Mike Shanahan fired as Redskins coach

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WASHINGTON – Mike Shanahan was fired as coach of the Washington Redskins on Monday, one day after a season that began with great expectations ended with a 3- 13 record and eight losses to close out the year.

Shanahan had a 24-40 regular-season record, plus one playoff loss, and coached them for four seasons of a five-year contract. The Redskins had losing records in three of Shanahan’s four seasons.

Owner Daniel Snyder said in a statement that “Redskins fans deserve a better result. We thank Mike for his efforts on behalf of the Redskins. We will focus on what it takes to build a winning team, and my pledge to this organization and to this community is to continue to commit the resources and talent necessary to put this team back in the playoffs.”

In the same statement, executive vice president/general manager Bruce Allen said, “We are going to take a smart, step-by-step approach to finding the right coach to return the Redskins to where we believe we should be. We will analyze accurately and honestly all of the decisions that were made over the past year.”

In a brief final statement at Redskins Park, Shanahan thanked the team’s fans – “I can’t tell you how supportive this fan base is” – and thanked Snyder for the chance to coach “a great organization.”

He expressed gratitude to his players for giving “everything they’ve got.”

Shanahan took no questions at the news conference, but answered what he said was the question he’d been getting more than any other over the past few weeks: whether the franchise was in better shape than when he arrived four years ago.

He used the opportunity to sum up his tenure, and repeatedly referenced the troubles the team has had regarding the salary cap in recent years. In his first year, he said, “we knew we had to make some tough decisions.” He claimed they were good decisions, noting that none of the players he cut in the first season went on to play a full season in the league.

Defense has been a sore spot for the Skins in recent years, and Shanahan said that the salary-cap penalty the team suffered going into last season meant “We weren’t able to get” some of the players they were hoping for. Still, he said, “we were able to overcome some battles and find a way to win.” The team won their final seven games and won the NFC East division for the first time in 13 years.

He expressed optimism for the team’s financial future: “From now on,” Shanahan said, “the problems with the cap are over with.”

Last season’s seven-game winning streak, division title and playoff berth represented the high point of Shanahan’s tenure. Problems seemed to start immediately thereafter, as Shanahan drew criticism for leaving then-rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III in during the next week’s playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks after the already-hurt Griffin suffered a further injury to his knee.

Griffin’s 2013 season didn’t meet the expectations that his rookie year had built up, leading many to speculate that he hadn’t fully recovered from his injury. He didn’t play in the Redskins’ final three games.

More drama ensued late this season: Earlier this month, it was reported that Shanahan was ready to leave the team at the end of last season, even to the extent of cleaning out his office before the playoff game against the Seahawks, supposedly fed up with owner Dan Snyder’s alleged preferential treatment of Griffin.

On Sunday, The Washington Post reported that Shanahan’s tenure was marked by public-relations miscues and feuds with players including former nose tackle Albert Haynesworth and former quarterback Donovan McNabb. The coach also has been accused of favoring his son, Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, over other coaches.

Shanahan, 61, previously coached the Denver Broncos for 13 years, winning Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998. He also was the head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 1988 and 1989.

Snyder has owned the Redskins for 15 years; the next coach will be the eighth in his tenure. In that time, they’ve had four winning seasons, won two playoff games and finished last in the division seven times. The eight-game losing streak to end this season was the team’s longest in more than 50 years.

Barely 12 hours after the NFL season ended, five head coaches were unemployed. Along with Shanahan, Detroit’s Jim Schwartz, Minnesota’s Leslie Frazier and Tampa Bay’s Greg Schiano all lost their jobs.

The Cleveland Browns didn’t even wait that long, dismissing Rob Chudzinski on Sunday night after just one season on the job.

Following the news of Shanahan’s departure, Redskins nose tackle Chris Neild took to Twitter to express his thanks to Shanahan for drafting him.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

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