Report: Kyle Shanahan is the root of Redskins problems

Updated: December 16, 2013
Kyle & Mike Shanahan

Former Washington Post Redskins beat reporter Jason LaCanfora, now with CBS Sports, has a new story out on the Redskins, this one claiming offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and an inexperienced cadre of coaches around him are the “core of Redskins dysfunction.”

Former Redskins TE Chris Cooley, who now works for the team as a game broadcaster and for the Dan Snyder-owned ESPN 980 radio station, attacked La Canfora’s story on the air today, saying it was sourced by one former member of the organization who left several years ago. However, that is not accurate. The story does rely in part on former members of the team, but also quotes one current member of the organization and La Canfora spoke to several more currently employed by the Redskins.

According to current and former members of the team’s coaching staff, Kyle Shanahan is given carte blanche to run the team and is enabled by his father, head coach Mike Shanahan, in everything. Kyle is also the most well-compensated coach on the team, apart from his father. Kyle is expected to take home $1.4 million in 2014 from Dan Snyder, even though he is very unlikely to be with the team next season.

“Kyle is the head coach, it’s just that no one knows he is,” said one member of the organization. “He gets whatever he wants. And he has no relationship at all with (quarterback Robert Griffin III). So how could it work?”

As a former member of the organization put it: “Kyle bitches about everything, and then his father has to fix it. He bitches about the food in the cafeteria, he bitches about the field, he bitches about the equipment. He complains and then Mike takes care of it. Kyle is a big problem there. He is not well liked.”

Several members of the organization said Kyle Shanahan was a cause of internal strife, surrounding himself with young coaches with inferior experience, and allowing for no checks and balances of outside voices in the offensive coaching rooms.

“This is the NFL, it’s not supposed to be a training ground for coaches,” said someone who has worked with Kyle Shanahan in Washington. “It’s ridiculous. Look at this staff. It sucks. Mike’s best buddy is (longtime Shanahan assistant and current linebackers coach Bob Slowik), and Slowik’s son is in his second year out of college and he’s on the staff. Everyone on the staff is in his first or second year except for Mike and Kyle and Haslett (defensive coordinator Jim Haslett) and Raheem (Morris, the secondary coach), and everyone knows Raheem is there because he is close with Kyle. Those two go way back.

“What Mike has allowed to happen there, with that staff, there is no excuse for. There are guys on that staff who are just not qualified, and it shows up. Have you seen the quarterback develop? Look at (defensive ends Brian) Orakpo and (Ryan) Kerrigan? Are they progressing or regressing? Are you seeing the offensive lineman they drafted making it to the field?’ How many players are getting the kind of NFL coaching you’d expect on that staff?”

The Redskins have had a succession of first-time wide receivers coaches on this staff, and the offensive staff has generally been devoid of experience other than Turner. Most of the offensive staff had less than two years of NFL experience before coming to Washington and even in those cases the two years weren’t as actual position coaches, but as offensive assistants and low-level help.

Quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur worked with Kyle Shanahan in Houston and had only two years experience as an “offensive assistant” with the Texans prior to becoming the Redskins QB coach. Similarly, receivers coach Mike McDaniel was a lower-level assistant on the Texans staff before coming to Washington. Tight ends coach Sean McVay’s only prior NFL experience to joining Washington came in 2008 as an offensive assistant in Tampa.

LaCanfora goes on to write that “it has long been clear to many people in various corridors of the Redskins’ organization that the pair of Mike Shanahan, with his son running the offense, in Washington, has been a doomed combination. Especially within the construct of the lack of other strong voices on the offensive side of the ball, and that nepotism has served to hinder, rather than help, the growth of this franchise and the development of RGIII.”

Now, this jibes with some of the stuff I’ve heard. Some of it is new to me, some of it is not. I did not know about the incident after the Dallas game on Thanksgiving in 2012 [read the story for that tidbit] and that certainly does not reflect well on Kyle or his underlings.

The most worrisome part of all t his is Kyle Shanahan‘s lack of a relationship with franchise QB Robert Griffin, whom he treats “like a JV quarterback” according to one report. The relationship between the head coach and the franchise QB is the most critical player-coach relationship in the NFL and it has to be done right. We already know that the relationship between Griffin and Mike Shanahan is poisonous. Now we learn that the relationship between Griffin and his offensive coordinator is also poor.

In the end, though, this all comes back to Mike Shanahan. He was given full control of all football decisions on the Washington Redskins and must bear responsibility for them. This is his coaching staff. He hired the players. He coaches the players — or lets his inexperienced and/or overmatched coaching staff coach them. [Remember, Shanahan pulled Jim Haslett off the scrap heap. Haz had been banished from the NFL and was coaching in the miniscule UFL.]

The Redskins are 24-38 under Mike Shanahan. In three of Shanahan’s four seasons in Washington the team has lost at least 10 games and will finish in last place in the division three of those four years. He’s been a complete failure in Washington and it is time for him, his son and their entire operation to get out of town. I’m sure it will stick in Dan Snyder‘s craw to have to pay these charlatans off to get them to leave, but let him consider a just punishment for loosing them on Washington’s long-suffering football fans in the first place.