When the Houston Texans and the Washington Redskins get together for the third time ever, the game will entail for the second time a matchup between head coach Mike Shanahan and his former lieutenant in Denver, coach Gary Kubiak. (The first time around, Kubiak’s Texans handled Shanahan’s Broncos easily, 31-13.) And for the first time a Shanahan-Kubiak contest will include recent turncoat Kyle Shanahan, who hopped from the position of offensive coordinator in Houston to the job of offensive coordinator in Washington.
The Shanahans downplayed on Wednesday the fact that Kyle has carried inside information to D.C. regarding the things the Texans do on offense and defense.
Asked whether he has asked for Texans tidbits from his son, Mike Shanahan said in comments distributed by the team, “A little bit.” But then he downplayed any possible edge.
“No, in fact, any time you go against someone that you really know well, I am not sure either team has an advantage. Rick Dennison, obviously with me through all those years, Gary [Kubiak] and Brian Pariani, Frank Bush, I know them and they know me.”
It was then pointed out that, while the Texans have insight regarding the habits and preferences of Kyle and Mike Shanahan but not much regarding defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, Mike Shanahan said, “Well, it doesn’t take long to figure out after you take a look at film. They look at Pittsburgh and some of the things they have done over the years. They look at what Jim [Haslett] has done over the years. It doesn’t take long to figure all of that stuff out.”
Kyle Shanahan also downplayed the inside information angle. “It doesn’t help as much as you would think because they know what I
like and I know what they like,” Kyle said. “They know what I don’t think is good
that they do and vice versa. I mean, we have gone against them every day
for four years and we know how to attack each other. There is no secret
about what we would like to do against each other and it is more what we
are going to do.”
Asked whether the past histories will make this game more of a chess match, Kyle Shanahan said, “No, I don’t think so. I mean, it is, but I don’t think it is as much of
a chess match, I think it is going to be a pretty simple game. It is
just going to be our players versus their players and there is not going
to be much more to it schematically. It is going to be which players do
Texans coach Gary Kubiak also downplayed the situation. “That’s coach talk,” Kubiak said in comments distributed by the Texans. “The bottom line is we do know each other very well from that standpoint, but our players have got to play. We’re similar in what we do offensively and totally different defensively in what we do. There is a lot familiarity from a coaching standpoint, but our players will be the ones that play.”
Though we agree that, in the end, it comes down to the players playing, knowing what the players on the other team may be doing makes it a hell of a lot easier for the players to play. And the reality here is that the Shanahans and Kubiak need to understand what they all know about each other and devise a game plan aimed at getting the most out of the inside information while also coaching against any perceived tendencies or habits that they have demonstrated to each other over the years.
So, yes, it’s a chess match. And, yes, there’s an edge to be gained. The fact that the Shanahans and Kubiak have tried to say there isn’t only highlights the point.