- 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.

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.

SEE ALSO: Kyle Shanahan shoots down reports on dissatisfaction with father

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.

“I believe in the guys,” Shanahan told reporters. “And I’ve been doing this for a long time. And I put my reputation on these guys that they can play.”

They couldn’t. Beck was a disaster and is out of the league. Grossman was Rex-like, throwing 23 touchdowns and 24 interceptions in 17 games, and hasn’t taken a regular-season snap under center since the end of the 2011 season.

A quarterback guru should have known better.

All this should have been over when Shanahan traded away the future of the organization for a chance to draft either Andrew Luck or Heisman Trophy winner Robert “SuperBob” Griffin III, whichever one was available with the second pick. Turns out it was SuperBob.

He still may turn out to be an elite franchise quarterback. But even if he does, Shanahan whiffed on this as well.

Turns out it was a draft filled with quality quarterback prospects, such as Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill. You could put Kirk Cousins, Shanahan’s fourth-round pick, in that group as well. And Shanahan coached Nick Foles, the Eagles’ young quarterback who has thrown 23 touchdowns and just two interceptions this season, at the Senior Bowl.

Yet the quarterback guru failed to have enough expertise to determine that he could get one of those young quarterback talents without mortgaging the future of the team.

This is one bad, bad run at the quarterback table for the gambler.

Now, Shanahan appears to have made nearly every single wrong move with SuperBob. He recently publicly admitted that he should have sat him down during the Seattle playoff game last January, when America was screaming at its televisions at the one-legged Redskins quarterback, for mercy before he went down and wound up on the operating table undergoing reconstructive knee surgery.

And Shanahan, like SuperBob and adidas, was “all in for week one” when one observer after another – many of them opponents – said the quarterback had no business being on the field. Starting the year with Cousins instead of a handicapped SuperBob might have changed this whole season.

No, Shanahan decides to rest SuperBob now.

Author John-Talmage Mathis, in his book about the casino business, “I Deal To Plunder,” wrote, “Every player eventually loses all their money.”

Turns out that when Mike Shanahan left Denver, he was broke.

Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio and espn980.com.

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