Washington head coach Mike Shanahan watches film on his next opponent and imagines what could have been.
Don’t get Shanahan wrong, he’s pleased with the performance of rookie running back Alfred Morris, who finished the season second in the league in rushing with 1,613 yards.
Still, he wouldn’t mind having the league’s No. 3 rusher, Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch (1,590 yards), among his stable of running backs as well.
“He’s always been one of my favorite players because you just can’t tackle him,” Shanahan said. “He’s everything you look for in a running back. I’ve watched film over a number of years, and you’re mad that he’s not on your football team because he can do things most people can’t do. So I’ve always been a big fan of his.”
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Shanahan said he and son Kyle Shanahan, Washington’s offensive coordinator, decided to add the zone read option once they traded up in the draft to select Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 overall pick in the draft and saw what he can do at Baylor.
Adding the read option was a natural progression for Washington’s offense, because the Redskins already were running zone blocking principles in terms of the run game.
“Once we drafted Robert, you cold see what he could do in college running the zone read,” Shanahan said. “And we talked about it at the time that we felt that he had the other thing that you look for in a quarterback. He had the arm strength. He had all the intangibles. He could make any throw.”
The Redskins then selected Michigan State product Kirk Cousins in the fourth round, but also had Russell Wilson in their sights if he was still available. The Seahawks selected Wilson in the third round with the team’s No. 75 overall pick.
“I really liked Wilson,” Shanahan said. “I not only thought he was a great football player, but he had the intangibles that you look for in a quarterback. Just a class act, can make plays with his legs as well as his arm. I just liked the way he handled himself, and the way he played.”
Middle linebacker London Fletcher, 37 years young, remains the leader of Washington’s defense. Fletcher leads the team in tackles with 136, and also has three sacks, a forced fumble and five interceptions.
Fletcher has played in 241 consecutive games over his 15-year career.
“The guy is a true pro, relative to his preparation and what he does during the offseason,” Shanahan said. “What type of shape he’s in and how hard he studies – he gets ready for every game like it’s the Super Bowl, that’s as much preparation time he spends watching film and taking care of himself. And that’s why he’s lasts as long as he has.”