Mike Shanahan was fired today at the end of a 3-13 season, but he still believes the team he’s leaving behind was better than the team he inherited when he arrived in Washington in 2010.
Shanahan said he inherited a team made up of overpaid, aging veterans, and he believes he did the best job a coach could do, given those circumstances.
“One of the questions that’s been asked of me the last couple weeks, ‘Is this a better place today than it was when you came here four years ago?'” Shanahan said. “That one is probably asked of me more than any other one. So I’ll answer that: When we first came here, we knew that we were in a tough situation relative to the salary cap, and when we first came here as a staff, we knew we had to make some tough decisions. And any time that you release $100 million worth of players, you’re talking about a lot of football players, a lot of players who have been very successful, and that’s always hard to do. And to do that, a lot of people are involved. You watch a lot of film, you make some tough decisions, and we felt we had to do that relative to the salary cap. And the thing we felt pretty good about was that not one of those players played a full year the next year. So we did make some good decisions, relative to getting back to a base, relative to the salary cap, because we had made some mistakes in the past.”
Shanahan then noted that the team was hit with a significant salary cap penalty before the 2012 season because the league office determined that the team violated the spirit of the salary cap with its payroll structure during the uncapped year in 2011. Shanahan said he takes pride in the fact that the team won the division despite those cap penalties.
“When we got that $36 million hit, we weren’t able to get some of those players we wanted to get,” Shanahan said. “We were still able to win the NFC East.”
Ultimately, Shanahan believes he’s leaving a team behind that’s in better shape than the team he inherited in Washington.
“We’re better off today than we were four years ago,” Shanahan said.
That may be true. But it’s also true that this year’s 3-13 mark ties the worst record for a 16-game season in franchise history.