Yes, Mike Shanahan sounds like he has conceded. Washington is 3-6, and Shanahan appears ready to call it a season and start working towards next year.
"You lose a game like that, now you're playing to see who obviously is going to be on your football team for years to come. I'll get a chance to evaluate players and see where we're at," Shanahan said, according to the Washington Post. "Obviously, we're not out of it statistically, but now we find out what type of character we've got and how guys keep on fighting through the rest of the season."
There are probably better ways to motivate a team than to say publicly that the future is what matters for the final seven games of the season. You'd think that Shanahan would be desperate to get another playoff win, considering he has just one since the end of the 1998 season, and wouldn't give up hope until it's mathematically impossible. But no, he's sending the punt team on.
And that's not the funniest part of his statement. The laugh out loud part is Shanahan doesn't seem to realize that the Redskin who should be evaluated most closely over the final seven games is himself.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik is probably dumbfounded at how long Shanahan has coasted off his past championships. Shanahan is 14-27 with the Redskins and Washington fans don't seem to be standing on a table to defend him. Yet, after falling to 3-6, Shanahan apparently feels confident enough in his job security to announce the final seven games are an audition for his players for next season. Shanahan hasn't really done much since John Elway played his last game to earn that type of comfort level.
Shanahan has final say in personnel for the Redskins, and while the move to get quarterback Robert Griffin III was bold and correct, he has done just as poor of a job building the roster as he did in Denver. Washington didn't seem particularly well coached in a home loss to a Panthers team that came into the game 1-6. The Redskins don't seem much better off today than they were when Shanahan took over, aside from the addition of Griffin. And Griffin would still be around for the next coach to build around if Shanahan is let go.
Two anonymous players told the Washington Post they were bothered by Shanahan's comments, believing he shouldn't have publicly said he was evaluating personnel for next season.
"You have a lot of guys that want to win now, people toward the end of their careers who have been here a long time, haven't been to the playoffs in a long time," linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said, according to the Post. "And ultimately that's what you play for, to go to a Super Bowl.
"Bein' 3-6 really sucks because right now we're on the outside looking in . . . I'm not thinkin' about next year. That's an offseason thing for me. But you know it's hard when you see yourself in that type of position and your head coach is saying those types of things. It's disappointing."
Shanahan probably is right. The tryout for the 2013 Redskins has started. It's unclear if he knows he's the one who has the most to prove.
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