Mike Shanahan (Getty Images)
MIAMI, Fla. (WUSA) -- Redskins owner Dan Snyder fired Jim Zorn in January 2010 after the first-time head coach had inherited a wild-card team from Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs and gone just 12-20 with an often-chaotic atmosphere exacerbated by the ability of some players to go over Zorn's head to Snyder.
Snyder replaced Zorn with Mike Shanahan, who had won two Super Bowls, made the playoffs seven times and enjoyed nine winning seasons during 14 years in Denver.
On top of being an experienced sideline boss and a disciplinarian, Shanahan was an offensive guru, who had coordinated attacks that had won conference championships for the Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers.
And yet here we are, 25 games into the Shanahan regime and the Redskins can't win (their first five-game losing streak in a decade and the first of the coach's career) and can't score (one touchdown the past three games after Sunday's 20-9 loss at Miami and just four scores during the five-game tailspin with just one those four coming before a fourth quarter).
At 9-16, Shanahan is two games behind the paces that got Zorn dismissed and prompted Gibbs' predecessor, Steve Spurrier, to resign after the ugly 2003 season.
And now like Spurrier in 2002, Shanahan is playing quarterback roulette, having benched turnover machine Rex Grossman for the more mobile John Beck three quarters of the way through a Week 6 loss to Philadelphia that dropped Washington to 3-2 and on Saturday, even more surprisingly, yanking the inexperienced Beck - whom he had announced would start against the Dolphins - for the more proven Grossman.
"That was my intention to stick with John ... but when you have a number of people go down and you're playing an inexperienced quarterback, you don't want to throw him to the wolves (so you) go with a more experienced guy," Shanahan said.
Whoa. It was OK to start Beck against the-then 4-1 Buffalo Bills and the-then 6-1 San Francisco 49ers even though receiver Santana Moss, tight end Chris Cooley, running back Tim Hightower and left guard Kory Lichtensteiger were sidelined but it wasn't OK to play him against the 1-7 Dolphins with those starters still out but with right tackle Jammal Brown replacing left tackle Trent Williams on the shelf?
Sure, the offense had scored just 11 points the past two games with Beck at the helm but it had produced 33 points in his previous five quarters compared to Grossman's zero in his final five.
Plus Shanahan had announced that Beck would start against the Dolphins before informing the quarterbacks and then the rest of the players on Saturday that he had changed his mind after splitting the reps during the week.
The Grossman-led offense managed just two field goals when starting series at the Miami 5, 10 and 24-yard-lines with the middle one of those possessions ending after one play with a forced Grossman interception that jump-started the Dolphins' clinching touchdown drive.
So the Redskins don't know who their quarterback is, they score fewer points than punchless University of Maryland and they've lost three games during their five-game tailspin to teams (Philadelphia, Carolina and Miami) that came in with just one victory apiece.
Zorn started 6-2 in 2008 but lost six of his last eight games. He started 2-2 in 2009 but dropped 10 of his final 12 games.
Shanahan started 4-3 last year but lost seven of his last nine games and has now lost five in a row after a 3-1 start to this season with no end to the losing in sight.
Remind me again why Snyder ousted Zorn for Shanahan?
WUSA-9's Redskins Insider, David Elfin, has covered sports since he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1975. He is the Washington representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is the author of five books on the Redskins including the new "Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History."