Since I’m based in the DC metro area, people from all over the country ask me to explain what has happened to the once mighty football team. Although I’m not as much of a football fan as I once was, I will give it a shot…
First of all, the team has not been any better than mediocre for at least ten years, experiencing several coaching changes, when the real problem is the owner. Simply put, Danny Snyder is running his organization as if it were a fantasy football team. As such, he uses his considerable wealth to snag the “best available talent” at any given time, without any regard for what is needed by the team.
The latest example, of course, is the extravagant signing of defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. The issue is not so much whether Haynesworth is actually worth the $100 million contract he received, rather it is that the team had pressing needs other than defense. In fact, the defense is one of the few elements of this team that is any good.
The offensive line is third rate, and given this problem, the offense is doomed. Far too many of the skill guys on offense are past their prime, so why blame the young quarterback or the coach? Besides, this whole coach thing is mostly a crock.
Joe Gibbs was a genius when he had the Hogs and John Riggins, but in his second incarnation with the Skins—and considerably less talent—he couldn’t build a winner. The same is true for just about any recent “genius” coach, including Bill Walsh. These guys all tend to win with good teams and perform considerably less well with weaker teams. I submit that the coach MIGHT make a difference in high school, but not because he has any particular unique talent of “making the team play better.” Rather, he is a master of playing the system.
A great example is the legendary Steve Grady, coach of Loyola High School’s team (in Los Angeles) for 29 years. Grady is much revered for guiding his Cubs to four Southern Section Division I championships, and playoff appearances in 28 of his 29 seasons. This is a prodigious accomplishment given the sheer number of schools involved and the high level of competition.
How did he do it year after year? Easy. Grady put together a huge offensive line (most of which doubled as the D-line), installed a sturdy quarterback, and saw to it that most of the plays were hand-offs to a sure-handed solid and non-flashy running back. Passes were infrequent, and because of this usually succeeded. His defenses were pretty basic, and took advantage of the fact that most of the dumb jock coaches he played against would try in vain to run his (Grady’s) smash mouth offense against him, and this nearly always failed.
When Loyola lost, which was not very often, it would be to teams with exceptional talent and/or size.
Back to the Skins, there is the matter of play calling. This, too, is overrated, and I will tell you why. Let’s say that it’s third and eight, and I call a play that goes for 7½ yards. If this happens, I’m an idiot and a loser. But, if the same play goes for 8½ yards, I’m a genius. Yet, the one yard difference has only to do with execution.
ANY play properly executed should go for a touchdown, right? Any defensive play properly executed should stop any offensive play, right?
Thus, it all comes down to talent and execution, and no coaching change, or bringing in a guy like Sherm Lewis, who has not coached in five years, is going to make any difference.
You can’t fire the owner or the players, so you have to fire the coach—even if he is not the problem. The only way the Redskins can improve is for Snyder to sell the team, because he will never stop meddling in the football operations.