WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — You know what’s worse than losing? Helplessly watching the same story play out year after year. We are trapped in a twisted version of Groundhog Day with no Bill Murray to take the edge off. Redskins fans took in the bye week wondering what could have been for their 3-6 squad. The feeling may seem familiar to you because this is the fourth year in a row the Skins have started 3-6.
A team’s record doesn’t always paint the entire picture, but when that record repeats for the entire length of a presidential term, it is time to take a step back and assess the situation. Skins fans were on the verge of taking that step back to reflect just three weeks ago at 2-5 heading into Dallas. It looked all but certain that the remainder of the season would be played in “evaluation mode” but then the team pulled us right back in. Being the suckers we are we took the bait and assured ourselves that we could be sitting at 5-5 with a healthy, rejuvenated RG3, ready for a playoff run.
Now the questions have shifted back to whether RG3 is the quarterback of the future and which moving company Jim Haslett will choose in January. Maybe Bacarri Rambo can help him pack; on second thought I don’t think he could tackle that task, he’d probably leave all the boxes wide open.
All shtick aside, there is no quick fix for this team. We are not one or two missing pieces away. You are fooling yourself if you think we are. Unless we want to spend the remainder of the decade dreaming up off-season wish lists by the second week of November each year, fundamental changes need to be made within the organization.
Do I think these changes will occur? Absolutely not. I have watched too many versions of this debacle play out over the past 15 years to believe that real change is possible. Don’t fall for the window dressing. The Washington Redskins organization is cancerous from the top down. However, a boy can dream!
If I woke up tomorrow and I was Dan Snyder, I would first take a swim in my money vault, a la Scrooge McDuck, then I’d fill my stomach with a delicious dinosaur egg omelet, and finally I’d roll up my little sleeves and get to work on saving this franchise and my reputation. Here’s how I’d do it.
Rich and successful people have five-point plans. This would be mine:
1. Turn the Redskins back into a football franchise rather than Snyder Communications Corporation.
Wake up people; we haven’t been a football team since 1999. We are a communications corporation. No headline is a bad one in Dan Snyder’s eyes. Name controversy, quarterback controversy, locker room blow-ups; somehow the Redskins find a way to stay relevant on a national level even on their bye week. Which 3-6 teams can boast that? The reason, you ask? Dan Snyder made his billions running communications companies. He knows nothing else. From the years of playing “fantasy football” with washed-up talent like Deion Sanders and Bruce Smith to the coddling of RG3, all of it can be attributed to the way Dan Snyder runs this circus. And you have to tip your cap to him, even with plummeting ticket sales, a laughable stadium, and widespread public criticism; he manages to turn a huge profit every year.
Further fueling the fire, his right-hand man is the brother of two huge politicians. He’s perfectly suited for his current position. When you follow the Redskins, don’t you feel like you are watching a political campaign that will never end?
I could go on ad nauseam, but the bottom-line is that we need some separation of powers within the franchise; otherwise we will continue to erode from the top down. This brings me to my next point of emphasis.
2. Don’t fire the coach, for once.
I don’t know if Jay Gruden is the guy or not but regardless of how his first couple seasons conclude, let’s give him a chance to right the ship. I can’t remember the last Skins coach to see his contract through to fruition. As we speak, Shanny is sipping pina coladas on Dan Snyder’s dime. There is something to be said for consistency in this league. Players thrive in systems that are stabilized. Sure, many players play well regardless of the system but when you clean house every three years, a coach is inheriting someone else’s chess pieces.
Unless we want to rebuild indefinitely and continue to hear the excuse that the “players are learning a new system” each year we need to stabilize and that starts with the head coach.
3. Hire a new GM or add an Assistant GM with an emphasis on scouting.
Another reason why this team continues to teeter between mediocre and terrible each year is because they scout poorly. Elite teams have excellent rosters with playmakers and have solid depth at almost every position, especially the offensive and defensive lines. We have less than a handful of playmakers and a roster filled with guys who would merely provide depth on most teams. This team is perpetually one injury away from dropping from “serviceable” to “liability” at any given position.
You find these players with a talented front office.
Instead of backing up the Brinks truck for yet another head coach, how about we go out and target someone like Ozzie Newsome or John Schneider to help build this team the right way? Okay, maybe that’s a little too ambitious. GMs don’t just jump ship; especially not to become a yes-man for me, I mean Snyder.
So what if you can’t get Schneider or Newsome. Finding the next great GM can’t be rocket science. For starters let’s look at teams that have drafted well over the past five seasons: Patriots, Seahawks, Broncos, Saints, Ravens, and Dolphins. Out of that group, use your henchmen to figure out who the real brains behind those decisions were. The henchmen could probably use a change of pace from shaking down local reporters and putting gag orders on newspapers anyway. There has to be a Billy Beane of football out there somewhere. Find him. It took me two minutes to Google this. There’s your starting point.
4. Delay the extension of RG3’s contract.
Even the biggest RG3 proponents can’t say they are 100% confident that he is capable of winning a Super Bowl. Sure, RG3 is my investment, I mean buddy, and I want him to succeed more than anyone but ultimately, if I am Dan Snyder, I have to ask myself whether I want to mortgage five more years on him. He needs to prove himself. I roll the dice and let him play next year without a new contract. If he succeeds, pay the man his money; if he looks like quarterback he has been the past 18 months, happy trails.
While we’re at it, no more special relationships between owner and player(s). It is poor form and absolutely no good can come from it. Besides, you are cool enough on your own, Dan.
Back to the point, this is a team that gave $11.5M to Brian Orakpo to continue a foregone evaluation. What harm is there in the same strategy with RG3? The only way he can justify a rich contract is by killing it on the field. Is RG3 going to “lose the locker room” without the vote of confidence of a long term deal? Maybe we should ask DeSean Jackson.
5. Horde draft picks.
The last part of my five-point plan. While watching the Packers rip the Bears limb from limb the other night, the announcers dropped a fact that blew my mind (especially as a Skins fan). On the entire Packers roster they have a grand total of five players who have played for another NFL team in their careers. That is the definition of how you build prolonged success in the NFL, homegrown, lasting success. A stud quarterback doesn’t hurt.
We are the anti-Packers; instead of the fans owning the team, this franchise owns its fans in the cruelest way. We suffer for our blind loyalty. End the suffering, horde draft picks, build from within. In the words of Chad Dukes, “If you are going to fail, fail with a purpose.”
Coach Gruden can continue to tell us that this team is “only a few plays from being 7-2” but he’s not fooling us. We’ve been here before. If true change is ever going to take place with this franchise it is going to take more than a few plays here or there, it will take a philosophical revolution and some patience. Will any of us live long enough to see that? God, help us.
Follow Patrick on Twitter @RubGun and send your e-mail, questions and topic suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.