The Washington Redskins were one of the NFL's most interesting teams in 2012 -- they came back from a 3-6 start, won their last seven regular-season games, became an unlikely NFC East champion and won praise from all corners for the ways in which head coach Mike Shanahan and son Kyle, the team's offensive coordinator, helped rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. The Redskins lost in the wild-card round of the playoffs to the Seattle Seahawks, but that was seen as a minor bump in the road for a team that appeared to be on the uptick.
One season later, the Redskins seem like anything but. They're 3-9, they haven't won a game since their overtime squeaker on Nov. 3 and Griffin has put forth a very frustrating sophomore season amid injuries and ineffectiveness.
And according to ESPN's Dan Graziano, Shanahan came very close to avoiding the current mess. Unhappy with owner Dan Snyder's meddling, specifically when it came to Griffin's empowerment, Shanahan reportedly had cleaned out his desk in advance of the wild-card loss. When Griffin aggravated a previous knee injury, however, Shanahan changed his mind.
The coach was tired of the way Snyder held Griffin in esteem above all other players, and while Shanahan didn't blame Griffin for this, he did feel that Snyder's words and actions regarding Griffin were "a complete farce."
Shanahan reportedly thought that he would be leaving the team on a positive note, capturing a division championship in his third year, but didn't want people to think that he left the team because of Griffin's injury.
Still, Snyder -- who has a long history of butting in where perhaps he shouldn't -- did things for Griffin that raised Shanahan's hackles. He sent his security team to escort the quarterback when he went out for social events, and refused to acknowledge backup quarterback Kirk Cousins after Cousins led the Redskins to a Dec. 16, 2012 win over the Cleveland Browns in Griffin's place.
Team spokesman Tony Wylie has said that the Graziano story is "ridiculous," but it's pretty certain that things are about to come to a head between Shanahan and Snyder. The coach has one year left on his contract, and Snyder might not let him finish it out even if Shanahan decides that he wants to stick it out.
Update (2:00 p.m. ET): Members of the Redskins' front office believe the relationship between Shanahan and Snyder may be beyond repair.
Some Redskins officials questioned the timing and motivation behind those sentiments becoming public, the people with knowledge of the situation said, and added that a parting of the ways between the team and Shanahan appears increasingly likely.
“I don’t know that it can be fixed now,” one of those people said. Multiple people with knowledge of the thinking of Redskins officials said members of the team’s management wonder whether Shanahan is hopeful of leaving the organization to be a candidate for the Houston Texans’ head coaching vacancy.