“When he was in the game, [McNabb] was not doing the things [we wanted] — or at least calling the plays consistently,” Shanahan said. “When you’re running the two-minute drive, you cannot be making mistakes. And there [were] too many mistakes made.”
By Peter Gleason
There is a reason the NFL stands for:
Not For Long.
Especially for underperforming coaches who are not given a long leash by most NFL owners.
But most fired head coaches take the diplomatic path.
Not Mike Shanahan, who finished 24-40 as the coach of the Redskins. That’s a winning percentage of .375 — the same mark logged by Steve Spurrier and Jim Zorn, who were given half the time Shanahan had to turn things around. Of the 10 coaches who have lasted at least three seasons in Washington, Shanahan’s winning percentage ranks ninth.
Mike Shanahan, in other words, failed in Washington.
That’s what made his performance during last week’s six-segment, hour-plus tell-all appearance on ESPN 980 particularly remarkable. While reviewing what went wrong over four failed seasons in Washington, Shanahan found plenty of culprits. Daniel Snyder was meddling. Albert Haynesworth didn’t want to try. Donovan McNabb was washed up. The roster was old. Dr. James Andrews was unreliable. Robert Griffin III was headstrong. Robert Griffin III was pouty. Robert Griffin III was misleading. Robert Griffin III was vain.
Let’s start with McNabb, the former Eagles QB who led the Birds to the Super Bowl in 2005 and whose one season in Washington was an aimless, meandering waste of time. Whose fault was it that McNabb arrived in the first place?
“The decision was made, and I think mainly from Dan” Snyder, Shanahan explained. “Even though Bruce orchestrated the trade, I think Dan was the guy that really wanted Donovan the most.”
Shanahan was fairly complimentary toward McNabb’s play that season. But then he got to the worst moment of 2010, when the coach benched the quarterback late in a one-score game against Detroit. Everything about that decision backfired. Shanahan botched the postgame explanation, first saying the benching was about Rex Grossman’s familiarity with “the terminology of what we’ve done, how we’ve run it,” and later saying it was about McNabb’s “cardiovascular endurance.”
Grossman’s first play after replacing McNabb was a fumble returned for a touchdown, ruining Washington’s chances in any terminology. The remainder of the season was submarined by questions about McNabb’s future. More than four years later, couldn’t Shanahan make a basic admission: I was the head coach, and I screwed that up? Haha.
“When he was in the game, [McNabb] was not doing the things [we wanted] — or at least calling the plays consistently,” Shanahan said, still litigating the particulars of that loss. “When you’re running the two-minute drive, you cannot be making mistakes. And there [were] too many mistakes made.”