Reporting David Elfin
On Monday, injured tight end Chris Cooley expressed his frustrations with Redskins fans who simultaneously clamor for long-term stability and short-term change.
“Our fan base hates (owner Dan Snyder) because he can’t ever keep a coach, he’ll never keep players, he’ll never keep guys around, it’s like a fantasy football team to him,” Cooley told LaVar and Dukes on 106.7 The Fan. “But then everyone calls in and says we gotta get rid of (offensive coordinator) Kyle Shanahan, we gotta get rid of (coach) Mike Shanahan, we gotta trade Chris Cooley. I hate it. What we’ve gotta do is keep consistency over a period of time and continue to try to build.”
Cooley, a 2004 draft pick who’s second in seniority on the Redskins to backup fullback Mike Sellers isn’t the only veteran Redskin thinking about the fans, who’ve had just one chance to cheer their team live since Week 2. That was one victory, four defeats and a bye week ago.
“I know it’s disappointing to the fans, but it’s disappointing to us, too,” sixth-year defensive end Kedric Golston said as the reeling (3-4) Redskins prepared to play host to the surging San Francisco 49ers (6-1) on Sunday. “This is our job. We know what we’re doing wrong. We just need to go out there and fix it.”
The trouble is, as Cooley said, Snyder’s way of fixing things is like that of Alice In Wonderland’s Red Queen, who was always screaming,“Off with their heads.”
Predecessor Jack Kent Cooke employed just four head coaches during his 18 seasons as Washington’s owner: Jack Pardee (whom he inherited); Joe Gibbs; Richie Petitbon (a near-emergency promotion after Gibbs’ stunning retirement in March 1993) and Norv Turner.
Snyder matched that total in his first 30 months: Turner (whom he inherited); interim successor Terry Robiskie; Marty Schottenheimer and Steve Spurrier. After 10-1/2 years in command, Snyder was onto his seventh coach with Shanahan following Gibbs 2.0 and Jim Zorn.
Of course, Snyder hasn’t just kept the door revolving with head coaches. Jim Haslett is his eighth defensive coordinator in 13 seasons. Cooke employed just three in 18: Doc Urich, Petitbon and Ron Lynn.
And while free agency, which hit the NFL in 1993 when Cooke still had four seasons left in command, has greatly impacted player mobility, it doesn’t fully explain why he had just six quarterbacks who started at least six games for the Redskins while if John Beck opens the next four, he’ll be Snyder’s 10th similarly-tenured quarterback in almost 50 percent fewer contests.
Indianapolis has only started Peyton Manning in as many as six games since Snyder took control in Washington in 1999. New England has started Drew Bledsoe, Tom Brady and Matt Cassel (when Brady was hurt in 2008). Green Bay has started Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Pittsburgh has started Kordell Stewart, Tommy Maddox, Ben Roethlisberger and Charlie Batch. The New York Giants have started Kent Graham, Kerry Collins, Kurt Warner and Eli Manning.
Those five teams have won eight of the 12 Super Bowls during the Snyder era. Coincidence? You be the judge.
The bottom lines on the last two Redskins owners:
Cooke — 172-113 including the three Super Bowl trophies that are beginning to seem like ancient relics in the Redskins Park lobby.
Snyder – 91-113 with two playoff victories.
Same number of defeats, nearly twice as many victories and easily twice as much chaos. And in football, a sports where discipline and chemistry are critical, the only good chaos is the one in Cooley’s “Captain Chaos” nickname.
David Elfin has covered sports since he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in 1975. He is the Washington representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and is the author of the new book: “Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History.” A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan during the 2010 Redskins season, he returned to the station as its blogger in March.