- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 19, 2002

What the Redskins need most right now isn't a quarterback or a win, it's a plan. And not a plan that's going to be superseded by another plan next week or next month; a long-term plan for making the team better and, hopefully, getting it back in the playoffs.

At this point, the Redskins don't seem to know what a plan is. Yesterday, for instance, Steve Spurrier outlined his new strategy for reviving his moribund offense: Shane Matthews, his off-and-on starting quarterback, was headed back to the bench, and Danny Wuerffel and Patrick Ramsey were going to be given a chance to show what they could do. Heck, the Ball Coach said, maybe we'll play them each a half. "Anyway, that's our plan right now."

Plan? That's not a plan. That's just throwing darts at a board. A plan, a real plan, involves making a decision that is, settling on one guy and then sticking with him. For the long haul.

The problem, of course, is that the Redskins might not have that quarterback yet. And if they don't, well, it's simply a failure of planning, a failure to recognize in the offseason that Matthews and Wuerffel weren't good enough to cut it and that Ramsey was too young to cut it. If there's been one constant during the Dan Snyder years, it's been the lack of a plan, of an overriding vision. Coaches come, coaches go, quarterbacks come, quarterbacks go, front-office people come, front-office people go, and nothing ever gets better. The Redskins were 8-8 two years ago, 8-8 last year, and could well finish 8-8 again this year, though they're 4-6 now.

Which is why it behooves Snyder if he's capable of being behooved to spend these next six weeks figuring out what to do next, figuring out how not to spend another season spinning his wheels, going nowhere. Spurrier says, "We're not conceding anything. … We've still got a fighting chance [to make the playoffs]," but let's not kid ourselves. The Redskins' postseason possibilities are pretty remote unless a bunch more NFC quarterbacks break their ankles. The organization would be much better served if it spent the last six games deciding which players should be here next year and which shouldn't, deciding what its needs are and how they should be addressed, deciding on A Plan.

Snyder has always known where he wanted to take the Redskins: to the Super Bowl. He just hasn't known how to do it. He thought the way to do it was to collect name players like Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith and Jeff George. But that, obviously, didn't work out. His most recent brainstorm was to hire name coaches like Spurrier and Marvin Lewis. But that hasn't produced the expected results, either at least, not so far.

What's been missing, amid all these false starts, has been A Plan, a Master Plan even. In its place, the Redskins have had a series of Mini Plans. The owner would get an itch, and he would scratch it like signing Jeremiah Trotter for $5million when the club had so many other needs. (One lesson Snyder still hasn't learned is that sometimes it makes more sense to spend your money on two good players, or three decent ones, instead of one great one.)

The Redskins have everything a franchise needs to be successful. They have a large and loyal fan base. They have the biggest stadium in the league. They bring in the most revenue. They have all these things going for them that other clubs don't have and yet they're behind these clubs in the standings. Why? Because they lack direction. Because they lack A Plan. Because they lack somebody who can tell Spurrier, "You need a better quarterback to make this offense go. You need better receivers. I'm going to get them for you."

The Redskins don't have that somebody. Snyder doesn't know what the team needs, and Joe Mendes apparently doesn't wield that kind of clout. And unless Dan the Man talks Ron Wolf out of retirement a move I'd strongly recommend, by the way there's no reason to think things are going to change. The Redskins are going to continue to be a club with some nice parts (LaVar Arrington, Champ Bailey, Chris Samuels, etc.) that never really accomplishes much.

Do the Redskins have any idea how they're going to fill the right tackle spot if Jon Jansen walks after this season? Do they know what they want to do at the running back position if Stephen Davis doesn't return? Or are they just going to wing it in the offseason like they always seem to? They need to start thinking ahead. They need A Plan. And they had darn well better come up with one between now and January.


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