Mike Shanahan officially fired as Redskins head coach Monday

Mike Shanahan officially fired as Redskins head coach Monday
December 30, 2013, 9:30 am
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Mike Shanahan thanks fan, ownership after firing

(Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

One day after the Redskins wrapped up one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history with another defeat, Mike Shanahan was fired as head coach Monday, ending his four-year tenure in Washington.

Shanahan, who had one season remaining on the five-year, $35 million contract he signed in 2010, amassed a 24-40 record, which included three double-digit loss seasons and a one trip to the playoffs. Sunday's loss to the Giants was the Redskins' eighth in a row.

A year ago, the Redskins closed the regular season riding a remarkable seven-game winning streak. Quarterback Robert Griffin III was being hailed as one of the NFL’s rising stars. There was even talk of giving Shanahan a contract extension.

But so much changed over the past 12 months.

Griffin shredded his right knee in the playoff loss to the Seahawks and, in the weeks that followed, neither the player nor the coach would accept blame for injury. The first signs of tension were apparent when Shanahan said he trusted Griffin when the quarterback told him on the sideline that he was healthy enough to stay in the game. The friction became more obvious when Griffin sent a text message to ESPN’s Trey Wingo saying, in part, “I know where my responsibility is within the dilemma that led to me having surgery to repair my knee and all parties know their responsibilities as well.”

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It marked the beginning of the end for Shanahan and Griffin, who struggled to regain his rookie season form and wound up getting benched for the final three games. In the final days of the Shanahan era, the quarterback and coach were not on speaking terms, according to an NFL Network report. 

The crumbling relationship between the star player and the coach percolated in the background all season. But on the field, things didn’t go any better for Shanahan’s team.

The Redskins opened the season by losing their first three games en route to a dismal 3-13 record, their worst mark since notching the same record in 1994, Norv Turner’s first season in Washington. The record was also Shanahan’s worst in 20 seasons as a head coach.

The offense failed to duplicate its success from a year earlier as opposing defenses had become adept at neutralizing the zone read option. A less effective Griffin didn’t help, either.

For the second straight season, Jim Haslett's defense ranked among the league's most generous. In 2012, the unit finished 28th in yards allowed per game. This season, it entered Week 17 allowing more points per game (30.5) than all but one team.

And then there were the persistently awful special teams, led by one of Shanahan’s former players, first-year coordinator Keith Burns. The unit allowed three punts to be returned for touchdowns and a kickoff to be returned for a score. Each week, it seemed, Burns' unit committed a critical miscue.

In the final month of the Shanahan regime, a sense of negativity permeated Redskins Park. Media leaks from within the building created daily distractions and awkward news conferences. But, most notably, there was a growing sense that the trust between Shanahan and Griffin, the team’s most important player, was broken beyond repair.

Add that all together and owner Dan Snyder had no other option but to start anew—once again.

Snyder released a statement addressing the issue on Monday morning:

"Redskins fans deserve a better result,” Snyder said. “We thank Mike for his efforts on behalf of the Redskins. We will focus on what it takes to build a winning team, and my pledge to this organization and to this community is to continue to commit the resources and talent necessary to put this team back in the playoffs."

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