Mike Shanahan would be happy to let you talk to his special teams coach, if his special teams coach was doing a good job at the moment.
But since the Redskins are kind of a mess in the kicking game, Shanahan’s shielding Keith Burns from all those mean and nasty reporters.
“He’s not available any week,” Shanahan said, via Mark Maske of the Washington Post. “We do that with all our assistant coaches unless there’s something that a guy that you want to highlight or something like that, which we’ve talked about through the years. Same thing I did with Danny [Smith, the Redskins’ former special teams coach]. Same thing I’ve done with all our assistant coaches, . . .
“We do that so people can concentrate on their job.”
The Redskins coordinators talk on a regular basis, but assistant coaches aren’t routinely made available other than during the bye week. With last week’s gaffes in coverage, along with Burns getting an embarrassing penalty when an official ran into him on the sidelines, the special teams coach is under increasing scrutiny. Even one of his players, Niles Paul, said this week he didn’t think “everybody is completely buying into certain aspects” of what Burns was doing.
“You can ask me any of those questions,” Shanahan said. “That’s what I’m here for, to answer any question that you’d like. That’s why I have a press conference every day, . . . We’re gonna let them concentrate on their job and hopefully we can have a good game against Chicago.
“Now if we started out the year differently, then I would let Keith talk to you guys. But we made a decision. That’s the direction we’re gonna go. We’ve done that since I’ve been here. Same thing with Danny when he was here. You want to talk to Danny after a couple tough games. Danny didn’t talk to you then.”
But Smith did come out of hiding last year to discuss getting punts blocked in back-to-back games, so it’s not as if there’s no precedent. And only allowing him to talk to reporters when things are good doesn’t exactly help Burns grow as a coach.
It’s not a surprise Shanahan would try to insulate Burns, who was his special teams captain as a player in Denver. Shanahan also gave Burns his first coaching job, so there’s clearly a level of trust there.
And with that, apparently, comes a willingness to jump on his grenades for him.