Snyder Cedes Skins' Stage to Shanny, Allen

Shanahan introduced as Redskins coach, executive VP

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    NEWSLETTERS

    New Redskins coach Mike Shanahan offered some of his thoughts about quarterback Jason Campbell and running back Clinton Portis.

    Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder left the stage to his new hires Wednesday -- hopefully a sign he'll leave the team in their hands, too.

    Bruce Allen, the first general manager Snyder has hired in his 11 years of ownership, introduced new executive vice president and head coach Mike Shanahan, then sat down at a table nearby.

    Mike Shanahan Greets D.C.

    [DC] Mike Shanahan Greets D.C.
    Mike Shanahan makes his opening statement to the media and fans as Redskins head coach.

    Nowhere on the stage was Snyder, who sat next to his wife Tanya as a member of the audience in the Redskins Park auditorium. It was the first time he hasn't introduced a new coach.

    Nor did he roll out the championship bling -- the three shiny Super Bowl trophies that reside in the lobby of the team's practice facility and have decorated the stage for many a Redskins press conference.

    Bruce Allen Introduces Mike Shanahan

    [DC] Bruce Allen Introduces Mike Shanahan
    Bruce Allen introduces Mike Shanahan as the Redskins' new head coach.

    Symbolic of a new approach? We'll wait and see.

    "Dan Snyder has directed us to please get this team back to the levels where it's been in the past," Allen said. "And I believe he's going to be our most supportive fan."

    Shanahan has a $35 million, five-year contract that gives him final authority over football decisions as head coach and executive vice president of the Washington Redskins. He downplayed that power, similar to the arrangement he had as coach of the Denver Broncos, and said he and Allen will operate as a team, praising his GM's business acumen.

    "I do have final say," Shanahan said, "but I never used it in Denver."

    Shanahan's formal debut came one day after he signed his contract and just two days after Jim Zorn was fired following a 4-12 season. The winner of two Super Bowls in the 1990s with the Denver Broncos spoke mainly in generalities with polish and confidence, far from the nervous and ragged performance given by rookie coach Zorn 23 months ago.

    "It doesn't happen overnight," Shanahan said, "but we're going to give it the best shot we have."

    For most of his time as owner, Snyder has been a hands-on manager yielding a strong influence on roster decisions. But the Redskins are 82-99 on his watch, missing the playoffs in eight of 11 seasons, so three weeks ago he hired Allen and ousted longtime front office confidant Vinny Cerrato.

    So in less than a month, the Redskins have gone from an organization that revolved primarily around Snyder and his yes-man to one that includes two established decision-makers firmly in charge.

    Snyder gave final authority to Marty Schottenheimer in 2001, but the two butted heads and Schottenheimer was fired after an 8-8 season. Snyder also deferred to Joe Gibbs when the Hall of Fame coach came out of retirement, but this is the first time the owner has taken this much of a back seat.

    Shanahan made the playoffs in half of his seasons in Denver, and had only two losing seasons -- 6-10 in 1999 and 7-9 in 2007. His greatest successes came early, winning consecutive Super Bowls after the 1997 and '98 seasons with a team led by quarterback John Elway.

    He was fired a year ago after the Broncos missed the playoffs for the third straight season.

    Shanahan's career regular-season record is 146-98, including 138-86 with the Broncos from 1995-2008, and 8-12 with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1988-89. Shanahan's playoff record is 8-5.

    "We were looking for a man who was passionate about football, passionate about the Redskins, someone who had a good winning record and someone who could lead our team, on and off the field, lead our coaches, on and off the field, to the greatest heights," GM Bruce Allen said. "Ladies and gentlemen, we got our man."

    "We needed a guy like Mike Shanahan," cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. "We needed a proven leader, a proven winner. He's definitely going to get these guys motivated and get the most out of all of them."

    "He exudes leadership," Snyder told NBC4's Lindsay Czarniak. "He is someone that is a real leader of men, and I think for our franchise, with his discipline, his understanding of the game, I think it's perfect."

    Shanahan also mentioned a preference for going away from the practice facility for training camp, and Snyder said he'd try to help make that happen if his coach and GM can find a suitable location.

    The messy 2009 season managed to spill over into yet another day Tuesday, when quarterback Jason Campbell and running back Clinton Portis traded barbs about leadership in separate interviews on the radio and Internet.

    Shanahan was optimistic in discussing Campbell Wednesday.

    "I'm looking forward to working with him," he said. "I just love the way Jason handles himself. I'm looking forward to sitting down and watching film, going through every play that he's had throughout his career, and sitting down and talking to him. Hopefully the best years are ahead."

    He sounded less confident in Portis.

    "I gotta go back and look at all the film," Shanahan said. "Just to watch a game and not be around Clinton in the offseason program, not watch him on a day-to-day basis would not be fair to him, would not be fair to you, me judging him. I think like all players as they get older, I think the key is how they work in the offseason program, what they do to make themselves better. I've been around some veterans who've been very successful and all of a sudden they quit working out, and as a running back, he can fall off a cliff."

    Portis has a reputation for appreciating practice about as much Allen Iverson does, but Shanahan commended the running back for his toughness and noted his productivity when Shanahan coached him in Denver for two seasons.
        ___

    AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich in Ashburn, Va., contributed to this report.