- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 1, 2003

The new year promises to be as bad as the old year and the one before that and …
The Washington Redskins missed the playoffs for the ninth time in 10 years since Joe Gibbs' retirement. They're making the former coach look more and more like a legend. Maybe he really was Vince Lombardi.
The Redskins have an owner who would be a bad fantasy league boss, a front office that can't go in one direction for more than five minutes, a coach who's still learning the pro game and a defensive coordinator so desperate to get out that even Cincinnati looks good.
The Monday Morning Quarterback offers some season-ending suggestions.

Q: Get to the good stuff. What's the Redskins' record next season? Super Bowl? Playoffs?
A: Holy hangover. Put another ice bag on your head because the Redskins will be lucky to reach 6-10 in 2003.

Q: You're just being mean. What's the matter? No one to kiss on New Year's Eve?
A: Speak for yourself, cup-of-cheer breath. Let's go through the schedule. At home, Washington will beat Dallas, the New York Giants and Seattle and lose to Philadelphia, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, New England and the New York Jets. That's 3-5. Away, Washington loses to Dallas, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Buffalo and Miami and beats Carolina and Chicago for 2-6. That's 5-11 overall.

Q: How can you say 5-11? Spurrier will be better the second time. So will quarterback Patrick Ramsey.
A: The only wiggle room is maybe catching Buffalo, Miami and New Orleans at weaker moments in the schedule. That's why we'll predict 6-10 by factoring one of those games as a win.

Q: Why has a franchise, once among the NFL's best, become one of the worst?
A: The front office has been horrible since the arrival of owner Dan Snyder in 1999 and doesn't promise to improve. The Redskins overspend for aging players, overstock at the wrong positions and can't evaluate talent effectively. Snyder admitted he was wrong in firing general manager Charley Casserly in 1999, but he has not found good football people to replace Casserly and his scouting staff.

Q: So you're blaming the owner for everything again? Is it really that simple?
A: No, but everything flows from the top. The organization was stripped of its winning tradition under Snyder and didn't know how to rebuild. Jack Kent Cooke was the perfect owner because he hired good football people and left it to them. Cooke was demanding and not easy to work for, but he did the right thing by keeping his office outside Redskin Park and staying out of the way. He didn't lust after marquee names and take them to dinner and basketball games. Cooke let Bobby Beathard and Casserly find the right players and simply approved the big checks. That's the right way to build a franchise. Undermining coaches and signing players not wanted by the staff (i.e. QB Jeff George) is not the way to build.

Q: But can't the front office make good decisions to supply the needed talent?
A: When Deion Sanders wanted to play for Oakland, one team official incorrectly told ESPN the Redskins didn't even own his rights and Snyder was talking trade with the Raiders even though the trade deadline already passed. Talk about your dysfunctional organizations. Snyder, according to team sources, let Sanders go to prevent him from badmouthing the owner on national television.

Q: How much difference will Spurrier make if he becomes a part of personnel decisions?
A: It can't hurt, but Spurrier isn't the type to spend weeks researching college defensive tackles. He'll basically push for positions he wants filled. It's nice input, but won't make a big difference.

Q: What do the Redskins need to obtain over the coming months to make them a contender?
A: Kicker, receiver, guard, defensive tackle, punter, returner and safety. The Redskins special teams were awful this year in every aspect. The team needs one receiver, maybe two guards and a defensive tackle as starters. They'll have to be smart with the 13th selection, and an impact receiver or tackle could be taken there.

Q: Will Spurrier revamp the offense or try to throw 60 passes a game next year?
A: Spurrier learned the value of running late in the season so he'll probably go 60 percent passing next year. That's still the highest percentage in 15 years, but not unreasonable. Ladell Betts is clearly the best runner, but Kenny Watson makes it a nice combination. The offense can improve greatly, but it will mostly depend on Ramsey's maturation in year two.

Q: Hey, fat boy. What's this we hear you're leaving the Redskins beat?
A: After 10 years, five coaches, three general managers, two owners and one heart attack, the Monday Morning Quarterback is going to cover Maryland basketball and football. The Redskins were 68-91-1 in those 10 years, but at least it was never dull.

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