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A new tone--if not new results
Shanahan's first year with Redskins eventful

 All season long, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan eyed his players' practice habits and performances on the field.
Preston Keres/MCT
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Date published: 1/6/2011



--Mike Sellers has played 10 seasons in Washington, so he has ridden the Redskins' roller coaster enough times to know that all the drops, jolts and twists can make you nauseous.

He has experienced firsthand the excitement generated by free-agent signings. He has witnessed the revolving door of head coaches, each supposedly the right guy to return the franchise to Super Bowl glory.

And what has all that offseason optimism generated? Two measly playoff victories.

Sellers, then, has seen enough go wrong to believe the Redskins finally got it right by hiring head coach Mike Shanahan. After a debut 6-10 season that will be remembered for Shanahan's clashes with a malcontent defensive lineman and his franchise quarterback, Sellers and several other players are convinced that Shanahan's program has the club on the path back to respectability and beyond.

"With the new coach, there's a light at the end of the tunnel," Sellers said. "Shanahan, he's a proven coach. He knows what he's doing. Everybody is excited. Even though the year didn't go the way we wanted it to go, we know there's good things to come."

Shanahan a year ago today inherited a team that was by all accounts broken.

Former executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato and former head coach Jim Zorn left behind a roster whose overall talent level still is considerably worse than the Redskins' three NFC East division rivals.

There also existed a discipline problem that splintered the team during its 4-12 season in 2009. Preferential treatment for star players and a general dearth of professionalism (tardiness for meetings, for example) eroded the club's effort to sustain any success.

Owner Daniel Snyder turned to Shanahan, a two-time Super Bowl winner and noted disciplinarian to rectify both deficiencies.

The team's dearth of talent was too extensive to solve in one season, but Shanahan at least restored the order that had been missing since coach Joe Gibbs retired in early 2008.

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This week, staff reporter Rich Campbell is taking a look back at the Redskins' tumultuous season--and ahead to a busy offseason.

TODAY: Mike Shanahan's rocky debut

Tomorrow: Defense struggled in switch to 3-4

Saturday: Season report card