For two years now I have been preaching to friends/family/anybody who will listen to me at the bar that we needed patience, and it was too early to judge the Shanaplan in any meaningful way. It was too raw, and too derailed from one fateful decision at its very inception. I think that starting with the RG3 trade, and this week's ensuing free agency run, we can officially start the meter on the Shanahan era.
The reason behind my mindset stems mainly from 2 things:
1) I think Shanahan blamed too much of our general level of suck in 2009 on Zorn/the absurd 2009 season, having not been inside the locker room. We had a lot of vets (unfortunately they ended up being mostly the "just here collecting a paycheck" variety), and I think he felt if he got a veteran QB he could win some in the short term whilst simultaneously building the roster back up. Since McNabb ended up washed up and not working out, it left the Skins with 2 lost seasons. Barring an insane trade (think: 2 1sts for Carson Palmer) or getting lucky with a rookie, there was almost no QB help in the 2010 offseason, forcing his hand on the Beck/Grossman debacle. Yes it was Shanny's choice to get McNabb, but I think you can also argue that it was somewhat bad luck that McNabb regressed earlier than most star QBs. And you can't blame him for his public support of GrossBeck, it would be insane not to give the QBs you are stuck with your full support (from a motivational standpoint). This is important because....
2) Almost every single other major and minor move made by ShanAllen has worked out. The FA class from last year provided good bang for the buck and will probably continue to do so. They restructured SO many of the contracts that Synderatto had handed out to make use of the uncapped year (getting the cap hit off the books) instead of signing aging crappy vets that would hamstring the cap going forward. They now have $40m to spend this year. The 2011 draft class should provide quality depth for years to come. They have lowered the average age on the team by more than 4 years.
I think its very easy to lose track of how much progress has been made (just think back...I know its painful...and REMEMBER THE PAIN FROM THE LAST ZORN YEAR). Shanahan is not perfect, but a LOT of good things are happening. But that doesn't get him off the hook for the McNabb disaster and 11 wins in 2 years (or stop it from being the dark cloud hanging overhead).
I just think overall its telling that Shanahan didn't panic last year and go after a QB. He waited to try and get a real impact player. But he also probably overpaid for RG3. He has finally put his stake in the ground to take a stand, and over the next 2 years I think we will see whether or not his plan is going anywhere. The last 2 years are sort of a net-neutral in my opinion. The dark McNabb cloud can now be forgotten, and hopefully sun will come out. But if it doesn't at least we know that despite solid general personnel moves the modern football era has probably left Shanahan and his ego behind.