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Have The Washington Redskins Improved At All Under Mike Shanahan?

The Redskins' 2010 season has been disastrous. Now Dan Snyder has a choice to make, which will determine the future at head and quarterback. However, all of this could have been avoided if the Redskins took a long-term approach to building a team.

No matter how bad the Redskins are, they somehow manage to captivate a national audience. It's rare to see a team, so ineffective on the field dominate headlines year-round. The circus-style atmosphere that arrived in 2000 with Deion Sanders and Bruce Smith has never left, making the Redskins prime targets for pundits year in and year out. For some reason, it hasn't grown old.

And how could it when the team loses prime time games in stupendous fashion, watches as their head coach has a staring contest with a 350-pound, $100 million free agent bust, and then stand by as their new face of the franchise is kicked to the curb after 13 games? It has gotten to the point where you have to wonder when Washington will run out of creative solutions to stay in the spotlight.

Dan Snyder has brought in a legendary college coach, three iconic NFL coaches, two first-round quarterbacks, two borderline hall of fame quarterbacks and one of the best running backs of the 2000s all to no avail. Now he has to make a choice on whether or not to intervene in the latest crisis regarding the future of his coach and his quarterback.


Mike Shanahan was given control of the football operations, but Snyder probably didn't foresee him benching Donovan McNabb. Reports indicate the Redskins owner is displeased with Shanahan's decision to sit McNabb and that he might make "major coaching changes." These coaching changes could be directed either at Shanahan or offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who was apparently a strong advocate of benching McNabb.

It's easy to be outraged and call for both Shanahans' heads on a platter, but should Snyder fire them he'll be right in the thick of the decision-making he stepped back from this offseason. If he doesn't fire them, then say goodbye to the quarterback Washington surrendered two draft picks to acquire. Ironically in obtaining McNabb and Shanahan, Snyder has found himself in a lose-lose situation when it seemed like a match made in heaven before the season began.

By trading for McNabb, the Shanahans sent a message to fans that they expected to compete right away. They misjudged the talent on the roster and mortgaged the future to win this season. However, they aren't winning and their reaction has been to heap blame on McNabb despite a shoddy defense and weak supporting cast. The problems were only escalated by bringing the contract extension to the table in November.

Though I believe McNabb is the best bridge-the-gap quarterback when it comes to his leadership, example, and overall talent, he would be a very expensive option for a team likely to drop some serious dollars on a rookie quarterback in the near future. Whether they meant to or not, the Redskins have put themselves in position where keeping McNabb might be difficult. It would be monetarily sound to hand the reigns to a Rex Grossman or a John Beck, but of course it would come at the expense of losing a class guy like McNabb who is a better player and more respected in the locker room.

Even after Grossman's surprising play on Sunday, it wouldn't be wise to entrust a full season to a player with a track record as enigmatic as his. Just because he shredded a bad secondary for one half doesn't mean he can take the wheel for 16 games. Also, would you really want him mentoring Andrew Luck? I thought not.

I would bet my house on the fact that the Redskins will draft a quarterback this offseason, but seeing as I don't own a house that might not be the most convincing argument. Still, you catch my drift. That rookie will need tutelage and the team will need a leader to maintain some semblance of competency on the field while the draftee is preparing. With McNabb linked to a monster deal, the Redskins will have trouble retaining him and then drafting a quarterback. It will have to be one or the other.


Regardless of the outcome, the Redskins still haven't learned their lesson. Instead of hanging onto Jason Campbell or some other average quarterback and riding out a rebuilding year, they made a splash to excite the fan base. The move has left the team with a coach who could be fired or a quarterback who might get the axe. All in all, another year of devastating failure attributed to starry-eyed dreamers believing the future is now.

All the turmoil is making for a dramatic offseason. Big names will be ushered out and no matter what, you can bet at least one big name will make a cameo in the name of instant success. However, this isn't an offseason where the 'Skins can pull a 180 and be a legitimate contender in 2011. Rather they need to develop a long-term plan focusing on replenishing an aging roster. It will take multiple offseasons and receive little fan support when the losses continue to mount, but it's a bullet the Redskins must bite if they ever wish to recapture their winning ways.