January 6, 2010 – 6:23 pm
Obviously, it was an interesting day today. The Mike Shanahan introductory press conference was a polished, straightforward affair. It was two professional guys — Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen — doing an exceedingly professional job.
There were no obvious missteps (despite countless “maroon and black” jokes) and a number of very well-received gestures: the Super Bowl trophies were not on display, for example, and owner Daniel M. Snyder sat in the front row of the audience rather than at a table next to the podium.
A few things said were of great interest — the contrast between his comments on Jason Campbell and on Clinton Portis, for example — but for the most part it was straightforward, non-specific new-head-coach stuff that was heavy on optimism and not on specifics. And, frankly, I’m totally fine with that.
Here’s the transcript of the press conference, interspersed with some images from the day. (And, of course, you can go watch the presser on video if you’d prefer.)
Executive Vice President/General Manager Bruce Allen opening remarks:
“I described some characteristics we were looking for in a head coach. We were looking for a man who is passionate about football, passionate about the Redskins history, someone who had a good winning record, and someone who could lead our team on and off the field, lead our coaches on and off the field, to the greatest heights. Ladies and gentlemen, we got our man. You have been handed out a lot of information and statistics of accomplishments of Coach Shanahan. His record, over the time of being a head coach, and assistant coach, in both the NFL and college, has some amazing accomplishments. From Super Bowls to playoff victories, to individual player accomplishments, this man has proven to be one of the most consistent winners in the history of the NFL. Today, we’re staring at a man who the New York Times once said, ‘He dares to be great.’ Ladies and gentlemen, I want to introduce you to our new head coach, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan.”
Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan opening remarks:
“I’m excited and honored to be the head coach of the Washington Redskins. You take a look at the history and you take a look at the Hall of Fame, the great coaches, and the great players, what an honor it is to be the head coach of this franchise. It’s a very, very special place – Super Bowls and World Championships. That’s what you call a franchise that has a great history. I’m looking forward to leading this football team. I’m excited to be here.
“I want to thank Dan [Snyder] for the opportunity to be his head football coach. I promise you I won’t disappoint you. I’m going to give it everything I got. One of the reasons that I am here, is that I have never met a guy that is more positive, and more passionate about the Washington Redskins. His desire to do things the right way give me every opportunity and this organization every opportunity to be successful. That doesn’t happen very often in the NFL, when you go to a place and that person is going to give you every chance to win a Super Bowl. That’s why we are in this game.
“I’ve had a chance to know Bruce [Allen] for a number of years. The respect that I have for him as an agent, as a GM, as an executive, is second to none. I have watched him perform in different situations in NFL meetings. I’m excited to be working with him and putting our best team together that we can possibly put together. It just doesn’t happen overnight, as we all know, but we’re going to give you the best shot that we have.
“I’d also like to thank Sandy Montag and Steven Kay for getting this contract done with Mr. Snyder. It’s something that you guys have done and worked on over the last couple of days. Thank you for being here. Also my wife, for putting up with me for 32 years; moving after being in a place for 15 years. In the coaching profession, we have actually moved in and out of 30 homes. That kind of gives you an idea and we have been in one home for 15 years, so that’s part of the coaching profession.
“I’m looking forward to meeting the players on this team. It’s something that will take a little time. I’m looking forward to sitting down with every one of the players that have been here, the coaching staff that has been here and get a chance to sit down with them and evaluate them – have a good conversation obviously.
“Then to the fans – I think one of the great stories that I have, is I think it was 2004 when I was with the Denver Broncos playing the Redskins in a preseason game and John Elway was being inducted into the Hall of Fame. I looked around and said, ‘Who’s being inducted from Washington?’ because 80 percent of the fans were Washington Redskins fans. I said, ‘I have never seen a group of fans come to a preseason game like that.’ The support was overwhelming. I’m looking forward to being a part of this franchise.”
On his role and how he and Executive Vice President/General Manager Bruce Allen will work together:
“First off, we’re a team. One of the reasons I was so excited to work with Bruce is I have watched him worked at the NFL level. I have watched him work as an agent and I wanted somebody that I knew would give me his opinion on everything. I’ve been friends with Dan [Snyder] for about 10 years and we’ve talked about coaches through the years. We’ve talked about GMs. We’ve talked about coordinators. We’ve had a relationship for a long time and when Bruce became available after the end of last season, I said something to Dan [Snyder], ‘Dan’, I said, ‘A guy like Bruce doesn’t come along very often.’ I said, ‘Somebody is going to gobble him up very quickly,’ not knowing he was going to gobble him up. I’m very happy to be working with Bruce.”
On how long it will take him to evaluate the current assistant coaches and what he looks for in his assistant coaches:
“First off, what I would like to do is sit down with every coach that would like to stay here and get to know them, get to know their philosophies and their beliefs. I was an assistant coach for a lot of years. You understand how much time and effort goes into the assistant coaching position and profession. I’ll get a chance to get a good feel on this staff. I am not going to make very many staff moves right away. I want to take my time. A lot of people want to come to the Washington Redskins and be a part of this organization, the history, the leadership and the chance to do things that have been done in the past that will hopefully be done in the near future. I’ll get a chance to sit down with all of those guys and make a decision hopefully in a short time so if they aren’t retained they got a chance to look elsewhere.”
On what his priorities are in the next few weeks:
“There are so many things. We’ll sit down together, we’ll put a calendar together. For the next six months, we’ll get a chance to, obviously first thing, put a staff together which will take us a few weeks to put together. As I said, I will interview a number of people in a lot of different positions trying to put the best staff together, not to just jump into it very quickly but get a good evaluation on the top people that are out there. Obviously, start working on our X’s and O’s once we do get out staff and putting the offensive playbook together, a defensive playbook and special teams and doing the things that you have to do to get ready for the season.”
On his initial impressions of quarterback Jason Campbell:
“Well, I am looking forward to working with him. I just love the way Jason handles himself. I am looking forward to sitting down and watching film and going through every play that he has had throughout his career and sitting down and talking to him and hopefully the best years are ahead. That is a process that will take some time.”
On discussing what he has done over the last year and if he re-evaluated some of the things that didn’t go well towards the end of his time with the Denver Broncos:
“Well, I think you always evaluate yourself as a coach. You’re a product of your environment. As you go back in your career you know you made some mistakes, so as you get older you’re hoping to get better. It’s been a good year off for me to sit back and really evaluate a lot of things that I’ve done. I got a chance to sit back and actually realize what a great game this is in the NFL. I’ve enjoyed watching more games and doing things that I’ve never done before, but at the same time very anxious to get back. There’s probably only one person that wants me back more than myself, and that’s my wife. She’d probably get a little tired of me after a short time, so I’m anxious to get back and she’s more anxious to have me back.”
On when he met with Daniel Snyder during the season in Denver, and what those conversations were like:
“Like I said before, I’ve known Dan [Snyder] for 10 years – we met at the Pro Bowl – and we’ve talked pretty consistently over the last 10 years. As a head coach, he was right across the table from me – the Redskins and the Broncos were right across the table during the Owners Meetings – and being in the NFC and the AFC we really didn’t compete on a year-in, year-out basis, so we’ve had a lot of different conversations. I did not meet with Dan in Denver, but we did talk throughout the year as we have over the last 10 years. Like I said, he’s a guy that has more passion for this organization than anybody I’ve ever seen.”
On how soon he contacted Mike Shanahan after he got on the job:
“Coach Shanahan and I have competed against each other over the years, and he can tell you the record because that’s one of those things that I’ve tried to forget. I think the word domination comes to mind when you look at those statistics. This offseason when we were both out of work we had several conversations about what we were seeing in the NFL, and it was a very unusual time to pick each other’s brains on what we saw with different teams. We called him Sunday night after our game, and told him what we needed. We needed somebody to lead our players, control our coaches, and demonstrate the type of leadership that will help us win.”
On his impressions of running back Clinton Portis over the last few seasons, and how he plans to use him going forward:
“It’s hard to say that right now. I’ve got to go back and look at all of the film. Just to watch a game and not be around Clinton [Portis] in the offseason program, not watching him on a day-to-day basis, judging him would not be fair to him, and not be fair to you. Like all players, as they get older, the key is how they work in the offseason program, and what they do to make themselves better as veterans. I’ve been around some veterans that have been very successful, and all of the sudden they quit working out, and as a running back you can fall off of a cliff. If you make a commitment that you’re going to be the best that you can possibly be, or you’ve got the passion and the work ethic to be as good as you can possibly be, then you’ve got a chance to be something special. Looking at Clinton a year ago, in the first half of the season, you could see how well he played. To say that right now, with the injuries and what’s happened would be obviously premature at this time. I do love his toughness. He was obviously very productive when he was with Denver.”
On who has final decision making authority on football operations:
“I think everybody kind of asks and they want to know. When I was in Denver, I had final say on everything, supposedly, and the press kind of took it and ran with it. I never had to make that decision. We will work together. One of the reasons I was so excited about Bruce [Allen] is I know Bruce will not agree with me on a lot of things and that’s what I am looking for. I wanted a guy that has experience in the National Football League as an executive, as a GM, as an agent, knowing the salary cap and knowing personnel. I want a guy that knows that like I know football and Bruce [Allen] is that guy. We will work together. Do I have the final say? Maybe you could say that, but you know what, together I would never use that because we will work as a team.”
On possibly working with his son, Kyle Shanahan, as the offensive coordinator:
“Anytime you talk about your son, you’ve had a few conversations along the line. Bruce [Allen] was very gracious, him and Jon Gruden, to give my son the opportunity to learn in the National Football League after being a graduate assistant over at UCLA. They gave him an opportunity to work with a guy like Jon [Gruden], who in my opinion, you don’t get any better than Jon Gruden, the X’s and O’s, his enthusiasm and his leadership and to be with a guy like Bruce [Allen], what a great opportunity for my son. Therefore, I thought he had his first couple of years as a great opportunity to be successful. Then he got the opportunity over the last couple of years to be an offensive coordinator and I think he’s done a very good job taking advantage of that opportunity. I am excited because I know what he brings to the table. I’ve obviously watched him grow as a person and as a man and he loves football. He’s been around it throughout his career. Just like Bruce [Allen], he’s been around football, with a Hall of Fame dad. You just kind of know, you got a lot of confidence and very proud of his stats over the last couple of years. I know they would’ve liked to have been in the playoffs but I am looking forward to having him on our staff. I think he’ll bring a lot to our football team.”
On balancing his responsibilities as head coach with his responsibilities with personnel and the lessons he can bring from Denver to Washington:
“There are always lessons. Anytime you are a head football coach for 14 years, as I said before, you make some mistakes, you do some good things, you kind of get an idea on what it takes to be successful as an organization. You’re looking for that consistency. You’re looking for discipline in your program. You’re looking for those athletes that are positive, that are passionate on what they are doing and we’re the Redskins, if we got any problems it stays within our football team. Nobody goes outside the football team. It’s going to be a strong, disciplined football team I can tell you that.”
On the offensive influences in his career:
“Well, first of all, I hate to just say offense because as a head football coach I understand what it takes to win super bowls. It’s more than offense. It’s offense, defense and special teams. The teams that I have been on that have competed in those championship games had everything. You got to have the best from the top to the bottom. I’m going to go out and get the best coaches that I can find. I’m going to go try and get the best. I want every assistant coach to know more about that position than me. That’s what I am going to look for. My job is trying to get this team to play at a certain level. The coordinators, the running game obviously, the defense, the run defense, rushing game, you can look at all of those stats but the bottom line is we got to play as a team. There is only one way you have consistency, you got to do things right every day. If you do things right every day, then you got a chance to get better. It’s not going to be what we’re going to do next year, it’s what we’re going to do today and how we are getting better as an organization and that does take a lot of effort from a lot of people.”
On if there are similarities between the new organizational dynamic and what existed between former owner Jack Kent Cooke, former general manager Bobby Beathard and former head coach Joe Gibbs:
“I would say that’s a good comparison right there. I was lucky enough when I was an assistant coach [with Denver] in 1986 to come out here with Coach [Gibbs]. I was talking to Joe Bugel a little while ago and with the whole crew that used to be here. We came here for three days and we just talked about the NFC East and the AFC West. And we both went to the Super Bowl that year. I got a chance to get to know Joe [Gibbs], as well as the other coaches, and we’ve had relationships since then. That’s what you want to do. As I’ve mentioned before, you want to get the best you can get at every position and I believe Bruce [Allen] is the best at what he does. I want people to challenge me, assistant coaches as well as personnel people. We’re going to get the best guy in charge of college, the best guy in charge of pro and hopefully together we can do something special.”
On how familiar he was with the Redskins and if he ever thought this was a job he would like, even before he talked to Daniel Snyder:
“Well, to be honest with you, we had some conversations – we were sitting at the table one time and Mr. Snyder said to Mr. Bowlen, ‘I want to trade for your coach.’ Pat looks at me and says, ‘Don’t pay any attention to him.’ Anyway, we’ve had some fun through the years. I really didn’t think about going outside of Denver at that time. I really didn’t. But, I am so looking forward to being a part of this organization. Like I said before, there’s very few people that I know that want to win as consistently and I don’t think I’ve met a person that is more passionate about the Washington Redskins than our owner. One of the great, I don’t know if it’s a story, but I talked to Coach Gibbs yesterday and he says, ‘Mike, I’ve never had anyone support me more than Dan Snyder. You’re talking about being the most positive guy. You’re talking about a guy being passionate. He’ll give you every opportunity to be successful.’ And I’ve got so much respect for Coach Gibbs and what he’s accomplished on and off the football field. When I think about him as a man, coming from a guy like that said it all. I also talked to Marty Schottenheimer who was obviously here for a year. He said, ‘Mike, if that opportunity presents itself, jump on it because you’ll love him.’ Those are the things I look at from people who have been in the business. Do you have an opportunity with the owner to give you the best chance to win? If you have that as an assistant coach or a head coach, you feel like you’re at the right spot.”
On if Redskins fans should brace for a rebuilding period:
“That’s always tough because I always hate to use the word rebuilding. I think any time you win four games that’s going to happen. People are going to talk about rebuilding and doing the things that it takes to be the best team possible. I’ve got very high standards just like everybody in this organization. I can’t tell you how long it’s going to take, but I can guarantee you one thing – we’ll get better every day and hopefully it won’t be long until we’re back to where this organization has been.”
On his philosophy on having training camp at the team facility or going to an outside location:
“Well, I’ve done it both ways. I’ve had more success going outside because the Super Bowls that I’ve gone to, the championship teams I’ve been with, most of the time we went out to camp. In Denver, for a number of years, we were at the facility. I kind of enjoy going away if you can get the right environment. You’ve got to have the right fields, the right facility, the right meeting rooms and if that’s possible, I would like to go to a camp. But I’m not sure that that’s possible because you’ve got to have a quality field and you’ve got to be able to have meeting rooms. We’ll look into that and do the best thing for the Redskins.”
On what the year off from coaching did for his perspective:
“It was so different, to be honest with you, watching a football game. I’d watch every game. In the early slot, I’d watch four or five, then in the afternoon and then in the evening. It’s amazing when you don’t have the pressure of getting ready for a game how enjoyable it is to watch games. I never really enjoyed watching games during the season because you had so much on your mind and you were thinking about the next opponent, the next game. But I can tell why this sport is so popular because I thoroughly enjoyed it. I got a chance to study different teams, different coaches. I got a chance to watch different people with their interviews and how they handled success and adversity. It was something that was a good experience for me.”
On how much of a rebuilding process there will be along the offensive line:
“Well like I said, I’m going to have to evaluate that over the next few weeks and I’ll be able to give you a better answer after looking at all the film and talking to some of these guys. What we’re going to do is take a look at our personnel before we decide exactly what we will do offensively, defensively, and on special teams. That’s part of it. As we talked about before, we’ll be working hard every day to improve our talent level, to improve the competition so we can get back to where we’ve been.”
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