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Redskins likely to pursue Baylor's Art Briles if/when Shanahan is fired

The Washington Redskins are expected to pursue Baylor's Art Briles should they fire Mike Shanahan, according to league sources.

Not only are the strugging Redskins (3-10) losing, there also is a fractured relationship between coach Mike Shanahan and ownership. With Shanahan's partnership with quarterback Robert Griffin III also in peril, the club is likely to part with Shanahan, perhaps as soon as Monday. Once that happens, several league sources believe Baylor's Art Briles will be one of their targets.

Briles coached Griffin in college and maintains a strong connection with the QB and his family. While Briles recently agreed to an extension to remain at the school, it doesn't render a move to the NFL impossible. Briles proved uniquely able to handle Griffin's ego, unique playing style and health concerns while at Baylor, and also managed Griffin's parents and inner-circle, who have gone public at times -- voicing issues with Shanahan.

Art Briles was RG3's coach at Baylor. (USATSI)
Art Briles was RG3's coach at Baylor. (USATSI)

Shanahan, who has one year left on his contract, absorbed a 45-10 loss on Sunday at home, before a very sparse crowd at FedEx Field. Owner Daniel Snyder, who has a very strong relationship with Griffin, could have a difficult time finding his next head coach. Snyder's repeated failures with hires have devalued the job, leading to "by default" hires like Jim Zorn. And Griffin, viewed as the organization's prized asset, undoubtedly will have some voice in the process (Snyder has long empowered certain players well beyond the norm throughout his checkered NFL history).

The success of Philadelphia's Chip Kelly -- literally a few hours down I-95 from Washington -- adopting his offense quickly at the pro level has not been lost on Snyder. And at a time when other top college candidates like Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M) and David Shaw (Stanford) are pretty much bound to their schools, and in a year devoid of many "hot coordinators" at the pro level, the options could be limited.

While Briles has been happy at Baylor, that wouldn't preclude overtures from the NFL, and he is uniquely positioned for this job because of his ties to Griffin. Some will point to Snyder's failures when hiring Steve Spurrier from the NCAAs without past pro coaching experience, but the reality is no coach has had any sustained success in Washington under him, not even Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs. Snyder has generally shifted from going with long-established NFL coaches (Marty Schottenheimer/Gibbs) to the opposite (Spurrier/Zorn) and the likelihood of landing a desirable proven winning NFL coach are remote at this point.

If or when Shanahan let go, he is expected to be a top candidate for the Texans' job -- with some experienced coaches already turning down the chance to interview for it. Getting relieved of his duties quickly would actually allow him to seek other employment now, and if he does get hired it lessens the financial blow of firing him.

 
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