- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 7, 2011

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.”

Rod Lamkey Jr./The Washington Times
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan took a chance by hiring his son, Kyle, as offensive coordinator last year. The veteran coach admitted he had never seen his new assistant run a meeting with the entire offense present. "I was shocked to see how relaxed he was at his age," the elder Shanahan said.Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan of the Washington Redskins calls a play while playing the Baltimore Ravens in preseason football at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD, Thursday, August 25, 2011. (Andrew Harnik / The Washington Times)
Rod Lamkey Jr./The Washington Times Redskins coach Mike Shanahan took a chance ... more >

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.

In 1981, Bum took his signature Stetson cowboy hat to New Orleans and became coach of the Saints. Wade served as Bum’s defensive coordinator until Bum resigned during the 1985 season.

According to researchers at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, they were the only father-son, head coach-coordinator tandem on record until Mike and Kyle teamed in Washington last year.

“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.”

That was the case at Redskins Park last year as the first-year coaching staff evaluated new quarterback Donovan McNabb and determined which players fit into its schemes and were worth keeping.

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.

Story Continues →