Mike Shanahan coached two Super Bowl winners in Denver before taking the Washington Redskins to the playoffs last season. Quarterback Robert Griffin III challenged Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson for NFL rookie honors.
It should be nearly impossible to screw up an alliance as promising as Shanahan-Griffin once appeared in Washington, even without the draft capital used to acquire Griffin or the salary-cap space lost via league sanction. But here are the Redskins with a 3-11 record and more questions than the Wonderlic.
Is Shanahan down to his final two games as coach? What does the future hold for Griffin and his late-season replacement, Kirk Cousins? If Shanahan is out, who will team owner Daniel Snyder enlist to fix Griffin and the organization as a whole? And given the drama that has surrounded the team through much of Snyder's tenure, how many top candidates would even want to become the Redskins' seventh head coach since Snyder purchased the team in 1999?
"Washington is a scary one because there is a culture of unrest and problems," one potential candidate said. "I don't know if it's Snyder or others making decisions, but there is too much going on."
The sentiment is understandable, but a current head coach thought the job still held appeal. "Snyder and [general manager] Bruce Allen are going to let you coach the team," the coach said. "I believe that. I have reservations about the quality of some of the assistants on the current staff, but they have some players."
These are the sorts of competing views that NFL insiders offered when asked to assess potential coaching vacancies around the league. The head coach and candidate joined a general manager, personnel director, longtime agent and a quarterback in ranking nine potential openings from a candidate's perspective. Two clear favorites emerged along with a fuller picture of the landscape.