SNIDER: Shanahan’s possible NFL return should amuse Redskins fans

Rick Snider
December 17, 2018 - 12:47 pm

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports


Former Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan may reportedly return to coach the Denver Broncos? What a silly thought.

Please, everyone, just say no.

Denver general manager John Elway won consecutive Super Bowls as a quarterback under Shanahan in 1997-98. But notice Denver did nothing afterwards, as Elway retired after the second championship.

Shanahan was eventually fired after 2008 and landed in Washington in 2010, where he managed one playoff appearance and three miserable seasons.

But the worst part of the Shanahan era in Washington was his arrogance and overconfidence in mishandling personnel, especially quarterbacks. It started with pretending Donovan McNabb wasn't washed up, continued when staking his reputation on quarterbacks John Beck and Rex Grossman and then refusing to adapt to Robert Griffin III's capabilities after a solid campaign ended in a gruesome injury that everyone inside FedEx Field but Shanahan saw coming.

And let's not even spend time on the Albert Haynesworth debacle.

Shanahan knew football. Nobody disputes that. But he ran Redskins Park as a tyrant, and that just doesn't work in today’s NFL. Sure, it worked for Vince Lombardi and Bill Parcells and all those other iron taskmasters, but it's a different world nowadays. Players didn't respond to Shanahan in 2010. They surely won't in 2019.

Meanwhile, very few coaches recapture their past magic after leaving the NFL for a few years. Even Joe Gibbs struggled in his 2004-07 comeback, managing two brief playoff appearances alongside two losing years. Sure, Dick Vermeil returned after 15 years to later win a Super Bowl, but the short list of successes comes with a much, much longer list of failures.

The game moves on, and those who on the outside rarely do well when returning to the inside. Just ask the Oakland Raiders and Jon Gruden.

Surely there's a role in the front office for Shanahan. He's a solid football man. But coaching? Ask any Redskins fans if they'd like Shanahan back.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks.