August 20, 2019

Shanahan address benching Griffin, speaking with Snyder, his future

“That’s what you do about a quarterback. He’s your franchise. That’s why you ask those questions. You don’t do it about the other positions. Dan could care less about the other positions.” — Mike Shanahan, about talking to owner Daniel Snyder about the quarterback situation.

Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan held his normal Tuesday press conference, but the situation was anything but normal as the coach tried to explain his decision-making process for benching his star quarterback, Robert Griffin III, for the rest of the season.

Shanahan’s comments were wide-ranging, from the breakdowns in protection, to Griffin’s injury in the Seattle playoff game last season, to his future. He cited preserving Griffin’s health as the major reason to put him on the bench, especially in the wake of all Griffin’s injuries.

“The first thing I did is I talked to Dan Snyder about a week ago, talking about the amount of hits Robert has had.” Shanahan started. “Anytime you’re hit as many times as he’s been hit, I thought it was in his best interest, the organization’s, to talk about if we should continue playing Robert if he’s hit as many times as he’s been hit. Dan thought about it and talked to [Executive Vice President/General Manager] Bruce [Allen] about it, and at the end of the day we felt that the best thing to do for Robert was to not play him – give Kirk an opportunity to play – so he could go into an offseason healthy. Any time you miss an offseason in the National Football League it does set you back quite a bit, and we thought going into this offseason [after] missing last year, that this was the best way to do it.”

Shanahan referenced Griffin’s injury against Seattle as a motivating factor in the decision.

“After [an injury] happens, it’s too late,” Shanahan said. “Just like the Seattle game at halftime. I could have kicked myself in the rear end. Because my gut was even though the doctor said, hey, he was fine, it was all stable, you don’t have to worry. Robert said it was fine. I knew, in my gut. I watched him. I said, hey, that’s what I should have done, because I did see it. You have to go with your gut sometimes.”

But this isn’t a gut decision, one made in the heat of a playoff game. This is a calculated decision made a week in advance of their next game. This is a decision where a healthy player is being held out of games that count in the standings in preservation for offseason workouts and the following season.

“When you’re taking hits, it doesn’t matter who’s at fault,” Shanahan said. “The matter is do you protect your quarterback or don’t you protect your quarterback? If it’s his fault, if it’s the offensive line, if it’s the receivers — it doesn’t matter! It doesn’t matter whose fault it is. What matters is he’s getting hit.”

Of course it matters. Instead of confronting the problems — be it offensive line, receivers or quarterback — Shanahan instead has decided to avoid the problem altogether. Instead of concentrating on the problem area, making adjustments and taking the adjustments onto the field, he’s simply pulling a healthy quarterback and sitting him on the bench for the team’s final three games.

What does Griffin learn from that?

Well, he first learns (or rather, reinforces) the idea that he’s special, above the rest of his teammates. The players won’t say that out loud to the media. But it’s fact. You don’t see Shanahan benching Alfred Morris, or Ryan Kerrigan, or Pierre Garcon, simply because the team is 3-10 and eliminated from postseason contention.

Sure, quarterback is a different case. Griffin has been a sitting duck in the pocket all season long. This collection of offensive linemen are terrific run-blockers, but collectively have trouble protecting the quarterback. We’ve seen it all season long.

But the Redskins are unable to address the offensive line situation this late in the season. All their linemen are healthy. If any of the backups were better than the starters they would have been given a shot by now. Whether it’s been a personnel decision, or the salary cap limitations in place, the Redskins offensive line in simply not good enough to protect their most valuable asset.

The other idea that is floating around is that Shanahan is trying to get himself fired so that he can collect the $7 million owed to him next season and be rid of the circus atmosphere that surrounds this franchise, perpetuated by the meddling owner. Shanahan address that too in his presser.

“Somebody said the reason why you’re going with Kirk [Cousins] is you’re trying to get fired and get a year left on your contract,” Shanahan offered. “If I’m trying to get fired, I’m not going to call up Dan Snyder and ask his opinion on a player that I don’t have to!”

Asked further about the future, Shanahan replied,  “I don’t know [about next year] until I sit down with Dan. Then we’ll find out what I think, and I’ll give him my opinions, and he’ll give me his opinions. Maybe we’ll just hit it off and I get that 12-, 15-year contract. Well, maybe three years. But anyway, whatever it is.”

There will be more to come in the soap opera that has become the Redskins 2013 season. As it always is with the Skins in the Dan Snyder era, it’s not just about football.

Shanahan coy about future in bizarre press confernce

“Anybody have anything to do with football?” Mike Shanahan, when asked if he wanted to return to the Redskins for next season.

Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan met the media Monday, as is customary following a Sunday game. Although these days, customary is anything but ordinary. No one does drama like the Skins, and right now all anyone wants to know is whether Shanahan will return next season, or even be the coach of this team for next Sunday’s game at Atlanta, which is all Shanahan wanted to address.

“There’s always a lot of noise when you’re 3-10,” Shanahan said. “I understand that. Every organization has it. There’s going to be a lot more noise over the next few weeks, I understand that, but I’ve got one mindset right now and that’s focusing on Atlanta. We’re going against a football team that was 13-3 last year. They’re 3-10 as well. As I shared with my football team, they know they’re going to get my best shot over the next three games and I’m hoping I get their best shot over the next three games. Our goal is to win the next three, starting with Atlanta, then get a chance to get two NFC East foes here with Dallas and on the road against the Giants and hopefully we can end the season on a positive note.”

About the distractions?

“I’m not going to speculate through all those different things as we talked about before,” Shanahan said. “But if you’d like to talk about Atlanta, I’d be more than happy to talk about Atlanta.”

No one wanted to talk about Atlanta.

Well, with one major exception. Shanahan was non-committal about Robert Griffin III starting the rest of the way, citing all the sacks and hard hits he’s taken this season.

“We had 24 sacks in the last five games, that’s a lot,” Shanahan explained. “You go against a team that’s had two sacks in the last five games and you get six in a game, I’m talking about his health. I want to make sure he’s healthy. I think that’s the most important thing going into the offseason, that he has his first full season being healthy. And if he did play and something did happen to him, I think it would set our franchise back. That doesn’t say I’m not going that way, so … that’s the reason why I answered it the way I did. I’ll think about it here over the next 48 hours and we’ll make a decision on Wednesday.”

Shanahan was asked a myriad of questions, but very few of them had to do with actual football. Most of the queries centered around the report that he allegedly cleaned out his desk with intent to quit as head coach after the loss to Seattle in the playoffs, or whether he was going to quit or expect to be fired sometime in the next three weeks.

Shanahan mostly offered a “no comment” and offered few details, but sometimes not answering is as telling as answering.

Shanahan acknowledged that he has spoken with team owner Daniel Snyder, saying their relationship was “good”, but declined to answer whether the two spoke about his current and future employment, which Shanahan has one final year remaining on his current contract, a year that would pay him $7 million were he to be fired.

Eventually, Shanahan relented, a little bit.

“You always want to come back. You always want to come back. I love these guys and what will happen at the end of the season, we’ll get a chance, Dan and I, to sit down and decide – or he’ll make the final decision – on what’s in the best interest of the Washington Redskins. I’ll give my opinion on what I think. Obviously he’ll make the final decision. Anytime you’re with these guys — we’ve got some great character and we’ve got guys working extremely hard, so I would like nothing more than to be with them.”

It’s an untenable situation, really. For the past two weeks, information and innuendo has leaked into the national media regarding Shanahan’s situation with the team. Where are the leaks coming from? Hard to tell. But they come from somewhere, and it’s more than distracting — it’s overwhelming.

The Redskins “effort” in Sunday’s 45-10 shellacking by the Kansas City Chiefs was telling. Sure, the special teams play has been horrendous all season long. Griffin has been inconsistent and the defense — especially the secondary — has been porous.

But watching the performance, for the first time the Redskins looked distracted. They looked like they were being out-hustled. They looked a half-step behind all day. It’s one thing to get beat on talent, a whole different thing to get beat on effort. What happened Sunday is what happens when you get beat both ways.

The Redskins are a mess. The franchise quarterback had a rough and inconsistent season. The offensive line can’t pass block and has no depth. The defense was shredded all season long, and the special teams are atrocious.

On top of all that, the head coach has a strained relationship with both the quarterback and owner, and is seemingly trying his best to get fired — instead of quitting — so he can collect his $7 million paycheck for next season. Yup, no one does drama like the Washington Redskins.

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