Jeff Fisher and Mike Shanahan are long-time friends and they share a lot in common. They were each successful head coaches in the late 1990s and early 2000s. They both appear to be, even by the standard of NFL head coaches, to be considerable egomaniacs. And they both excel as much at the game of NFL politics even more than they do the game of coaching.
We’ll start with Fisher since he’s in the news right now after engineering a massive trade to move the Los Angeles Rams to the first overall pick in the upcoming draft. There’s no one who believes that Cal’s Jared Goff or North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz is a can’t-miss prospect. This is a political move by Fisher to keep his job more secure.
He should have been fired at the conclusion of last season. He should have been fired even before that. The man has been a head coach over two decades and made the playoffs six times. Now, he’s likely not only got this year to finally get to the postseason, he probably bought himself 2017 as well. Even if the Rams struggle, Fisher will use the “we broke in a rookie quarterback” line to extend his gig.
Essentially, Fisher sold the future of the Rams in exchange for a little bit more job security and little bit more time to conjure up his next excuse. If only the man spent as much time learning how to develop an offense as he does at career manipulation.
Now let’s come to his good buddy Mike Shanahan. As a Redskins fan, I’ve spilled a lot of ink in anger at Shanahan for the way he handled the RG3 situation, and the former head coach still won’t shut up. Earlier this offseason, he gave an interview in which he said RG3’s torn ACL in the playoffs following his tremendous rookie season in 2012 had nothing to do with the quarterback’s subsequent troubles.
This is an argument that’s patently absurd on its face. RG3 lost a critical offseason, as he had to rehab rather than develop. He played the 2013 season in a knee brace. Shanahan’s comments are just another attempt by him to shift blame for RG3’s downfall.
Griffin himself has acknowledged he could have done some things differently in Washington. The front office moved on and let Jay Gruden move ahead with Kirk Cousins. There’s only person involved in this whole drama that can’t admit he made even a single mistake and that’s Mike Shanahan.
We do know that Shanahan spent considerable time during 2013 running a media leak campaign aimed at defaming RG3’s character. If only he spent as much time improving an awful defense and a historically atrocious special teams unit.
It’s somewhat curious that Fisher is the one who manages to keep coaching, while Shanahan has been reduced to groveling for jobs, all the while denying he’s doing it. Over the past two offseasons he’s interviewed in Buffalo, Oakland and San Francisco and expressed interest in a few more, while simultaneously saying he only wants to coach in a situation where he can win a Super Bowl. The only thing I can really say for Shanahan is that he’s more qualified to be an NFL head coach than Fisher.
It’s time for NFL teams to move on from hiring or interviewing men whose best days are long behind them. Their continued presence on the sideline or the rumor mill is an insult to up-and-coming coaches and a victory for everyone who spends more time at office politics than they do in actually working.