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Redskins' Coordinators Facing Uncertain Fate

December 27, 2013

As the Washington Redskins enter the final weekend of the 2013 season, it's harder and harder to find anyone predicting a scenario in which Mike Shanahan returns as head coach, despite his $7 million contract for 2014.

If he does come back, there could still be other changes on his coaching staff, including the likely replacement of coordinators Kyle Shanahan (offense), Jim Haslett (defense) and Keith Burns (special teams).

Haslett and Kyle Shanahan spent a good part of their final 2013 weekly media session discussing the season and how the ongoing speculation had affected them.

The defense has ranked near the bottom of the league all season. The offense ranks ninth in yards, but 22nd in points per game thanks to turnovers, penalties and poor red-zone execution.

Kyle Shanahan's relationship with quarterback Robert Griffin III has been an integral part of the soap opera involving Mike Shanahan, Griffin and owner Daniel Snyder.

"I really try not to have an expectation," Kyle Shanahan said of what the next few days would bring. "When you try to assume what's going to happen with stuff that's completely out of your control, I feel like that's just an anxiety attack waiting to happen. I kind of try to block that out as much as I can."

After two seasons as offensive coordinator for the Houston Texans, Kyle Shanahan joined his father on Washington's staff in 2010. In addition to stories about Kyle Shanahan's relationship with Griffin, there was also one that Kyle Shanahan felt it was time to leave his father's staff, which he has denied.

"It's been a great experience to be with him," he said Dec. 26. "It's something I'm definitely glad that I had, or I've had. I've told you guys before it's something that, if I never would have gotten a chance to work with him, it's something I think I would have really regretted in my life. So I'm glad that it's something that I did and something that I've been able to do."

One vocal Kyle Shanahan supporter has been quarterback Kirk Cousins, who again this week praised his coordinator.

"I just have total faith and confidence in him to put me in a position to be successful," Cousins said, "and I feel like he's done that every time I've had a chance to play here. … He's the kind of guy that I think very highly of as an offensive coordinator, and if I get to play for Kyle or someone like Kyle at his level of a play-caller for the rest of my career, I'll be in very good shape."

The coaches have been the subject of rumor and speculation since the team's 0-3 start, but it intensified throughout the Redskins' second-half collapse.

"I think it's just really kind of part of the job that comes up when you come with this kind of record that we have right now," Haslett said. "I don't worry about it. I truly try to focus in on the job -- trying to win, play well on defense and trying to win a game."

The defense surrenders an average of 359.1 yards per game, which ranks 21st in the league, and only the Minnesota Vikings have allowed more points.

"Our first three games of the year, we were awful," Haslett said. "We gave up 440 [yards], 580, 441. Do the last 12 games, rank us and see where we're at, because we're about 327, which puts you about eighth in the NFL, not including the first three.

"You can say what you want. I look at the way we played the last 12 games, and it's been pretty good. Maybe we haven't had the ideal guys, exactly what you want, but they've played pretty well."

Though the defense has improved, there have been key lapses. Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder exploited the defense during Week 10. Slumping New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning seemed rejuvenated against the Redskins during Week 13. The Washington defense surrendered a nine-point lead to the Cowboys Dec. 22.

Haslett was asked Dec. 26 whether he expected to be back with Washington next season.

"I don't make those decisions," he said. "Would I like to be here? Of course. ... I think this is a great organization. It's a shame that we couldn't do what we did last year and win our division -- that's the negative. 

"Yeah, sure, I'd love to be here. You'd like to continue to build and now you have the chance, with all the salary cap money, I think you can add pieces and have a pretty good football team."