July 31, 2014

Redskins fire Shanahan — Bruce Allen press conference transcript

“Has he taken a step back? He’s still one of the great fans.” Redskins GM Bruce Allen, on owner Daniel Snyder.

Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen met with reporters Monday afternoon after dismissing Mike Shanahan as head coach and releasing most of the coaching staff. Below is a transcript of his entire comments (courtesy Redskins Media Relations).

List of coaches not retained: Keith Burns (special teams), Larry Coyer (advance scout), Richmond Flowers (offensive quality control), Matt LaFleur (quarterbacks), Mike McDaniel (wide recievers), Kyle Shanahan (offensive coordinator), Bob Slowik (linebackers), Bobby Slowik (defensive assistant), Bobby Turner (associate head coach/running backs coach ), Aubrey Pleasant (offensive assistant), Richard Hightower (special teams assistant).

Executive Vice President/General Manager Bruce Allen

Opening statements:

“Good afternoon. Obviously this is a painful day for me and the organization. It is fitting though, after a painful season, that these type of press conferences and events happen.

“Four years ago we thought we did the right thing. We went out and met with Mike [Shanahan]. We wanted a proven coach who had a good record and we felt could lead our football team, and in discussions with Mike, he was always honest with us. He said he wanted to make sure he had the same type of control and staffing that he had in Denver and we agreed to that. Unfortunately today our results aren’t what we had hoped on that day, and that’s why we’re here.

“Today [Owner] Dan [Snyder], Mike and I met at 9:00 and we relieved Mike of his duties. It was a cordial, professional meeting. We talked about the future of the team and the direction that we both want it to go. After that I’ve been meeting with all the assistant coaches individually and telling them of their status. Later today [Senior Vice President] Tony [Wyllie] will give you a list of coaches who have also been relieved of their duties. The other coaches will depend on the next head coach – if they fit into the schemes and the system that the new head coach wants to implement. Later today I’m going to meet with a couple more of our staff members and we’re going to start to formalize the coaching search.

“I know there’s been speculation throughout the last weeks and maybe even months about what is going to happen and the reason we waited until now versus all of the previous comments of if we were going to make a change during the season was because we wanted Mike to have the ability to right the ship. We wanted to end that losing streak. For every play on this team and for everybody in the organization, for every fan out there, we wanted to get a win. We came close in the last few weeks, but as is the frustration over the last four years, we played some good quarters, some good halves, but we didn’t play complete games.

“As I said a moment ago, our head coaching search will start tonight. Because of league rules, we’re not going to try and publicize who we’re going to try and talk to. I know there’s going to be rumors out there as we meet people, and we’re going to try and keep you updated on a regular basis. We’re going to try and do this as quickly as possible, but more importantly we want to do it correctly. We want to pick the right coach, the right leader for this franchise that can inspire this football team, that can lead this team and teach them the fundamentals that are so critical in the game, who understands the value of time, because in the NFL right now time is really, really critical to manage. You don’t have much time in the offseason with the players. You don’t have much time during training camp with players. So to understand the value of that time is going to be important, and to have someone with some urgency to accomplish the goals that we’re looking for for this franchise.

“To sit here and talk about Mike Shanahan leaving us is difficult because we’re all 3-13. We accept that. We understand it. The Washington Redskins will win and lose as a football team. Period. That’s who we are, and we understand some of the mistakes that were made and we are going to take the next several months and figure out all the mistakes that were made in order to learn from them. [Cornerback] Josh Wilson gave me a great Christmas present, pretty telling, it was a book and it said ‘Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.’ We learned too much this year, maybe, but we’ve got to learn to go in the right direction and that’s what we’re going to do.”

On who will have control over player personnel moving forward:

“The control will be mine, and it will be working with our personnel department. The personnel department of [Director of Player Personnel] Scott Campbell and [Director of Pro Personnel] Morocco Brown actually do a very good job at what they do. We are going to redefine some of the characteristics that we’re looking for in players. Obviously when we have a new head coach there will be some schematic adjustments that we will make, but that power will be with me.”

On the reports and rumors around the franchise late in the season:

“Part of that was – let me use the right word – distasteful to hear. Within in the Redskins — and I do like that the players say it’s on us, it is on us, it’s on all of us from people in the front office to people on the football field to people in the locker room, it is on us — and to see those anonymous sources and the back-biting and different comments, I think it’s very important to know that a lot of it was untrue, but at the same time it was distasteful. Any coach, any organization knows in pro sports you need to eliminate distractions. Instead we created our own distractions and it distracted from our play on the field and we will do our best to alleviate any of those issues in the future.”

On if they will redefine front office roles:

“No, we’re going to keep everybody in their role and we’re going to make sure they can focus on their job that they have to do. They’ll be involved in the interview process. They will be involved as they have been in talking to some of the coaches today. We feel comfortable with them. It doesn’t mean we might not add somebody to the personnel department, but we feel we have a good personnel department that has been interviewed for other positions and we’re comfortable with it now.”

On if the next head coach has to be someone that has won as a head coach before:

“It really is an open list. It will have NFL coaches, it will have college coaches on it. Some have head coaching experience, some don’t, and I’m really looking forward to meeting some of the people who I haven’t met yet. I’ve seen them from afar and I want to hear what their dreams are, what they can do, the fire in their belly to coach the Washington Redskins, to inspire the kids on this football team.”

On reports of fractured relationships within the organization:

“That’s part of the rumors that are out there. Mike has always been professional and we always had an easy dialogue when discussing issues. I don’t think there was a fractured relationship. I think that the intensity of trying to do the right thing all the time maybe was too much for everyone at times, but I think the relationship was good, as it was in our meeting this morning. Mike and Dan have a very good relationship as people, and I think that’s going to continue in the future.”

On if he is concerned about instability after another coaching change:

“In the NFL right now, stability is a strange word. I think we need to put that up at a league meeting, ‘What is stability?’ There’s eight head coaching changes last year, eight the year before, no reason to believe there might not be eight again. Last year half the offensive coordinators in the NFL changed teams, so I think we’ve had a pretty good run with four years. Unfortunately, three of the years were losing records and those are the results. The great thing about sports is we play with a scoreboard. We don’t have to wait for a quarterly report to tell us how we did in sales or any of that. We know immediately, and the distasteful and the painful part was we were 3-13. We lost 13 times.”

On if continuity not breeding success is a problem that goes deeper than the head coaching position:

“No, not at all. You can look at teams that turn around in one year — I think the greatest example is Philadelphia and Kansas City — [Kansas City] Coach [Andy] Reid did a great job with the Chiefs. He just left Philly and they didn’t perform well but the new coach came in and led them to the division title. If we find the right person, we will have the stability that we all want in the NFL.”

On if the team is better off now than it was before hiring Shanahan:

“In ways, yes. The frustration of the season is there is a nucleus for success. We saw it. We saw it just a year ago. And the nucleus is here, and we have some of the right foundational principles to win. We just have to learn to take advantage of all 60 minutes in a game and close the deal. We had way too many giveaways this year. I don’t think there’s anything that speaks to our season as much as our first-quarter record. We had the worst in the league net point differential, minus-79 points, in the first quarter, so obviously that made the games even more painful when you’re trying to come from behind at times. I feel we have an opportunity because of the nucleus of the team, the spirit of the team. I think through all of the different issues that came up this year – some true, some untrue – the team did stick together. The core of this team believes in each other.”

On when the decision to relieve Shanahan was made:

“I would say probably after the Dallas game it was near 99 percent, but the most important thing after the Dallas game was to try and beat the Giants, and we felt that Mike and his staff gave us the best chance to beat the Giants the next week. Unfortunately that didn’t happen and that’s why we’re here today.”

On why fans should believe the next head coach will succeed after previous coaches have not:

“I can’t speak for the prior years. I can speak for Mike’s years, and Dan was very supportive of all of Mike’s wishes and ideas, as he has with the different thoughts that I’ve had from time to time. This is the Washington Redskins. This is a very high-profile team. When the Dallas Cowboys or the Washington Redskins are in first place it’s a lot of news, and when they’re in last place it’s a lot of news. I think coming into this environment, knowing that there is a nucleus, I think it will be a very attractive position to coaches.”

On if he learned anything specific from mistakes made in his time here:

“We met this morning in the personnel department to make sure that we documented every pick that we’ve made and we’ve documented every free agent that we’ve discussed or gave a bad grade to that is performing well right now in the NFL. So we’re studying the personnel at this point.”

On how responsible he feels for this season and the record over the last four years:

“I feel very responsible. I think I said that at the beginning that everyone here feels responsible, and in my position it’s what creates the pain because I can see where we want to go, I can feel where we want to go, and I know that the players have that same drive. So I feel responsible for it. We’re all accountable for our record. That’s the great thing, once again, about sports. I’m 3-13 as is Tony Wyllie over here.”

On what the head coaching job has to offer to candidates:

“As I just said a little bit earlier, the attractiveness of coming to one of the flagship franchises in the NFL is exciting to coaches. The coaching profession is one that I have tremendous respect for and I think it has some of the highest highs and some of the lowest lows of any profession out there, and sometimes you find coaches who can’t wait to have a tough situation of taking over a last-place team. I think if you would ask coaches a lot of times would you want to take over a first-place team or a last-place team, in football, they’d say last place. Unfortunately we’re there, but I do think it’s going to be a great opportunity for a coach.”

On his role in the organization moving forward:

“My job is to put the Washington Redskins organization on the right track and to continue to build the foundation for this team to win and it is my job to find the next head coach for the Washington Redskins.”

On if his role will include control over personnel decisions:

“That’s all part of it.”

On if he will be looking for specific offensive or defensive schemes in the new coach:

“I think I’m going to look for the person who can describe what they want to do the best. It could be a 4-3, it could be a 3-4. It’s the person who has the understanding and the knowledge of what he wants to teach the players. As I said at the beginning, we’re going to look for someone who is a leader first and it could be on the offensive side of the ball, defense or special team. There have been a couple special teams coaches who have made great head coaches. We’re going to keep an open mind and look forward to them telling us how they’re going to make the Washington Redskins successful – have that fire in the belly that I discussed about being excited and what they can do to make the Redskins win.”

On how much Snyder’s involvement has changed in recent years:

“Once again, it’s tough for me to discuss what he did before I came here, because I wasn’t here. He’s been very supportive of everything we’ve wanted to do. Has he taken a step back? He’s still one of the great fans. I think – and I’ve seen some of the reports, if you knew how much Dan Snyder wants to win – I mean, he wants to win more than life itself – and he has given us the support and the resources to do what we think is necessary to help us win. It showed a year ago and this year it didn’t, but it’s our job to do the execution. It’s not Dan calling the plays. It’s not Dan picking the players. It’s the people he’s hired, it’s our job to actually turn this team into a winner.”

On his reasoning for not restructuring the front office:

“I see some people who have to be given an opportunity to succeed. I think Scott Campbell running a college draft will be as capable as any personnel director in the NFL. I know what Morocco Brown can do in free agency. I’ve seen the grades of the players he’s given in free agency. To blame them, I think, would be unfair to not giving them an opportunity to succeed. Our front office will win and lose as the team does. We believe that we have the right people in place. You saw it last year. This year, you saw – not the complete opposite, because we lost eight versus winning seven in a row. We’re very confident where we’re going to go with them.”

On if something is inherently wrong after finishing in last place in five out of the last six seasons:

“Not in the NFL. Not in sports. I can’t change history. You’d like to, but you can’t change history. It’s all about today and where we’re going in the future. I think when we provide the right type of leadership, the right type of foundation for a new coach and a new team, that’s what’s going to matter. I can’t change what happened yesterday. We are going to have the chance to change the future and that’s what our task is and we look forward to it.”

Closing statement:

“It is a difficult day. In talking to the coaches, it’s very painful, and I respect all the work that they put into it, but the results weren’t there. It’s now our job today with the nucleus that we have to change our fortunes in the future and we think we can do that. I want to thank you, and as I said, we’re going to try and keep you updated during this process so the fans know what we’re doing with the coaching search. Thank you.”

Redskins fire Shanahan — Audio of press conference

Mike Shanahan, dismissed as head coach of the Washington Redskins, was permitted by the team to address the media Monday morning. Saying that he believes, “the direction of the team is going in the right direction,” Shanahan took the high road talking about his dismissal, citing the cap penalties and depth issues as principal factors in the degradation of the roster during his tenure.

Below please find the full audio of Shanahan’s final press conference, courtesy of 106.7 The Fan’s Sky Kerstein.

2013.12.30 Mike Shanahan Press Conference RAW

OPINION: Redskins fire Shanahan — Where do they go from here?

After meeting with owner Daniel Snyder Monday morning, while the players were in the locker room answering to the media following their eighth straight loss ending a 3-13 season, the Washington Redskins fired head coach Mike Shanahan and his entire coaching staff. Where the team goes from here is literally anybody’s guess.

The move comes as absolutely no surprise. Shanahan compiled a 24-40 record over four seasons — reason enough to dismiss the veteran coach and start over, were the problems with this franchise limited solely to the playing field.

Shanahan’s teams in four seasons finished with double-digit losses three times, and the sole time they did not, they started the season 3-6 and in Shanahan’s press conference following the sixth loss, a 21-13 decision to the Carolina Panthers, he essentially gave up on the season, saying that over the course of the season he’d find out who belonged and who did not.

The Skins then went on an improbable seven-game winning streak to win the division and make their only playoff appearance under Shanahan — a loss at home to the Seattle Seahawks, one in which the franchise quarterback, Robert Griffin III, was allowed to return to the game when his right knee was obviously compromised, only to blow it out completely requiring extensive surgery, causing him to miss all of the offseason workouts, training camp and preseason.

During the rehab process, and indeed, even after the season started, Shanahan and Griffin’s camps were divided and fractious, with the player having lost trust of the team doctors, his head coach, and by extension, his offensive coordinator, Kyle Shanahan, Mike’s son.

What was left was a tenuous situation at best, with an obviously rusty Griffin not succeeding on the field and left warring with his immediate supervisors, all under the same big tent as Snyder — and General Manager Bruce Allen — sat silently, out of the spotlight watching all the ugliness unfold: all the ugly losses, the leaked reports citing “unnamed sources”, the headlines in the national media and the degraded play of the previous season’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, ultimately leading to Shanahan benching a seemingly healthy Griffin for the team’s last three games of the season.

So Shanahan — and the $7 million that remained on the original five-year contract he signed — ride off into the sunset, his reputation and legacy further clouded by the stench of three double-digit loss seasons, the pandering nepotism, and the ceaseless turmoil and divisive media leaks that could only have come from within his camp as this season wound down.

But he’s not the Redskins’ problem anymore. Where, exactly, do they go from here?

The Redskins head coaching gig should be a prized position. Despite the 3-13 season — and the lack of first round draft picks the next two seasons, the new coach will have a presumably healthy and motivated Griffin to work with. That will be the new guy’s primary responsibility: repairing the damage this franchise has done to Griffin, both physically and psychologically.

The new head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach have to iron out Griffin’s footwork, keep him better protected, and put him back in a position to succeed, not simply live out the OC’s desire to prove he’s smarter than everyone around him.

That means, among other things, they have to fill the playbook with screens, picks and slants — like most teams with young quarterback do. They have to design plays intended to get the ball out of Griffin’s hands as quickly as possible and allow players more suited for the rigors of NFL contact to take that punishment on a regular basis.

Griffin’s legs are a weapon, yes. But they don’t have to be the only trick in the book. Griffin should run when he feels the pressure to escape the rush, where he’s able to break down defenses on the edge with his speed and natural ability. He just doesn’t have the frame to withstand running the ball off-tackle, where 300-lb linemen and 250-lb linebackers can neutralize that speed due to more-confined spaces.

There’s a really good reason the option doesn’t work on the professional level as a basis for an offense.

It also means the Skins have to fine several offensive linemen that excel in pass blocking. The group they currently have are decent-enough run blockers, but as a group — especially the interior – they aren’t proficient enough in the passing game.

That task should fall to a new talent evaluator as well. The Redskins have had enough experience with “my way or the highway” coaches to realize that a traditional system, with a GM that acts as talent evaluator and head coach that manages that talent, should be the way to go. The new coach is going to have enough trouble getting Griffin’s career back on track.

And once and for all, Mr. Snyder needs to stay away from the field. He needs someone to help him finally realize that fraternizing with the players, though a perk of ownership, should be confined to team holiday parties and special occasions like the Homecoming Luncheon. He needs to finally realize that his relationship with individual players undermines his coaches and lowers opinions of him throughout the league.

Mr. Snyder needs to hire a competent GM and let him do his job. He needs to allow the GM to hire a head coach, preferably and up-and-comer, not another “big-name” retread looking for a golden parachute. He needs to allow the head coach to hire his own coordinators and assistants, with the guidance of the GM. And he needs to step away and enjoy his product from the comfort of his suite AT ALL TIMES, instead of hanging around on the sidelines at practice like a giddy fanboy.

Or else we’ll just be back at this again in another couple of years.

Washington Redskins Game 16 Review: Skins lose to Giants in finale in soggy mess

The Washington Redskins and New York Giants were eliminated from postseason contention weeks ago. They played like in on Sunday in a sloppy, soggy, turnover-filled contest that the Giants eventually took control over and won, 20-6.

The biggest drama of the day was when — not if — owner Daniel Snyder would fire head coach Mike Shanahan, with one year and $7 million remaining on his original 5-year deal, and the rest of his coaching staff. Media reports following the game indicated Snyder and Shanahan were to meet Monday morning at 9:00 am.

The Redskins finished the season 3-13, the third time in Shanahan’s four seasons the team has finished with double-digit losses.

The teams combined for six turnovers lost, with the Redskins fumbling twice and Kirk Cousin picked off twice, including the last offensive play of the day.

Cousins’ work was spotty in the heavy rain most of the day. He finished just 19-of-49 for 169 yards and threw behind receivers all day long. Alfred Morris carried 16 times for 62 yards and Pierre Garcon hauled in six catches for 56 yards, becoming the third player all-time to catch at least five balls in each of his 16 games in a season.

Indicative of how poor the play was, the teams combined to convert just 8 of 34 opportunities on third down.

The Skins scored first, taking advantage of a Giants’ turnover. Brandon Meriweather forced an Andre Brown fumble at the Giants’ 20. Three plays gained just five yards, so the Skins settled for a 31-yard Kai Forbath field goal.

On the ensuing possession, Eli Manning hit Jerrel Jernigan for 30 yards, then again for 24 yards for a touchdown, giving New York a lead that would never really be challenged. Jernigan finished with six catches for 90 yards.

After another Redskins three-and-out and a short punt by Sav Rocca, the Giants struck again, as Manning hooked up with Hakeem Nicks on a 35-yard completion to give them the ball at the Skins’ 11-yard line. The drive stalled, and Josh Brown was good from 34 yards out to up the Giants’ lead to 10-3.

Washington went three-and-out again, but on the Giants’ next series, Manning was picked off by Josh Wilson at the Redskins 46. A 14-yard reception by Garcon and 9-yard catch by Santana Moss set up Forbath for a 49-yard field goal just before the half.

On the last play of the third quarter, Jernigan took and end-around 49 yards untouched for a touchdown and Brown added a 38-yard field goal on the Giants’ next possession to close out the scoring — and the Redskins season.

Redskins season finale prompts plenty of offseason questions

The story of the Washington Redskins 2013 will be written with words like disappointment, frustration and controversy. After the season finale Sunday against the New York Giants is over, team officials can go about their business trying to evaluate the roster, coaching staff and perhaps even front office personnel in an effort to turn around a franchise that has completed double-digit loss campaigns in three of the last four seasons under head coach Mike Shanahan.

It’s hard not to look at the record and realize that 2012 was the anomaly.

There will be a tremendous amount of turnover regardless: the Skins have 17 expiring contracts among the 53 players on the active roster. How many more are shown the door, especially if Shanahan — or a variety of his assistants — are released from their contracts?

Among the big names that will be free agents as the final gun sounds Sunday are seven of the 11 starting defensive players, including Pro Bowl alternates Brain Orakpo and DeAngelo Hall. And veteran linebacker London Fletcher already announced that this season was “99 percent” his final in the NFL. Wholesale changes were coming to the defense regardless of the success or failure on the field this season.

If defensive coordinator Jim Haslett doesn’t survive the axe in the coming days or weeks, could a return to a 4-3 base defense be in the future? Again, more questions than answers.

One thing should be at the top of Daniel Snyder and Bruce Allen’s list: hire a legitimate general manager and allow that person the autonomy to do his job. Allen might be good with contracts and as a liaison with the league and Redskins alumni, but he isn’t an NFL-level talent evaluator. Turns out, Mike Shanahan really wasn’t either.

The Skins really should divide the labor of evaluating talent and coaching said talent in a more traditional environment. Rarely do mega-control coaches, such as Shanahan, make good GMs as well. We saw that in Joe Gibbs Part II as well. The Skins should find a smart, savvy, tenacious talent evaluator and let him hire the coach and pick the players that coach will manage.

Snyder might not be good at picking coaches, but he sure is getting a lot of practice. His next hire will be his eighth head coach in 15 seasons. That’s not good. If he does indeed relieve Shanahan of his duties, he should resist the urge to go out and spend top dollar for the biggest name available, like he so often does.

Snyder loves to make the big off-season splash. There’s no doubt the Skins in his tenure are perpetual “off-season champions”. But he should promote Allen to Team President and bring in a professional general manager and allow him to do his job. Heck, he’s tried just about everything else, why not actually try convention?

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.

Washington Redskins Game 13 Review: Skins obliterated by Chiefs 45-10 with rumors swirling

The Washington Redskins were dominated in every facet of the game Sunday, falling to the playoff-bound Kansas City Chiefs 45-10. In nine meetings between the two teams in their franchise histories, the Chiefs have won eight times — none more convincingly than this one.

The Chiefs (10-3) built a 17-0 lead after the first quarter on a Ryan Succop 33-yard field goal, a 2-yard Jamaal Charles run and Dwayne Bowe’s 21-yard touchdown catch from Alex Smith.

Kansas City extended its lead to 31-0 midway through the second quarter after Charles’ 5-yard TD catch and Dexter McCluster’s 74-yard punt return for a score.

The Skins (3-10) got on the board with Logan Paulsen’s circus catch of a 7-yard toss by Robert Griffin III, but Quintin Demps returned the Redskins kickoff 95 yards for another touchdown.

Kai Forbath nailed a 50-yard field goal as time expired on the half, and the Skins trailed 38-10.

The only second half score came in the fourth quarter when Knile Davis ran 17 yards through the Skins defense to provide the 45-10 final.

Griffin finished the game 12 of 26 for 164 yards, with one touchdown and one interception, but two other easy picks were dropped. Alfred Morris, the forgotten man in the Redskins offense the past two weeks, went over the 1,000 yard mark for the season, but finished with just 31 yards on only 12 carries.

Charles carved up the Skins defense to the tune of 151 yards on 19 carries, while Smith went 14 of 20 for 137 yards and two touchdowns.

The season-worst beating took place amid reports that coach Mike Shanahan and owner Daniel Snyder’s relationship is damaged beyond repair.

What is for certain is that the train wreck that is the Redskins season has three games remaining, and with no first round draft pick next season due to the trade for Griffin with the Rams, the Skins will have plenty of work to do in free agency this offseason to address major needs on the offensive line, defensive backfield and special teams.

The salary cap penalty will be over, so the Redskins front office can go about accumulating depth and special teams players that they just haven’t been able to do the past two offseasons.

Whether or not the current coaching staff will be here to guide them is a question still to be answered.

NFL announces two-game suspension for Meriweather

“I think the job of a safety is to instill fear. And I think you can’t do that with, you know, pulling off,” Brandon Meriweather Monday, before the league handed him a two-game suspension for two illegal hits against the Bears.

Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather received a two-game suspension from the NFL Monday for “repeat violations this season of NFL safety rules prohibiting hits to the head and neck area of defenseless players.” In addition to the on-field suspension, Meriweather will forfeit $141,176 in game checks.

Meriweather was penalized for unnecessary roughness in the third quarter of Sunday’s game against Chicago for a forcible helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless receiver and again in the fourth quarter for a forcible hit to the head and neck area of a defenseless receiver.

In Week 2 against the Green Bay Packers, Meriweather delivered an illegal hit with the top/crown of the helmet to a runner who was outside the tackle box.  He was fined $42,000 for that violation.

On the first penalty on Sunday, it appeared that Meriweather led more with his shoulder and that the helmets made contact as a result of proximity. But on the second hit, the veteran safety definitely led with his helmet and forearm.

After the game Sunday, Meriweather was defiant in defending his play. “I feel like every hit that I took was a legit hit,” Meriweather said Sunday in the locker room at FedEx Field. “I wasn’t trying to be dirty. I wasn’t trying to hurt nobody. I didn’t launch with my head. I used my shoulder like they told me to do.”

On Monday from Redskins Park, Meriweather had become more diplomatic, but still defended his actions and history. Asked if the thought the first hit was a penalty, he offered a reasoned response.

“To be honest, I don’t know. I think that’s a rule based on who’s watching. One ref said it was good, another said it was bad. I think it’s gonna be just like that with the NFL. I think one person will look at it in slow motion and say ‘He could have did this, he could have did that,’ and one person would be like, ‘Going full speed you wouldn’t have time to think about that,’ and it’s a good hit. I think it all depends on who’s watching.”

But considering his history, would he try to change his game?

“The last two-three weeks I’ve tried everything possible,” Meriweather said. “I’ve lowered my target, I stopped using my head. I’m using my shoulder. No matter what I do, honestly, I feel like I’m gonna be in the wrong. If I hit you with my shoulder and I slide up, they’re still gonna say it’s head-to-head.”

So, is the league then specifically watching his actions?

“Am I being targeted? No, I don’t wanna say that. I would hope not. My play depends on how much money I make, so I hope I’m not getting targeted. They’re trying to be safe, and the only way to be safe is to do what they’re doing. At the same time, this is tackle football. I think the job of a safety is to instill fear. And I think you can’t do that with, you know, pulling off.”

Meriweather has long had a reputation for headhunting, and that likely played into the league’s decision to suspend him two games. With the league crackdown on illegal hits to the head – and the negative publicity to the league following the concussion lawsuit and “League of Denial” expose on head trauma in the NFL, it’s not surprising Meriweather earned his two-week time out.

In his Monday morning press conference, Mike Shanahan stated he didn’t think Meriweather would be suspended, but made comments about Meriweather’s “style.”

“Well, I think he knows exactly what he has to do and sometimes there’s no intent there,” Shanahan said, “Sometimes you hit a guy a little bit higher than anticipated. Even on the last one, he came to the sideline and said, ‘Hey, the one guy told me it was a good hit and the other official told me that he saw it differently.’ There are a lot of different interpretations of it. At the end of the day, we’ll find out.”

Washington Redskins Practice Audio & Quotes

Audio courtesy Sky Kerstein

Mike Shanahan

On Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers sitting his first several years in the league and if there was a generational shift at quarterback leading up to Robert Griffin III starting as a rookie:

“I spent a little time with Aaron when I was in Tahoe. Played a little golf with him, got a chance to know him a little bit and it was really a unique experience for him being behind somebody like [former Packers quarterback] Brett [Favre], waiting his turn. I thought he handled himself the way you would like your quarterback to handle themselves. He had a lot of class sitting back there, learning, getting a lot of mental reps, getting to feel very comfortable under the system, and when he did get a chance to play he took advantage of it.”

Robert Griffin

On what he learned about himself in the game against Philadelphia:

“I think we learned a lot about our team again. Every year is a new year. You’ve got to find out the identity of your team. I don’t think we found that identity in that first game, but we did find out about the character of this team. It’s similar to the one from last year. We’re going to fight, never going to give up, and that’s something you can be proud about. As far as execution-wise, we weren’t very solid in execution all the first half, and then into the second half we started getting better. So hopefully we can ride that execution into this next game. I think it started in practice today. Guys came ready with the right mindset. It’s not that we didn’t have that last week. You just have a wakeup call sometimes and you’ve got to push even harder, and that’s what we did.”

Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy

On if he gets a sense of what Lambeau Field means to opposing players and coaches:

“Well, I don’t do a whole lot of chatting before the game, but it’s definitely evident when players do come out of the locker room, just the respect that they have for our history and our tradition, and one thing about Lambeau Field, and I can’t give enough credit to our organization, is the way they go about always trying to upgrade our facilities. This year we have our new south end zone that definitely should make a difference for us as far as the game day and obviously is a beautiful addition for our fans.”

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

On finding balance between using his legs to help his passing game rather than run:

“It’s got to be a feel thing. [Redskins quarterback] Robert [Griffin III] is definitely blessed with a considerable amount of athletic ability, more than I am, but it’s about using your abilities when you extend plays to run when you have to and know when to throw the ball away and also give yourself and your guys enough time to get open. That’s a fine line that we talk about a lot in our room about extending plays or throwing it away, or trying to avoid the unnecessary sacks, so that’s kind of the way we do things.”

09-11-13 Mike Shanahan Practice RAW

09-11-13 Robert Griffin III Practice RAW

09-11-13 Aaron Rodgers Conference Call RAW

09-11-13 Brian Orakpo Practice RAW

09-11-13 EJ Biggers Practice RAW

09-11-13 London Fletcher Practice RAW

09-11-13 Pierre Garcon Practice RAW

09-11-13 Roy Helu Practice RAW

09-11-13 Ryan Kerrigan Practice RAW

09-11-13 Santana Moss Practice RAW

09-11-13 Stephen Bowen Practice RAW

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