RGlll-Shanahan and Synder: Shanahan Is The Odd Man Out

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Contrary to popular belief the palpable tension that is emanating out of Washington DC is not from our contentious, and ineffective politicians it is coming from the Washington Redskins organization where it seems that Mike Shanahan and his son are facing the coaching version of the guillotine.

Shanahan it seems has gotten himself caught up in an old fashioned power struggle between an infatuated owner Dan Synder and his star quarterback Robert Griffin lll, and Shanahan is going to be the odd man out.

Work place issues and power struggles happen all the time and occur in various and sundry permutations. Middle managers and those in authority bristle when an employee goes above their head or seems to have the favor of a superior. This happens all too common in our places of work.

In this instance it seems that Synder or RGlll depending upon how you want to view it over stepped the chain of command.

As an owner Synder has every right to conduct his business the way he pleases.  However it has been my experience that people thrive when they know what is expected of them, their responsibilities and most importantly who they answer to.

It goes without saying that all employed answer to the owners of the company but it is the owner’s choice of how they want to structure their company.

It is understood that football is one of those businesses where owners can be involved with all in the organization.  The New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys owners are very involved with their teams—just in very different manners.

The actions of both Dan Synder and Jerry Jones speak not only to their roles as owners, but to their needs as people.  Undermining coaches has rarely been successful to my knowledge.

There has been much speculation as to why RGlll has regressed this season with the most logical ones being that he did not have the offseason to work on his technique and his knee needs a year to fully heal.

However, we are hearing a far different RGlll then we did last year.  The honeymoon clearly is over between Shanahan and RGlll and perhaps some of his teammates, ex-Redskins and the media based upon what we have heard from those who have spoken up.

It is often the case with couples and friendships that they do well when all is going well—but a better measure of a relationship is when things are not going well.

Perhaps RGlll has not comported himself this season as well as he might have and I have written about his maturity level prior to this post.

To be fair Shanahan has not exactly handled all this as well as he could have. In coaching you are what your record says you are and Shanahan’s record this season speaks for itself.

I could see that Shanahan as reported might have wanted to leave after the 2012 season as reported due to the relationship between Synder and RGlll.  Knowing this and all that has gone on, it leads one to ask what purpose did the benching of RGlll really have for Shanahan?

No coach wants to be undermined or even second guessed to those he coaches by an owner. Furthermore you always have to wonder why a person hires someone to do a job and then does not let them do it.

Shanahan has a decent enough football resume and if I remember correctly he did work with John Elway successfully as they won, although there are rumors that there is no love lost between the two.

Normally coming off of the season the Redskins had last year it would be assumed that things would have progressed but they have not.

If you want to look for the beginning of the deterioration you might start with Shanahan’s decision to keep RGlll in that fateful playoff game, and then on into training camp where he did not put RGlll in heeding the advice he received from the medical staff.

Shanahan was widely criticized in the press for the first decision and took heat from RGlll and some others for the second. We are sure to get the debriefing and spin after Shanahan is gone as to how all this really went down.

To say the least this has not seemed to sit well with RGlll and he began the season a shell of his former self which contributed to a poor start for both himself and the team, and it has been downhill ever since.

There is a saying that two is company and three is a crowd and in this instance Synder and his prized and fawned upon quarterback RGlll are the two and it appears that Shanahan is going to be the odd man out.

This is not the first time this has happened in sports organizations and it will not be the last. It works that way in our places of business why should it not work that way in theirs?

Dr. Richard Lustberg

About Dr. Richard Lustberg

Dr. Lustberg’s On The Couch Column, Blog and Psychology of Sports Podcasts are syndicated on the Internet. He is extensively quoted and published, and is the sole developer and creative force behind The Psychology of Sports. Dr. Lustberg has helped launch and host Psyched Up, a Psychological Podcast addressing pertinent psychological issues for the Suffolk County Psychological Association and Psychology And You for the New York State Psychological Association.

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