RSS Feeds

Fisher, Shanahan match wits in Week 2

Sunday - 9/16/2012, 6:13am  ET

AP: 8559a0c6-12ef-4bbc-890d-6e432992dd2e
Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan yells from the sideline in the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

AP Sports Writer

ST. LOUIS (AP) - After the St. Louis Rams lost their opener in the final seconds at Detroit, coach Jeff Fisher was showered with praise and compliments from friends and admirers for what almost happened.

Attaboys, Fisher could do without.

"I'm getting texts and emails from everybody across the country saying `Great job!"' Fisher griped. "Well, what do you mean, great job? We lost by four points."

It was a great way to make a point to the NFL's youngest roster, featuring 17 rookies. No sense in being satisfied when the bottom line is 0-1.

A great way to get the upcoming opponent's attention, too.

"Look at what he has done so far," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. "He has a good draft. Obviously, he has a couple No. 1 draft picks in the future. He went out in free agency and really upgraded his secondary.

"They have a lot of new players and he has them going already."

Shanahan has firsthand knowledge of the Rams' future potential bounty, given he was the guy shipping those picks out of town. And while Fisher can afford patience in the first year of a five-year contract, Shanahan is in a rut and going for broke.

Shanahan is tied with Bud Grant for third with 158 career victories and no one can take away his three Super Bowl rings. He's 3-1 lifetime against Fisher, whom he's known since both were assistants in San Francisco in 1992.

But in his third year in Washington, Shanahan is trying to end a string of five straight seasons without a playoff appearance.

Unlike the Rams, who are 15-66 the last five years, the Redskins have never hit rock bottom, yet they've finished last in the NFC East the last four years for the first time in franchise history and have made it to the playoffs just three times the last 19 seasons.

Fed up with "B" list consolation quarterbacks, Shanahan paid top dollar for his game-changer. He found a willing trade partner in Fisher's Rams, set at quarterback with Sam Bradford, for the right to draft Robert Griffin III second overall in April.

Griffin made a splash on opening day with 320 yards passing, two touchdowns and no interceptions in a 40-32 shootout win in New Orleans. The elusive former Heisman Trophy winner is the first rookie quarterback to be chosen NFC offensive player of the week, and the first rookie quarterback to throw for at least 300 yards and win a season opener, too.

Big advantage to Washington. For now.

"Let's not get carried away with all this," Shanahan chides. "I was really pleased with the way he handled himself in that type of atmosphere, and I hope he keeps going."

After more dealing on draft day, the Rams have two starters in defensive tackle Michael Brockers and cornerback Janoris Jenkins, plus backup running back Isaiah Pead. And they have the Redskins' first-rounders in 2013 and 2014.

"I think both teams have the same thing to look forward to - his future and our future in the draft," said Fisher, like Shanahan in his 17th season as NFL head coach. "So, we both have a bright future ahead of us."

Brockers will miss the Redskins game with a high ankle sprain sustained in the preseason finale, but Jenkins had an interception in the opener.

The verdict won't be in on this deal for a few years. In any case, the Rams were dealing from strength given they're set at quarterback with Sam Bradford.

Bradford was NFL offensive rookie of the year in 2010 after being the No. 1 overall pick, and won a Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma. Last year was a lesson in humility with more interceptions (seven) than TD passes (six) last year while Bradford missed six starts with a high left ankle sprain and hobbled through a couple other games.

"There's a lot that goes into being a quarterback," Shanahan said. "There is a supporting cast, it's the system, it's continuity, so there are so many factors that go into being a quarterback.

"Sam Bradford is going to be a top quarterback in this league."

In 2010, Bradford was a can't-miss QB that Shanahan sought to draft.

"I really thought that I was probably going to go to Washington because they had told me that they were going to do almost everything they could to get me," Bradford said. "I knew they were going to try to make a move to get me. He told me that."

   1 2  -  Next page  >>