ASHBURN, Va. -- Mike Shanahan says he wouldn't stand in the way of his assistant coaches if they wanted to interview for head-coaching jobs. You have to assume that holds especially true when the assistant in question is his son. But as the Washington Redskins prepare to play the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday's playoff game, the head coach is advising his offensive coordinator to wait.
"The way I look at it, if you're winning, all of your time should go toward your preparation," Mike Shanahan said in his office moments after his son, Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, made it clear in a news conference that he is excited about the idea of interviewing for head-coaching positions. "I would never keep anybody from interviewing if they wanted to interview. But that would just be my advice. And I'll tell you this: If I was looking for a head coach and that coach said to me, 'Hey, I'd love to interview, but I'm really focusing on my job right now,' that would impress me. That would get me thinking I had the right guy."
The success of the Redskins' offense en route to their first division title since 1999 has led to Kyle Shanahan, 33, being brought up as a possible candidate for some of the head-coaching vacancies around the league. NFL rules allow assistants on teams in the playoffs to interview in the week between the wild-card round and the divisional round, so even if the Redskins win Sunday, Kyle would be allowed to interview with teams next week. He doesn't sound as though he'd be eager to rush right out and do that, but he made it clear he looks forward to the opportunity to do it at some point.
"I think every coach in the NFL wants an opportunity someday to be a head coach, and hopefully I get that opportunity," he said. "I feel confident in every situation that would be presented."
There has been speculation that Mike and Kyle Shanahan's plan is for son to succeed father someday as head coach of the Redskins. While that storyline sounds neat to people outside the organization, both coaches are realistic enough to know not to assume that opportunity will present itself. If Kyle Shanahan has a chance to be a head coach at age 33, you have to think he'd at least listen.
In the meantime, he says he hasn't talked to anyone and is getting ready for the Seahawks.
"It's been pretty easy to lock in," Kyle said. "And hopefully after the season I'll have that opportunity."
This is Kyle Shanahan's fifth year as an NFL offensive coordinator; he served in that role with the Houston Texans before joining his father in Washington in 2010. His work with rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III and the innovative offense the Redskins have designed around him have raised his profile as a candidate, but he said he believes the struggles he endured in his first two years in Washington helped just as much.
"The biggest thing with the first two years is just trying to handle adversity," Kyle said. "In my time in Houston, a lot of things seemed to go right."
It took until the third try in Washington -- and, not coincidentally, the arrival of a franchise quarterback -- for things to start going right. Now that they have, the elder Shanahan is happy for the attention and credit his son is getting, though he still believes he's young enough that he doesn't have to rush into anything, especially with the Redskins' season ongoing.
"I never wanted anybody to think that I wasn't concentrating on my job," Mike Shanahan said. "So that's what I told Kyle, 'Hey, just do your job.'"
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett also was asked about being a candidate for head-coaching positions, and he gave a very different answer. He said he's already accomplished everything he wanted to accomplish in football as an individual, including winning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year as a Buffalo Bills linebacker in 1979 and NFL Coach of the Year in 2000 as head coach of the New Orleans Saints. Haslett insisted that all he wants now is to win a Super Bowl and that he believes the Redskins are headed in the right direction.
"I need to get a ring," Haslett said. "That's the one thing I don't have, and obviously I like the future of this team, so I think that answers the question."