Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan is not going to win this battle with team owner Daniel Snyder. Not if you count victory as being, I get to play the quarterback I want, not who the owner wants, and if he doesn’t like it, he can fire me.
But that’s not Shanahan’s goal, that is, playing the quarterback he wants. The news today that Kirk Cousins will get the start Sunday at Atlanta isn’t about Kirk Cousins or Robert Griffin III. It’s about Shanahan wanting out of Washington with the $7 million that he’s due to coach the team in 2014.
The way to do that is to get fired without cause, and because Shanahan’s contract spells out his power over player-personnel moves, a firing that would come because Shanahan would start Cousins ahead of RG3 would be without cause.
So basically what Shanahan is saying to Snyder is: go ahead, make my day.
Snyder’s response this week, that he is leaving player-personnel decisions up to his coach, is effectively a staredown from the owner.
Caught in the middle of this are Cousins and RG3, who don’t deserve to be made bit actors in a bad soap opera involving a millionaire coach with two Super Bowl rings and a billionaire owner who has done absolutely nothing right since buying the Redskins in 1999.
Shanahan is the fourth high-profile coach to have worn out his welcome under The Danny (joining Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier and Joe Gibbs on that list). That quartet has not had trouble winning games elsewhere, but has in D.C. in the Snyder era. The ‘Skins in the Snyder era are just 104-133, including 24-37 under Shanahan.
Assume that this particular battle is going to end in a draw. Shanahan will be fired at the end of the season, he’ll get his $7 million to play golf in 2014, and Snyder brings in another new coach to try to right the wrongs of the past 14 years.
That coach inherits RG3, a porous defense, and the weight of expectations from a fan base that can now just barely remember what it felt like in the ‘80s and ‘90s when Gibbs, the Hogs, the Smurfs and the rest were at the top of the NFL.
I feel bad for that guy, and worse for RG3.