Let’s briefly shift our focus from the guys on the field to the architect of the Washington Redskins’ surprising late-season surge. Coach Mike Shanahan’s personal comeback is an other surprise that deserves a closer look.
Just six weeks ago, Shanahan was at his lowest point in Washington: His team had lost three straight to fall to 3-6, and he seemed to be writing off the final seven games of his third season here. Now, he is suddenly directing one of the NFL’s hottest teams. The Redskins are in the hunt for their first playoff berth in five seasons after a stunning four-game winning streak that has the District abuzz again about its favorite sports franchise, for all the right reasons for a change.
The player-personnel investments Shanahan made back in April — trading four high-value draft picks for the right to select quarterback Robert Griffin III, seeing potential in running back Alfred Morris and picking Kirk Cousins to back up Griffin – are paying dividends now. After two-plus seasons of striking out a lot and being criticized, including by me, for his high-stakes roster mistakes (Donovan McNabb and John Beck quickly come to mind), Shanahan is on the type of roll that owner Daniel Snyder expected when he hired the two-time Super Bowl winner. It’s exactly what Shanahan envisioned, too.