Captain Shanahan Trying To Steady The Ship In D.C.
By Ed Sheahin
Since his arrival in Washington in 2010, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan has played the role of the calm and collective leader. His demeanor remains typically the same whether the team is in the midst of a losing streak or just clinched the NFC East title over rival Dallas the last week of the season.
There were high expectations by the media, fan base and owner for the Redskins entering the 2013 season. QB Robert Griffin lll declared he’s 100 percent healthy following offseason knee surgery. For the most part, the playoff roster remained intact while adding some key missing pieces via the NFL draft. Finally, the Redskins had a dominating 4-0 preseason (for what that’s worth) and looked primed to advance from contender to a championship team.
Just three games in to the 2013 season and the high-hopes for the Washington fan base earlier this month has turned to salvaging the season after a horrific 0-3 start.
Whether in sports, business, politics or at home, leaders who remain calm during a crisis usually find a way to right the ship. This prevents panic within the ranks, allowing those who can rectify the problem(s) to do so without added pressure.
Well, for Redskins fans, the ship has just hit an iceberg and is taking in water quickly. The 27-20 loss to the Detroit Lions (2-1) last week was a devastating blow to a season on the brink — especially since the team in general showed improved play from previous weeks and there was a glimpse of the 2012 Griffin running the football.
At Shanahan’s weekly Monday afternoon press conference, he addressed the media and told a quick joke within the first minute at the podium. He continued with comments, like, “Although I am disappointed in the results, I thought we showed all-around improvement and I’m pleased.
“We had a few young guys in there that made some mistakes, but they’ll learn,” he added.
This is Mike Shanahan 101! There is no high or low with him. For the most part, you get the same guy at the podium every week saying the same things over and over. Sometimes you feel stuck in a Mike Shanahan version of “Groundhog’s Day.”
Shanahan is a two-time Super Bowl Champion coach who has coached at the college or pro level since 1975. He knows what he’s doing, and should never be second guessed, right?
One time, you want Shanahan to pound his fist, throw something, or get in someone’s face and yell, “What do you want me to do? I didn’t drop a touchdown pass. I didn’t fumble the ball after a long run. I didn’t allow a record amount of yardage through the first three games.”
Not the captain of this ship! Nope, he will go down with the orchestra playing in the background and no life preserver.
It is during the tough times when he’s least likely to play the blame game and point fingers.
The 0-3 start for a team with enormous expectations can create a downward spiraling effect — much like being flushed down the toilet. But Shanahan remains calm (at least on the outside in public) and firmly believes this team will turn this season around.
Positive thinking is a key component to strong leadership. But even Mike Shanahan has to be aware that throughout the history of the NFL, only three teams who started the season 0-3 have made the playoffs (the 1992 Chargers, the 1998 Bills and the 1998 Lions).
With a very winnable game against the Oakland Raiders (1-2) this Sunday, the Redskins have a wonderful opportunity to notch their first win of the 2013 season heading into the bye week.
With bucket in hand, Shanhan is pailing water as fast as he can. The reality, though, after the bye, the Redskins face the first place Cowboys (2-1) in Dallas, the Bears (3-0), and then travel to Denver (3-0) to play the best team in the NFL.
The question everyone is asking in Washington these days: Are the Redskins good team playing bad, or a bad team playing as they should? The answer to that question will be certainly be determined in the next few weeks.