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Redskins' Coach Watch: Mike Shanahan in D.C. Likely Means Cerrato Would Stay

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In the previous Redskins Coach watch posts, we discovered that Mike Holmgren would not be a good fit in D.C., and Russ Grimm is worth at least a hard look

Dan Snyder has quite the conundrum now doesn't he? Zorn is building some momentum, and at the same time two premier coaches, Shanahan and Cowher, have publicly rejected their desire to be the ringleader of this circus. We all know Snyder is the ultimate salesman using his wallet to do the talking. As we learned with Joe Gibbs return, there's nothing Snyder can't do in regards to acquiring personnel. 

What's disconcerning is that Shanahan and Vinny Cerrato are still really close. Vinny was the Director of College Scouting in San Francisco during Shanahan's three-year stint (1992 to 1994) as the 49ers' offensive coordinator. They still keep in touch with Shanahan recommending RB Anthony Alridge.  So, if Shanahan does come aboard, he more likely than not would be OK with Vinny retaining his title and the two working together. EESH!!!

I spoke in length with former Denver Bronco, Karl Mecklenburg, about Shanahan:

Hogs Haven: What are your thoughts on Mike Shanahan as the next coach in D.C.? I know things ended badly in Denver with three straight years of failing to make the playoffs.

Karl: I've known Mike forever. Mike was the Offensive Coordinator with the Broncos for years while I was playing. Mike ran into an issue at the end of his career where he was both the General Manager and the Coach. It was a problem about 3 years ago. They just drafted Jay Cutler and they replaced Plummer with Cutler. Rod Smith, a great leader, got hurt, Al Wilson, the heart & soul of the defense, got hurt, and Keith Burns, Special Teams captain, got hurt. Plummer was a great leader, not necessarily a great player, but everyone loved him in the locker room, gave unbelievable effort, he was all about the team. So, all 4 of these guys all go down at once.

The way I describe a team in my speeches and book is a see-saw or teeter-totter. On one side you have the leaders. They think long-term. They put  team passion and team mission first. On the other side you have the egos. How can I get my touches, my statistics. How can I do as little as possible and keep this job? Where's my money? Then in the middle you got rest of the team that can go either way. And that's usually the biggest group. So, on the see-saw you add or subtract a leader/ego, you tip that teeter-top one way or the other, and the middle group starts sliding that way. So then you have momentum towards success or momentum towards failure.

So what happened to Mike all 4 leaders went down at once. You ever been on a teeter-totter when everyone gets off? BAM! That's what it was like and the egos took over. The middle group went that way, and it was really tough to negate that type of influence. It fell apart after that.

Hogs Haven: He couldn't fix that over 1 or 2 years?

That's a challenge. I'm not sure he knew if it was a problem. They brought in some talented guys. They tried to win in that offense. The defense side of the ball there wasn't great talent brought in. There was a new coordinator brought in every year so whatever talent they had they didn't understand the system. It takes awhile to learn the new language. Offensively, their leader was more concerned about himself then the team it appeared to me. When that happens it's very difficult to win, and I'm talking about Cutler.

Hogs Haven: So if Mike came to D.C. he shouldn't take on both roles?

Karl: That would be tough. He hasn't shown he has good at that. There are very few people that are, and there is nothing wrong with that. Mike is a great coach. Anybody that's had the success he's had is going to be a good coach. The challenge is, is he willing to delegate authority. Is he willing to turn the defense over and live with it. Is he willing to work with the GM and coach the players the other guy brings in. He was successful in the past, but once you've been the King, it's tough going back to being the Prince or Duke. I don't know if he'd be willing to do that. 

I still can't get over Cerrato and Shanahan were close. My first thought was: How many offensive linemen did the 49ers draft in the Cerrato era? Answer: Two over the 3 years. One in the 3rd round and one in the 6th round. Vinny was only the Director of Scouting, so I'll pull the dogs back. 

Mecklenburg makes some solid points though. It's just too much to have a Coach do all the GM work as well. Hopefully this is a lesson that the Skins need to bring in a competent GM that has a vision and set plan. From there, let the moves begin. I pinged the SB Nation Broncos' community regarding Shanahan and they added some insight as well:

I think that Shanahan is still a good coach and is an excellent strategist. He is even a good play caller. He just needs to ease up on the control issues and stick to coaching because he has a bad history with personnel decisions. If his ego can handle having a GM partner, he will do wonders for any team he decides to go to...Rumor has it, that Shanahan is trying to bring [Defensive Coordinator] Bob Slowik with him. Bad Move.

Shanahan's resume certainly passes the grades, but can this many egos co-exist in Ashburn? I don't want to find out until there is one person in full control that is not named Snyder.