WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Will Mike Shanahan, now in his third disastrous season with the Washington Redskins, finish out the fifth year of his contract? With a 14-27 record 41 games into his regime, it's time to start envisioning life after Shanahan in Washington.
The two-time Super Bowl champion's failures in D.C. are all but unforeseen. As pointed out by 106.7 The Fan's Eric Bickel, when legendary NFL coaches resurface with a second NFL franchise, it often leads to failure.
Jimmy Johnson (Dolphins), George Siefert (Panthers), Dick Vermeil (Chiefs), Mike Ditka (Saints), Mike Holmgren (Seahawks) and even Joe Gibbs (Redskins) were all undeniably disappointments with their second franchises. Sunday's loss to Carolina in all likelihood will now add Mike Shanahan's name to this growing list.
I won't sit here and try to explain to you why those heroic football names crashed and burned in their second stints. Hiring a head coach with serious clout automatically puts expectations on an NFL franchise. As we've slowly learned throughout this decade, expectations are rarely ever met in sports. The mounting pressure crumbles teams from the top down.
When Joe Gibbs left the franchise in January of 2008, the Redskins were floating aimlessly at sea. They foolishly hired an offensive coordinator, Jim Zorn, before even hiring a head coach, and then were forced to own up to their mistake by hiring the unqualified Zorn. Washington then went on to draft receivers Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas, both whom are already retired from the NFL.
Fast forward nearly five years later and the only piece of the puzzle Shanahan has solved is at the quarterback position. The 60-year-old head coach's comments yesterday revealed an epiphany from the normally secretive Shanahan: he's realized he's fighting a war that's becoming impossible to win.
The 3-4 defensive scheme is shattered to pieces weekly. The unit has yet to have one game to proud of. Also, it's impossible to fix an entire secondary via free agency, because good teams don't let good corners and safeties go -- besides the Redskins and Champ Bailey. And Pierre Garcon or not, Washington may have the worst wide receiving corps in the NFL. Without a first rounder until 2015, Bruce Allen can only hope and pray his franchise can unearth an Alfred Morris-type of gem in the draft.
Firing Mike Shanahan won't fix the glaring personnel problems. It'll make the Redskins seem even more chaotic than they already are. As frustrated the "new" Dan Snyder is, he won't pull the trigger this offseason. Shanahan's pride and Hall of Fame aspirations will likely prevent him from quitting, unless the Redskins agree to hire his son Kyle. And is that definitely the best choice?
The problem with the short-lived Zorn era was that the Redskins were shell-shocked when Gibbs left. The organization was left lonely, confused and crying in a dark corner. The front office needs to start preparing for what they want the franchise to look like in five years, a.k.a. when a 27-year-old Robert Griffin III is in the prime of his career.
If Shanahan does return next season, he'll be sitting on a seat hotter than Hades. An ultimatum should be set by Snyder this offseason: either reach the playoffs in the 2013 season, Mike, or it was nice knowing you.
With rookie quarterbacks Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill and Russell Wilson all in the playoff hunt with flawed teams surrounding them, Shanahan will have no argument against that sentiment.