ASHBURN, Va. – Mike Shanahan said Monday he wants to be back for the final year of his five-year contract. Then, the embattled Washington Redskins coach seemed to escalate his stare-down with owner Daniel Snyder by saying he's mulling benching "a 100 percent healthy" Robert Griffin III.
Shanahan's reasoning? So Griffin remains healthy in order to have the benefit of his first full offseason of development.
It was a confounding about face for a coach who started Griffin in Sunday's snow and ice storm at FedEx Field before benching him for backup Kirk Cousins in the fourth quarter of a 45-10 rout.
Shanahan, who met with Snyder in the morning and characterized their relationship as "good,'' will decide over the next 48 hours whether to bench Griffin on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. If so, he said he would then shut his quarterback down for Washington's remaining two games after saying over the past month that Griffin needs every snap to further develop as a pocket passer.
Though he discussed his thoughts with Snyder, Shanahan has yet to share his thinking with Griffin, who said Sunday he had no doubt he'd remain the starter.
"We talked about Robert,'' Shanahan said, referencing Snyder. "He asked me my relationship with Robert and I said I was his head football coach and not necessarily his best friend. I don't need to be his best friend.
"I want to make him the best quarterback possible and we can get through relationships and all those type of things. We talked about the hits that he's had (24 sacks, last five games).
"Do we put him in a position of getting injured and is it worth the risk for the Washington Redskins and the future of our organization? That's what we're talking about.''
Shanahan said the reason he didn't name Griffin the starter after Sunday's loss was because he's weighing starting Cousins the remaining three games.
"I think he (Griffin) is 100 percent healthy. I think he's feeling very good where he's at right now,'' Shanahan said. "That's really part of the decision, the conversation what we're talking about is, 'Make sure that he's ready for our offseason program.'''
Yet after playing Griffin in a snow storm, he's considering benching Griffin when the 3-10 Redskins play inside the climate-controlled Georgia Dome on Sunday?
It sure sounded like a coach who is risking putting himself at further odds with his owner and franchise quarterback by setting the stage for a full-blown quarterback controversy.
With one year remaining on his five-year, $35-million contract, Shanahan hopes to be back in 2014.
"You always want to come back,'' Shanahan said. "I love these guys.
"What will happen at the end of the season, we'll get a chance, Dan and I, to sit down and decide. He'll make the final decision what's in the best interest of the Washington Redskins.
"I'll give my opinion what I think. Obviously, he'll make the final decision.''
Shanahan added he doesn't feel his players have quit on him. And he said Snyder has remained supportive.
"I'm not going to go into detail about our relationship,'' Shanahan said. "All I'm saying is I get along with Dan quite well.''
As for the ESPN.com report Sunday morning that Shanahan was ready to quit after last season and had packed up his office because he was upset about the preferential treatment Snyder gives Griffin, Shanahan didn't deny it for a second day.
He did say, however, there are always going to be rumors.
"When I read it they talked about me cleaning out my office. It'd take me two minutes to clean out my office. I've got two notebooks and I've got an iPad. That would get me out of my office.
"When I hear things like that I just shake my head."
Shanahan was asked about possible repercussions if he doesn't start Griffin.
"I've got to do what's best for the organization,'' he said. "If we feel the best thing is doing that for Robert, then, hopefully, Robert will understand why we're doing it.
"We're doing it because he's a franchise quarterback and we want him to be able to go into the offseason and get full preparations and be ready for next year rather than playing one of the next three games and all of a sudden he sets himself back with a possible injury, whatever that may be.''
Follow Jim Corbett on Twitter @ByJimCorbett