Well, here we go again.
Remember last year around this time? The magic that we could all feel building. The new quarterback in town who was doing things that had never been done. The running back who was breaking records. The coach who had finally brought stability to this franchise.
That's all gone. In less than one full season, it's all gone. We are back to the Zorn and Vinny days. We are back to the Norv and Robiskie days. How did this all happen? And how did it all happen seemingly so quickly?
One thing I had been hearing constantly over the last few years was that the adults were finally in charge. No more Dan Snyder meddling. No more college coach who was out of his element. The adults were in charge and we could all rest easy. Sure, the overall record wasn't there just yet, but we were building to something. Shanahan, Bruce Allen and company were overseeing this operation and it was going to be a stable unit that was capable of great things like NFC East championships and eventually Super Bowls.
Obviously, there were many things going on behind the scenes that we, as fans, were not aware of. There had been rumors of friction between Robert Griffin III and Papa Shanahan. There were rumors that Snyder and Griffin had grown very tight and were hanging out outside of the workplace. Earlier in the year, Griffin gave an interview in which he specifically mentioned everyone who was with him when he awoke from his surgery, and not one of them had the last name Shanahan.
There was the propaganda campaign, "All in for Week One", in which Griffin did a really cool commercial and had T-shirts made up promising that he was going to recover from reconstructive surgery in record time and be the starting quarterback by the beginning of September.
Then, Griffin was ready in time, but when he came out for Week One, the best he looked was when he sprinted out of the tunnel helmetless and holding the American Flag. He was not the same quarterback for the first game. He looked slow and timid and the Redskins got embarrassed on Monday Night Football in a loss to the underdog Eagles. In fact, they started off the season with three losses. Even then, there was no talk of a coaching change. Despite an awful defense that liked to give up huge chunks of yards, they were able to pull things together and won three of their next five to put themselves back in the thick of things in their division with a record of 3-5.
Not only that, their next opponent was the one-win Minnesota Vikings, which would surely be a win. Except it wasn't. It started off well when the Redskins dominated the first half statistically and had a 24-14 lead. However, the wheels came off in the second half when Minnesota outscored the Redskins 20-3.
The Redskins have not won a game since.
They now sit at 3-10. Right before their tenth loss, a story broke by Dan Graziano of ESPN that Mike Shanahan had cleaned out his office and was ready to quit before his team played the Seattle Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs last year. An anonymous source inside the team told Graziano that, even at a time when his team had won seven straight to make the playoffs, Shanahan was fed up with Snyder. The only thing that brought him back for his fourth season was the Griffin knee injury that occurred. According to the story, Shanahan did not want to go out on a sour note like that.
Instead, he came back and we now find ourselves in this mess. It is unknown who the anonymous source was, but many feel the source was Shanahan himself. To me, that initially sounded like a bit of a stretch, until Shanahan responded to the story by refusing to respond. Following his team's tenth loss in which he benched Griffin in favor of Kirk Cousins once the game was out of hand, he would not answer questions in regards to the story, and sounded cryptic at best when speaking about the teams' future.
Then came Monday's press conference, which was as confusing as it was hard to watch. Shanahan sounded like a man who is trying his best to catch the next plane heading back to Denver. He mostly would not talk about anything that was not related to this week's matchup against the Falcons. But he did say one thing that, I believe, tells the whole story. He mentioned that he may not start Robert Griffin III on Sunday. Oh, and if he does not start him this week, he will not start him the rest of the year.
This bombshell was dropped and drew several follow-up questions, the main one being "Why?". Shanahan stated that he felt his offensive line was not blocking well enough at this point of the season and did not want to get Griffin hurt. He stated that Griffin is healthy, and he would like to keep him that way going into the offseason.
Let me be the one millionth person to call that excuse 100% Grade "A" bologna. If the ESPN story that Shanahan will not comment on is not true, why wouldn't he just say so instead of avoiding answering the question? If it is true and he wants out, why would he care about how Griffin feels going into the offseason?
The only excuse that makes sense is that he is playing a high stakes game of chess with Dan Snyder at this point. He wants out, and wants out now. Choosing to play Kirk Cousins over a healthy Robert Griffin III is the ultimate screw in Snyder's back. Shanahan told the media he will announce his decision on Wednesday. If he chooses Cousins, this is going to get really interesting and really fast. Griffin does not want to sit and has made that clear.
What is obviously happening is that Shanahan has found a way to force Snyder's hand. The only question at this point seems to be this: Will the owner let it happen or just bite the bullet and fire his coach now?
Your move, Mr. Snyder.