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Monday, November 23, 2009
Who will win the Shanahan sweepstakes?

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

The Bills have a head start in the pursuit of former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan by virtue of firing coach Dick Jauron in the middle of the season, but surely Shanahan will wait for other suitors. For example, the Cowboys and Redskins could both be in the mix. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Shanahan already have a close relationship, so it might be a good fit.

Obviously the Redskins are going to cut ties with Jim Zorn at the end of the season and I'm sure Dan Snyder's willing to outbid just about anyone in the league for Shanahan. That's also Skins executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato's best hope of keeping his job. He and Shanahan worked together in San Francisco and reportedly have a solid rapport.

But the real reason I bring up Shanahan's name is because one of his former Broncos players, Shannon Sharpe, made this statement on CBS yesterday:

"Having played for [Shanahan] for seven years, if there is not a total commitment from the organization to win Super Bowls -- it is not about winning division titles or beating a particular team in that division -- if it is not about winning Super Bowls from players' standpoints and the coaches around them standpoint, you are wasting your time with Mike Shanahan because that is the only thing that matters to him -- winning championships."

That quote was brought to you via Barry Horn's Sports Media Blog. That description doesn't really make me think of the Bills organization. But does that sound like the Redskins and Cowboys to you guys? I think Jones would do just about anything to win another Super Bowl but you have to question his decision to stick with Wade Phillips after a disastrous ending to the '08 season. The fact that it was partly a financial decision makes you wonder if Jones would be willing to outbid his little buddy Snyder.

I think Dan Snyder truly wants to win a Super Bowl, but he just doesn't know how to go about getting one. And quite honestly, I'm not certain turning the entire football operation over to Shanahan is the best way to go. Shanahan's shown that he's one of the best in the league when it comes to assembling and running an offense. But it's not like his track record in drafting defensive players was stellar.

If I were Snyder, I'd take a look at some of the most talented personnel executives around the league. Ravens director of college scouting Eric DeCosta should be on anyone's short list and Cowboys personnel guru Tom Ciskowski is one of the most underrated talent evaluators in the league, mainly because Jones prefers it that way. There's also a guy named Brian Gaine who's the assistant director of player personnel for the Dolphins. He's played a huge role in putting the Dolphins back on the map in a short period of time and he would carry the Bill Parcells stamp of approval.

I realize Redskins fans only want to hear about the big names right now, but you're not going to turn this mess around with a single hire. Snyder needs to have a Plan B in case the Shanahan thing doesn't work out. Snyder and Cerrato had to settle on Zorn because they ran out of candidates. They can't let that happen again.