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Snyder takes a back seat for Shanahan

Baltimore Sun

At the lectern stood Mike Shanahan, who has a five-year, $35 million contract that gives him final authority over football decisions as head coach and executive vice president of the Washington Redskins.

Seated at a nearby table was Bruce Allen, the first general manager Dan Snyder has hired in 11 years of owning the team.

And nowhere on the stage was Snyder, who sat next to his wife, Tanya, as a member of the audience in the Redskins Park auditorium in Ashburn, Va. It was the first time he hasn't introduced a new coach, a powerful symbol of how the balance of power has shifted within a proud franchise.

"Dan Snyder has directed us to please get this team back to the levels where it's been in the past," Allen said. "And I believe he's going to be our most supportive fan."

Shanahan made his formal debut Wednesday, one day after signing his contract and just two days after Jim Zorn was fired after a 4-12 season. The winner of two Super Bowls in the 1990s with the Denver Broncos spoke mainly in generalities with polish and confidence, far from the nervous and ragged performance given by rookie coach Zorn 23 months ago.

"I've got very high standards, just like everybody in this organization," Shanahan said. "I can't tell you how long it's going to take. But I can guarantee you: We'll get better every day, and hopefully it won't take long to get back to where this organization has been."

For most of his time as owner, Snyder has been a hands-on manager wielding a strong influence on roster decisions. But the Redskins are 82-99 on his watch, missing the playoffs in eight of 11 seasons, so three weeks ago he hired Allen and ousted longtime front office confidant Vinny Cerrato.

Therefore, in less than a month, the Redskins have gone from an organization that revolved primarily around Snyder and his yes-man to one that includes two established decision-makers firmly in charge.

"I wanted a guy that knows [football] like I know football. Bruce is that guy. So we will work together. Do I have the final say? Maybe you could say that," Shanahan said with a shrug. "But you know what? I would never use that. ... One of the reasons I was so excited about Bruce is I know Bruce will not agree with me on a lot of things, and that's what I'm looking for."

Shanahan made the playoffs in half of his 14 seasons in Denver and had only two losing seasons - 6-10 in 1999 and 7-9 in 2007. His greatest successes came early, winning consecutive Super Bowls after the 1997 and '98 seasons with a team led by quarterback John Elway. He was fired a year ago after Denver missed the playoffs for the third straight season.

JETS: Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said he wants to remain in New York despite rumors that the Bills are interested in talking to him about their vacant head coaching position.

"For the last couple of years, I've had some opportunities and was very interested," Schottenheimer said. "For the first time in a real long time, I'm really happy. I love it here, I love working with Coach [Rex] Ryan,and I hope I'm here for a long time."

BILLS: Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is scheduled to interview today for the team's head coaching job.

CHIEFS: Signs point to former Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis being hired soon as offensive coordinator.

Coach Todd Haley, an old friend of Weis', said he would be a "good fit" calling plays for Kansas City, and Weis later said "there is action going on" between him and the team.

BENGALS: Police will not charge the fiancee of late receiver Chris Henry in connection with his death last month.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., police announced that there was no evidence that Loleini Tonga drove recklessly or with excessive speed last month when Henry came out of the back of her pickup truck on a curvy residential road and suffered fatal injuries.

BROWNS: Pro Bowl return specialist Josh Cribbs is insulted by the team's latest contract offer and intends to clean out his locker, his agent, Peter Schaffer, said.

STEELERS: Offensive line coach Larry Zierlein has been fired, the first Steelers assistant coach to lose his job since coach Mike Tomlin was hired in 2007.

CARDINALS: Three-time Pro Bowl receiver Anquan Boldin did not practice for Sunday's wild-card game because of a sprained left ankle and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, a Pro Bowl player in his second season, was out with a bruised left kneecap.

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