New Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan endured a difficult final season with the Washington Redskins that ended with a 3-13 record and cost him and his father, Mike Shanahan, their jobs.
During that season, quarterback Robert Griffin III had a rough season as he recovered from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
During that season, the quarterback's relationship with the Shanahans drew a lot of scrutiny.
“Robert and I had two years together,'' Shanahan said. “We did a lot of real good things together. I’m very proud of that first year. I think he arguably had one of the best years in NFL history for a rookie quarterback and I enjoyed coaching him.
“It challenged me because I had to do some things that I hadn’t done before, so I had to look at tape in a different way and try to put some different things in. I think that improved myself. I’m able to see the game a little differently. I was able to do some things with Robert that I hadn’t been able to do with other quarterbacks, and it was really fun to do.''
Shanahan acknowledged it was a tough year together.
“Robert and I always had a great relationship,'' Shanahan said. “I enjoyed coaching him. Anytime you go through a 3-13 season, it is a challenge. It’s a challenge on your relationship. It’s a challenge with everybody in the building. You’ve got to deal with a lot of stuff, a lot of negativity, and the thing I learned going through that, especially with a high-profile guy, there’s a lot more stuff that comes out. The thing that I always did with him and that we did with each other is when stuff would come out, we’d address it. We’d get into our room. We’d talk about it and make sure we felt good about it, and I think Robert and I through a very tough time, we managed to keep our relationship through the year.
“I’m not going to say it was easy. Nothing’s easy when you go through something like that. But I do believe going through it, Robert and I in the long run, it’ll make both of us better. It’s something that is a challenge, and I do believe going through that, as hard as it was, will help me. I think when it’s all said and done and Robert and I look back on it, I’m really appreciative of some of the stuff he did for me, and I really believe he’ll be appreciative of some of the stuff I did for him.”
Now, Shanahan could be coaching another young quarterback.
The Browns are rumored to be interested in Texas A&M star quarterback Johnny Manziel.
“Anytime you bring a rookie in and you start him right away, you gotta find out what they do good,'' Shanahan said. “You've got to make sure you put them in a situation to be successful, don’t ask too much of them. Usually if you spend a high pick on a guy, there’s some stuff that they do pretty good. You gotta really figure out what that is by studying college tape. You gotta figure out and anticipate how the NFL is gonna play that stuff when you put that in your scheme.
“And you don’t want to put too much pressure on him. Make it loose for him, make it stuff he’s confident in doing and he’s done in his career prior, really what’s made him successful. You let him focus on that early. You try to build him and prepare him and how defenses are gonna adapt to him and what he’s eventually gonna have to grow to build his portfolio so he can face everything and have sustained success in this league. But I think the most important thing is asking them to do what they’re great at and then working and improving on other aspects of their game.''
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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun