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Two Shanahans make it work as Redskins rebuild
Peggy Shanahan feared the worst because she knows her husband and son as well as anybody. A pair of intense, detail-obsessed competitors working closely for 16 hours a day or more? Oh yeah, that would end well. She could see the outcome clearly — the awkward silence at family dinners, the tumultuous discussions on vacation. What a joy it would be for Mike to captain the Washington Redskins‘ building project with Kyle as one of his top lieutenants.
“I actually thought they were both crazy when they wanted to do it,” Peggy said. “But it was obviously so different than that. It’s really a treat for both of them.”
On the eve of their second season as Redskins coach and offensive coordinator, Mike and Kyle Shanahan are reaping all of the personal rewards and many of the professional benefits they hoped for 20 months ago when Kyle left his promising coordinator position with the Houston Texans to work for his father.
Yet with questions at quarterback that persist after a bumpy 6-10 debut campaign, Mike and Kyle still have to prove their union will produce in Washington the same success on which they separately built their reputations in other cities.
“When you have any adversity and your last name is the same as the head coach’s, I know exactly what people are going to say,” Kyle said. “I’ve known my whole life. But I’m very confident in myself because of what I’ve done without him, and I’m also confident that you can ask any player that I’ve coached, and I feel very good about that.”
Not a lot of precedent
Wade Phillips has considered his father something of a hero for as long as he can remember. Growing up on Texas’ Gulf Coast, about 90 miles east of Houston, he learned football by hanging around the high school teams coached by his dad, Bum.
Wade played for Bum at Port Neches-Groves High School, and Bum was the defensive coordinator at the University of Houston when Wade was a linebacker there in the mid-1960s. Football always has been their connection. Over the years, Bum’s philosophies, especially those about the 3-4 defense, became Wade‘s.
“You want your assistant coaches to be loyal,” said Wade, now the Texans’ defensive coordinator. “Nobody is going to be more loyal than your son, so you can always count on that.
“They’ll tell you the truth. Some other coaches might hesitate about telling you what they think about things, but if you ask your son, he’s going to tell you exactly what he thinks. You get a valuable opinion there.”
“Kyle has got a lot of football in his background; what I mean by that is we’re on the same page,” Mike, 59, said. “We talk a lot of football; the running game, the passing game. It’s pretty easy to be connected because we spend so much time together talking ball.”
Coaches’ reviews were highly critical at times last season, as the Redskins averaged 5.36 yards per play, 14th-best in the 32-team NFL.
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About the Author
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