Thom Loverro: Hard to get good read of Redskins' Shanahan

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NFL coaches can use the bye week for many things -- possibly to reassess, recharge and reflect.

Hopefully Redskins coach Mike Shanahan took the time to do all three during his team's bye week before it faces the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

The last time we saw Shanahan on game day, he was standing in front of the media following the Redskins' lackluster 21-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers, declaring that the time was now to "evaluate players and see where we're at."

That set off the now seemingly traditional Redskins bye week controversy. His comments were interpreted in the media as raising the white flag on the season. He tried to clarify those comments the following day, but it seemed as if Shanahan needed some communications advice.

He might want to go back to "Think Like a Champion: Building Success One Victory at a Time" -- the book Shanahan co-wrote in 1999 with ESPN's Adam Schefter, then the Broncos beat writer for the Denver Post.

Sometimes it's good to go back to the basics, and here are some of the basics Shanahan outlined in his blueprint for success:

Communication: "It is why the importance of being true to your word, of saying what you mean and meaning what you say, cannot be stressed enough."

Good advice there.

Shanahan has been hit hard by criticism of late, but in his book he offered some reasonable perspective on how to deal with criticism.

"It's a good idea not to be thin-skinned," he wrote. "It is a must with so many jobs. I'll listen to the criticism that comes at me in the newspapers or on TV. But if you lose your concentration because somebody says something negative about you, then you have fallen to the biggest trap there is: ego."

Don't be thin-skinned -- check. Avoid falling into the ego trap -- check.

After all, if you know you are going in the right direction, as Shanahan told reporters last week during his explanation of his postgame comments, then you really don't have to worry about criticism or ego, right?

These are tough times for Shan?ahan, though, no matter how convinced he is that he's going in the right direction while being thick-skinned and devoid of ego. Where might the coach have turned to inspiration during this bye week of reflection, reassessment and recharging?

How about Honest Abe?

Steven Spielberg's film "Lincoln" couldn't have come at a better time for Shanahan, who cites the president in his book as a model of perseverance:

"Some of the obstacles Lincoln faced more than a century ago were not altogether different from the ones you face today. People feel, as if they are experiencing them, that their rough times will last forever. Nothing lasts forever. But if you stick with your plan, if you believe you will overcome, eventually you will."

Abe Lincoln. Mike Shanahan -- thinking like champions.

Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and espn980.com. Contact him at tloverro@washingtonexaminer.com.

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Thom Loverro

Sports columnist
The Washington Examiner