- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 24, 2011

You know what the Redskins need most right now, more than a quarterback or a nose tackle or an owner with a clue? They need to get lucky.

They need their first-round draft pick, 10th overall, to have a better career than the nine players taken before him — if not the best in the entire 2011 class.

They need to stumble across a steal in the later rounds — a Pro Bowler in Mr. Irrelevant clothing.

They need to hit on every free agent signing (whenever free agency comes, that is), avoid injury the way Tom Brady avoids interceptions and find themselves with a much cushier schedule next season than anyone imagined.

Too much to hope for? Undoubtedly. But it’s hard to see the Redskins making major progress in the coming months unless they begin to catch at least a few breaks. After all, we’re still not sure who their starting QB will be in September, and the bloom is definitely off Mike Shanahan, whose facility with X’s and O’s has been undermined by his second-guessable personnel decisions.

Granted, “getting lucky” isn’t much of a plan, but the Redskins’ other plans, if you want to call them that, haven’t borne much fruit in the past 18 years. Good fortune, it would seem, is their last resort, their Hail Mary. Trouble is, it’s been in critically short supply in Ashburn — as we were reminded back in February when Brandon Banks was injured in a stabbing outside a D.C. nightclub and Albert Haynesworth was charged with assaulting another driver in what police say was a road-rage incident.

You make your own luck, sure. And there’s no denying many of the Redskins’ problems are self-inflicted. On the other hand, the organization hasn’t exactly been awash in Good Karma. Banks’ brush with death, let’s not forget, came barely three years after Sean Taylor was murdered in his Florida home.

Beyond those horrors, there’s a lengthy reel of lowlights — such as the bungled extra-point try that cost the Redskins the Tampa Bay game last season. So it has gone in the Dan Snyder Era (and even, in some instances, the last years of the Cooke Golden Age.).

The lockout is more bad news for the Redskins — and every other struggling club. Not only has it postponed free agency, it has made it more difficult across the board to rebuild and improve. Coaches need minicamps, OTAs and a full preseason to indoctrinate new players; but if a deal isn’t struck until August, as many are predicting, rosters might have to be thrown together on the fly. For a team like the Redskins, a team looking to overhaul its depth chart (again), it could set their timetable back a year.

We tend to forget some of the fortuitous things that happened to the Redskins back when they were winning Super Bowls. Heck, the whole John Riggins phenomenon might never have occurred if Joe Gibbs had traded him, as he was thinking of doing, when Riggins returned from a yearlong holdout in 1982. (Riggo killed the idea by demanding a no-trade clause.) And how about Doug Williams’ magical postseason run in 1987? The guy was supposed to be Jay Schroeder’s backup, nothing more — and winds up the Super Bowl MVP.

Joe Jacoby and Jeff Bostic, two of the glorious Hogs, weren’t even drafted. (Gibbs originally mistook the mountainous Jacoby for a defensive lineman.) Joe Theismann and Mike Nelms, the kick returner extraordinaire, were refugees from the CFL. Some of it was the genius of then-general manager Bobby Beathard, and some of it — there’s no getting around it — was pure luck, beyond anyone’s calculation.

The Redskins could sure use that kind of luck now. They could stand to find another Russ Grimm or Charles Mann in the third round of the draft. (Too bad they don’t have a third-round pick this year.) And it would be swell if they could get for their unwanted quarterback, Donovan McNabb, what they got for Schroeder once upon a time (All-Pro offensive tackle Jim Lachey). Not much chance of that, though.

It’s better, they say, to be lucky than good, and the Redskins have failed miserably at being good in recent years. They’ve spent a fortune on free agents, traded draft picks as if they were after-dinner mints and changed coaches as often as the rest of us change our oil — all for naught. Luck, at his point, may be their only salvation. Blind luck, dumb luck, Andrew Luck — any kind will do.