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Mark Schlereth Sheds Light on Shanahan's Ego & Why the Redskins Traded for McNabb

Sorry Skins fans, this is the farthest back Getty Images goes back for me.
Sorry Skins fans, this is the farthest back Getty Images goes back for me.

I was able to spend a solid 10 minutes with the former Redskin, Mark Schlereth, who is doing a media tour promoting - a Mars Company contest where the winner receives an all expenses paid trip for 4 to the Super Bowl (including celebrating on the field with the winning team). Simply buy select Mars products and enter the UPC code on the website to win. Heck of a prize. 

Anyway, I pinged the current ESPN analyst on Shahahan as a GM, Shanahan's ego, how did Shanahan not see that McNabb was a bad fit, Haynesworth, how much is Kyle Shanahan contributing in the game-calling, and the reason he did not stay with the Redskins in free agency. Enjoy. 

HogsHaven: Should I call you Mark or Stink?

"Either or. It doesn't matter to me."

Back in July, you said Shanahan was very aware of the reason he was out in Denver - the poor personnel decisions in the draft & free agency. Here we are one year into this and the Redskins burned 2 high draft picks for a QB that's out in 1-year & 3rd round pick for a banged up Tackle that will be a free agent in 2 weeks. Is he still a bad GM?

"It's a little bit of a different situation. He had some stability in Denver and he had good players, but he made bad draft choice after bad draft choice. And then he chased those bad draft choices with bad free agent moves. [The Redskins] are an organization that was still lacking some depth and legit, big time Quarterbacks. They tried to patch a hole, obviously. The jury is still out on those moves and how much Mike Shanahan plays in that and how much is on Bruce Allen and the owner."

Well, Warren Sapp said Bruce Allen is nothing more than a guy that plays golf with the alumni and works the salary cap and contracts.

"(laughing). If that's the case...I've known Mike for a very long time in regards to those personnel moves and there are a lot of things you kind of look at and scratch your head and I could go through tons of them that happened in Denver which made zero sense."

For example?

"Let's start with the draft. Ashley Lelie. Really? Deltha O'Neal, who played running back in college at Cal Berkley got switched to defensive back. We drafted him in the first round. Does that truly make sense? Guys like Willie Middlebrooks. You've never heard of them. [Willie was a] defensive back from the Univ. of Minnesota that never panned out. 1st round draft choice. George Foster -1st round draft choice, who was injured his last year in college with a broken wrist and really couldn't bend his wrist. A lot of people thought he'd be available in the 4th or 5th round and we took him with the 24th pick overall in the draft. I can go on and on and on.

And then free agent wise. Whether it was Daryl Gardener from the Miami Dolphins or a handful of other guys that really didn't pan out. A lot of poor moves in that regard. When you make poor draft choices, and that's the biggest thing, you're forced to chase those poor draft choices because if they don't pan out, in the free agent market you try to patch a hole. The problem being one bad choice makes you chase another guy and another guy. It makes you draft people and chase free agents out of position and overpay those guys. I think it's been a problem in Washington even before Mike ever got there."

There's ten years of game film on McNabb throwing these worm balls. How did Shanahan not see that he was a bad fit?

"OK, let me tell you. And this is endemic of all coaches. Don't just put this on Mike, you can put this on anybody. Donovan's biggest issue has been accuracy. He's always struggled over his career with being a very accurate QB. I can put on any game film this year of Donovan and there's six or seven balls a game where he throws them into the dirt where nobody has an opportunity [to make the catch]. Where you're like, "Really?" It's a 7-yard throw and you threw it four yards short in the dirt. How can that be? And, the problem with coaches in general is they really feel like they can cure or fix anybody.  From the inaccuracy, they'll say, "Oh, it's his footwork. Under my expert tutelage I'll get him to setup a different way.  I'll get his knees bent a little bit more. I'll get his weight distributed more evenly. And I'll fix this issue."

The problem comes under duress you revert back to schoolyard and bad habits. Anytime you got a little bit of stress or pressure, inevitably you revert back to what you've always been.  Coaches think they can fix people mechanically. It comes down to ego. They think they can fix a guy who's an absolute terd everywhere he's been and they think they can take that guy under their expert tutelage they're going to go play."

Like Jake Plummer?

"Like Jake Plummer. Like Albert Haynesworth.  Let's face it. It's an ego driven business. I always say: You think the egos are big in the locker room? Walk upstairs to the offices of the coaching staff, the head coaches, and the General Manager. They have the mentality, 'Oh, we can fix it. I see what's wrong,' and it's not that easy. Mike suffers from that like everyone."

How much of the offensive coordinating is Kyle doing versus Mike? You worked with Kubiak as a Coordinator in Denver, and as fans, we see the Head Coach's son as a coordinator and there's really no risk of him losing his job.

"Yea, I don't know if that's a great situation, but Mike always has his hands in it. Whether he is calling plays or Kyle is calling plays, the bottom line, and this is the way it was in Denver, those coaches put a game plan together, Mike will review it, add to it, subtract from it, say 'I like this. I don't like this.' He is intimately involved in the game planning and the execution of the game plan. Don't think it falls on Kyle. Nothing gets called on the football field on Sunday that hasn't been approved through Mike's desk in the course of the week."

What about being down 20 points early?

"It's school yard and you adjust on the fly. That's any coach."

How do you think Shanahan has handled the Haynesworth situation looking back?

"I think there's definitely mistakes that Mike made. Obviously, he let some of his frustrations get to him. There's no question about that. I understand the difficult situation and task that he faced. I mean, to see a guy with that much talent that has been productive in this league be like "I'm not going to do this," after you already paid him is incredibly frustrating. I just think taking that battle to the media and expressing that is never beneficial. You got to keep that stuff in house as much as you can. Fighting that battle is difficult."

Did Charley Casserly try to keep you or based on the horrible decline of the Redskins did you want to bail?

"The Skins basically told me they didn't want me. Understandably so. In 1993, I missed most of the season with Guillain-Barré syndrome. In 1994, I wasn't 100% healthy and it was Norv's first year.  Basically, they were moving in a different direction and they didn't really want me anymore."

Special thanks to Stink for taking the time. Everything he said about McNabb makes complete sense. He thought he could change his habits, and it's not possible. It has nothing to do with cardiovascular endurance, or learning the playbook, or the 2-minute drill...simply put, McNabb cannot run this offense.

I tried to get a Hogs story out of him, but he really didn't have any. They didn't prank him and Grimm was firm with him from the start.