Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan is making the rounds on sports shows on the eve of training camp hawking the Redskins, setting expectations for Albert Haynesworth, and saying all the right things to a hopeful yet skeptical fanbase.
Shanahan didn't say "there's a new sheriff in town" in his redskins.com interview with Larry Weisman, but the coach implies that it's safe to root for this team again. So shell out for Redskins tickets, why don't you?
Fans don't have to temper expectations for a quick return to greatness, says Shanahan. "That’s what you should expect and that’s what the fans should expect. If you don’t have that belief, if you don’t believe and the fans don’t believe, chances are the players aren’t going to believe."
So there you go. Fans need to believe so that players can believe. Uh, isn't that supposed to work the other way around?
Shanahan considers his 8-8 finish in Denver a personal embarrassment and made clear that he does not wish to be remembered that way. He drew some stark contrasts with the prior regimes in Washington, though he may not have intended to.
Shanahan described his 35 year experience in coaching in answer to a Weisman question. During his year off, the coach visited other NFL training camps to study other coaches' methods. And he built the coaching staff who would join him when he found his next job.
Danny Snyder and Vinny Cerrato took the opposite approach in 2008, keeping most of Joe Gibbs' coaching staff, except for the two most important ones--offensive and defensive coordinators--while setting a new direction for the offense. Snyderrato took that approach after mining ideas from Jim Fassel, then didn't hire Fassel to coach the team.
Unable to hire Steve Spagnuolo or any other targeted candidate, they settled on Jim Zorn, only recently hired as rookie offensive coordinator as suggested by Fassel. Then over two seasons, Snyder over-managed and undermined Zorn.
Unlike Zorn, Shanahan's been promised complete control of football operations by the same people who promised Albert Haynesworth that he would play the same role on defense as he played in Tennessee. I'm just saying....
But Shanahan is a believer. "I don’t know what’s been done in the past. I just know [Snyder]'s letting me do everything I was hoping I could do and that’s the only way I think I can function and function well."
Shanahan says you lose your edge if you are out of the NFL for more than a year. That's why he was anxious to return to coaching this year. Interesting point. I thought of Joe Gibbs when I read that.
Mike Shanahan is the best coaching hire Danny Snyder has ever made. There is enormous reason for optimism. But can the Redskins win nine or 10 games this season? Not if you look at the first year record of all of the coaches in the Snyder era, or at Shanahan's own first year record with the Broncos and Raiders.
One can hardly expect the coach to express anything but confidence. There are tickets and corporate suites to be sold in a stadium 92,000 seats big. Danny Snyder is so toxic that he needs the new guys as fronts for that job. He once needed Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier and Joe Gibbs for that. Well, we bit on Gibbs all by ourselves.
But that whole fans-need-to-believe-so-players-believe thing is so much doo-doo. It's coaches who have to believe so players believe. Mike Shanahan just said he expects these players to win.
It's worth the price of a ticket to see how it turns out.