AP source: Shanahan agrees to coach Redskins
WASHINGTON – Mike Shanahan agreed Tuesday to become the coach of the Washington Redskins, the latest step in a major overhaul of a troubled franchise.
Shanahan’s decision to join the team was confirmed to The Associated Press by an official within the NFL. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the team was not commenting on its coaching search.
The Redskins announced they would hold a news conference Wednesday, although they did not say why.
The deal with Shanahan is for five years, the Denver Post reported on its Web site. The hire comes less than 48 hours after the Redskins fired Jim Zorn – and less than three weeks after front-office chief Vinny Cerrato resigned and quickly was replaced by general manager Bruce Allen.
All of which means that, within a month, the Redskins have gone from an organization that revolved primarily around owner Dan Snyder and yes-man Cerrato to one that includes two powerful decision-makers who are sure to wield much clout.
Allen – son of Hall of Famer and former Redskins coach George Allen – became the first person to hold the title of GM in Snyder’s decade-plus of ownership, while Shanahan is known to demand a heavy say-so in personnel decisions.
Shanahan will have the final authority on football decisions, according to ESPN.com.
All in all, it was quite a contrast to Washington’s previous transition, when Joe Gibbs abruptly left as coach and team president after the 2007 season. The Redskins went through a whole slew of coaching candidates during a month-plus search, and wound up turning to Zorn after others showed no interest, dropped out or were deemed unsatisfactory. Zorn initially was brought aboard as a first-time offensive coordinator, then was promoted to head coach two weeks later.
No such suspense or drama this time.
“You always wonder what’s going to be happen. You don’t want to be on pins and needles,” defensive end Andre Carter said. “When we had the team meeting with Bruce Allen, he told us something would happen hastily. He wasn’t joking when he said that.”
The Redskins are 82-99 since Snyder bought the team, missing the playoffs in eight of 11 seasons, and the toll of below-.500 seasons and accompanying fan unrest left him little choice but to hire established names and put them in charge.
Shanahan will be Washington’s seventh coach since Snyder bought the team in 1999 – a stretch that has included only two playoff victories for a team that proudly displays three shiny Super Bowl championship trophies in the lobby of its practice facility.
Shanahan won two Super Bowls in 14 seasons with the Denver Broncos, but was fired a year ago after they missed the playoffs for the third straight season.
Before word of Shanahan’s agreement with Washington emerged, Clinton Portis – who played for the coach for two seasons in Denver – described him as “the perfect guy for the job” and a “straight shooter.”
“If you’re doing the stuff you’re supposed to be doing, you’re fine with him,” Portis said during his weekly radio appearance on ESPN980. “If you’re not, no matter how much you’re getting paid, he’s going to get you up out of there.”
Shanahan made the playoffs in half of his seasons in Denver, and had only two losing campaigns – 6-10 in 1999 and 7-9 in 2007. His greatest successes came early, earning consecutive NFL titles after the 1997 and 1998 seasons with a team led by quarterback John Elway and running back Terrell Davis.
Shanahan’s career regular-season record is 146-98, including 138-86 with the Broncos from 1995-2008, and 8-12 with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1988-89. Shanahan’s playoff record is 8-5.
Zorn went 12-20 over two seasons, but he lost 18 of his last 24 games after a 6-2 start in 2008. The Redskins struggled despite a weak early schedule this season and finished 4-12, their worst record since 1994.
Some Redskins players spoke Monday – the day Zorn was let go with a year left on his contract – about a lack of discipline this season and preferential treatment given to some players. Running back Clinton Portis and quarterback Jason Campbell also took shots at each other through the media Tuesday.
– AP sportswriter Howard Fendrich contributed to this report.
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