Wednesday, November 17, 2010

1998: What If?

I might dwell in the past too much, but after a loss like Monday night's 59-28 drubbing I think it's fun to wonder how things might have been different if the Cooke family had retained control of the Redskins in 1998 and Daniel Snyder stayed far, far away.

It's well documented that Jack Kent Cooke allowed the Redskins to be auctioned off so he could free up money for the Jack Kent Cooke foundation. His son, John Kent Cooke's big of approximately $750 million just wasn't enough to edge out Snyder who bested him by $50 million dollars. We can't be sure of how John would have run the team, but we can be confident in a couple things:

1.) The Redskins would not have fired Norv Turner when they did.

Last year, John Kent Cooke said: "We were rebuilding the club with Norv Turner. You talk about continuity, but it's not just continuity, it's patience. You got to give a guy a chance. And the mistake that Snyder made is that he got rid of Norv too soon."

Now, Norv Turner isn't great, he's bounced around the league quite a bit, but he's a respected football man who's been head coach of three different teams. In addition, he's the last coach of the Redskins to last more than 4 seasons. He would have given us continuity and been a decent choice to manage a rebuilding project.

2.) Charlie Casserly would have remained General Manager.

Casserly was replaced by some unholy combination of Vinny Cerrato and Dan Snyder himself. After his dismissal, Charlie Casserly was selected to run the expansion Houston Texans. The man had made some mistakes with high draft picks, but Casserly was a veteran personnel man who was helping to rebuild the Redskins. He had gotten Trent Green as a backup, drafted Stephen Davis, signed Terry Allen, signed Ken Harvey, etc.

He was a real general manager who would have been working with a patient new owner managing a rebuilding project. The next year he would work the draft masterfully getting Champ Bailey and Jon Jansen with his first two picks. He may or may not have still drafted Chris Samuels in 2000 although it's likely because Samuels was the consensus pick for top offensive tackle, which we badly needed. It's quite possible we would have had Casserly working with this excellent young base of talent instead of Snyder and Cerrato who obviously had no idea how to build a successful franchise.

3.) Trent Green would have stayed in Washington.

In 1998, the Redskins went 6-10 but there was some cause for optimism. Quarterback Trent Green had worked his way up the depth chart and assumed the starting job. He threw for 3,441 yards, 23 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions. At 28, he was still young, and had three year's experience in Turner's system.  It seemed we had a possible franchise quarterback on our hands.

After the 1998 season the Redskins were undergoing an upheaval and possible ownership change. They offered Trent Green a 4 year 12 million dollar contract. Green signed with St. Louis for just 4.5 million more. If the Redskins had remained under control of the Cooke family, it's likely they would have been able to match that offer. It didn't work out well for the Rams but Green blossomed into an elite quarterback, and two time pro bowler with the Kansas City Chiefs.


The Redskins would likely have opened 1999 with Green at quarterback surrounded by players like Brian Mitchell, Stephen Davis, Larry Centers, Steven Alexander, Albert Connel, Michael Westbrook, Brad Badger, Tre' Johnson, Andy Heck, Keith Simms, Cory Raymer, Kenard Lang, Dan Wilkinson, Dana Stubblefield, Derek Smith, Marvcus Patton, Darrell Green, Chris Dishman, Champ Bailey... we even had a pro-bowl punter and a future all pro kicker on the roster. That was a good combination of youth and experience and a fine foundation to build on.

We don't know how much better John Kent Cooke, Charlie Casserly, Norv Turner, and Trent Green could have made this franchise, but I don't think there's much doubt it would have been in better hands.

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