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Mike Shanahan lays down the law

(By Nick Wass - AP)

Early in minicamp, Mike Shanahan read out a list of rules to his players in a meeting room, covering behavior on and off the practice field. Sunday, when his team was out on the field for a final time, he reviewed the rules -- "reemphasized some of the finer points," one player joked -- and let the Redskins know how they'd done.

"He was telling us, I have a list of 10 guys -- he didn't give any names or numbers or anything - he said there was 10 guys who didn't do this, there were three guys who didn't do this," Will Robinson recalled after the final session. "Apparently, if you don't [follow the rules], you've got to condition, starting next minicamp.....You'll catch yourself running after practice. He just wants you to be accountable and do it right the first time, so you don't have to be punished for not doing it."

So, what are these rules? Some are basic: Run on and off the field. Run to and from the huddle. Run five yards past the ball during drills. If you're a running back, continue the play all the way down the field.

Some are a bit less typical: if you're not on the field, you stand completely behind the ropes, and completely behind the lines. And some are a bit surprising: Shanahan apparently dinged guys for double-parking at Redskins Park, and for parking in handicapped spots.

"I started thinking to myself, like, did I double park today? I didn't think I double parked," Mike Williams said with a chuckle after practice. "I'm dead serious. He asked guys to do the simple things. If he asks you to run off the field, he expects you to run off the field. He's just setting a standard, and saying hey guys, this is what I'm talking about, and so this is what we've got to clean up as a team."

Now, these are things that are very easy to talk about, and write about, during April. Does this have any impact at all on the football field? Who knows. But the last two years weren't exactly known as a time of great discipline and rule-following uniformity at Redskins Park, and you can bet that players are noticing the change.

"He sets the rules, you follow them. That's basically it," Mike Sellers said. "It's the way it is. It's structure. It's not just one guy is gonna do what he wants to do. Everybody has to follow the same structure. There's no more individuals on this team."

Sellers, it goes without saying, was one of the most outspoken players about double-standards in the past, so I asked whether this was a change from the past. Sellers -- the Skins' longest-tenured player -- simply laughed.

"Come on, don't go there with me," he said. Translation: heck yeah, it's a change.

"If he tells us to take our shoes off before we go in the building, he expects us to do it, because he's the head coach and he's in charge," Kedric Golston said. "Just small things that you wouldn't think matter, but in the long run it does. Touch all lines. Stay behind the lines. Don't double park. Run on and off the field. Just things that you should do....

"We're just trying to get better right now," Golston continued. "We're trying to win some football games. So whatever that takes. If he tells us to be out here on the turf at 2 in the morning and it's gonna help us win, we'll do it."

So that's the pliable situation that Shanahan is largely facing. A lot of these guys are pretty sick of being laughed at. Maybe they're willing to listen to a coach as he ticks off their offenses -- even their parking violations -- if it'll help them win football games.

"I mean, he's got a standard, a way of doing things: doing it with excellence, wanting to be perfect," Derrick Dockery said. "If you have certain rules and you do things a certain way, I think it can transfer over to the field."

"He's just laying the law," said Willie Parker, who said there were "most definitely" more rules here than in Pittsburgh. "He's definitely got rules, and he expects you to follow them....He wants us to do it his way, and eventually it's gonna better the team. I have a great feeling for that. He wants to run a tight organization and I'm all for it."

Shanahan isn't exactly Jim Zorn in his press conferences. He probably won't volunteer incredible details about his coaching habits or his plans. Zorn, you'll recall, highlighted his new fashion rules last training camp by doing a fashion show on what was permitted and what was not. That isn't Shanahan's style. Still, I asked him about this disciplined approach his players had mentioned.

"It's doing the little things the right way," he said. "My job is to keep them accountable. Their job is to do what they're supposed to do. That's the nature of a team. And when your players trust each other, you've got a chance to do something special. If your players don't trust each other, the chances of winning a Super Bowl aren't very good. You may win a playoff game, but at least the Super Bowl teams that I've been on that have won, it's been a very strong trust.

"I've been to a lot of championships where we have not won the Super Bowl, and that trust factor wasn't as strong as when we did win the Super Bowl. So they've got to believe in each other, they've got to count on each other to get the job done when the tough times are apparent, and hopefully we can accomplish that."

The AP's Joseph White asked if this wasn't a contradiction, talking about trust while also keeping a list of players who break various rules.

"Just the opposite," Shanahan said. "Just the opposite. What you have to do as a head football coach is you have to make people accountable. That's my job. It's also their job to understand what it takes to help this organization be successful. And my job is to make sure that everyone's accountable to each other....The reason why you do have rules - and we don't have a lot of rules - is to make them, everybody, beat to the same drum. And if you don't, usually you're not very good."

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 18, 2010; 3:49 PM ET
Categories:  Media , Redskins  
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There are various styles of leadership and after the Zorn regime, many players seem to welcome the accountablity and structure. Winning is the only thing that will make these little things make sense...but sounds like things are moving in the right direction.

Posted by: rickyroge | April 18, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

He is setting a mindset.. don't double park... and don't jump off sides.

Run onto the field... and make a sound tackle rather than going for the kill shot every time.

Posted by: SkinsfaninKaneohe | April 18, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

You don't want to single anyone out, but it is clear that Shanahan wants leaders, not prima donas. You hear all the time that the NBA is a 'stars' league while the NFL is a 'team' league. This is just one more small way of reinforcing that point and I don't think that Shanahan/Allen/Snyder will have a problem saying something like "He has great hands, but a cancer in the locker room" before cutting a player. I don't care for Bellichek (sp?) or Parcells, but what they do seems to work.

Posted by: Ebola_22039 | April 18, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like Marty Schottenheimer's first minicamp here. I like it.

Posted by: Barno1 | April 18, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Simple stuff but for some reason it seems as if it is being taken as the second coming of Vince Lombardi. Sellar's knows and has said it best,it's about accountability and NO FAVORITES, all these guys are Pro's so why would one get special treatment over another? As simple as it is what make's such and such think they are soooo important that they can't take the time to find a parking spot? As my old boss would say if you would have left 15 minutes earlier you wouldn't be in such a hurry. There is a very rich and successful rock band that's name is an acronym for their strategy and it's KISS. Keep it simple stupid, start from there and you'd be surprised how far you can go Let's not forget every single one of these guys was a "big deal" somewhere before they got to the NFL, they are all capable of being so again, start with KISS and watch how far they come in a very short time.

Posted by: mfowler1 | April 18, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse


Lumping $nyder in with Shan-Allen is saying that there is no separation between the two. Since you're saying there is no separation, let me ask you this: why would $nyder change his tune now when he allowed his players to walk all over his coaches/front office for the past 10 years? Someone like $nyder loves his players. He loves owning them, and he loves to hang out with them. Hey, if he's paying for it, why not? He won't change....

Posted by: HawksPride | April 18, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Sadly, these parking rules won't make the FedEx parking experience any less of a nightmare.

Posted by: disgruntledfan | April 18, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Breaking the undisciplined culture with the Redskins is not going to be that easy, not as long as you still have some of the same knuckleheads who were the problem. Portis, Landry, and a few of the other "queens" will play along for a while until things don't go their way. You think that if Portis loses playing time to LJ or Parker he's going to care about running off the field during practice? You think Fat Albert will care with all the money he's making? He'll act like an ass just to try and force a trade. I like what Shanny's doing but lets not forget that Shotty tried the same things and he was sent packing after a year.

Posted by: jfoster13 | April 18, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

I love this! The way it is , the way it goes! BTW, F-Dallas!

Posted by: vexed50verizonnet | April 18, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Kind of sounds like when Boudreau took over for Hanlon. Whenever he blew the whistle, the last player to him was skating laps. He put in discipline and built a "team" rather than a bunch of individuals it changed the whole team that year from worst record at that time to division champs and the playoffs by season's end. Hope this discipline works as well for the Skins as it has for the Caps!!!

Posted by: tim474 | April 18, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: JohnnyBlades | April 18, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

At least it will cut down the number of penalties.

Posted by: charley42 | April 19, 2010 3:42 AM | Report abuse

Why do you have to TELL these guys not to park in a handicapped spot? What, we've got a bunch of Dexter Manley's again?

Posted by: 21stCenturyCaveman | April 19, 2010 7:47 AM | Report abuse

The difference between Shanahan's camp and Schottenheimer's is that Shanahan praises the players, even the offensive linemen, while Schottenheimer insulted and blasted his players including Darryl Green. The players rebelled under Schottenheimer until they held a players only meeting and decided to play for themselves and the fans in spite of Schottenheimer treating them like dirt.

Posted by: meadowrock | April 19, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

To Jfoster
You say Fat Albert is acting like an ass. Unfortunately this is not an act.

Posted by: chopin224 | April 19, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Mini camp, schmini camp. Let's see about week 10 what is going on.

Posted by: KDSmallJr | April 19, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

It's sad these "pros" need a father figure to baby sit them.

Counting down the weeks until they players start complaining about too much discipline as the losses mount...

Posted by: Scoonie97 | April 19, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Every comment about 'everyone NOW following the same rules' is a direct shot at Portis/Snyder?. Portis set himself above the team and the Danny was his enabler.

Now we'll see if he produces or more excuses, no more missing practice, no more not listening to coaches, etc.

Posted by: kahlua87 | April 19, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

"Sounds like Marty Schottenheimer's first minicamp here. I like it."

I agree with that staement, but there is one major difference between Marty And Mike. Marty has zero rings and Mike has two. When Marty laid down the law, not everyone bought into it, with Mike EVERYONE will buy into it for two reason - both of those rings!!!

Posted by: skins10 | April 19, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Great, we now discover that Shanny, as some call him, is anally retentive. So, the Redskins will be at best mediocre this year, but nobody will double park. All hail the GENIUS!

Posted by: 44fx290 | April 19, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

If I'm a player, I don't show up for anything that isn't mandatory unless I absolutely want to. Whenever a player misses time in camp or is acquired late in camp or whatever, the coaches always say, "He's a little behind but he can catch up." And the player usually does catch up. That makes me think that coaches are just control freaks, and that all the extra camps, etc., probably aren't critical anyway. I'll show up on time to everything that's mandatory. So Mr. Coach, it's your job to get your coaching done within the framework of league rules. If that's not enough time for you, then perhaps you need to make some changes to the way you do things. But don't ask me to spend my whole offseason here because you're not very efficient.

Posted by: sonny2 | April 19, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

What Shanahan is doing is preparing the guys for GAME DAY. You DON'T walk off the field between plays. You DON'T jump off sides. You DON'T stand near the sidelines. Stuff that needs to be INGRAINED and SUBCONSCIOUS with these guys so they won't make stupid mistakes during the pressure of a game!

Finally ADULTS are running this team. I bet there won't be any MEDIUM sized jerseys either!

Posted by: laserwizard | April 19, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

The difference between Shanahan's camp and Schottenheimer's is that Shanahan praises the players, even the offensive linemen, while Schottenheimer insulted and blasted his players including Darryl Green. The players rebelled under Schottenheimer until they held a players only meeting and decided to play for themselves and the fans in spite of Schottenheimer treating them like dirt.

Posted by: meadowrock

Meadowrock, when Marty came to the skins, he knew that he had to change the culture. If you recall, Snyder had a phone on the wall in the locker room so that players could call him directly and tell him what was going on. Darryl Green was said to be one of the players who was calling Snyder (don't know if this was actually true) and that's supposedly why Marty went after Green. However, before the season was over, Marty said that Green was one of the best corners in the league, but I don't believe Green ever got over Marty's insults.

Posted by: postwell1 | April 19, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

These rules are clearly a slap in the face to the Redskins "best" defensive player (#92). Albert must conserve his energy - running out to the huddle to play a position he has made clear he doesn't want to play would be counterproductive. The golf cart is faster for getting off the field than lumbering back to the sideline. And what other player actually has handicapped tags? Clearly a slap in the face to the "best" (he must be - he's the highest paid) player on the team.

Posted by: jburnetti | April 20, 2010 6:43 AM | Report abuse

If Fat Albert has to run out to the huddle before the play begins, he's going to be flat on his back before the ball is even snapped. Then he's going to need a good 5 minutes on the ground... Doesn't Coach understand this???

Posted by: UMakeMeCrazy | April 20, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Sonny2, it's laying the groundwork for self-discipline and self-control, two things that these guys have been lacking for about 15 years...

Posted by: UMakeMeCrazy | April 20, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

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