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Redskins training camp
Mike Shanahan signs autographs following the morning practice session yesterday. Shanahan has a big task
photos by MIKE MORONES/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Allen and Shanahan spent a good portion of their first two months on the job developing a plan for the Redskins' turnaround.
Crafting a detailed vision for such an extensive task might seem intuitive, and to Shanahan and Allen it is. It's a key step that Shanahan has followed at all of his coaching stops since famed University of Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer impressed its importance upon him at his first coaching job in 1975.
Allen learned its value from his father, George, the Hall of Fame coach who guided the Redskins from 1971 to '77.
Specifics of the plan are guarded for strategic reasons, but some steps already are clear. The Redskins upgraded the quarterback position with the April trade for Donovan McNabb, and changed their defense to a 3-4 base front. They did not commit to long-term contracts with veteran restricted free agents, considering the uncertainty with the NFL's labor situation and the fact that they are still evaluating how players fit into the team's new offense and defense.
The foundation, however, is more basic than just personnel. It's a mind-set.
"The key formula for success hasn't changed over the decades," Allen said. "It's a team playing together. We play in the ultimate team sport. The idea is--this is about the Redskins. I've really been pleased this offseason by how the coaches have embraced that and how the coaches have implemented that in our locker room and the practice field. It's about the team."
Together, Shanahan and Allen during the plan's design phase drew from a wealth of experience that the team's brain trust had been lacking since Snyder took over in 1999. Shanahan's two Super Bowls speak for themselves. But before his 25-year NFL coaching career, he won national championships as an offensive assistant at Oklahoma and as an offensive coordinator for Eastern Illinois, his alma mater.