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Dispelling the Shanahan "System" Myth

One of many experimental iterations ...

Lanky Livingston

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Via HogsHaven:

I keep hearing people say that Mike Shanahan doesn't cater his offense to the strengths of his players. I just don't think that is true and neither does he. Dan Graziano the blogger for the ESPN NFC EAST recently had an interview with Mike about just that. Here is the interview and a few highlights:

One of the most common criticisms of Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan is that he's a slave to his own offensive "system," and more interested in finding players who fit that system than in finding the best possible players and constructing a system around them. Shanahan has heard this criticism, and when I brought it up in my interview with him last week, this is what he had to say about it:

"It's kind of funny, because when I had Steve Young and we had to run a West Coast offense [in San Francisco], and Steve was so much different than Joe Montana, you know, it was different. And then [John] Elway -- Elway didn't want to run the five-step drop. We were in a shotgun formation all the time. He hated the West Coast offense of three- and five-step drops, so with John it was a seven-step drop and a lot of shotgun.


And then we wind up getting a guy like Jake Plummer, and of course Jake... totally different. He had to be outside the pocket, all those quarterback keeps, boots, none of the drop-back, none of the seven-step drop. He was good on the run, good on the play action, but the drop-back wasn't his game.


"So what you've always got to do is, whatever quarterback you have, you adjust your system to your players. The one thing I think I have been categorized with is the zone blocking scheme. People say, 'Oh, he loves the zone blocking scheme.' So I think I've been stereotyped there, relative to the running game. But in the passing game, if people look at what we've done in different places, they're gong to say, 'Oh, he adjusts the passing game to the quarterback.' Like with Rex [Grossman]. You can't run quarterback keeps with Rex, but you can do it with John [Beck]. So whatever somebody can do, you try to adjust accordingly."
So can we put this stuff to rest now?
 

Om

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It's not about system. You don't get to that level of coaching without being able to design and run an effective offensive scheme. It's about having the talent to run whatever "system" you elect to use based ON that talent.

And you have to have a quarterback. No QB, no offensive genius coach.
 

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And you have to have a quarterback. No QB, no offensive genius coach.
So that is why I have failed to become an offensive genius. I don't have a QB!
 

Om

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That, and you're too valuable to society doing what you actually do. :)
 

Om

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And yes, for the record ... even at the NFL level, some offensive coaches are better than others.

Just in case anyone's going there. :cool:
 

Henry

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I don't think Shanahan is a slave to his system. I don't think that has been the prevailing wisdom all these years.

I think this belief took hold recently because he dumped McNabb in favor of Rex Grossman (... Rex EFFING GROSSMAN), and his reasoning at the time was Rex 'knew the System.' Then the next year, he kept Rex and brought in John Beck, presumably because they 'knew the System.'

The only reasoning us mortals could come up with for such seemingly idiotic, bone-headed, incredibly stupid personnel moves was that he really really loved that darn System.

If that's not it ... I still don't know what the hell he was thinking.
 

Lanky Livingston

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Nope, he dumped McNabb because he couldn't run the 2 minute drill. :D
 

servumtuum

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I thought he dumped McNabb because baby boy Kylie didnt like him.
Baby boy Kylie never wanted McNabb in the first place but Daddy overruled and when McNabb got all petulant and pouty and tried to do things his way it didn't work and Kylie yelled "See? See?" and Daddy had to bite the bullet and send Nabby-poo on his merry way. :)
 

fansince62

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I don't think Shanahan is a slave to his system. I don't think that has been the prevailing wisdom all these years.

I think this belief took hold recently because he dumped McNabb in favor of Rex Grossman (... Rex EFFING GROSSMAN), and his reasoning at the time was Rex 'knew the System.' Then the next year, he kept Rex and brought in John Beck, presumably because they 'knew the System.'

The only reasoning us mortals could come up with for such seemingly idiotic, bone-headed, incredibly stupid personnel moves was that he really really loved that darn System.

If that's not it ... I still don't know what the hell he was thinking.
too funny!
 

Om

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I don't think they benched McNabb because of Rex, Henry. I think they benched him for his unapologetic and total failure to give a professional effort--both in terms of getting his arse in shape and even getting a functional grasp of the offense.

I will never forget Kyle's face on the sidelines in Detroit that day. Earlier in the game---BEFORE DMac threw the game, and arguably the season, away with one of the worst decisions/interceptions I've ever seen from a veteran---I remember a sequence where DMac brought the offense to the line of scrimmage, with the playclock winding down, and things were clearly effed up. They cut to a quick shot of Kyle on the sidelines. He had an incredulous look on his face, was kind of spreading his hands, and I have zero doubt that his body language said one thing and one thing only.

"WTF?"

Later, when DM threw the INT that cost them the game, I think he forced the issue. At least that's how I read Shanahan then. To me all the stuff about Rex was cover. What I think Shanahan would tell us OFF the record was that DMac was simply too unprofessional and too unprepared to let him continue.
 

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My point here is not that they were in love with Grossman in '10. (Though I think they thought more highly of him than just about anyone else in the football universe.) My point is that once they did trade a 2nd and 4th for McNabb and it turned out that he wasn't a good fit for The System, they insisted he learn it, got mad when he didn't, and then benched him for ... Rex Grossman. (Rex EFFING GROSSMAN!)

You just ... don't. do. that. ... you don't throw away a 2nd and a 4th round pick, you don't give up on a franchise-calibre QB, you don't act all shocked surprised and dismayed that said 34-year-old franchise QB is set in his ways, in the middle of the season unless The System is SO full of awesomeness that you are willing to live with a ****ty QB simply because he can run it.

And then when they doubled down on it by KEEPING Grossman and backing him up with a never-will-be who's main selling point was ... that he knew The System ... it became tough not to think that the coaching staff's adherence to it was a little unhealthy.

Sorry. I'm just still pulling my GD hair out over the entire McNabb fiasco. From start to finish it was perhaps the most completely imbecilic episode in the history of this franchise, and I can forgive NFL pundits the world over for perhaps mistakenly assigning a bit of insanity to the Shanahans and their love for their system because of it.
 

Lanky Livingston

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Yes, but was McNabb not a good fit, or did he just refuse to learn?
 

Henry

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Honestly, what difference does it make?

You don't trade picks for a 6-time pro-bowl franchise QB who's been in the league for eleven years and insist he do things your way. If you want to shape and mold don't make that move. If you do make the move The System shouldn't be that important. Here. I think I read this somewhere:

"So what you've always got to do is, whatever quarterback you have, you adjust your system to your players."

I think that's a pretty good philosophy.
 

Lanky Livingston

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Honestly, what difference does it make?

You don't trade picks for a 6-time pro-bowl franchise QB who's been in the league for eleven years and insist he do things your way. If you want to shape and mold don't make that move. If you do make the move The System shouldn't be that important. Here. I think I read this somewhere:

"So what you've always got to do is, whatever quarterback you have, you adjust your system to your players."
So you would have had Kyle Shanahan scrap his entire offense and install the Andy Reid WCO? Really? Just because we gave up two picks for the guy?

I'm of the opinion that a 6-time pro-bowl QB (kinda meaningless, but whatever) should have the professionalism to learn a new scheme, but that's just me. And the term "franchise" QB is pretty debatable knowing what we know now - that Reid hid his deficiencies very well with an all-world pass-catching RB.
 

Henry

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So you would have had Kyle Shanahan scrap his entire offense and install the Andy Reid WCO? Really? Just because we gave up two picks for the guy?
He's not just 'a guy.' He's our QB.

You're damn right you do.

If you don't want to do that, don't trade for him. Don't make him the centerpiece of the offense. (which I said until I was red in the face when we made the trade.)

I'm of the opinion that a 6-time pro-bowl QB (kinda meaningless, but whatever) should have the professionalism to learn a new scheme, but that's just me. And the term "franchise" QB is pretty debatable knowing what we know now - that Reid hid his deficiencies very well with an all-world pass-catching RB.
What we know now is that McNabb is old and done. We should have known that before we traded for him, but I digress.
 

Lanky Livingston

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He's not just 'a guy.' He's our QB.

You're damn right you do.

If you don't want to do that, don't trade for him. Don't make him the centerpiece of the offense. (which I said until I was red in the face when we made the trade.)
We'll just have to agree to disagree then. I think you conform your offense to the QB's strengths, which they did. But you don't scrap your entire offense just for one player, IMO.
 

Henry

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We'll just have to agree to disagree then. I think you conform your offense to the QB's strengths, which they did. But you don't scrap your entire offense just for one player, IMO.
Again, if you are bringing in a veteran with established strengths and weaknesses, you build an offense around that. If you want shape a QB's play to your will, don't get someone who's been in the league for 11 years.

Don't tell Darrell Green how to backpedal. Don't tell Donovan McNabb how to throw the ball. If you can't handle that, don't have that guy on your team.

I think it's perfectly logical to conclude that the Shanahans couldn't handle that.
 

Om

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I think you're assuming a lot, Henry. It sounds like you're placing 100% of the "blame" for McNabb's failure to launch here on Shanahan. Is that fair?

I agree completely that the price they paid for the guy was too high. Pretty sure Shanahan has already conceded that he misread the situation when he got here, and believed a competent veteran QB---which he believed McNabb to be---would be able to keep the team competitive while he rebuilt it in his image.

I don't absolve them of making a mistake on McNabb. But I'm not giving McNabb the free pass it sounds like you are. I think there was a reasonable expectation that the guy would come here and act like a pro. He didn't. That's the part I think we may not be communicatin' about here.
 

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I think you're assuming a lot, Henry. It sounds like you're placing 100% of the "blame" for McNabb's failure to launch here on Shanahan. Is that fair?

I agree completely that the price they paid for the guy was too high. Pretty sure Shanahan has already conceded that he misread the situation when he got here, and believed a competent veteran QB---which he believed McNabb to be---would be able to keep the team competitive while he rebuilt it in his image.

I don't absolve them of making a mistake on McNabb. But I'm not giving McNabb the free pass it sounds like you are. I think there was a reasonable expectation that the guy would come here and act like a pro. He didn't. That's the part I think we may not be communicatin' about here.
I'm kinda with Henry on this one. Shanahan failed to do his homework and rather seriously failed. He apparently disregarded the concerns of his Offensive Coordinator over McNabb and then gave up way too much to get the guy.

There had been enough smoke around McNabb for a while that any reasonable person had to believe there was some fire there somewhere. Fans of any NFC East team, watching McNabb twice a year, knew his numbers were inflated with long gainers off short passes where guys like Westbrook and McCoy did most of the work. They also knew he missed those short passes as often as he connected.

And I completely agree that you don't take a guy with multiple Pro Bowl appearances, a Super Bowl appearance and a string of Division Titles who is 33 years old, working on his 11th or 12th season in the league, and try to "fix" his mechanics. At that point his mechanics are what they are. This is not golf where a guys career can go 30 years and he can afford to take 18 months to 2 years to rework his swing completely while not winning a tournament. This is the NFL where if you are 33 you are staring at Social Security and you need to win NOW.

Sorry. McNabb may not have acted like a pro. I get that. But Shanahan should never have given him the chance to not be a pro here in Washington.
 

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