Further fueling the speculation that there exists an entire photo album full of compromising pictures of Dan Snyder, we have yet another top football guy at Redskins Park who is seemingly unfireable (is that a word?) and on a thousand-mile long leash.
Mike Shanahan has the most secure job in Washington, narrowly beating out the lawyer who represents misbehaving Congressmen. And this is saying a lot, given the propensity for turnover on the sidelines at FedEx.
I have made the point before that Dan Snyder coveted Shanahan for years and would be unlikely to dismiss him regardless of how many games he wins in his first 4-5 seasons. In addition to that, the only way Snyder builds any credibility for his next big hire down the road is to prove he can stick it out with a very well-respected NFL coach. But we are coming up on some rough waters in some potentially uncharted territory. After all, Snyder has jettisoned guys for a variety of reasons after short tenures with the club, and one of them was the highly respected Marty Schottenheimer (the only coach with a non-losing record under Snyder.)
And now it at least appears that the Redskins are not poised to compete for a Super Bowl run in 2011. We have enough talent to comfortably avoid being among the worst teams in the league, but would you put this team against the Packers or Steelers right now in terms of contender status? As much as I will blindly believe we can beat anyone on any given Sunday, I know this organization is not there yet.
On top of that, pretty much everyone fully expects the Redskins to make a play for one of the top quarterbacks in 2012's draft class. As good as that rookie could be--and it's a crap shoot--that decision would likely add at least another year to the timetable for the Redskins to get back to playing meaningful football in January.
Assuming any of this is true, that puts Shanahan in Year #4 before anyone can realistically expect him to take this team anywhere. I assume Snyder is that patient--I assume he has to be that patient. But that would be a record amount of patience from a guy who has made a habit of attacking the Lombardi Trophy with a series of one-year plans.
Finally, look around...are expectations for this team set at unrealistic levels in the fanbase? I don't think so. I think that is also a bit of a new thing around here. No Redskins fan is prepared to concede anything, but let's just say that there aren't a lot of hotel rooms and flights being booked to Indy for this year's Super Bowl. There is a real sense among us that this team is going to be raw and green and in a development stage in 2011. That also gives Shanahan more slack when it comes to having to answer for a down year.
You think any other coach besides MAYBE Joe Gibbs could have gotten away with telling the world John Beck was his starter? You think any other coach could have gotten away with multiple pissing matches with highly paid veterans that split the locker room and jeopardized the performance of the team? I mean, Shanahan is literally RIPPING pages out of the "How to Get Fired" playbook.
This brings me back to what could be a long-running TV show each fall for the next few years--"Shanahan Can't Lose." I almost expect Shanny to take the field on September 11th in a speedo and top hat, smoking a cigar and ordering up quadruple reverses while sipping Appletinis on the sideline. (Parks, you should have known better before telling me about that fantasy of yours.)
Whether Shanahan is stuck with the Redskins or the Redskins are stuck with Shanahan, it is clear to me that this relationship is going to last for a while, almost no matter what happens. And you know what: out of all the dysfunction and douchebaggery that has transpired, I think what will eventually emerge is a legitimate winner on the field.
It takes time to right the ship. It takes time for a new skipper to come aboard, make the necessary changes, establish a proper chain of command and install a new "way." Time is the one thing this franchise has failed to invest in itself for the last decade. If that changes, watch out. In the meantime, enjoy the show.