- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Back in the day, when Bobby Beathard was the Washington Redskins’ general manager and Joe Gibbs the coach, the delegation of duties was simple.

“Bobby was in charge of picking the guys, and I was pretty much responsible for who stayed,” Gibbs said last week.

During eight years (1981-88) under Beathard and Gibbs, the Redskins won two Super Bowls.

But since Gibbs returned to the Redskins in January 2004, the team hasn’t employed a general manager and certainly hasn’t appeared in the Super Bowl.

The team’s modus operandi comes into question again as the Redskins (5-9) play out the string on another disappointing season in which underachieving performances by expensive newcomers have been a hallmark.

“I like our process,” Gibbs said. “We have excellent people. I like that it’s not one person making the decisions, but it’s all of us working together. But I also think that when things don’t go well, you have to do a good job analyzing why and then taking the steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Those steps don’t appear to include any offseason changes to the front office, including the hiring of a general manager.

The current structure is: Owner Dan Snyder handles free agent contract negotiations; Gibbs serves as coach, president and public face of the team; and vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato supervises the personnel/scout operations.

Asked whether there could be some changing of responsibilities, Gibbs said, “That’s a ways off. I’m not really focused on that right now.”

No matter the approach, many mistakes have been made.

“I’m sure we made mistakes, and we have to address those,” Gibbs said. “We’re not afraid to change anything. We want to be progressive, go after things and not be afraid to change things if it helps fix things.

“When you get into a situation like this and a lot of things have been unproductive, you have to be a good student and learn from it.”

The Washington Times picks the most damaging personnel decisions made by the Redskins since Gibbs returned to the franchise two years ago:

1. Signing Adam Archuleta

What happened: The Redskins passed on a lower-cost player already proven in their system (Ryan Clark) and signed Archuleta to the richest contract for a safety in league history (seven years, $35 million).

Intended result: Not quite sure, which adds further mystery to the signing of Archuleta. Archuleta didn’t specialize in takeaways or pass coverage, so the guess is the Redskins wanted a player slightly more physical than Clark, who signed with Pittsburgh.

Actual result: An utter disaster. Archuleta lost his job in the starting lineup on the eve of the season opener but got it back after Pierson Prioleau injured his knee on the opening kickoff of that game. Archuleta started eight games, making 58 tackles and many mistakes, and was banished to the bench during a Week 9 victory over the Cowboys. He hasn’t played a defensive snap since.

2. Trading for Mark Brunell

What happened: In his first big personnel move, Gibbs traded a third-round pick to Jacksonville for the veteran quarterback and gave him a seven-year, $43 million contract. If the Redskins had waited another month, the Jaguars would have cut Brunell.

Intended result: Brunell, 33 at the time of the trade, would lead Gibbs’ offense with a manage-the-game, throw-few-interceptions, rely-on-the-rushers attitude and throw the occasional deep ball.

Actual result: A couple of big touchdown passes but not much else. Brunell was benched twice in three seasons, posted a 16-19 record as the starter (including 3-6 in 2004 and 2006) and threw 38 touchdown passes and 20 interceptions. When healthy, he rarely took chances in the passing game. When hurt, he couldn’t make some of the throws in Al Saunders’ offense.

3. Not re-signing Antonio Pierce

What happened: Pierce made 112 tackles for the Redskins in his first full chance as a starter in 2004, then signed a six-year, $26 million contract to play middle linebacker for the New York Giants.

Intended result: The Redskins evidently thought the system made the player and a lot of players could do the job. They moved Lemar Marshall into the middle linebacker spot.

Actual result: All anyone needs to know about this non-move is that Gibbs admits the team made a mistake in not retaining Pierce, who is now the heart of the Giants’ defense. Pierce was smart, his teammates trusted him and he was young (26 at the time of his departure) and an instant leader. Marshall played well last year, but he’s better suited to play outside linebacker.

4. Trading for Brandon Lloyd

What happened: The Redskins traded two draft picks — a third-rounder in 2006 and a fourth-rounder in 2007 — to San Francisco for Lloyd, who received a seven-year, $29 million extension.

Intended result: The Redskins had one deep threat (Santana Moss) last year and felt Lloyd, who averaged 15.3 yards a catch and had 12 catches of 20-plus yards, would open things up for Moss downfield.

Actual result: Lloyd has more Web sites (one) than touchdown catches (zero) this season. He has caught only 23 passes for 365 yards through 14 games. Part of his production problems are quarterback-related, and he has had a few more chances with Campbell as the starter. Still, Lloyd has not come even close to meeting expectations.

5. Trading Champ Bailey

What happened: Fed up with the franchise, Bailey told Gibbs he was done playing in the District. Bailey was traded with a second-round pick to Denver for running back Clinton Portis. Both players signed new deals — eight years and $50 million for Portis, seven years and $63 million for Bailey.

Intended result: The Redskins wanted a franchise running back to spearhead Gibbs’ offense, and they wanted to get value for Bailey.

Actual result: It’s hard to argue with Portis’ production — he gained 1,315 and 1,516 in his two full seasons with the Redskins. But 1,300-yard running backs are a lot easier to find than Hall of Fame cornerbacks. Bailey has picked off 19 passes for the Broncos. This deal tilted in Denver’s favor with the puzzling addition of a second-round pick, which turned out to be running back Tatum Bell. Bell could have been a good fit — and much more inexpensive than Portis — had the Redskins gone that route.

6. Not drafting Shawne Merriman

With the ninth pick in the 2005 draft, the Redskins chose cornerback Carlos Rogers, who would replace Fred Smoot (signed with Minnesota). While Rogers could develop into a solid pro, the Redskins could have boosted their pass-rush game by taking Shawne Merriman. The Maryland star went No. 12 to San Diego and has 221/2 career sacks.

7. Poorly addressing No. 3 CB

In 2004, the Redskins had the Shawn Springs-Smoot-Walt Harris cornerback setup, and last year Rogers replaced Smoot. Harris was released in March and signed with San Francisco, where he has six interceptions this season. The Redskins signed Kenny Wright and traded for Mike Rumph, but both have struggled. Couple that with Rogers’ sophomore slump and Springs’ injury problems and the pass defense has been dreadful.

8. Signing Andre Carter

Carter was signed to a seven-year contract worth more than $30 million this past offseason with the hope he could add a new dimension to the Redskins’ pass rush. Like several of the new Redskins, he wasn’t productive in the first half of the season. But he has rallied late, making 11 tackles against Atlanta and eight tackles against New Orleans. The amount of the contract makes this move questionable, though.

9. Not resolving kicker tumult

Gibbs stuck with John Hall two seasons too long. Hall’s production wasn’t the problem — he remains a reliable kicker. But he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. He missed big chunks of 2004-06 with injuries. Instead of giving him chance after chance and then scrambling to find a young kicker on short notice, the Redskins should have cut ties with Hall after the 2004 season. Shaun Suisham is the team’s fifth kicker since the start of the 2004 season.

10. Trading for T.J. Duckett

It was an act of utter desperation. Clinton Portis injured his shoulder against Cincinnati in the preseason opener. Ladell Betts was nursing a hamstring injury. And the Redskins traded a draft pick — probably a third-rounder — to Denver as part of a three-team deal to acquire Duckett. It isn’t Duckett’s fault that he never got a chance. The Redskins should have been more patient and waited until the end of the preseason to see what running backs had been released.

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