- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 2, 2003

What do I think of the Redskins’ crashing and burning this season? What do I really, really think? OK, here’s what I really, really think:

1. I think they should consider themselves lucky. As another writer reminded me Sunday night, “If the Jets had had Chad Pennington and the Falcons had had Michael Vick, the Redskins would be 2-10.”

2. I think the problem at Redskin Park is … everything. Players aren’t playing well enough, coaches aren’t coaching well enough and management isn’t managing well enough. A lot of cooks are spoiling this stew, not just one or two.

3. I think the Redskins should be required to make the playoffs before anybody in the organization utters the word “playoffs” again.

4. In fact, I think the Maryland legislature should pass a law to that effect.

5. I think I know now what it was like to live in 17th century France. Or is it stretching things to compare Louis XIV, who inherited the throne as a toddler (and ruled forever), to Dan Snyder, who bought the Redskins at 35 (and is threatening to own them forever)?

6. I think Steve Spurrier would have more credibility with his players — and so would his system — if the Redskins had been able to win more than two games in a row the past two seasons. The Redskins won five straight, I’ll just point out, under Marty Schottenheimer in 2001 and five straight under Norv Turner the year before (preceded by streaks of four in ‘99, four in ‘98 and seven in ‘96). When you can’t put a decent run together, it suggests that what you’re doing doesn’t really work.

7. I think most of the major issues confronting the Redskins were identifiable back in training camp (and were written about extensively in this newspaper). When you replace Stephen Davis with Trung Canidate, Darryl Gardener with Whoever and a seasoned defensive coordinator (Marvin Lewis) with the least experienced one in the league (George Edwards), you’re asking for trouble.

8. I think the Redskins are a largely destructive force in the NFL. They damage a good Jets team by signing four of their players, but — and this is unbelievable — the players don’t make the Redskins any better.

9. I think Spurrier doesn’t understand the concept of offensive balance. Offensive balance doesn’t mean calling an equal number of running and passing plays each week. It means having the ability to both run and pass effectively — so you can take advantage of an opponent’s weakness. The Saints game was a classic example. The Redskins were facing a club that was ranked 27th in rushing defense and ninth in passing defense. So what does the Ball Coach do? He calls 45 passes (three of which resulted in Tim Hasselbeck scrambles) and 23 runs. It should have been the other way around.

10. I think Hasselbeck is Danny Wuerffel with more mobility.

11. I think Snyder and Vinny Cerrato’s roster moves during the season have been shaky, to say the least. First they sign tight end Byron Chamberlain — only to discover that there’s no place in the offense for him (which is why he’s been lounging on the inactive list). Then they add a couple of dubious characters, defensive tackle Darrell Russell and offensive tackle Kenyatta Jones, to a team that already has chemistry concerns. This is how you build a winner?

12. I think if the Redskins are successful at all under Snyder, it will be an accident — kind of like the Cardinals sneaking into the playoffs in ‘98. The club simply lacks the structure to win long term. The owner is too involved with personnel matters, there’s no strong GM, and the current coaching staff appears out of its depth.

13. I think Snyder has little to risk by changing coaches again after the season. Continuity is overrated, if you ask me. Continuity is only important if you’ve got something you want to keep. Besides, if a team can find the right guy — and Spurrier has given no indication of being the right guy — it can turn it around in a hurry. Look at Bill Parcells in Dallas. Look at Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati. Look at Jon Gruden last year in Tampa. Rebuilding jobs don’t have to take two or three seasons if there’s a reasonable amount of talent on hand.

14. That said, I think it’s going to become harder and harder for Snyder to hire the Right Guy, because he has a track record now — one that speaks loudly. Oh, sure, somebody will always jump at the money, but will it be the best candidate or someone further down the list?

15. I think if Dan the Man is looking for a business model, he should check out the Patriots or Eagles. The owners of those franchises are very careful about who they give big contracts to. The Pats said goodbye to Lawyer Milloy this season — and may do the same to Ty Law next — and have lived to tell about it. Philly, meanwhile, bid adieu to Hugh Douglas and Shawn Barber, found less expensive fill-ins, and remains formidable. It might be time for Snyder to consider whether LaVar Arrington, Chris Samuels and Champ Bailey (assuming he’s retained) should be occupying so much of the club’s cap space. Is one LaVar worth, say, three starters?

16. I think none of these thoughts will have any impact on the running of the Redskins. Snyder is who he is. And if he hasn’t figured it out by now, he probably never will.

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