ASHBURN, Va. – Mike Shanahan’s plan to restore order, professionalism and consistent success to the Washington Redskins disintegrated quickly in 2013, costing him his job Monday, a day after the team finished a 3-13 season.
Shanahan was fired after a morning meeting with owner Dan Snyder and general manager Bruce Allen at Redskins Park, a formality expected for several weeks as the losses mounted and tension rose among Shanahan, Snyder and franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III.
“Redskins fans deserve a better result,” Snyder said in a statement.
Allen then announced a new power structure, saying the team’s next coach will not have the all-encompassing role held by Shanahan. Allen said he has an “open list” as he begins the search for a replacement, including NFL and college coaches, but that he will assume have final say regarding the team’s roster.
“That power will be with me,” Allen said.
Shanahan went 24-40 in four seasons in Washington and had one year remaining on his five-year, $35-million contract.
Snyder is seeking his eighth head coach for his 16th season as an NFL owner – a span that includes just four winning seasons, two playoffs victories and seven last-place finishes in the NFC East.
But Allen said Snyder is “still one of the great fans” and isn’t the source of the team’s problems.
“It’s not Dan calling the plays. It’s not Dan picking the plays. It’s the people he (has) hired,” Allen said. “It’s our job to actually turn this team into a winner.”
Shortly after his meeting with Snyder, Shanahan made a five-minute statement thanking fans, players, reporters and Snyder. Shanahan did not take questions, and he defended his efforts in rebuilding the Redskins while repeating his assertion that an NFL-levied salary cap penalty hindered his ability to improve the roster.
“We’re better off today than we were four years ago,” Shanahan said.
Shanahan’s career regular-season record is 170-138 through 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Raiders, Denver Broncos and Redskins, but his two worst years have come in Washington – 5-11 in 2011 and this year’s 3-13. He captured Super Bowls titles with quarterback John Elway and the Broncos after the 1997 and 1998 seasons, but he won only one playoffs game during his final 10 years in Denver and was fired after the 2008 season.
The selection of Heisman Trophy winner Griffin with the No. 2 overall draft pick and a season-ending seven-game winning streak propelled the Redskins to 10-6 record in 2012, their first division title in 13 years.
But Griffin was injured in the playoffs loss to the Seattle Seahawks and required major knee surgery days later, setting the stage for a year of conflict as the quarterback vowed to return in record time and felt empowered enough to openly challenge some of Shanahan’s decisions.
Griffin returned for Week 1 of the regular season – just as he said he would – but he wasn’t the same dynamic player who won the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2012.
Griffin also declined to answer reporters’ questions Monday. In brief remarks, he said that Shanahan “has taught me a lot in just two years.”
The Redskins also struggled on defense and special teams, with Shanahan repeatedly citing the handicap of the two-year, $36 million salary cap penalty imposed by the league for the way Washington restructured contracts during the uncapped year of 2010.
Also dismissed Monday were several assistant coaches, including offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the head coach’s son.
Leaks, rumors and power struggles were just as bad as before, as were the losses. The Redskins’ 2013 record was their worst since 1994, and the season-ending eight-game losing streak is their longest in more than 50 years. Shanahan leaves with the same regular-season winning percentage (.375) in Washington as Steve Spurrier and Jim Zorn.
“Any coach, any organization knows in pro sports you need to eliminate distractions,” Allen said. “Instead, we created our own distractions.”