When the dust finally settles on the wreckage of this year’s Redskins season (and hell, can we just skip ahead and call it another 3-13 year right now?) it will easily mark the two most despicable back-to-back seasons of Redskins football in my lifetime (I’m 46).
Backstabbing. Agendas. Infighting. Media beefs.
All encased in a giant pickle jar brine of horrible, awful, no good at all football.
And it’s about to get worse.
I’d say Spurrier 3 followed by Gibbs 1 was a bad 24 months in Redskinsland – what with The Ol’ Ball Coach only concerned with “pitchin’ and catching’ (blocking? What’s that?) and then Gibbs 2.0 adamantly refusing to use this new fangled thing called “the shotgun” formation in the year 2003.
But those guys were just doing what they knew best. Spurrier running 4&5 wideouts like what worked so well in college, and Gibbs running counter-trey like it was 1991 all over again.
It was, in a word, “honest” losing.
What we are seeing now is something worse. Much worse. It’s machiavellian drama behind closed doors. It’s egos vs. millions, and all set against one desperate decision after another.
The moment the Redskins – or any team, had they done it – invested 4 picks into one guy, you set yourself up to be leveraged by that player, even if he doesn’t even try. Sure, Andrew Luck would be worth those 4 picks (or the 8 players those picks turned into, of which 6 were marched out by Jeff Fisher for the coin toss, brilliant!) because he’s a) awesome and b) humble.
The problem is obvious, though. Griffin isn’t awesome, nor humble.
So you bring a nobody with a vaguely familiar name in to coach this hot mess, and back him with a 5 year guaranteed contract worth reportedly $25 million.
Now the coach, has leverage on the owner.
So with all the leveraging going on, here’s the next thing I can see coming. The owner will leverage the coach, who doesn’t like the quarterback with all of the leverage originally.
How does Dan Snyder leverage Jay Gruden at this point?
Simple: make him play RG3.
Make him play him now, make him play him next year. Let Gruden know: you may HATE this player, but you are going to PLAY this player.
Or, you can quit.
Think that’s nuts? Counter-productive? A recipe for sure failure?
Why yes, of course it is. That’s how this franchise operates.
The owner once ordered Vinny Cerrato to cut Spurrier’s favorite QB of all time – Danny Wuerrfel, who actually wasn’t half bad – in a last roster cut of the summer sneak attack, leaving the Ol’ Ball Coach flatfooted and flabbergasted just weeks before the opener. Why? Because the owner’s QB, Patrick Ramsey, whom he and Cerrato went to personally watch at the Senior Bowl, had clearly not done much to impress Spurrier in the year prior while trading starts with the Florida Gator Twins of Wuerrfel and Shane Matthews.
Spurrier coached one more year, then quit.
The owner once ordered Vinny Cerrato to strip play calling from Jim Zorn, and installed a former NFL coordinator turned semi-retired-bingo-caller…. MID-SEASON!
Zorn, smarter than Spurrier, and with no college coaching future to fall back on, said famously: “I will comply.”
Who knows how Gruden would play such a challenge, if Snyder and Allen flip that card? My guess is, he too like Zorn, will hang in for all of his money. But what if the brass turns up the heat? When Colt McCoy posts a ZILCH at home – regardless of the quality of the Rams defense, or injuries to guys like DeSean Jackson – Gruden has little to back his position that he can’t win with Griffin.
At this point, he can’t win with ANYBODY.
So you don’t re-sign Colt McCoy, you trade Kirk Cousins for a mid-to-late rounder, and then tell Gruden: “We’ll pick the players, you coach ’em up. #10 is your quarterback for 2015. Learn to love it.”
It’s no way to run a football franchise, but… well… I’ve seen this movie before. So nothing would shock me.
Finally, if I may, a thought or two on fan/media impatience and the urge to fire a coach, or bench a QB.
I am not advocating firing Jay Gruden, nor demoting or firing Bruce Allen. The reason for this is simple, but one that took me many years to finally fully realize.
I am not IN these meetings when big decisions are made, or coaches are hired. I don’t know how detailed or honest these discussions are? I mean, what if Gruden told Snyder and Allen point blank: “I’m not wild about #10. If I take this job, I might bench him my first year. You got a problem with that?”
Or, it could have been Gruden in his interview saying he “loves” Griffin and can’t wait to polish him up and return him to his rookie year glory – only to see 5 games worth of the movie and then say to Snyder: “That’s it, I can’t work with this guy!”
Knowing the truth about these conversations, and being in those meetings, is crucial to having a solid feel for “who’s zooming who” so to speak.
For the record, what I SEE and HEAR from Gruden says he’s a complete dud. And this is not even to mention the tempo, intensity, and tenor which eludes his team from week to week.
I know this much, however. If Gruden’s a bad hire – RG3’s reclamation project completely aside – there’s no good coming from giving him “more time.” See Zorn & Spurrier.
There’s only one way out, and it’s not quick or sexy.
Hire better people. Get more good players. Demand a higher level of professionalism from everyone in the building.
Then keep your head down, and do this for as many years in a row as you can.