As the 2013 Redskins season circled down the drain, reports of a schism between quarterback Robert Griffin III and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan continued to leak. The relationship devolved to the point both Shanahan and RG3 addressed the rumors publicly, and while both men mostly held back with comments, the situation had obviously become unworkable.
Since the Redskins season ended, both Kyle and father Mike Shanahan have been fired from the Redskins. In the time since, Kyle Shanahan landed a new job as the offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns, and eventually the Cleveland media asked him about the Redskins 2013 collapse.
"I’m not going to say it was easy," Shanahan told Cleveland.com. "Nothing’s easy when you go through something like that."
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Asked specifically about his relationship with Griffin, Shanahan said things started strong as the quarterback had one of the best rookie seasons in history.
"We did a lot of real good things together. I’m very proud of that first year," he said.
In 2012, Griffin won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award and a 10-6 Redskins squad won the NFC East crown. The team faced hefty expectations in 2013, though RG3 was returning from a major knee injury on an accelerated timeframe.
"Robert and I always had a great relationship,'' Shanahan said. "I enjoyed coaching him. Anytime you go through a 3-13 season, it is a challenge. It’s a challenge on your relationship. It’s a challenge with everybody in the building."
Things seemed to really sour late in the 2013 season when a series of leaked reports and anonymously sourced stories emerged from the Redskins locker room. Allegations that Griffin undermined coaches and was not liked by his teammates came out, and many skeptics pointed to the Shanahan family as sources of the leaks.
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"You’ve got to deal with a lot of stuff, a lot of negativity, and the thing I learned going through that, especially with a high-profile guy, there’s a lot more stuff that comes out," Shanahan said. "The thing that I always did with him and that we did with each other is when stuff would come out, we’d address it. We’d get into our room. We’d talk about it and make sure we felt good about it, and I think Robert and I through a very tough time, we managed to keep our relationship through the year."
Shanahan said he believes that the experience of the 2013 season will help his career, and he could soon be paired with a high-profile rookie quarterback. The Browns lack any clear-cut franchise quarterback, and some speculate that Cleveland could make a play for Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel through the draft. If RG3 has a high profile, "Johnny Football" ranks even higher on the scale.
"I do believe going through it, Robert and I in the long run, it’ll make both of us better. It’s something that is a challenge, and I do believe going through that, as hard as it was, will help me. I think when it’s all said and done and Robert and I look back on it, I’m really appreciative of some of the stuff he did for me, and I really believe he’ll be appreciative of some of the stuff I did for him."