Saturday, December 11, 2010
It was recently suggested to me that the Redskins might be in for a lengthy rebuilding project. I won't disagree but this person said it could be 6-10 years. That's ridiculous.
This isn't the MLB, we don't need to wait 3-4 years for rookies to work their way through the minors. In the NFL even the worst team in the league could become a contender in 3 seasons with competent management.
Every season you're going to get 7 draft picks and a chance to sign free agents in addition to the top talent on even the worst rosters. I firmly believe that with a consistent approach to team building you can turn a moribund franchise into a division winner in just a few years.
The reason teams wallow in mediocrity is because of poor management. There are a lot of teams without a strong personnel figure. It's usually an over matched coach trying to make roster decisions on top of his coaching duties or a committee of people with no central figure. Not having a strong GM would be laughable in any other sport, yet in football, it's commonplace.
Other reasons are lack of patience. The NFL truly does stand for "Not For Long." You go through the trouble of hiring a coach or a GM. There's a lengthy selection process, you hold a press conference... then you usually give him 1-2 seasons and if you're not 100% satisfied. They're gone. Look at the Redskins last few coaches:
2001 Marty Schottenheimer Coach Marty had a plan in place, get rid of the high priced veterans who weren't contributing to his system and start building a team of players who fit his style of play. In many ways he may have had the most vision of any coach we've had in the Snyder era. He was fired after the season because Dan Snyder is a brat who grew impatient and didn't like the way Marty was handling his new toy.
2002-2003 Steve Spurrier This was a case of bad management. Spurrier had a history of churning out sub average professionals at Florida so whatever convinced Snyder he was a NFL coach is beyond me. It failed spectacularly. Spurrier's draft picks were busts, he brought in Florida re-treads and generally had no idea of how to build a professional team.
2004-2007 Joe Gibbs Gibbs did help bring some credibility back to the team in his second term... but mostly because he couldn't have done any worse than Spurrier. He made several questionable moves in the personnel department, including his first act as head coach. Shipping a 3rd rounder for the soon to be released Mark Brunell. Gibbs/Cerrato and others in the front office were unable to build a deep team that was capable of consistent success in the NFL and their pick of Jason Campbell (second 1st round QB selected by the Skins in 3 years) was a flop... either because of lack of talent around him or his just being terrible. Depends on who you ask. Ultimately Gibbs II was a failure and he failed to have a consistent approach to building a winner.
2008-2009 Jim Zorn The story is that Zorn was going to be hired on as Jim Fassel's offensive coordinator but that Snyder bowed to fan pressure and passed on Fassel. If that was truly the case... and I believe it is, then that's just another example of horrible management. Fassel seemed to be a great candidate to me, but instead we thrust a weak QB coach in there who had never ran an NFL offense before, much less an entire team. This also gave a lot more personnel control to Vinny Cerrato and both drafts in this era were near disasters for the Redskins. Only 7 out of 16 players drafted in 2008 and 2009 are still with the team, and only one (Orakpo) has made any real impact. This period was a disaster for the Skins.
Which all brings us to Mike Shanahan. The Redskins were a bloody mess when he got here. He has traded too many picks IMO and made the team older, but Rome wasn't built in a day. He may be the one who's capable of building this team along with Allen. When Shanahan went to Denver in 1995 the team was not great. They had John Elway, Shannon Sharpe and Gary Zimmerman on offense. Shanny drafted Terrell Davis, promoted Tom Nalen, signed Mark Schlereth, Ed McCaffrey and others. He even signed star wideout Rod Smith as an undrafted free agent.
By 1996 the Broncos had gone 13-3. They won the Super Bowl in '97 and '98. This guy knows teambuilding. I can't say we're going to have a turnaround that's this fast... but it appears we're on the right path.