Zac Boyer will be entering his third season covering the Washington Redskins for The Free Lance-Star this fall. Make sure to follow Zac on Twitter (@ZacBoyer) for the latest updates or e-mail him with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shanahan says Redskins will bring Campbell back, reveals more about team’s direction
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan met with reporters for about 30 minutes this morning here at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. They were his first public remarks to beat writers since his introductory news conference on Jan. 6. He has extensively evaluated the Redskins’ roster in the weeks since, and today the direction in which he plans to take the franchise barely started to come into focus.
Shanahan wasn’t heavy on details, partly for strategic reasons and partly because he hasn’t actually begun coaching players and learning about them first-hand in a competitive environment. But there were several bits and pieces of news. Here’s what we learned or had confirmed:
1. The Redskins plan on tendering restricted free agent quarterback Jason Campbell, Shanahan said. He also anticipates that Campbell will be on the final roster and will compete to be the starting quarterback. "I do expect him to be here," Shanahan said.
He would not, however, reveal the level at which the Redskins plan on tendering Campbell. By submitting a 1-year tender worth roughly $3.2 million by next Thursday’s deadline, the Redskins would secure the right to match any offer by another team or receive first- and third-round draft picks as compensation for letting Campbell depart.
2. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will call plays.
"Kyle did a great job calling plays last year [for Houston]," Mike Shanahan said. "I’m heavily involved in offense and defense. I think one of the reasons why I’ve stayed in this profession is I love the game. I love the Xs and Os. I love the game, and I’ll always be involved in both sides of the ball. I’ll also delegate a lot of responsibility to people that have proven they can handle it."
3. The Redskins are indeed shifting to a 3-4 defense but will also use some 4-3 alignments, as was typical of defensive coordinator Jim Haslett’s previous units.
"We’ve got the principles of the 3-man front and a 4-man front and calling it the "Washington Redskins defense" because we have the ability to do both," Shanahan said. "We’ll see what, at the end of the day, where our players are and what they can do, and we’ll see what gives us the best chance to win."
4. Shanahan publicly attributed the Redskins’ offensive line struggles last season to injuries. He didn’t address any talent deficiencies.
"I don’t think anybody can protect the quarterback when they lose an all-pro left tackle, when they lose one of their best leaders and one of their better offensive linemen at the [right] guard and have injuries throughout the offensive line through the season," he said. You’ve got to be a little lucky, too.
"We’re going to try to get as much depth, try to get quality players that, obviously, can protect the quarterback."
5. Left tackle Chris Samuels is expected to decide in the near future whether to continue his career. Shanahan did not seem concerned that Samuels’ decision would linger and affect plans for free agency or the draft.
"It’s all up to the doctors right now," Shanahan said. "I think we should find out in a short time exactly where he is at. Keep your fingers crossed. But we understand any time you’re dealing with that neck it’s a very touchy area. Whatever the doctors recommend, obviously, we’re going to go 100 percent in that direction.
6. Shanahan is extremely serious about getting Clinton Portis and the rest of the Redskins to participate in the team’s offseason strength and conditioning workouts.
"I think it’s very important for them to understand that the team comes first, and to work together and do the little things the right way," he said. "It’s a long process, the offseason program. It’s not easy. A lot of hard work involved, and I think it’s very important to show your teammates exactly how hard you work and how dedicated you are to the program."
7. Shanahan is determined to withhold the Redskins’ plan for free agency and their approach to capitalizing on a season without a salary cap.
"We’re going to evaluate everybody and do what we think gives us the best chance to get the best players," he said. "Obviously, I’m not going to share my game plan with you."
8. Shanahan welcomes the notion of simultaneously using tight ends Chris Cooley and Fred Davis.
"If you get two great players that are playing very consistently, you’ve got to make sure you’ve got two tight ends on the field," he said.