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Snyder Steps From Spotlight as Shanahan Enters

Jan 6, 2010 – 6:30 PM
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A.J. Perez

A.J. Perez %BloggerTitle%

Mike ShanahanASHBURN, Va. --- While Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen proclaimed "We got our man" as he looked to new coach Mike Shanahan, Wednesday's news conference was as much about the man who wasn't up at the dais.

Embattled Redskins owner Dan Snyder chose to sit in the front row with the reporters, a not-so-subtle hint that the notoriously hands-on owner would let his new charges make the football decisions going forward. Shanahan, who signed a five-year deal worth a reported $35 million, has veto power, something he said he never had to use in his 14 seasons with the Denver Broncos.

"Do I have final say? Maybe you can say that," said Shanahan, who won two Super Bowls in Denver before being dismissed last offseason.

The last Redskins' coach certainly didn't have that type of autonomy. Jim Zorn was slowly stripped of his duties --- including play-calling --- before he was fired on Monday, a day after the 'Skins' 4-12 season concluded. Allen, a former NFL executive of the year, took over last month as general manager and began to examine the underperforming Redskin organization that has been to the postseason twice in the last 10 years.

"What counts is doing the right thing," said Allen, son of legendary Redskins coach George Allen. "We are going to do it the Redskins way. Mike and I have shared the same vision on what we need in the future. I have 100 percent confidence in his ability to lead this team and to evaluate the people and coaches on this to team. We are all in this together, from the groundskeeper to the P.R. staff."

A few Redskins players wandered through the team's facility to meet Shanahan, including veteran guard Derrick Dockery.

"I think it's a great hire," Dockery said moments after shaking Shanahan's hand. "He's a winning coach. I'm excited to play for him."

"I think it's a great hire. He's a winning coach. I'm excited to play for him."
-- Redskins guard Derrick Dockery
Shanahan, one of the league's top offensive minds, wouldn't commit on which direction he'd go with quarterback Jason Campbell, who is 20-32 a starter and had been forced to learn a new offensive system just about every season he's been in the league.

"I love the way Jason handles himself," Shanahan said. "I look forward to sitting with him and watching film. Hopefully his best years are ahead. That's a process that will take some time."

Shanahan was much more tepid when asked about the Redskins' other offensive linchpin: running back Clinton Portis. He played two seasons under Shanahan in Denver before he was dealt to Washington. Portis will turn 29 by Week 1 of the 2010 regular season and the former All-Pro was limited to a career-low 494 yards in a 2009 season cut in half due to injury.

"Like all players as they get older, the key is how they work in the offseason," Shanahan said. "I've been around some veterans who have been very successful, then they stop working out and as a running back you can fall off a cliff. Looking at Clinton a year ago, you can see how well he can play."

But Shanahan didn't have to break down any tape when it came to how some of his players have been mouthing off of late. Asked this week why he thought Campbell was a team captain, Portis told the Redksins' flagship station (ESPN 980), "I wonder the same thing."

"How is he going to say I'm not a leader?" Campbell responded to the Washington Post.

Shanahan said one of the first things they are going to discuss as a team is how to keep disputes in the locker room.

"That's what will happen, I guarantee you," Shanahan said. "It's a message we have to send for an organization to be successful."

Allen and Shanahan said beyond evaluating players, the two will also begin to break down the current coaching staff, which includes many assistants from Joe Gibbs' second go-around with the team. The only addition Shanahan announced was his 30-year-old son, Kyle, who had been the co-offensive coordinator of the Houston Texans.
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