo and Kerrigan (do they have more moves than a straight bull rush?)

Like with Shanahan, I waver on Orakpo's returning but then I see him play against the Giants the way he did and know they need him back.  Amerson is a huge key.  They need him to show he can play or it’s a devastating pick like LeRibeus when you don't have #1's two straight seasons.  Losing Philip Thomas and Keenan Robinson really hurt the defense.  Thomas' redshirt and Robinson's double red shirt will put them behind and maybe Robinson never can catch up but you have to think they will be given chances next summer.

The offensive line should look completely different especially if Shanny is not back.  All his undersized athletic guys will be gone and we could see only Trent Williams back.  I could see them spending their returned cash on tackle, defensive line, wide receiver, safety and corner.  I like your call to move back in the 2nd round also,  If they can pull off an extra 3rd or 4th I can think they can use those early picks to address interior o-line and middle linebackers.

My guess is these fellas have four more games left in Washington (and none will shock you):  Joshua Morgan, Fred Davis, Will Montgomery, Kory Lichtensteiger, Chris Chester, Stephen Bowen, London Fletcher (hats off to a Skins great), Perry Riley, Josh Wilson and Sav Rocca.

I am guessing you agree that these guys won't be back because I’ve seen you mention most of them already.  But do you think it is smart to go all gang busters in free agency like the glory days.  We need an infographic of a Redskins One flight schedule picking up guys like Regan Upshaw, Brandon  Lloyd, Adam Archuleta, Chad Morton, Trung Candidate, Fat Albert and Rob Johnson.

 

STEVE:

If Shanahan is still here I think a lot of things that we need changed won't occur, but if he's gone I do see some likely differences with the direction of this team.

I could see a move back to the 4-3, which might be a quicker rebuild to get this defense strong again. I also thing the zone blocking scheme will get pushed aside. Also the read option will hopefully take a backseat role, similar to how the Seahawks use it. The Redskins do have the makings of a strong core on this team with many of the guys you mentioned.

I firmly believe that Orakpo is part of that core and should be retained if possible. Outside of that though I think there can and should be a lot of turnover on this team. Not just with the players set to hit free agency, but dumping the contracts of a number of under-performing veterans.

I think the Redskins should look to add one or two key free agents, but for the most part look to build depth and not tie up too much future money. Hopefully they make some trades to add more picks so the Redskins can round out their team through the draft.

Alright we both took a look at what things we want to happen, but the question is will it happen. What are the odds that Shanahan is gone and Dan Snyder can have the patience for an actual rebuild (though not a 5 year plan)?

 

JOHN:

Right now I would have to say its 40/60 that Shanahan will be back for 2014.  Which for me has dropped quickly the past couple weeks.  There is too much going on with their "franchise" quarterback and the Shanahans to make me think they can try and make this work for another season.  When Shanahan took the job he had the understanding that Dan Snyder would give him the full five years to make this work.  And I think Snyder honoring that keeps it from 20/80 he is back.  I think Snyder would let Shanny come back but with major changes which I don't think happens and a severance is worked out.

Although I give Snyder credit above that he would be willing to keep the coach I have worries that if Shanahan goes he will no longer be patient.  I think the slow rebuild without results kills him.  Add to that the cap penalty and finally being able to do something this offseason I expect Snyder to push for a quick fix.  There is a clown doing radio in Baltimore that has plenty of time to scout the league’s best fantasy players he could be calling.

 

After reading all this, how do you see Shanahan's chances sticking?

 

 



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