The team announced the news less than 24 hours after the Redskins lost 20-6 to the New York Giants in the final game of the season. Washington’s 3-13 record was not only its worst since 1994, but marked the fewest victories in Shanahan’s 19 full seasons as a head coach.
Other fired NFL coaches included Detroit’s Jim Schwartz, Tampa Bay’s Greg Schiano, Minnesota’s Leslie Frazier and Cleveland’s Rob Chudzinski.
Shanahan, 61, signed a five-year, $35 million contract in Jan. 2010. He led the team to the postseason just once in his four seasons — last year, when the Redskins won their final seven games to finish 10-6 and win the NFC East title.
In a four-minute statement to reporters at Redskins Park, Shanahan blamed the $36 million salary cap penalty that stretched over the past two offseasons for the team’s lack of depth, but said he believes the organization is in better shape than when he arrived.
“I believe we’re in a situation today where we’re better off than where we were four years ago,” Shanahan said.
The coach, who didn’t take questions, described the organization as “great” and “the best.”
On the other side, Shanahan oversaw three seasons with double-digit losses, including this one — the first since 1960 in which Washington lost its final eight games. The Redskins did not win after an overtime victory over the San Diego Chargers at FedEx Field on Nov. 3. Shanahan finished with a 24-40 record in Washington.
Snyder now needs to find his eighth head coach in 15 years owning the team, and that process could move quickly. It’s likely the team will set its sights on one of the NFL’s more successful offensive coordinators, including the Cincinnati Bengals’ Jay Gruden, the San Francisco 49ers’ Greg Roman or the Seattle Seahawks’ Darrell Bevell, which would push the hire until after their current teams wrap up their playoff runs.
Snyder will also likely gauge the interest of successful former coaches, including Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden and Lovie Smith, and could look to Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, a former offensive coordinator with the New England Patriots whose interest in returning to the NFL has been well-documented but has been linked to the Houston Texans in recent days.
“We are going to take a smart, step-by-step approach to finding the right coach to return the Redskins to where we believe they should be,” general manager Bruce Allen said in a written statement.
Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, special teams coordinator Keith Burns, quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur, wide receivers coach Mike McDaniel, linebackers coach Bob Slowik, offensive quality control assistant Richmond Flowers, defensive assistant Bobby Slowik and advance scout Larry Coyer also were fired. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, defensive backs coach Raheem Morris and tight ends coach Sean McVay will remain on staff for now, though their status could change when the new coach is hired.
Shanahan’s downfall was abrupt. After last season, the question was not whether the Redskins would qualify for the playoffs for the second consecutive year, but rather how far they would go once they got there. Despite dealing with the remaining $18 million of a $36 million salary cap penalty handed down in March 2012, the Redskins brought back an overwhelming majority of their roster, including all but one starter.
Their biggest problem, though, tied back to last season. Quarterback Robert Griffin III, pegged as the team’s franchise quarterback after it surrendered four draft picks for the right to select him the previous April, sustained and later aggravated a strained ligament in his right knee that required surgery three days after a playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.