Dan Snyder’s NFL life is flashing before his eyes in the last few months of this interminable season. As his Redskins slide down the slippery slope to 2-14 (or thereabouts), they keep bumping into coaches who used to work for them - until, of course, they suddenly didn’t.
This is every owner’s worst nightmare… and now it’s Snyder’s. Indeed, it started last weekend, when his team lost to the Falcons - whose receivers coach, Terry Robiskie, was the Redskins’ interim coach for three games in 2000 before being dumped along with most of the staff.
On tap Sunday is a date with the Broncos - whose defensive coordinator, Mike Nolan, was fired by Snyder after the Redskins won the NFC East in 1999 (still Dan’s only division title).
In December, the currently undefeated Saints will be in town. Their D-coordinator is Gregg Williams, who got passed over for the head job here when Snyder fiddled and diddled with various candidates before settling on Jim Zorn.
The season wouldn’t be complete, though, without another reunion with Norv Turner, the first coach Snyder ran out of town. (See Robiskie. And when you’re done seeing Robiskie, see Nolan. That pretty much tells the tale of Turner’s ouster.) Norv is now commanding the Chargers, who host the Redskins in their Jan. 3 finale. With a playoff berth and/or division crown possibly at stake, San Diego doesn’t figure to pull any punches.
Wonder whether Dan will make the trip.
Yes, the Redskins’ descent from ‘99 division champs to ‘09 league laughingstocks has inflicted considerable collateral damage, left quite a few coaches scrambling for work. Not all of them, obviously, were irreplaceable - and some actually left of their own accord - but it’s amazing how regularly they’ve beaten Dan since their escape from the Ashburn loony bin.
Turner, for instance, is 3-0 against his old boss as an offensive coordinator (Chargers, Dolphins) and head coach (Raiders).
Marvin Lewis, who left to take the top job in Cincinnati after just a year as the Redskins’ D-coordinator (2002), is 2-0 against Snyder.
Al Saunders, orchestrator of Gibbs’ offense in 2006 and ‘07, came back last season with the Rams and made off with a 19-17 victory. That’s right; Saunders’ club won only two games all year, but one of them was at the expense of his former employer.
That’s the thing about these erstwhile Redskins coaches. They haven’t just repaid Snyder with losses; they’ve repaid him with excruciating losses. Take Ray Rhodes, the defensive coordinator in 2000. He was with the Seahawks when they knocked the Redskins out of the playoffs in ‘05 and ‘07. Double ouch.
Actually, a worse defeat than those two - probably the worst of the bunch, really - was the one against Turner’s 2005 Raiders at FedEx Field. That, remember, was an Oakland team that finished 4-12 - and a Washington team that earned a wild-card berth at 10-6. More horrifying still, Norv’s O-coordinator was Jimmy Raye, architect of the Redskins’ sleeping pill of an offense in ‘01 (the year Marty Schottenheimer ran the show). Hell hath no fury like a coach scorned.
Speaking of Schottenheimer, whom Snyder sent packing after just one season, he got only one shot at revenge after leaving Washington but made it count by coaching the Chargers to a win at FedEx in ‘05. Meanwhile, his brother Kurt, who ran the defense for him here, went 2-1 against the Redskins after hooking on with the Packers and Rams.
Hardly a season goes by, it seems, that Snyder isn’t tormented by at least one Ghost of Coaches Past. Some would say it’s only fitting, a classic case of “what goes around comes around.”
After all, Greg Blache may not be aware of this, but Dan didn’t always spoil his defensive coordinators with expensive shotguns. In ‘99, in fact, when the Redskins’ defense was struggling, Nolan returned to his office to find three canisters of melting ice cream. (The owner’s not-so-subtle message: “I do not like vanilla [defenses].”) Later that year, Snyder gifted Nolan with a defensive adviser, Bill Arnsparger - undercutting him in much the same way Zorn has been neutered by Sherm Lewis.