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What Did Mike Shanahan Really Accomplish In His First Season With The Redskins?

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The Redskins didn't win or really rebuild in 2010. So what did they do, exactly, in Mike Shanahan's first year as head coach?

Coach Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins watches the action during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on December 26 2010 in Jacksonville Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Coach Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins watches the action during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on December 26 2010 in Jacksonville Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
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In his first season as the head coach of the Washington Redskins, Mike Shanahan was a busy man. He assembled the oldest team in the league. He traded away draft picks for Donovan McNabb and Jamal Brown. He decided Devin Thomas was not his type of receiver and waived him. He placed Malcolm Kelly on injured reserve, and as we now know, he could have played this season. Instead of installing his offense built on athletic lineman and a juggernaut running game, he hired his son to call the plays. He benched McNabb for Rex Grossman with two minutes to go against the Lions. They lost that game. He then benched McNabb in favor of Grossman again with three weeks to go in the season. The Redskins lost two of their last three games.

I haven't even mentioned Albert Haynesworth and I'm going to try not to mention him. 

Shanahan signed Larry Johnson, then cut him. He signed Wille Parker, then cut him. Instead of hold over starting guard Derrick Dockery, he played Kory Lichtensteiger. Lichtensteiger appeared to be a bull fighter at times, waiving defensive lineman across the line of scrimmage and into McNabb's personal space. He signed players, promoted players and benched players without giving them much of a look at all.  

Oh, and he installed cameras everywhere in a manner that would make George Orwell blush:

But in the Shanahan era, the head coach is always watching -- literally.

Because it is impossible for him to be in every meeting at the same time, he has cameras set up in every meeting room and they record what the unit and position coaches and players go over.

Shanahan then watches every single meeting.

The results speak for themselves. A 6-10 record, 2-4 in the division and getting swept by the Giants yet again.

It is Shanahan's first year. Most would accept that in a new coach's freshman effort. A new offense and defense were installed and that takes time to become effective. I get it.  

The problem is that I believe Shanahan sacrificed winning and/or rebuilding this season. The Redskins didn't win and they are not rebuilding. They have trouble at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, safety and along both offensive and defensive lines. Franchises should be either competing or rebuilding. Shanahan has done neither at the expense of one thing & one thing only: letting everyone know that he is boss.

What is laughable about this at some level is that we already knew this. Shanahan's reputation was well known throughout the league, and we expected as much once we saw his grinning, crimson face in the back of that limo. That wasn't good enough for Shanny. He had to make sure that everyone, from his players to the beat reporters, knew this was his team. The deceit and half truths that sprang from his mouth during those painful Monday press conferences. The public whippings of Haynesworth (couldn't help myself) and to a lesser extent McNabb. The benching of players who were there before Shanahan was. All of it was the means to an end, and that end is total control.

This sounds like I'm being critical, and for the moment, let's say I am. I don't have any argument with Shanahan letting us know who is boss, but don't sacrifice a season in the name of making some bold statement.

You don't like Portis? Don't sign to washed up backs to push him. Get rid of him.

You don't like Haynesworth? Don't say a 4th round pick isn't enough value for him. Make the trade.

You want to get your son a job as a head coach? Don't take a job as a head coach and let him control all aspects of your offense and bench your franchise quarterback.  

Compete or rebuild. Don't half ass it. That's what we are dealing with. A half-ass job.  

Brandon Banks, Anthony Armstrong, Keiland Williams, Ryan Torain, Perry Riley and Antonio Bryant are all guys Shanahan brought in who look like they can help. That's great  He deserves credit for that. But then again, guys like Ma'ake Kemoeatu, McNabb, Johnson and Joey Galloway were all long in the tooth. If you're going to try and contend, make sure you have the horses or scrap the whole thing & rebuild. Again, neither was accomplished this year.  

Even if the Redskins succeed with Shanahan as their head man, this will always be a wasted season. Tires spinning in the mud. Whether it was arrogance or just a new head coach getting swept up into the Redskins culture of "win now even if you can't," we may never know.

At least we Redskins fans now know what's most important to Shanahan. It isn't smart players, tough players, value in the draft, quality free agent acquisitions or clean restrooms at Fed Ex Field. What's most important to Mike Shanahan is making sure we know Mike Shanahan is most important.