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Whatever Happens, This Off-Season Will Define Mike Shanahan's Tenure As Redskins Head Coach

We're all getting caught up in the quarterback controversy. The Redskins need a quarterback and the top two options would appear to be to trade up to draft Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III and lose a load of draft picks or sign recently released Peyton Manning and gear up for a few years of Super Bowl runs. There are positives and negatives to both options, and obviously there are other options out there. But we're entering the third year of the Shana-plan and we still haven't sorted out this quarterback situation, and it's widely believed the Redskins will heavily pursue at least one of the main two options.

Option one is to build for the future. The Rams are rumored to be holding out for a ransom for the second overall pick which is where Robert Griffin III will likely be taken. The Redskins could decide to pay that ransom and get their franchise quarterback of the future. There's not a lot to dislike about Griffin III, he's a high character guy, a leader, will provide a great image for the team to build upon, and better yet, he can play quarterback pretty damn well! Griffin III would also provide the fans with hope that the Redskins are finally getting it right and have a guy they can truly build around. If he reaches his potential, he would give the Redskins a direction for the next decade and would build Mike Shanahan's reputation as one of the top coaches in the NFL. It could set up the Redskins for a long spell as contenders, and give Mike the opportunity to potentially retire on a high and pass the reigns on to his son Kyle.

However, to get to Griffin, they will likely have to give up multiple high round picks, which limits the ability to surround him with the pieces he requires to succeed. The Redskins would be forced to resort back to their old ways under Cerrato where they would have to pay big money free agents to come and plug holes that they can't fill with draft picks. If we fail to surround Griffin with receivers to throw to, or an offensive line to protect him, he could go down the path of the David Carr's of the world that get killed before they have the chance to succeed. If Griffin gets a significant injury (and he's already been plagued with knee injuries in college) or he just busts outright, Mike Shanahan wouldn't survive as Redskins Head Coach. There would likely be an overhaul in coaching staff and we would be back to where we were when Shanahan first took over.

Option two has similar consequences. The upside to bringing in one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game is undoubtedly high. If the Redskins bring in Peyton Manning, and the guys that he wants to follow him (Reggie Wayne, potentially Pierre Garcon, Jeff Saturday etc) and you fill a lot of holes because you know Manning has a proven record of success with those guys, you don't see any real reason that they couldn't all play together on a different team. Free Agents want to play with Peyton Manning. A legitimate number one receiver like Vincent Jackson, or maybe one of the top guards (Ben Grubbs, Carl Nicks) might be more interested to join the Manning lead Redskins. Suddenly then, you have the sixth overall pick to play with, as well as the rest of the picks in the draft. You haven't given all those up for Robert Griffin III, so you could use that sixth to build up the offensive line to protect Peyton, maybe a right tackle, or you could trade down and grab a couple extra picks, and gain some depth as well as drafting a guy to develop behind Peyton. Add to all of this, you have two great offensive minds in the same room when game-planning. Peyton once played under Mike at the 2006 Pro Bowl, and had some interesting words to say about Shanahan.

"I would be hard-pressed to find a better offensive mind that Mike Shanahan" " I think there's a lot of good football coaches out there, and I think Mike Shanahan is one of the best of them."

- Via the Denver Post (read the full story here)

Mike Shanahan is known for his meticulous pre-game preparation, while Peyton is known for his ability to adjust plays at the line of scrimmage depending on what the defense gives him. The potential for those two offensive minds to come together could make a brilliant offense that could see them both become a rarity in the NFL, a coach and a quarterback that were able to win Super Bowls in two different cities.

Conversely, one could argue that the amount of control these two men like to have over the offense would lead them to clash in a fight for control that would end in both of them losing. The other most obvious danger of signing Peyton Manning is the injury. If he isn't able to perform to full strength, or if he gets a big hit and is forced to retire, the Redskins season is instantly over because no back-up can do what Manning can do and doesn't have the relationship with the receivers that Manning has. If Manning goes down week one, we are stuck with a lot of money invested in at least Wayne, if not more of Manning's supporting cast and potentially other big free agents. This would take us back to when we had lots of money tied to a lot of older guys. It would undo all of the brilliant work Shanahan and General Manager Burce Allen have done to create cap room to be able to pay their own players as they grow into bigger pieces of the puzzle and demand more money to stay with the team.

The last worry I have of signing Peyton Manning is that he has probably three years left in the NFL before he retires. If we go all in on him, where does that leave us in three years time? We could possibly have added a Super Bowl title, but at the same time we could have missed out and Manning decides to call it a day, leaving the Redskins back at square one again with nothing to show for it. The pressure is going to be on any team that signs Peyton Manning to win the Super Bowl. If he fails to deliver, it's seen as a failed experiment and the head coach of which ever team signs him is more than likely to be fired. Even if he manages to win a Super Bowl, once he retires the head coach is left with a defense that is three years older, and an offense that needs to be completely rebuilt.

There's plenty of conundrums to contemplate when it comes to the quarterback situation. Shanahan could even decide to draft a guy like Ryan Tannehill or Nick Foles and have them sit for a year. Although, another year with Rex Grossman as the starter would probably be Shanahan's last. But whatever happens at the quarterback position this off-season, it will define Shanahan's tenure as the Head Coach of the Washington Redskins.