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Posted at 2:22 PM ET, 01/ 4/2011

Did Mike Shanahan use this season to set the tone?

By LaVar Arrington

I've been giving lots of thought to the Redskins season and how Mike Shanahan has taken care of business. I have tried to understand the reasoning behind the way Shanahan is running this team.

Here's what I've come up with so far. Mike Shanahan has been labeled a control freak. Former players have all talked about how Shanahan is very one-sided in how he views his teams. If all of these accusations are true, would it be out of the question to think that everything that Shanahan did this year was to convince everyone associated with the team that it's his way or the highway?

As I delved further into how things were done and who they were done to, it led me to believe that he has used this season in an attempt to establish the idea of how he wants everyone under his control to be.

Think about it. Not one recent coach has been successful in turning this team into a consistent winner. I find logic in an approach that uses an entire season to establish how he wants things to be.

So if he needed to take the highest paid and biggest name players on this team to drive his point home, then so be it.

The ones that he felt didn't do it his way, or up to the standard that he wanted, if they had disposable contracts they were released, like Larry Johnson, Willie Parker and Devin Thomas, just to name a few.

But then there's the team's giants: Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth.
I don't believe it's beyond the realm of possibility to think that both players will have a come-to-Jesus moment with their head coach and put this season behind them and play as a fully committed Mike Shanahan player on this Redskins team. I mean there hasn't been that element involved during the whole Dan Snyder era.

In my estimation, if this is true and you have two major parts of this team on board to do as Shanahan commands, then you have made your team better. Of course it is at the expense of this season, but think if he actually pulled it off and had great production out of both players next season.

If it doesn't work then he gets rid of them as expected, with the message being clear either way to the rest of the players on this team.

I find it difficult to believe this would be how he has manufactured this season. But if it is, I certainly can respect the commitment to his convictions about how he wants to build his team.

If he's going to win, lose or draw then do it the way you know it. I can be critical of him but I can't fault him for doing it his way.

By LaVar Arrington  | January 4, 2011; 2:22 PM ET
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it's possible. If 92 and 5 come back fully committed to the team, i dunno how any other player on the roster could have grounds not to be committed. I dunno if the results next year will be any different, but i guess i can understand the reasoning of taking the biggest buck and breaking him down so that the weaker folks won't dare step outta line. I think it's called the Willie Lynch papers, but it could work for football too i suppose.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | January 4, 2011 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Lavar please, get off the McNabb bandwagon. There is no chance in heck he comes back because the Shanahans simply don't believe he has what it takes to be a starting NFL QB anymore. And certainly not on a team which has some ?marks on the O line and at receiver. And maybe even at RB.

McNabb isn't good enough to overcome his own flaws and the holes on offense. Time to move on.

Albert I'd be in favor of coming back unless we can trade him for a 2nd rounder. In which case good riddance.

this team needs a quality center and one more versatile guard/tackle. And one more quality defensive linemen. That's who I hope we go after in the draft.

after that, we also need some more LBs.

Posted by: cstanton1 | January 4, 2011 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I find it odd that NOW LV agrees with a disciplinarian coach and his my way or the highway approach.

He didn't like it very much when Marty took that approach with him in 2000.

Posted by: ZornRocks | January 4, 2011 4:59 PM | Report abuse

LaVar actually made it through an entire aritcle without all the bitterness towards the Redskins owner, coaches and GM coming out. Nice. Shanahan was hired to straighten this mess out. He has to do it his way no matter what. If Snyder fires him so what. There are plenty of teams looking for a coach and he would be on the short list of most of them. This team has needed order and discipline for a long time and it seems he at least provides that.

Posted by: CadillacJack | January 4, 2011 5:01 PM | Report abuse

It's great the players aren't in charge any more. It may take a few years to plug the holes left from Cerrato and Snyder's free agency method, but I'll keep the faith in Shanahan. Let's just hope the QB they select in R1 is the right one.

Posted by: clandestinetomcat | January 4, 2011 6:13 PM | Report abuse

LaVar for once nails the problem and why Shannahan is perfect for this team of Divas..... Once LaVar stops siding with the players on every issue what he says makes sense..... Shannahan is a control freak in a control freak sport.... Hail!

Posted by: Capitalist-1 | January 4, 2011 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Lavar reasons like a 12 year old. Shanahan didn't purposely tank the season to prove a point or simply to establish his imprint on the team. Every head coach wants to win and that's what Shanahan tried to do this season. But problems and confrontations will arise in any endeavor that relies so heavily on trust and relationships. And when those confrontations came up, Shanahan dealt with them the way that he thought was best for the long term goal of winning which was to put the system and the team first. This is what all good head coaches do. Think, plan, and execute long term. The fact that McNabb and Haynesworth happened to be the players affected by Shanahan's focus on system and accountability wasn't by design. I'm sure Shanahan had similar issues with other less prominent players, but without the ego of McNabb/Haynesworth and all the media attention.

Lavar still has the mindset of an individualist player and that's why its so difficult for him to understand Shanahan's actions. To Lavar, its all some kind of plot to manipulate the players. But really its just what's needed to build a team where players are less concerned about themselves and more concerned with playing a role to help the team.

Posted by: cal1 | January 4, 2011 7:49 PM | Report abuse

On second thought Cal1 nails it - LaVar is sucking up to his homeboys. Shannahan is totally right.... Hail!!

Posted by: Capitalist-1 | January 4, 2011 9:19 PM | Report abuse

i think there's a higher chance that #5 comes back as the starter with a young QB drafter under him. AH will traded to fill some draft holes.

Posted by: destewar | January 4, 2011 9:20 PM | Report abuse

DUH, of course it's Shanahan's way or the highway. Too bad it took some dullards all season to realize he was serious about this.

That was step 1 in the process of turning us into a respectable team. Bill Parcells, among others, approached things the same way.

Now as long as Snyder doesn't stab Shanahan in the back, it's all good. Except for knuckleheads like Haynesworth, of course. But they can always find some other team to play for.

Posted by: spunkydawg1 | January 4, 2011 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Transparency, accountability and Discipline should be the pilars of any professional footbally team. Mike, whether we like it or not is committed to it and these characterisitcs usually leads to success. Lets hope these characteristics form a strong foundation for the skins...Hail!!!!

Posted by: mazbar | January 4, 2011 10:02 PM | Report abuse

"Transparency, accountability and Discipline should be the pilars of any professional footbally team. Mike, whether we like it or not is committed to it and these characterisitcs usually leads to success. Lets hope these characteristics form a strong foundation for the skins...Hail!!!!"

Posted by: mazbar | January 4, 2011 10:02 PM | Report abuse

What planet have to been on? The Shanahans have been caought in numberous lies.

Posted by: lacy41 | January 5, 2011 12:54 AM | Report abuse

Lavar is entitled to his thoughts and comments. He has been around the compost pile we call the NFL and has certainly been and is closer to it than most of us are or will ever dream to be. On the comeback of the two players in question, I think not in all reality. Haynesworth is a waste of flesh. He has delusions of grandeur, wants to be the 2nd coming of Reggie White, while playing like Betty White. I think the latter would actually be more of a team player. The sooner the #92 jersey is issued to an 'active player' again the better. I was excited about the prospects of McNabb fitting in here and playing well. But watching him throw what I read were called 'worm balls' I understand why he was available. And to think Philly felt they could replace him with Kevin whatever his name is, just tells you how excited Andy Reed was to get picks for #5. Both the guys need to go. But remember, the Shanahans chose Willie Parker, Larry Johnson, Joey Gallaway, and Roydell Williams to stick around the active roster for 2010. Mike Shanahan has been accused of making some peculiar if not down right questionable personal decisions. Let's hope he does not impress us that way next year, or it may be his last.

Posted by: Blueslegend | January 5, 2011 12:55 AM | Report abuse

Is that REALY what we just witnessed??? Its become obvious that the Kool-Aide is starting to kick in. What you just described is an insult to the ticket holders, that this fool just flushed a whole season to drive home his narrow-minded, slave-mentality methods upon the organization. What it amounts to is he got YOU, not McNabb or AH, to except this BS without question. He has set the stage so that he will NEVER be held accountable for ANYTHING!

Posted by: vze3c9qt | January 5, 2011 6:13 AM | Report abuse

Good coaches achieve buy-in by instilling confidence in their system. Zorn failed at this. So did Shanahan.

Posted by: vze3c9qt | January 5, 2011 6:31 AM | Report abuse

A great coach will get players to exceed their talent levels and that didn't happen here. shanahan didn't get the most out of this team. This team resembles the coach. It sucks ! This team lacked focus and accountability. When your team sucks and negative press dominates the headlines you lose fans.

Posted by: yesyall1 | January 5, 2011 8:14 AM | Report abuse

Lavar is right -- and, it is at Snyders expense. It was easy to bust on Haynesworth every week because he was an easy target. In fact, Shanahan kept Haynesworth around just so he could use that fat toad as an example. Shanahan's REAL problem was sittings McNabb. When they lost their games, what did Shanahan do ?? BLAME THE QB !! Just like most uninformed, clueless fans do. Snyder has to realize that this was shanahan's one disposable season, but, shanahan and his boys have to MAN UP at the end of next year !!

Posted by: djv123 | January 5, 2011 8:20 AM | Report abuse

I agree, so many have screamed in the past about no accountability from previous coaches, but now when u get a coach who demands from his players what needs to be demanded from them, then he's criticized. Who cares why he benched McNabb or Haynesworthless, i'm no female so i don't need an explanation like most of you, if the're not performing to his expectations, then he can bench their arses if he wants to. My name isn't on his paycheck, so i could care less. This is Shanahans 1st year with this team, not in the league, i believe the man knows what he's doing, so let him do it his way. And if he fails, then its all on him.

Posted by: skynz71 | January 5, 2011 9:14 AM | Report abuse

Tell you this much, if Lavar was still playing with the Redksins, Shanahan would've probably gotten rid of him after this season.

Posted by: vmrg1974 | January 5, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

if the're not performing to his expectations, then he can bench their arses if he wants to. My name isn't on his paycheck, so i could care less. This is Shanahans 1st year with this team, not in the league, i believe the man knows what he's doing, so let him do it his way. And if he fails, then its all on him.

Posted by: skynz71 | January 5, 2011 9:14 AM |
Please tell me who has performed to expectation, including Shanaham. Should Cooley have been benched for all the drops this year. Should Carriker been benched for having 2 sacks. Should Grossman for having 7 turnovers in 3 games.

Why the double standard?

And you who think that you need to throw players under the bus to be a good coach see Walsh, Tomlin, Dungy, even Belicheat keep personnel matters in house.

Posted by: edavis291 | January 5, 2011 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Its the Coach-his way or the highway is fine-
but to do it in a classless way.........

That is what is unacceptable to many.

All the words that building a winner takes time --now we will see how much time it takes.

Skins fans-me included-have to admit we were in most games and the team had heart and many injuries.

So on to next year.

Posted by: GEARAUTO1 | January 5, 2011 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I don't think Shanahan came here and thought that in advance he wanted to use the whole season to make an example of folks and establish control. But, I do think when he got here, he saw the mess that he inherited and a bunch of players that were in many cases not exerting maximum effort or playing with any team concept. So, he tried to implement a system, and the ones that didn't want to do the work and buy into it were given an opportunity but then bypassed once they didn't buy in. Haynesworth was easy, he never bought in.

Shanahan has been taking a lot of heat, but it is unjustified. He is trying to institute a winning mentality in this franchise, he needs time to do it. Look at the zone blocking scheme, the offensive line initially looked weak, still needs personnel upgrades, but how much did the blocking up front improve, especially run blocking, over the last quarter of the season.

Shanahan is making the right moves to instill an organizational plan, discipline and a team concept. He will turn this team into a winner.

Posted by: jacksquat100 | January 5, 2011 11:51 AM | Report abuse

No LaVar, you're smoking crack again.
He's cleaning out the old, over-paid prima donnas and building a young club of hungry no-names. Period. It's not that complicated. He's taking a page from Belichick, the greatest coach of our time. Build it young and build it deep. Bye Bye to the Randy Mosses and the Fat Alberts.
Good F-ing riddance.

Posted by: pooftah2 | January 5, 2011 1:15 PM | Report abuse

The Shanahans needed to do this in a classless way. The shock value was what was needed. Too many current Redskins are football stupid and unmotivated by anything but the fat paycheck. Too many thought they could get Daddy Danny to undo what the bad coach was going to do. Well, it didn't happen, and the players deserve to be disrespected because they didn't play up to what they could have done.

Posted by: GABinOdenton | January 5, 2011 3:07 PM | Report abuse

A guy like Daniels plays hurt, plays while sick and plays very well. Then Napoleon pays fat Albert many millions . What kind of message does that send to a team?

Posted by: chopin224 | January 5, 2011 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Coach (?) Shanacan't couldn't turn this team into a winner if he had Tom Brady and Brian Urlacher playing for him. Hopeless is the only word that describes this team.

Posted by: sameolddoc | January 5, 2011 3:57 PM | Report abuse

You dopes that have given up on Shanahan are clueless.
Just make sure you stay off the bandwagon next year, and especially the year after.

Posted by: spunkydawg1 | January 5, 2011 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, but I moved to Williamsburg 5 years ago after living most of my life in Northern Va. And I don't read the Post on a daily basis anymore. So as a 40 year Redskin Fan can someone please tell me why Lavar Arrington has a column in the Post, or why he is relevant? Seems to me he was at the forefront of this money grubbing all about me,me,me multi year slide into the NFL basement. Certainly not trying to let The moronic Danny or The Vinny off of their hooks. But seriously Lavar why are you still here? You and Albert Haynesworth should go buy an island together with all of your ill gotten gains that came out of the pockets of all the overcharged and under rewarded Skins fans! I don't give a crap what you think. JMO.

Posted by: jatmp | January 5, 2011 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Most of the posting on Lavar hard hit are negative. Why is that?

1. Lavar brings the worst out of every one.
2. Lavar pathetic hatred for Danny and his decisions has driven Lavar to insanity and hence we all react negatively to his factless ahate filled articles about redskins

Just a quick advise to Lavar...Pick a side and stick with it. Do not waffle...Roll Tide and Go Skins...

Posted by: mazbar | January 5, 2011 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Even though I've disagreed with many (actually most) of the player moves Shanahan has made thus far .. I'm glad he's setting a strict tone of "My way or the highway."

It was needed, and it will payoff in the long run.

As for him "using" McNabb and Haynesworth to drive any point home ... I don't think he ever saw either one of those situations coming, and they were spiraling out of control as he scurried about trying to catch up to them.

One of the things Shanahan was ill prepared for ... was the DC area media machine. The "inside sources". The way it breaks stories 24 hours before he even makes a decision. The way we pick apart every word that comes out of his mouth, every decision he makes, even the silly expressions on his face.

I know every NFL town has media outlets, but I think DC's political atmosphere is much more prone to jump on and scrutinize the negative aspects of a story.

Fun for us, but a learning lesson for him.

Welcome to DC Mike! And yes, we're all waiting anxiously to see what moves you make this off season. Ya better not screw it up!

Posted by: FootballCardSnatcher | January 6, 2011 9:19 AM | Report abuse

LaVar, add to this the protectionist aspect of having your Son as the OC, and you've got it right.

Thanks for being the ONLY talking head so far this season to illustrate this. Though everyone must have been thinking it.

Posted by: DikShuttle | January 6, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Shanahan lost me for good with that head game he played on #5's contract right before the Eagle game. All the mindless drones at ESPN kept yammering about how unfair this was to McNabb. Get real! He knew what was in the contract. What about the poor fans like me who believed it?

Get rid of all the junk and start over.

Posted by: messykat | January 6, 2011 4:31 PM | Report abuse

If frogs had wings they would fly. A come to Jesus moment is more likely what's head Shanny's way say about mid point of the 2011 season. McNabb and Haynesworth are history at Redskin park and neither are looking in the rearview mirror as they play like cow chips and hit the trail out of the DMV. And what do you think it will cost Danny boy to get franchise free agents to consider setting up shop with Shanny? And no the skins don't have to sell the farm trying to draft up for luck, it would be nice if Bruce drafted the next Freeman this year.

Posted by: snake_taylor | January 6, 2011 4:54 PM | Report abuse

I hope you're right, LaVar, but, as a pessimistic Redskins fan, enduring decades of disappointment, I'm not feeling it.

I wish McNabb would come back. Rex is a joke. Haynesworth is the most dominant guy on our D when he feels like it. I hope he comes back ready to throw O Lineman around like children.

But... I just don't see that happening. Neither scenario. They'll be gone.

Unfortunately, Shanahan burnt any trade value along the way with both of them (dumb) and dragged the team through unnecessary distractions the entire year involving them (dumber).

We'll get next to nothing for both players, we'll have an anemic D Line again, Rex will start, and we'll continue to stink. Maybe even worse than we already do.

I get your reasoning. You're assuming Shanahan knows what he's doing. Because he won 2 Super Bowls. Well, I've come to the conclusion that he's more of a loose cannon type. He goes by his gut a lot and he's wrong a lot, and he's not as smart as advertised. His system... I mean, it's been a while since I've seen it impress. Go back to Elway. Many moons ago. He's an average coach with lots of experience and a bloated reputation based on what he lucked into with the Broncos.

I don't hate him. We could do worse. But I don't think a sane Coach would waste an entire season, cost his boss millions, waste two draft picks, and diminish offseason trade value just to say, "You guys better listen to me."

I wish you were right. I really do. But, I'm afraid Shenanigans are the norm with the Shanny. We might as well get used to it, stop trying to find the genius in all his errors, and call it like it is.

(Is Bill Cowher ready for another team yet, or what?)

Posted by: Thinker_ | January 10, 2011 2:58 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe anyone would watch film of the Redskins 2009 season and come in here and NOT realize this was a true rebuilding job.

Given that, the trade for 34 year old Donovan McNabb made no sense. Trading away draft picks that could have been young starters on this team for a short-term rental at qb is no bargain for a team challenged to win 6 or 7 games.

And things wouldn't be any better for 2011 even if McNabb and Kyle Shanahan became best friends and worked hard together.

There are simply too many holes elsewhere on the team.

Shanahan drafted Trent Williams, a move that needed to be made. LT is one of the premium positions where it is almost impossible to find a capable player in free agency or via trade.

But the trade with Philly robbed the Redskins of a chance to add a Nose Tackle in Round 2 and an offensive guard or wide receiver or free safety in Round 3.

So, we have Trent Williams but little else right now to show for the 2010 draft.

Guys like Riley, Capers, Austin, Cook may come on in the future but right now it looks as if they are backups for 2011 at best.

Some may not make the team in 2011.

We have to do better than that.

WAY better than that in the NFC East.

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | January 11, 2011 5:29 PM | Report abuse

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