Kyle Shanahan Should Be the Heir Apparent in Washington

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJune 24, 2013

Nov 6, 2011; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan (front) and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan (back) look on during the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at FedEx Field. San Francisco won 19-11.  Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports
James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

When Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan turns 61 in August, he'll join Tom Coughlin, Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick as the fourth active head coach to hit that age. Right now, the over-60 head coach club contains those four, plus 60-year-old Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians. 

It's entirely possible that Shanahan decides to coach for many years to come. Coughlin is six years his elder and going strong, and there haven't been any indications that he's slowing down or considering other options.

"Mike is going to be like Joe (Gibbs). He's going to retire a Redskin," owner Daniel Snyder said back in 2010. "This will be a great decade." 

If indeed that happens, though, you'd have to think that the obvious candidate to relieve Shanahan is his only son, Kyle. The 33-year-old probably wouldn't have this job if not for his famous dad, but nepotism only gets you so far. Kyle has delivered results as an offensive coordinator in Houston and Washington, and he has the great advantage of being the man who worked more closely than anyone with franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III during his sensational rookie season.

That was pointed out last Friday on Reddit, after local sports radio station 106.7 The Fan apparently spent some dead-of-the-offseason airtime discussing the potential future transition from Mike to Kyle.

In five years as an offensive coordinator, Kyle's offenses have ranked in the top five in total offense three times. Even with subpar weapons in 2010 and 2011, the Shanahan father-son duo managed to put together units that ranked in the middle of the pack.  

So Kyle has the tools as well as the bloodlines, which factor in as well. In fact, he's developed a reputation as a control freak, which is probably the most NFL head-coachy trait there is. 

"During the course of a regular game," Rex Grossman said two years ago, per The Washington Post. "Kyle Shanahan wants you to run the offense exactly how he wants it, down to the amount of hitches you take to go through your progressions."

That's Belichick/Coughlin/Kelly-esque. 

But if the Redskins offense continues to flourish with Kyle at the helm, there's a good chance he'll receive a head-coaching offer elsewhere before Papa Shanny is ready to step aside, and the son has indicated that he'd leave to become a head coach somewhere else.

If that were to happen, we could have another Don-David Shula situation on our hands, which wouldn't be ideal for Redskin fans. That's why the timing here is tricky and there's a bit of a catch-22: If he continues to perform really well, Kyle will likely leave before Mike is ready to hand him the reins. And if he can't maintain this pace and hype, there's a chance Washington fans and/or the front office won't want him to take over for dad anyway.