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National Columnist

Rout by KC, coach's exit 'story' make Shanahan, Snyder easier targets

Despite what you may think, this column isn't so easy to write. The Redskins are a joke? Well, OK, fine. After the Redskins' 45-10 loss Sunday to Kansas City in front of hundreds of fans, that's easy to write. Mike Shanahan gets what he deserves? Easy. Ditto for daddy's boy, Kyle Shanahan.

It's not as simple as saying all that and backing it up -- as if anything I've written yet requires "backing it up" -- because to say those things implies a taking of sides. It implies that the Redskins are a joke because Mike Shanahan and his senator's son of an offensive coordinator are getting what they deserve. All of which is true, but it's more complicated than that.

Because Daniel Snyder still owns the team.

And he's a joke, too.

For one thing, he's the guy who hired Shanahan in the first place. Shanahan has a nice résumé, but the highlights were mostly written by someone else: John Elway and Steve Young. The NFL was then, is now and always will be a league where the best quarterbacks deserve the bulk of the credit for a team's success. A mediocre quarterback? That's when a team finds out if it has a great coach or not. But great quarterbacks win games, and John Elway and Steve Young were great quarterbacks, and Shanahan was part of lots of wins -- and three Super Bowl titles, two in Denver -- because of them.

And Snyder, overmatched owner that he is, didn't know that. So Snyder handed his billion-dollar business to a guy whose résumé is long on Elway and Young, and short on anything else.

You know who Mike Shanahan is? He's the original Lane Kiffin, who was great when he was calling plays at Southern California for an offense run by Matt Leinart and featuring Reggie Bush and LenDale White and all those NFL wideouts. Al Davis fell for it and hired Kiffin at Oakland in 2007. Kiffin flamed out there, but Tennessee fell for it and hired him in 2009. Then USC fell for it. Kiffin never stayed anywhere long enough to prove just how unimpressive he is, until he returned to USC in 2010 ... and couldn't make it out of his fourth season as coach.

Shanahan is an even luckier Lane, and while this column is starting to read like an anti-Shanahan screed, please don't think that. It's anti-Daniel Snyder, too. It's anti-both of them.

Those two are on opposite ends of the Redskins' blame game now, their positions cemented by Mike Shanahan's transparent leak that he considered quitting after last season. I'm not saying Shanahan personally leaked it. Could have been the senator's son. Could have been his agent. Could have been ... no, that pretty much sums up the choices I'm willing to consider. That leak, like the Redskins' 24-37 record since 2010, is on Shanahan.

And with that leak, it's apparent Shanahan won't be back next season. Hell, he doesn't want to be back; he wants to go to Houston. After the way Shanahan ruined Robert Griffin III last year, putting him onto the field with a knee dangling by a damaged ligament, he knows he cannot co-exist anymore with RG3. And he knows Snyder has taken sides, and has chosen the player.

You think it's a coincidence that after more than 11 months of secrecy, the leak came 48 hours after the Texans fired coach Gary Kubiak? Come on. Stop it. Shanahan's son once worked for the Texans, the Houston roster is a lot better than the team's 2-11 record, and it's a place for Mike Shanahan to go somewhere else, probably to retire, before everyone in the NFL realizes just how unexceptional he is, except for his luck.

Shanahan got his first big break as offensive coordinator at Florida under Charley Pell, whose teams had no salary cap and paid for it with massive NCAA sanctions. Shanahan parachuted out before the NCAA dropped the hammer, talking his way into the offensive coordinator position in 1984 with the Broncos, where a young John Elway was waiting. After four years of big-time offensive production -- what coaching! -- Shanahan fooled the Raiders into making him their head coach ... and he didn't survive two years there.

Shanahan rebuilt his image back in Denver with Elway, then was made the offensive coordinator for the 49ers in 1992, intelligently calling for Steve Young to throw it to Jerry Rice. The Broncos made him head coach, and Elway teamed with sensational running back Terrell Davis to make Shanahan a two-time Super Bowl champion. Elway retired and Shanahan did all right for himself, averaging about nine wins a year for the next decade because he's not a bad coach; he's just not as good as his résumé would have you believe.

Snyder hired him, which wasn't completely stupid, but then did something ridiculous: He allowed Shanahan to survey the NFL and college landscape for the best offensive mind he could find to run his offense, and decide the best choice was his kid.

When did I write off Mike Shanahan? That's when. When he had the arrogance and audacity to have a rich owner's fat pocketbook at his disposal, and he used all of that purchasing power to pay off his boy. When did I write off Kyle Shanahan, who I covered when he was a receiver at Duke (and liked him there)? That's when. When he chose to stop earning his way up the NFL coaching ranks and instead latched onto daddy's payroll.

And Dan Snyder, football incompetent that he is, let it happen. To his billion-dollar investment.

All of this was a disaster waiting to happen -- and this is not hindsight; I saw it happening in November 2010 -- and the disaster arrived Sunday at FedEx Field, where the Redskins found themselves trailing the Chiefs 31-0 in the second quarter.

All that's left now is the Shanahans' date of departure, and their next address. Father and Son will take their nepotism somewhere, because NFL owners are easy marks for a man with a Super Bowl ring on each hand. Mike Shanahan is coaching on fumes and Elway's legacy, but it's enough to fool somebody and get a job. Kyle Shanahan will stay on daddy's dole.

And Daniel Snyder, if there's a God in heaven, will keep losing until Redskins fans find a way to run him out of town and get a real owner.

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