No matter how much sway Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan holds over the franchise, he may not be able to save his staff.
Offensive coordinator Kyle Shan?ahan was fined $25,000 by the NFL this week for his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at the end of Sunday's 38-31 loss to Cincinnati. Special teams coach Danny Smith's unit has suffered more blocks than tax relief in Congress. And defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has seemed like a short timer since Shanahan hired Raheem Morris to coach the defensive backs in January.
Two straight losses have left this feeling like the start of another long, losing season. After two dismal years under Shanahan, something's going to change barring a turnaround.
Certainly, owner Dan Snyder has replaced coaches with better records than Shanahan's after two years. Shanahan is 12-23, but that mark easily could be 16-32 by season's end. Still, Snyder won't fire him for fear of fan backlash.
Decreasing ticket sales influence Snyder. He has been hands off for two seasons, but Snyder's reputation as a meddler just can't be changed. That perception will give Shanahan another year, especially since quarterback Robert Griffin III is a rookie -- unless, of course, the team crashes to 3-13.
The younger Shanahan is safe, too. There's no way -- no way -- Mike Shanahan's son will be fired.
Yelling profanely at officials who botched the ending of the Cincinnati loss is understandable, even defendable. Anybody would have lost their cool over those calls. It is Kyle's career they're harming, after all. Several NFL coaches have been fined more than Kyle for going at officials. New England coach Bill Belichick even grabbed one, which normally might be a suspension except that the NFL knows the scab refs have been a disaster.
Kyle has done a decent job. He sometimes gets too predictable and may run Griffin too often, but the offense isn't the problem this year.
No, this year it's the defense. With nine of 11 starters back from last season's No. 13 unit, it's bewildering why the first three opponents scored 101 combined points. The Redskins allowed 32 points to New Orleans, 31 to St. Louis and 38 to Cincinnati -- season highs for all teams. Ridiculous.
Haslett was forgiven for the defensive collapse in 2010 because it was the first year converting to a 3-4. He didn't have the personnel. This season, the same players who have been awful largely were the ones who fared well last year. Losing linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker is an excuse but not a pass.
Smith long has been considered one of the top special teams coaches in the NFL. Yet Washington had five field goals blocked last year and has had two punts blocked already this season. If players aren't blocking correctly, it's Smith's job to ensure they do.
Shanahan has the power, but Snyder has the muscle. If this season collapses, coaching changes will come.