- The Washington Times - Friday, December 20, 2013


I believe Redskins coach Mike Shanahan is a good football coach, and a quarterback guru. I don’t believe this just because he won two Super Bowls in Denver or has won 170 games in the National Football League.

No, I believe this because people who would know about such things have told me that Shanahan is a good football coach.

You see, unlike many of you geniuses who sit in your living rooms or in front of your computer making fantasy football trades and are convinced you actually know something, I subscribe to the Socrates theory of knowledge: “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

So I talk to people with knowledge – not information, but knowledge. The data you use to conclude that you actually know football is information – not knowledge.

San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Shanahan, left, and quarterback Steve Young stand on the sidelines in San Francisco on Jan. 15, 1995 prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys.  (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Shanahan, left, and quarterback Steve Young stand ... more >

Steve Young, he has football knowledge. Shanahan was his quarterbacks coach with the San Francisco 49ers, and the Hall of Fame quarterback has told me that Shanahan is a good coach. John Elway, who won two Super Bowls with Shanahan in Denver, has told me Shanahan is a good coach. Eric Davis, who played cornerback for Shanahan in Denver, has told me Shanahan is a good coach. Terrell Davis, Shanahan’s sixth-round draft pick who became the Broncos all-time leading rusher, has told me Shanahan is a good coach.

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Jay Schroeder, who played for Shanahan in Oakland, swears by his former coach. “He understood the quarterback position,” Schroeder told me.

Bob Griese, the Hall of Fame quarterback whose son Brian played quarterback for Shanahan in Denver, told me, “I think he is a great coach.”

I have no reason to believe all of these football players are wrong, or are lying to me.

So if this is true – that Mike Shanahan is a good coach who knows quarterbacks – then he is on the worst losing streak a gambler like Shanahan has ever seen.

Nearly every single decision Shanahan has made about quarterbacks in Washington has turned out poorly.

I’m going to assume that Shanahan was responsible for all the quarterback decisions. A guy with his Super Bowl ego and a contract that reportedly gives him total control over football operations isn’t going to be forced to trade for his first quarterback in Washington, nor trade three first-round draft choices and one second for a young quarterback he doesn’t want.

So the trade for Donovan McNabb was his first bad bet. A lot of people, myself, included, were excited when Shanahan first arrived in Washington and his first big move was to trade a second- and fourth-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for the 33-year-old McNabb, a six-time Pro Bowler. But Shanahan was bluffed by the Eagles, division rivals who appeared to know McNabb was done.

A quarterback guru should have known better.

Then came perhaps the most damaging of Shanahan’s bad quarterback bets – he was convinced that John Beck could be a starting NFL quarterback. He went into the 2011 season with Beck and Rex Grossman, who was nearly out of the league, as his quarterbacks.

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