- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 6, 2010


The last time Dan Snyder went looking for a head coach, he used up a whole month, exhausted his entire list of candidates and settled for a novice who yielded little power, didn’t always get his due respect and went 12-20.

This time, the Washington Redskins owner needed only one day to land his No. 1 target: Mike Shanahan, who brings two Super Bowl rings and a reputation for wanting the final say.

The franchise’s major overhaul after a troubled season takes another step Wednesday when Shanahan is introduced at an early afternoon news conference at Redskins Park. Shanahan agreed Tuesday to take the job, according to an official within the NFL who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team was not commenting on its coaching search.

“We needed a guy like Mike Shanahan,” cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. “We needed a proven leader, a proven winner. He’s definitely going to get these guys motivated and get the most out of all of them.”

The deal with Shanahan is for five years, the Denver Post reported. The hire came less than 48 hours after the Redskins fired Jim Zorn and less than three weeks after front-office chief Vinny Cerrato resigned and quickly was replaced by general manager Bruce Allen.

In less than a month, the Redskins have gone from an organization that revolved primarily around Snyder and yes-man Cerrato to one that includes two established decision-makers.

Shanahan will have the final authority on football decisions, according to ESPN.com. That would be the same arrangement Snyder had with coach Marty Schottenheimer in 2001 — before the two butted heads and Schottenheimer was fired after an 8-8 season.

Snyder also deferred to Joe Gibbs when the Hall of Fame coach came out of retirement, and Gibbs made the playoffs twice in four seasons.

Overall, however, the Redskins are 82-99 since Snyder bought the team, missing the playoffs in eight of 11 seasons. Shanahan will be Washington’s seventh coach since Snyder came along in 1999 — a stretch that has included only two playoff victories for a team that proudly displays three shiny Super Bowl championship trophies in the lobby of its practice facility.

The toll of mediocre records and accompanying fan unrest left Snyder little choice but to hire established names and put them in charge. The messy 2009 season managed to spill over into yet another day Tuesday, when quarterback Jason Campbell and running Clinton Portis traded barbs about leadership in separate interviews on the radio and Internet.

Shanahan won the NFL title twice in 14 seasons with the Denver Broncos, but was fired a year ago after they missed the playoffs for the third straight season.

He made the playoffs in half of his seasons in Denver, and had only two losing seasons — 6-10 in 1999 and 7-9 in 2007. His greatest successes came early, winning consecutive Super Bowls after the 1997 and ‘98 seasons with a team led by quarterback John Elway.

Shanahan’s career regular-season record is 146-98, including 138-86 with the Broncos from 1995-2008, and 8-12 with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1988-89. Shanahan’s playoff record is 8-5.

Zorn lost 18 of his last 24 games after a 6-2 start in 2008. Some Redskins players spoke Monday — the day the first-time head coach was let go with a year left on his contract — about a lack of discipline this season and preferential treatment given to some players.

Now there’s someone with a solid track record in charge — and players didn’t have to wait a month for him to arrive.

“You always wonder what’s going to be happen. You don’t want to be on pins and needles,” defensive end Andre Carter said. “When we had the team meeting with Bruce Allen, he told us something would happen hastily. He wasn’t joking when he said that.”

AP sports writer Howard Fendrich contributed to this report.

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