1) Shanahan is a "player's coach". He gives the media the cold shoulder, and in doing so comes across as kind of a 'Richard' to the general public. His players love him though, which has been overwhelmingly evident to me since his arrival here in Washington. It has come as a surprise to me I must admit because he never struck me as a player's coach type of guy when he was in Denver, but this team from top to bottom has bought what Shanahan is selling in a way I haven't seen in this city since Gibbs' first tenure.
2) Shanahan believes in working hard off the field to earn the right to play in games. He has preached this nonstop throughout his coaching career to the point of monotony. This mindset caused him to sit Haynesworth, which many Redskins fans were critical of at the time. I think that in Shanahan's system dedication earns you the right to play in football games. This may also be why London was never sat even after he seemed to be a step slow early this season. He had earned the right to start in those games, and he turned it around for another Pro Bowl season.
3) Next I will get to what I believe is Shanahan's achilles heel. He overestimates "his guys". When you are his guy he believes you can do things no one else believes you can. This type of coaching can be inspiring, as I believe it was with Robert this year (and Cousins too actually). It can also lead to some less than ideal decisions. John Beck represents the downfall of this mentality, as does Grossman to a certain extent.
The media approved line is that Shanahan's ego-driven pride causes him to believe that his coaching skills are so great that the talent of his Quarterback is largely irrelevant. I don't buy that. I think he is a player's coach and when you are his guy he believes in you like no one else does.
I think that the mentalities that I have described were largely responsible for Shanahan's decision to keep Robert in the game. He believed that Robert had earned the right to play in that playoff game with his dedication and hard work all year. And there is no denying that Robert Griffin is his guy like no one else on that team. I think he believed Robert when he was insisted that he was ok, that he could turn it around and get it done, that he was hurt but not injured. He believed in him more than most of the fans did because that is how he coaches.
Now I know everyone is going to call me a fanboy and an apologist, but before you do realize that I agree that Shanahan made the wrong decision. His overconfidence in certain players has lead to this and other poor decisions. But overall, I think that his mentality toward football has lead to some pretty impressive team building in Washington thus far. With every coach in this league you have to take the good with the bad. Even Bellichick, arguably the greatest coach of this era, got caught cheating (his @$$ off) while he was coaching one of the most talented rosters in NFL history. All I am saying is that in my personal opinion Shanahan has done enough in building this team that I am willing to take the good with the bad, and suspend disbelief for at least one more season. Cheers and Hail to the Redskins.