January 30, 2010

Redskins Video Treasure

The Daily Redskin 1.30.10

If you're reading this, chances are you also read the Redskins Official Blog and have already seen the post about the new Redskins page on Hulu.com.

There are certain things you can't leave to chance, however. So, if you happen to be a Redskins fans and have not yet heard about this, please allow me to seriously make your day.

Washington Redskins Videos

America's Game

1991 Washington Redskins Full Episode 44:23
1987 Washington Redskins Full Episode 44:11
1982 Washington Redskins Full Episode 44:37
1972 Miami Dolphins Full Episode 44:03

Game of the Week

2005 Redskins @ Eagles Full Episode 44:46
2005 Chargers @ Redskins Full Episode 44:46
2003 Seahawks @ Redskins Full Episode 44:47

Greatest Games

1983 Clash of the Titans Full Episode 1:07:00
(NFC Championship, WAS vs SF)

Super Bowl Highlights

1991 SB XXVI: Washington vs. Buffalo Full Episode 22:05
1987 SB XXII: Washington vs Denver Full Episode 21:50
1983 SB XVIII: Los Angeles vs Washington Full Episode 21:38
1982 SB XVII: Washington vs Miami Full Episode 21:40
1972 SB VIII: Miami vs Washington Full Episode 21:37

Team Highlights

2005 Washington Redskins Full Episode 22:13
2004 Washington Redskins Full Episode 22:14
2003 Washington Redskins Full Episode 22:12
2002 Washington Redskins Full Episode 21:45
2000 Washington Redskins Full Episode 21:54
1991 Washington Redskins Full Episode 21:47
1972 Three Cheers for the Redskins Full Episode 44:28

No more words necessary.

Bon appetit.

January 29, 2010

The Official Celebrity Redskins Fan Roster

This stuff matters you know.

I mean, it must. Threads about this topic pop up periodically around the Redskins community, and they always seem to generate interest. 

What I have noticed is they also have a tendency to reinvent the wheel every time. Seems to me it’s high time someone compiled and committed to maintaining the official record.

What the [hell]. I'll do it.

Rather than spending weeks tracking down names and links to try to offer a definitive list up front, however, I figure a nod to sanity calls for me to start with what is readily at hand from the linkage and research already done in the above links, and take it from there. 

I am still working my way through all the hundreds of replies in those threads, so this is definitely a work in progress. I am sadly but one man, however ... so please consider this an official invitation/request from your friendly neighborhood Redskins blog to keep an eye out for and forward along names of “celebrities” (an admittedly subjective term) you know or hear about loyal to the burgundy and gold.

Whenever possible, please provide links to credible sources (also a subjective term, but work with me) that allows us to put an individual in the “confirmed” column in good conscience.

Pictures of celebs sporting burgundy and gold or otherwise showing their allegiance would be nice to have as well. It might be fun to have the ultimate Official Celebrity Redskins Fan Photo Gallery to dip into when occasion calls.

So that’s it. The gauntlet’s been thrown down, Redskins fans.

Got celebrities?

Comment below or hit me at om.steven@gmail.com



David Aldridge – sports reporter
Darrell Armstrong – pro basketball
Nicklas Backstrom – pro hockey
Craig Biggio – pro baseball
Lewis Black – comic, actor
Wolf Blitzer - TV news
James Brown - sportscaster
Charlie Gibson – TV news anchor
Tom Cruise – actor, eccentric
Kevin Durant – NBA player
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – NASCAR
Molly Henneberg – TV news
Britt Hume – TV news
Jimmy Kleinsasser – pro football
Nils Lofgren - musician
Matthew McConaughey – actor
Mark McKinney – actor
Chris Meloni - actor
Alonzo Mourning – pro basketball
Bill Nye - science guy
Alexander Ovechkin – pro hockey
Leslie Stahl – TV news
Scott Van Pelt – sportscaster
Wale - musician
Chris Wallace – TV news


Sean Astin – actor
Sandra Bullock – actress
Tommy Davidson – comedian, actor
Kevin Garnett – pro basketball
Jermaine Jackson – musician
Tito Jackson – musician
Reed Johnson – pro baseball
Larry King – news curmudgeon
Tedd Koppel – TV news
John Kruk – pro baseball
Byron Leftwich – pro football
Tim Legler – pro basketball, TV
Sugar Ray Leonard – pro boxer, legend
Richard Petty – The King
Ryan Pinkston – actor
Manny Ramirez – pro baseball
Jerry Stackhouse – pro basketball
Ben Stein – Bueller?
Wanda Sykes – writer, actor
Paul Tagliabue – former NFL Commissioner
Damon Wayans – actor
Keenan Ivory Wayans – actor

Photos / Videos

Alexander Ovechkin

Nicklas Backstrom

Leslie Stahl


January 28, 2010

WR Coach Keenan McCardell ... Art Monk's Wrong Jersey

The Daily Redskin 1.28.10

According to reports, former WR Keenan McCardell is set to become the Redskins new Wide Receivers Coach.  Interestingly, his coaching resume consists of one year in the league as an intern.

If nothing else, given the pace, it's a career development step worthy of a note and perhaps a little inquiry.


Curriculum Vitae

Playing Career Stats

● It's worth noting the Redskins apparently were not the only team interested in his services as WR coach. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers broke bread with him as well.

● Here's a nugget from a NY Giants perspective about his hire as an intern a year ago.

Notes and Quotes: Former NFL wide receiver Keenan McCardell and college coach Alonso Escalente (McDaniel College) are working with the Giants’ coaching staff in camp as part of the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship.

McCardell played for 16 years in the NFL, including six seasons with Tom Coughlin’s Jacksonville Jaguars.

“Keenan expressed a desire to learn a little bit more about the coaching profession,” Coughlin said. “We talked in the offseason and when the opportunity came – seeing as how we have some young receivers – it seemed like a natural for us to have Keenan here. He can work with them on the little things and talk to them about how they need to act, their mannerisms and some of the little subtleties at the position. Keenan was a very, very smart player who knew all positions, knew the quarterback’s reads – the whole deal.

"He was really a tough, tough receiver. He’d go over the middle, he’d get banged around; I remember he had a separated shoulder and he still practiced and played. He didn’t want to miss a thing. Keenan also has that natural gift of enthusiasm. You watch him at practice and during the drills and you can see that he enjoys what he’s doing. It’s a really nice combination to have our coaching staff and the ability and the experience we have there and then have Keenan here in the capacity of a guy who is recognized as an outstanding player and can really share the details of the position with the young receivers.”

“(I tell) the (young Giants’) receivers to believe in their talent,” McCardell said. “Don’t second-guess yourself. You’ve been coached to do certain things. Do them and let your talent come out. All these guys have great talent, but they may not be as confident as they should. At that position, you have to have confidence to be successful. You have to be confident on the field and a consummate pro off the field.”

● In case you're wondering about McCardell's ties to the current Redskins brain trust ...
Though he played for the Bucs before Bruce Allen took the reins, McCardell does have ties to offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. He was in training camp with Houston in 2007, where Shanahan was an offensive assistant.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but as more becomes available regarding what McCardell did in his year in New York that helped convince the Redskins to pull the trigger and bring him into the fold as a position coach, we'll be sure to post it.

I'm not sure why I find this quite as intriguing as I do, but there it is.


For the record, no one appreciates Art Monk more than I do. No one.  And seeing him in green kinda makes me feel that color. 

With that established, following up on the Redskins jerseys post from the other day, in particular the sweet nugget about Monk's dignified (and appropriately subtle) protest of removing the NFL logo (specifically the little one in the V-neck) from his game jerseys ...

They made him wear it, right? If nothing else it would explain the pained look on his face.

Has to be.

January 27, 2010

The (Sam) Bradford Files

Whether or not one thinks the Redskins should take a quarterback at the top of April's NFL Draft, or if so, whether or not Oklahoma's Sam Bradford should be that QB, one thing is certain ... the young man nicknamed "The Big Easy" is going to be a big part of the conversation around these parts for at least the next 85 days. 

Given he's the clear early front-runner as the Redskins pick (at #4 overall) in the annual mock draft avalanche ... figured it was time to start sizing him up.

Not having had the opportunity to see the man play much myself, like most of you I am going to have to rely on scouting reports, videos and whatever other information I can gather in forming my own opinion on Bradford. Thought the exercise in compiling such an overview might be a useful and/or helpful tool to some of you as well ...

Seemed appropriate to start with his own “official” site, sambradford.org.

Full Name : Sam Bradford
Birthday : November 8, 1987
Height : 6 foot 5
Weight : 213 lbs.
College : Oklahoma Sooners
High School : Putnam City North HS
Hometown : Oklahoma City, OK

I note that he appears to be an inch taller in his own mirror than in most of the mirrors used by those scouting him below. Could be a rounding thing.

Now out onto the info superhighway proper ...

For you numbers types, his college statistics (ESPN).


NFL Draft Dog
Walter Football
CBS Sports
New Era Scouting
Mocking the Draft
Draft Board Insider
Draft Ace

[As new/udated reports come out I will bump and update this entry.]

Some other links of interest that turned up (Google is an EOSE [Equal Opportunity Search Engine]):

- Video of ESPN's Mel Kiper and Todd McShay discussing the draft stocks of Bradford and Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen:

- Blogger Jim Turner’s take on the Bradford-to-Washington possibility.

- A video overview of Bradford's freshman season:

What the hell ... if you’re anything like me, the one thing you really want to do is watch the man play with your own eyes.

These are highlight reels of course, so don’t expect to see too many strip/sacks or braindead interceptions. As long as you watch them with that in mind, though, seems to me you can get a pretty good feel for things like read/react time, ability to slide in the pocket, ability to make certain throws he’ll need on the NFL level, maybe even get a taste for his overall body language.

Youtubes you'll want to check out:

And finally (for today anyway), in case you haven’t read and seen enough hype, check out this NY Times piece from JAN 2009:

One N.F.L. scout, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not permitted to talk publicly about draft prospects, said Bradford was a “no-brainer” overall No. 1 pick and compared him to Troy Aikman, the first pick in the 1989 draft.

“When you’ve watched him at Oklahoma over the years, he sticks out like a sore thumb,” the scout said. “He’s not a nickel-dime, dink-and-dunk guy. He throws those deep balls as good as anyone I’ve ever seen.”

Bradford is ranked No. 1 by some draft experts, and there are only minor questions about him. Bradford, 21, has not quite filled in his 6-foot-4 frame — he is listed at 218 pounds — and Oklahoma’s offense has kept him from facing much pass-rush pressure. Still, the positives are considered impressive.

“He’s got the size, the arm, the feet and the release,” the scout said. “He makes good decisions. He seems like a really easy guy to evaluate.”

Even allowing for some hyperbole, that's a pretty notable assessment.

For the record before I let you go, my quick take:

Bradford's injury early in the 2009 college season ("the injury issue") would only really concern me if I thought new Redskins HC Mike Shanahan intended to start Bradford as a rookie. I can't imagine that would be the plan though, so I am comfortable enough with the Redskins medical assessment team to make an informed decision on whether or not they believe any medical concerns are long-term.

Dammit Jim, I'm a football fan, not a doctor.

As to the player himself ... truth is, videos and scouting report feast aside, I simply haven't seen him play enough to make a truly informed assessment. I will say, however, that from what I have seen, he's pretty damn accurate (been a while since I have seen Redskins receivers catching passes in full stride), makes quick decisions and releases, and "looks" like he has it going on upstairs.

If I have one overriding nagging concern it's that the man looks like he'd blow over in a stiff NFCE November wind. If the Redskins do end up drafting Bradford, I hope they plan to mainline a whole lot of protein into him.

Bottom line, I am long on record as believing you do whatever it takes to land a true "Franchise QB," and if you think you've found one, you don't hesitate to pull the trigger.

I know it's a big "if," but if Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan decide, after putting in a thousand times the amount and depth of research as I have, that Sam Bradford is that kind of player ... as of late January, I'll admit I'm intrigued enough by the guy not to run out of the room screaming.


Feel free discuss (or tell me why I'm wrong).

January 26, 2010

Redskins Jerseys: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know (and more)

The Daily Redskin 1.26.10

... much more.

I’ll deny it of course, should push come to shove, but having immersed myself in this paean to the Washington Redskins jersey, I am moved to suggest that it is possible there is a fellow human being sharing the Earth even more obsessed with said professional American football team than I.

Don't know any other way to say it, Mark ...


I was going to cut and paste some of the post here, but trying to decide which part(s) to include was kind of like ... oh, being asked in front of a room full of people to name the one quality of your significant other that is your favorite. You could, if you had to, but you know no matter what you say you're going to be talking about all the things you chose not to name later.

Just the way the world is.

So here's the whole shootin' match.

Bring a lunch.


I do really like this pic and nugget, though ...

Art Monk was not pleased with the idea of having to wear an NFL shield. He considered himself as working for the Redskins, not the league. So he systematically removed the NFL shield from his game jerseys. The league, apparently, never noticed, and he was never disciplined. He played in the Superbowl that season without the NFL shield.

January 24, 2010

NFC Championship Flashback: Redskins vs Cowboys, 1982

The Daily Redskin 1.24.10

Sitting here watching the Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets play out the 2009 AFC Championship. Another season, another conference title weekend ... another year removed the last time my team played for the right to go to the Super Bowl.

And as seems to happen more and more as I get a little older, I find myself thinking back ...


Junior year, Virginia Tech. I'm 22, full of the hubris of youth, a sense of immortality ... and beer. I'm with friends--Redskins fans--at the apartment of one of our gang.

The winning had started in the middle of the 1981 season; the Redskins finishing 8-3 after an 0-5 start under new head coach Joe Gibbs. The 1982 season had featured a month-long strike after a 2-0 start, and when the season resumed, the Redskins rolled to an 8-1 regular season record and entered the playoffs on a roll.

The only blemish on their record? A sobering 24-10 Game 5 home loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Yeah, those Dallas Cowboys.

As fate would have it, however, those same Cowboys would come swaggering into RFK Stadium again, on January 23, 1983, for the NFC Championship, with their bags already packed for a trip to the Super Bowl (don't believe it? ask Joe Gibbs).

If you're old enough to remember, I suspect that for you, like me, that day seems both yesterday and a hundred years ago. I also suspect the feelings you ended up experiencing that day aren't far beneath the surface ... they're lurking there, patient, silent, biding their time.

If you're not old enough to have been a part of that magical day, I can only hope that these images convey in some meaningful way. And continue to hope, in all sincerity, the day will come when you will get to experience something like this live.

It stays with you a lifetime.


January 22, 2010

A Hostile Look at the Lost Art of Sports Journalism

The Daily Redskin 1.22.10

I admit it. I'm friends with a Cowboys fan.

At least I think I can call him friend--we have "spoken" via the web on and off over the years in our mutual roles as message board administrators, but more so, as lifelong fans of rival professional football teams.

He goes by Hostile in his online incarnation, but don't let the nom-de-guerre and occasionally brusque posting voice fool you. The man is intellectually curious, engaged, objective (when absolutely necessary, like any self-respecting partisan), a true blue fan of his favorite team and connoisseur of the game of football.

He also happens to write pretty damn well, something I tend to appreciate more than the average bear ... and which happens in this case to be serendipitous as well.

I happened to drop by Hostile's home site message board this morning looking for a nugget or two on Cowboys fan's feelings on/reactions to the two-year contract extension just given Head Coach Wade Phillips, and instead ran across the post copied below.

[site requires registration so post is offered in full here. Hos, hope you don't mind, my friend.]

You don't have to be a Dallas fan, Redskins fan, or even fan of the game for that matter, to appreciate the piece. It's about a frustration I know many of you share; a frustration with much of the state of the mainstream media that covers our world in general, and in this case, the game to which so many of us devote so much of our time, energy and interest.

For the record, as Redskins fans we're actually pretty lucky. For all our complaining there are some damn fine writers--professionals--covering our team. I won't name names, because opening that door is not what this is about.

This is about a nod to the notion that the inexorable dumbing down of so much of the mainstream media over the years has gone neither unnoticed nor unlamented. 

Forget the venue, forget the allegiances ... I hope you'll take a couple of minutes out of your day to hear Hos out.

The Lost Art of Sports Journalism

I will never understand some people.

I assume you would get into journalism because you love to write. So then why become a hack instead of a writer? A hack is literally someone who writes low quality pieces that are rushed to print. (Incidentally, and I don't mean this to be flippant, but that is why Ed Werder isn't a hack. He is a talking face, not a writer. What he delivers to us is spoken versions of what hacks do give us.)

Why put effort into learning a discipline and then abandon it? Today, the sports journalists want sound bites and angles. Anything that will cause a buzz, because a buzz means traffic. Good or bad traffic sells.

Here's a simple comparison. How much attention did Tony Romo's story about changing a tire for an old couple after the Cleveland game last year get in comparison to Cabo? They are still talking about Cabo. Media even asked Minnesota if any of their guys went to Cabo. Why? Because they had a bye and were playing us. That passes for research now. Sad.

I think part of it is that people no longer love to read. They just want an information spew and it doesn't matter what the quality is. They will fill in their own thoughts later and cognitive thought or research on the part of the writer is a waste of time. More the pity.

I have to come to this second conclusion because I often see someone write a well thought out post using good details and almost immediately I see this response.


"Too long, didn't read."

It's the fate of a generation scared to learn anything for fear it might actually inspire them to learn more.

A while back I posted a thread about Blackie Sherrod. Blackie had style and it drew you in. I want to re-introduce one of the quotes I posted by him.

"In a perfect world, a fair world, Bob Hayes should be forced to carry a small calf on his shoulders when he runs the dashes...Mark Spitz should swim with a sea anchor...Ella Fitzgerald should sing every note with a mouth full of Tootsie Rolls."

Even if you don't know who Ella Fitzgerald is you have probably tried to talk coherently while eating a Tootsie Roll. If not, you haven't lived. But maybe just maybe a few people who read that the first time wondered why he would say that about Ella Fitzgerald and listen to the lady sing.

That is the power of writing. Even sports journalism has that power. Let me show you what I mean. The link below is an article written by William Nack. Warning, it is extremely long. It is so long it took me four posts to get it all in there at the time. It is worth your time to read though.

Nack Article

If you didn't bother to read the article you don't need to read any further. You prove the point. If you did read it I have one question to ask. Do you suddenly feel a kinship to a horse you may have never even seen run?

Isn't that amazing? That is the power of writing. I am sure that the DFW media members at one time or another were inspired by great writing and I am also just as sure that as they learned their craft they were good at it.

What changed?

We did.

That's right. It is us as fans that have changed the destiny of sports journalism. We want our information and we want it right now. Careful, thoughtful research be damned. We want instant stories. Actually to hell with stories, we want instant sound bites. From there we simply provide our own commentary and supply the story.

You're probably asking, "what the hell sent Hos off on this rant?" I read an article today by one of our esteemed media and it just grated on me. The article took no effort to write. No different than a typical over reaction mixed with shtick.

One of the foremost ideas of this "article" was the concept of when you fire a Coach. The theory was the Super Bowl coaches keep their jobs, as do the Coaches who get their teams to the Championship games, although these coaches jobs were "probably" safe. Every other coach should be wary of the door on their way out.

Do you get the gist being presented there? At minimum 28 teams per year would change Head Coaches. That was the brilliant idea of how to make things better because the writer did not like the idea of continuity. That idea doesn't make me want to listen to Ella Fitzgerald or try and talk while eating a Tootsie Roll. The only thing it accomplishes is to make me shake my head at how far sports journalism has fallen.

The sad thing is, this "article" began as advice offered to Jerry Jones. As if the writer knows something Jerry should know. I can be critical of Jerry Jones, but thank God he isn't that freaking stupid. Not even Dan Snyder is that damned dumb. Do you get the depths of stupidity that this "article" has sunk to?

So what is the reason for it to be written at all? Simple. Wade Phillips is a polarizing figure and he is being given an extension. This will create a buzz. Those who don't like that he is coming back will read this and think "damn right." They don't stop and think about the lack of thought. All they want is validation for their own thoughts and the spew provides it. They love the buzz.

A couple of days ago I shared a laugh with dcfanatic over an article that was negative about bringing Wade back. There was nothing inherently wrong with the article. What struck me as funny was who authored it. A man who just a few months ago announced his retirement and paid homage to Blackie Sherrod as he compared himself in riding off into the sunset.

First of all, he couldn't carry Blackie Sherrod's notebook. Him alluding to Blackie and then surfacing to write for ESPN Dallas is a sad insight into how important these writers think they are. Hey, his article created a buzz. Mission accomplished.

Louis Nizer was a famous barrister in New York City. He wrote the Foreward of the Warren Commission report on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He was a brilliant man. He once said this.

"A man who works with his hands is a laborer. A man who works with his hands and his head is an artisan. A man who works with his hands, his head, and his heart is an artist."

We have laborers feeding us information on our favorite team. We are missing out on the artists.

Keep the flame burning, brother.

January 21, 2010

Back to The Future Is Now

The Daily Redskin 1.21.10

My first memories of the Washington Redskins date back to 1971, when my family, and a football coach named George Allen, arrived in Washington, DC. 

I was ten.

I was new to town, new to the game, and I fell in love with latter at first sight.

The Over-the-Hill Gang. Sonny. Billy. Larry Brown. Charlie Taylor. Charlie Harraway. Jack Pardee. Len Hauss. Diron Talbert. Chris Hanburger. Roy Jefferson. Jerry Smith. Speedy Duncan. Bill Malinchak.

And of course ... The Future is Now.

The names, images and a certain distinct feeling are locked in my hard drive. 

I suspect I am not alone this morning in being struck, on a very tangible level, by the formal use of "The Future Is Now" in promotional material released by the team yesterday.

I haven't sorted it all through yet. I've been looking at the words on the page, letting the significance soak in. I'm not ready to say at this point if it's a good thing, or a bad thing. I could argue either case with equal conviction, to be honest. 

I justed wanted to pause to tell you, fellow Redskins fan of a certain vintage, that you are not alone in acknowledging the feeling you may have gotten this morning.

It is most definitely a thing ... and most definitely real.

January 20, 2010

Redskins New DL Coach Jacob Burney

The Daily Redskin 1.20.10

In a scathing piece about the defensive struggles in Denver over the past few seasons, one coach who does not get fingered for sins therein is the Redskins latest coaching hire, Defensive Line Coach Jacob Burney.

I cannot vouch for the author of the piece excerpted below (beyond acknowledging his sweet profile pic), but as I have come to discover, if you really want a feel for the ebb and flow of a football team, you can do worse that seeking out the more serious among their fan correspondents.

At any rate ...

Meet your new boss, Messrs. Haynesworth, Orakpo and Co.
Jacob Burney, Defensive Line Coach

Burney spent five seasons (1994-98) with the Cleveland Browns / Baltimore Ravens franchise as its defensive line coach. He was hired by the Browns in 1994 and oversaw a defensive line that contributed to a defense that allowed only 204 points, nine rushing touchdowns and 3.6 yards per carry that season.

During Burney’s tenure as defensive line coach in Carolina (1999-01), the Panthers showed a knack for creating turnovers with the defense posting 74 takeaways from 2000-01 that ranked as the fourth-highest total in the NFL during that period. In 2001, Burney coaxed a breakout season from third-year defensive end Mike Rucker, who posted a career-high and team-leading nine sacks. Under Burney’s tutelage, Rucker developed into a full-time starter and set a record for sacks by a Panthers defensive lineman.

In 2003, Burney’s line was a major force on a defense that finished the season ranked among the NFL’s best in several categories. The defense only allowed 277.1 yards a game, which ranked fourth in the NFL,and set a franchise record for third-down defense (29.5%) to place third in the league for that statistic. Defensive end Bertrand Berry led the team with a career-high 11.5 sacks (52 yds.), and Pryce added 8.5 sacks (47 yds.).

Similar results came about in 2002 when the line helped the defense finish the season sixth in the NFL in yards allowed (301.6 ypg.) and fourth against the run (93.1 ypg.). Burney’s line was represented in the Pro Bowl by Pryce, who made his fourth consecutive trip after leading the team with nine sacks.

Burney’s line once again proved to be one of the NFL’s top units in 2004 as its play helped the Broncos’ defense rank fourth in the NFL for the second consecutive season. The Broncos’ run defense also ranked fourth in the league, surrendering an average of only 94.5 yards per game. Despite the absence of All-Pro lineman Trevor Pryce for most of the year, the Broncos maintained a solid pass rush throughout the season with defensive end Reggie Hayward racking up a career and team-high 10.5 sacks to rank third in the AFC.

In 2005, Denver’s defensive line was pivotal in the club posting a 13-3 record and capturing the AFC West title en route to advancing to the AFC Championship Game. As defensive line/ends coach, Burney instructed a group that helped Denver rank second in the NFL in run defense, allowing only 85.2 yards per game. Denver held two opponents to less than 20 rushing yards in a game, including its contest at Jacksonville (10/2/05) in which it allowed the second-fewest rushing yards (12) in a game in franchise history ...

In my opinion he would be a loss if he gets caught up in the coaching purge.

CLICK HERE to read more

Nothing personal brother, but your loss is the Redskins' gain. 

January 19, 2010

Will Redskins go 4-3, 3-4 or Hybrid?

The Daily Redskin 1.19.10

Whether you can articulate the difference between a Fairbanks-Bullough 2-gap 3-4 defense and a Phillips 1-gap 3-4 defense, are someone whose eyes glaze over at mention of such things, or, like most of us, fall somewhere in between … you probably know that one of the key stories we’ll be following during this offseason will be the style of defense the Redskins employ in 2010.

Message boards and sportstalk radio are bursting with debate over which scheme the Redskins' current defensive roster is best suited to run. And of course, over what the impact might be if the Redskins decide to go away from the 4-3 defense they have stood by since, well, since someone invented the thing back in the 1950’s, or decide to make the big switch and go 3-4.

I’m here to say I don’t think they’re going to do either.

I think they’re going Hybrid.

What the hell?

Hybrid Defenses Popping Up Across NFL

But that's just for the record.

For today's "quickie" I thought some of you--those who might not, you know, fully understand the subtleties of the 4i-technique (meaning most of us)--might find some of the links I've been coming across in researching a piece on where the new Redskins defensive brain trust (Allen, Shanahan, Haslett) is taking the team interesting.

I'm focusing less on straight X and O stuff (don't know about you, but when I left school for the last time after my undergrad days--Hokies!--I swore I would only ever go back if it meant serious bucks ... and to date, I remain both homework- and big-buck free) and going more for accessible, plain-language stuff written by and for people who love the game, can talk the game and understand how to explain it to a broad audience.

The links below are just a downpayment. I'll be adding to and refining the list periodically. I also invite any and all who have particularly well-researched or insightful links they think would be appropriate to add to let me know ... either put 'em in a comment below (please feel free to write up a quick synopsis if you like) or e-mail them to me directly at om.steven@gmail.com.

Hail and happy munching.


Dude, I've been a Redskins fan for a long time. Around here we've always considered that 3-4 crap kinda, well, like NFL Light or something. What's the fuss all of a sudden?

The Rage of the 3-4 Defense

The 3-4, Debunking the Myths

Okay, so my favorite team may be switching to a 3-4. Which 3-4?

The Schemes Matter

There are three primary strains of 3-4 defense in the N.F.L. The Steelers, the Patriots and the Browns use a scheme in which three huge defensive linemen control two gaps each. Their job is to occupy blockers and clog lanes so the linebackers can tackle.

The Cardinals and the Chiefs use a hybrid 3-4 designed by Clancy Pendergast, the former Cardinals defensive coordinator now in Kansas City. In this hybrid, one linebacker often slides down to defensive end, and the strong safety usually plays close to the line of scrimmage. The result is a 3-4 that looks more like a 4-3, 4-4, or 3-3-5, depending on the situation.

Tyson Jackson of L.S.U. will play in the Chiefs’ hybrid 3-4 defense. (Jeff Haynes/Reuters)The Chargers and the Cowboys run yet another variation on the 3-4. Their outside linebackers play with one hand in the dirt at the line of scrimmage and usually don’t drop into pass coverage. Their linemen usually attack one gap, not two like the linemen in New England. The Chargers-Cowboys scheme might better be called a 5-2, because the outside linebackers play like de facto defensive ends.

Okay, so ... complications?

Changing A Base Defense Not as Easy as 1, 2, 3-4

And what happens when teams actually try it?

Chiefs Likely To Utilize 3-4/4-3 Hybrid Defense

Do fans of other teams go as nuts as we do about this stuff?

Silly question.

There's talk in New York right now about the Giants switching up and going 3-4 or hybrid. Which of course impacts the Redskins in that another team NFCE team might be targetting the same kind of players we will be after.

Here's an interesting piece/discussion from Big Blue Interactive. You may want to check it out, if for no other reason than as a Redskins fan, you may be involved in very similar discussions vis a vis the Redskins current personnel and needs ...

The Hybrid 4-3/3-4 Defense

More to come. Lots more.

January 17, 2010

A Quick Nod to Reality

The Daily Redskin 1.17.10

A whole lot of people are quick to express low opinions of Redskins team owner Daniel Snyder. Not just on football matters--few are shy about taking the man's character to task as well.

That's the part that I always wonder about.

A precious few have personal experiences or direct knowledge upon which to base those low opinions, and I have no truck with them. We should form our opinions based on personal experience.

But most, the vast majority, have only hearsay as their basis. Only what they hear on sportstalk radio, what they read on message boards, what they hear around the water cooler. For that group (and I count myself among them as I have never met the man), I have a couple of questions.

As he has done many times in the past, Dan Snyder has come up big in response to the tragedy in Haiti. And as is the team's practice, there were no press conferences called, no press releases issued, no attention called beyond the factual piece on their web site linked herein.

Did you notice?

Does it impact your opinion about the man?

Have you donated your time, money or more than a passing thought?*

Dan Snyder has.

* Yes, I have.

January 16, 2010

Digging Deeper - Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett

Redskins “official blogger” Matt Terl picked up last week’s piece on the then-prospective hiring of Jim Haslett as defensive coordinator as a jumping-off point to make his case for Haslett … and that’s fine. It was actually a welcome result, as it was pretty much what I was hoping someone would do.

The earlier piece, after all, was as much a plea for someone to convince me that Haslett's statistics really were meaningless as they were a statement of my opinion of the man.

So just for fun, and to dig a little deeper now that Haslett's actually been hired, I thought maybe I’d respond to Matt's Redskins Blog piece, message board style …

MT: The Redskins named Jim Haslett their defensive coordinator today, confirming a move that's been rumored for a few days now, and filling a position that opened when Greg Blache retired.

Haslett coached the UFL's Florida Tuskers to an undefeated season and a loss in the championship game last year, which pretty much makes him the Bill Belichick of the UFL. (It also means that he fills an interesting parenthetical niche as the second guy the Redskins have signed who was involved with that UFL Championship game -- mid-season replacement kicker Graham Gano kicked the gamewinning field goal to beat Haslett's Tuskers.)

Not sure how compelling these two points really are in helping the Haslett cause.  For one thing, being the second-best coach in the UFL can arguably be compared to being the second-pace finisher in the NIT. Better than finishing third there, sure, but it is still second. And it is still the NIT. I’m sure Matt would agree he’d feel a whole lot warm and fuzzier bragging up the second place finisher in the NFL.

Oh, and purely parenthetically … the fact that Bill Belichick has casually been help up as a genius for the past several years has always rankled me.


Cleveland ('91-'95)

36 - 44 (.450)

New England ('00-'09)

Sans Tom Brady ... 15 - 18 (.454)
With Tom Brady ... 97 - 30 (.764)

But that’s a discussion for another day.

MT: And he has NFL cred as well. He was the defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints in 1996, the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1997-99, and the St. Louis Rams in 2006, 2007 and for the first four games of 2008 before being named interim head coach in St. Louis. (And beating the Redskins the following Sunday, in fact.)

It is nice to know Haslett’s been attractive enough a DC candidate to have been offered the job four times. Hopefully, assuming things work out for him in that role in Washington, he will stay at least as long as he did in Pittsburgh and not as long as he did in New Orleans or St. Louis.

Oh, I know there were “circumstances.” Just pointing out that longevity and Jim Haslett, Defensive Coordinator have not exactly been synonymous through his NFL coaching career.

MT: He played in the NFL as well, as linebacker for the Buffalo Bills, where he won defensive rookie of the year in 1979 and went to the Pro Bowl in 1980. The picture above -- Haslett stopping Tony Dorsett for a short gain -- is really all the backstory I need to embrace the guy as a Redskins coach.

Hey, I love a good Cowboy masher as much as the next Redskins fan.  Partial to former Pro Bowlers too.  I'm just not sure I would choose to use either as a pillar of support for handing my defense over to, oh, say LaVar Arrington or Dexter Manley.  Just sayin’.

MT: But not everyone agrees with me on that.

I should think not.  

MT: On his Redskins blog The Om Field, the eponymous Om is less than enthused by the hiring …

The defensive numbers are ... less-than-optimal, let's say. Haslett's defenses in Pittsburgh slipped noticeably in the rankings from the time he took over, from 2nd before he got there to 6th and then to 12th in the league. And that's certainly less-than-ideal. (This would be the "con" perspective, in case you hadn't guessed.)

But here's the thing: the defense in Washington has been ranked well numerically the last couple of years, but that ranking never seemed to be fully reflected on the field. If you're being honest with yourself, what do you picture when you picture the 2009 Redskins pass defense, for example?

Do you think of it as the 8th ranked pass defense in the NFL (which it was), or do you think of the defensive secondary playing ten yards off the line of scrimmage on a third-and-8? Or of Tony Romo passing the Cowboys down the field to the game winning touchdown? Based on my emails and what I see on Twitter, I suspect that most of you think of something more like those second things.

So rankings are meaningless. Fine.

Couple of semi-serious things here:

• As previously noted, taking Haslett’s defensive coordinator stats in a vacuum serves admittedly limited purpose. The underlying point was that there is little about Haslett's numbers that jump out as particularly impressive or cause excitement—things one presumably wants when contemplating a new coach and new direction heading into a New Era.  Fact is, Haslett's numbers are at best average. At worst, they are a little unsettling … particularly the clear statistical regression in Pittsburgh under his watch, and absent contextual explanation, remain a bit of a concern.

• The argument that Haslett is aggressive in style is obviously attractive to Redskins fans long frustrated (read: guts-in-a-knot) by watching their bend-but-don’t-break-until-the-game-is-on-the-line defense of the past few years. No one, for instance, wants to see Redskins corners challenge (read: be in the frame) receivers on 3rd-and-long again more than me. And the occasional blitz that actually surprises an offense or springs someone free would be nice.

It’s just that being aggressive alone isn’t enough. I flat guarantee that if, come mid-season 2010, the Redskins secondary is pressing receivers but getting strafed deep repeatedly and losing games 34-31, no one will be saying “hey but at least we're aggressive.” I’ll take effective over aggressive 10 times out of 10.  If I thought Haslett was bringing that, we would be talking about something else today. At the moment, I’m still hoping to be convinced.

• Once the Hastlett hiring was confirmed I dug a little deeper into his Pittsburgh years, hoping to find mitigating circumstances for the falloff during his defensive tenure there.  One obvious thing I noted was that the offenses Haslett had in support were less-than-impressive themselves (Haslett’s years are in bold, the previous and successive years are shown for context):

1996 – 15th overall, 11th points (defense 2nd, 4th; record 10-6)

1997 – 6th overall, 7th points (defense 6th, 11th; record 11-5)
1998 – 25th, 28th points (defense 12th, 7th; record 7-9)
1999 – 22nd, 17th points (defense 11th, 12th; record 6-10)

2000 – 18th, 17th points (defense 7th, 6th, record 9-7)

This does seem to mitigate for Haslett—the Steelers offenses in those years was pretty pedestrian.  Redskins fans certainly understand how trying to judge a defense in the context of an ineffective (read: limp) offense can be a waste of time. Of course, it should be noted that the Steeler offenses was pretty weak in the years before and after Haslett was there, too ... but the defenses managed to finish higher.

Oh well … they’re just numbers. Right?

As to the Steelers themselves, those inconsistent, middling years must have been before Ben Roethlisberger showed up and Bill Cowher became a genius.

MT: But does that actually address the concerns Om expresses about Haslett? Yes, actually, according to ESPN.com's Matt Mosley:

Haslett, a former NFL linebacker, has an outstanding reputation as a defensive coordinator in the league and you can guarantee that he'll field a more aggressive unit than Greg Blache featured the past two seasons. Redskins fans clung to stats that showed they were a top-10 defense on Blache's watch, but this unit didn't cause enough turnovers and never really took over games.

(That's the "pro" perspective.)

Kind of like the “Belichick is a genius” mantra, “[Haslett] has an outstanding reputation as a defensive coordinator” does little for me once you get past the words. Color me a skeptic, but I continue to hold out hope there is something a little more tangible that Matt Mosley’s say-so or vague third-hand testimonials.

I am not saying there aren’t any number of coaches, front office types or other insiders who would readily corroborate the sentiment … just that I haven’t seen them despite throwing the question around fairly brazenly. Again, if anyone cares to link some examples, please do.  I’m a Redskins fan too, and I would be thrilled to see them.

MT: Honestly, I'd rather see a more aggressive defense -- one that gets takeaways and (even more) sacks and tried to assert its will on an opponent -- even if it means giving up the occasional big play. Because, really, the defense seemed to be doing that anyhow last year, without the aggressive part.

No argument.  And, since we're back on the aggressiveness angle, I thought it might be interesting to look at how Haslett’s defenses have fared in the takeaway/sack department.  We know what a problem that's been in Washington, maybe we're looking at a new day?

New Orleans

1996 - INT 25th; FUMBLES 22nd; SACKS 7th;


1997 - INT 6th; FUMBLES 12th; SACKS 6th
1998 - INT 17th; FUMBLES 11th; SACKS 12th
1999 - INT 23rd; FUMBLES 11th; SACKS 17th

St. Louis

2006 - INT 13th; FUMBLES 17th; SACKS 19th
2007 - INT 10th; FUMBLES 23rd; SACKS 21st

Or maybe not.

Now, there are obvious, key factors we don't have at hand here, such as personnel, key injuries, situational motivation, etc., but it is pretty clear that Haslett's defenses, regardless of team, have been consistently middle-of-the-pack in areas typically associated with "aggressive" football.  Maybe numbers don't tell the whole story, but they can provide some fairly compelling background.

What would be really helpful is hearing, from those in the know who watched every one of the Steelers games between '97 and '99 for instance, who could speak to how Haslett's defenses have actually played.

Did they start fast and fade? Start slow and get better over the course of the year. Did he make good halftime adjustments?

How is he as a play-caller ... does he telegraph his blitzes and routinely get beat by screens, or generally keep opposing offensive coordinators off balance?

How is he at making halftime adjustments?

Do his defense's sacks tend to come on early downs or in games already decided, or does he get his share on key third downs in key moments of big games?

Does he routinely go "prevent" with a one-score lead late in a game and hope, or attack and take his chances?

That's the kind of insight I was really interested in when writing the original piece when Haslett's name first came up. I was hoping to find evidence of potential coming success in the numbers, but the truth is I have not been able to.  Mostly I've heard second-hand, general observations from outsiders, in the most general terms, intoning that Haslett is "well-respected" and his defenses have been "pretty good."

Maybe so. I hope so. But the numbers certainly don't support that argument.

MT: The best thing I've heard about Haslett, though, has just been the general gossip on the guy, which goes something like this: he's not rigid, he's not attached to a particular system, and he's very good at putting his players in position to take advantage of their natural abilities. If that's accurate, it could help any number of players on the defense -- and make at least one grouchy defensive tackle much happier.

All good, in theory. Given the record, however, at this point it is only theory.

The facts are that Jim Haslett has coordinated six defenses in his NFL career.

One of those six teams ('97 Steelers) had a winning record. One made the playoffs (that same Steeler team beat New England in the divisional round, then lost the AFC title to Denver).

His highest defensive ranking was 6th ('97 Steelers). His lowest, 23rd ('06 Rams).

His average finish ... 14th.

I think maybe that's what has me digging in my heels.  When I look at Jim Haslett's record, I see average.

I think maybe in the afterglow of the seismic upheaval at Redskins Park, with the front office turnover and hiring of Super Bowl Head Coach Mike Shanahan, I was looking for something more.

But enough. I don't expect Matt (Terl and Mosley, for that matter) to take the time to respond to any of this, but if either choses to, I hope they'll take this in the spirit intended ... a little bar talk about X's, O's and guys in headsets.

More importantly, I hope I get to come back here at some point in the not-too-distant future and write a piece about how damn happy I am to have been flat out wrong about Jim Haslett.

Bring it, gentlemen.

January 14, 2010

The Daily Redskin 1.14.10

In an ongoing attempt to kick myself in the arse and post on a more regular basis, I'm trying something new ... a daily post with quick read-and-reacts to any and all Redskins news stories, discussions, random thoughts, etc., that grab my attention.

I'll still hit you with the occasional "formal" piece, because, as amazing as it still seems to me, some people seem to like them.  Just adding this to the mix ... we'll see where it leads. 

Nothing deep here, no lengthy treatises (which alone will make it new) ... and I will add additional items as the day progresses if the mood/material should strike. 

So ... to establish the "nothing deep" mantra straight off:

Per those serious-reporter types over at PFT:

The Denver-to-Washington pipeline is open for business.

Let it be known: Center/guard Kory Lichtensteiger was the first signing of the Shanahan era. A fourth-round pick by Shanahan in 2008, the lightweight lineman was cut by Denver, then Minnesota last year.

● "... the lightweight lineman," Gracie? Hmm. If we didn't know better, we might almost think that sounds editorial.

● Given the State of the Offensive Line around these parts for longer than most of us care to remember, I bet a buck the only human being with measurable rooting interest in the Washington Redskins not hoping young Mr. Lichtenseiger becomes a success is Larry Michael.

Think about it.

Kory Lichtensteiger C/G
Height: 6-3 Weight: 295
Age: 24
Born: 3/22/1985 Van Wert , OH
College: Bowling Green State
Experience: 2nd season
High School: Crestview HS [Convoy, OH]

Season Team G GS

2009 Minnesota Vikings 0 0
2008 Denver Broncos 16 0

TOTAL 16 0

Welcome to Washington, Kory.  Dig in.

January 8, 2010

Jim Haslett ... really?

According to our old friend Jason LaCanfora ...

"Following up on the Redskins defensive coordinator search, which I touched on earlier this week. The Redskins are very interested in Mike Zimmer as a defensive coordinator, but could face competition from other clubs looking to hire the Bengals coordinator as a head coach.

The Redskins are prepared to meet with Zimmer this weekend should the Bengals lose to the Jets, but also plan to meet with Jim Haslett, a former NFL head coach, according to a league source.

Haslett is very interested in bringing in veteran defensive line coach Tim Krumrie wherever he lands should he get back in the NFL (he coached in the UFL this season), according to sources, after the Chiefs fired Krumrie this week.

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan has been continually intrigued by the prospects of going to a 3-4 scheme, which is part of the reason why Haslett is so attractive."

Not really sure why, but I have never much cared for Haslett. Something about the guy has just always rubbed me the wrong way.

So ... trying to rise above such pettiness, I dug into his record as a defensive coordinator in the NFL real quick, to be sure I wasn't cutting off my nose to spite my face (whatever the hell that old saw means). Can't be letting vague personal get in the way of potential for success after all.

So assuming wikipedia is right about the years in question, and NFL.com is right about the stats, here's a quick down and dirty peak at the units Haslett ran as defensive coordinator.


Haslett took over a defense that finished 22nd in the league the year before:

1995 – 22nd overall (18th scoring, 22nd passing, 21st rushing)

... and had some immediate success, most strikingly against the pass:

1996 – 13th overall (20th scoring, 3rd passing, 27th rushing)

The year after he left (to become DC in Pittsburgh in '97) the Saints defense finished top five:

1997 – 4th overall (16th scoring, 6th passing, 14th rushing)

PITTSBURGH ‘97 – ‘99

Haslett inherited a pretty damn good defense from the year before (2006):

1996 – 2nd overall (4th scoring, 5th passing, 3rd rushing)

... and, well, you be the judge:

1997 – 6th overall (11th scoring, 18th passing, 1st rushing)
1998 – 12th overall (7th scoring, 18th passing, 13th rushing)
1999 – 11th overall (12th scoring, 4th passing, 26th rushing)

(Check the progress versus the run. Or don't, if you're a Haslett fan)

The year after he left, the Steeler defense trended back the other way:

2000 – 7th overall (6th scoring, 9th passing, 12th rushing)

ST. LOUIS '06 - '07

After his head coaching stint in New Orleans (2000-2005), Haslett was hired by the St. Louis Rams to resurrect their 30th ranked ('05) unit. Not sure what he did quite qualifies as "resurrecting" the Rams' woebegone defensive unit, but he did oversee some improvement:

2006 – 23rd overall (28th scoring, 8th passing, 31st rushing)
2007 – 21st overall (31st scoring, 21st passing, 20th rushing)

He was going to be their defensive coordinator in 2008 as well, but instead was hired on after the Rams 0-4 start as their "interim coach." After upsetting Joe Gibbs' Redskins (Pete Kendall, please pick up the white courtesy phone) to earn the Rams first victory of the season, he and the Rams lost 10 of their remaining 11 games to finish the season 2-14.

Haslett was not asked to return for 2009 ... and, if rumors are true has been spotted coaching in something called the United Football League.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to belittle the guy. And I know numbers tell only a small part of any story ... but reality sure can be a bitch.

If you, gentle Redskins fan reader, know something about Mr. Haslett as an NFL defensive coordinator (and for his sake and ours if this pans out I hope there's a lot) that mitigates against the general feeling of "meh"-titude I'm getting about this one, feel free to share.


January 5, 2010

As the Redskins Turn

With one final, predictable fourth-quarter collapse, the circus that was the Jim Zorn Era in Washington came to a close in sunny San Diego on Sunday. The only surprising thing about the latest as-if-scripted loss was that there might be anyone left out there who was actually surprised.

In the 23-20 loss to the Chargers, Zorn's Redskins were true to form.

Leading by one point and with a golden chance to go for the throat and score a potential knock-out punch touchdown with 4:37 left in the game, they called a timeout to set up a 4th-and-a-foot play from the Chargers’ 3 yard line.

Best case, they pick up a first down without scoring, run the clock down with a couple of dive plays to force San Diego to use their time outs, and either score the TD to go up eight or kick the field goal leaving backup Charger QB Billy Volek as little time as possible to drive the length of the field.

What happened, of course, was worst case. The Redskins self-immolated. LG Derrick Dockery false-started, forcing the Redskins to settle for the chip-shot field goal, leaving San Diego plenty of time and an opportunity to drive for a potential game-winning touchdown, instead of needing both a touchdown and two-point conversion to tie.

If you were a Redskins fan, you turned to whoever you were watching with and just knew what was going to happen.

Which of course it did.

Redskins Defensive Coordinator Greg Blache, as you knew he would, chose one last time to apparently “coach scared” with the game on the line. Unwilling to attack the opposing offense either with pass rush or press coverage, he opted instead to have his charges sit back passively and (this phrase actually causes me heartburn) “read and react.”

And as you knew they would, the Chargers proceeded to march methodically, inexorably and almost unchallenged to the winning score.

Along the way, as a kind of metaphoric "it figures," the Redskins defense had one last parting gift for their long-suffering fans. Even within the agony of watching the prevent defense yet again surrender uncontested chunks of yardage, they had a chance to win the game by simply making a basic play. The kind of play you expect guys at any level of football above high school junior varsity to make nine times out of ten.

Volek gift-wrapped an interception, throwing a deep out directly into the chest of a Redskins defensive back. The ball, as if knowing its role, slipped through said defender's hands, bounced off his chest and fall harmlessly to the turf.

Don’t be too hard on Justin Tryon—it’s simply what Redskins defenders do.

Jason Campbell, meanwhile, the Redskins erstwhile Franchise Quarterback, did what he tends to do. He looked okay. He threw some good balls, had decent numbers (28/42, 281 yds, 2 TD's, QB Rating 101.4) ... and ultimately, as so many times before, left the field an enigma on the short end of the scoreboard.

If you measure your QB’s purely by statistics, you were probably pretty happy with Jason, not just in this game but throughout the year (3618 yds, 20 TD's, 15 INT's, QB Rating 86.4). Not bad numbers, particularly given he played behind an offensive line we will charitably call below average.

If you like to see that undefinable “It” from your QB, however—that field generalship, that spark, that magic—you probably walked away thinking exactly what you have been thinking for at least half a season ... that on a team with a strong offensive line and running game, Jason Campbel would be serviceable, maybe even pretty good.  On a team that needs something more from the position—which when you break it down is arguably the case for all but about a half-dozen NFL teams—he is, and will probably always be, just another guy.

But none of that is news to anyone reading these words. It is what has happened since the final gun of the Redskins 2009 season mercifully sounded that is at issue now, and rightly so.

As the dust slowly settles from Jim Zorn’s dismissal early Monday morning by new GM Bruce Allen, the benefit of hindsight—and some freed-up locker room tongues—has come quickly and provided a degree of clarity hard to achieve while the footballs still fly.

Because in the end, the abysmal failure of the Zorn Era wasn’t primarily the result of schemes, in-game adjustments, injuries or even individual players’ skills. It was primarily the result of a glaring lack of the most fundamental of football cornerstones ... organizational direction, accountability, leadership.

As the Washington Post's consistently solid Thomas Boswell noted yesterday,

“In the hours after Zorn was fired, several Redskins described their own team as the "Cannot Win With Them" type. This franchise may, or may not, need many new players. But it definitely needs an entirely new attitude. The Redskins must stop thinking that they are winners-under-an-evil-star and, instead, face how far they have to travel. Until they prove otherwise, they are losers, especially their richest most self-centered players.

The Redskins' next coach needs to understand what he's getting into. Redskins fans need to understand how much patience they will need. The owner must grasp that, after 11 years, this mess is his and he needs to get out of the way of the professionals. And the players, who know exactly what's wrong with them, need to take responsibility for their own team. When they start acting like winners, instead of just talking like it, they'll have a chance.”
The reasons why such an atmosphere could come to pass are no mystery to those who follow this team. For a decade-plus, an evil brew of bad timing, bad management and plain old bad luck has seen the Redskins stumble along looking for the right formula to return them to NFL prominence ... or, to be candid, even NFL relevancy. 

And on the threshold of yet another regime change, the fundamental question remains unchanged ...

Will the hiring of “a real general manager,” as owner Dan Snyder stunned Redskins observers by doing in firing Vinny Cerrato and hiring Bruce Allen three weeks ago, coupled with the hiring of an established, championship-level head coach in Mike Shanahan (which as of this writing appears all but set in stone), finally be that formula?  Will it foretell the "change in culture" so desperately needed?

We’ll know soon enough. Two years, give or take, barring either unforseen catastrophe or instant success.

What we can't know, given recent history, is whether or not they will be given the opportunity to succeed or fail on their own merits within that time frame.

If two years from now we are still talking about discipline problems, star treatment, “off season championships” and Dan Snyder, we’ll know the only thing that really matters in the NFL (this side of lucking into a once-in-a-lifetime QB like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady) remains organizational competence and professionalism ... and that said hard reality continues to be lost on the young billionaire with the Redskins belt-buckle still presumably stuffed in a drawer somewhere.

Dan Snyder promised Redskins fans two years ago that the most precious thing he’d learned in his four-year association with legendary former Head Coach Joe Gibbs was patience. The two years since Snyder uttered those words provided fairly strong evidence to the contrary, and in the end resulted in as embarrassing a season as this proud NFL legacy franchise has ever suffered.

Only one thing really matters going forward. It's not so much about who starts at right guard this coming September, or how big a cushion the cornerbacks give receivers on 3rd-down-and-8, or even whether or not the starting quarterback is a Franchise or just a Pretty Good QB.

It's about whether or not the current owner of this football team has finally, truly set aside childish things and is permanently turning over football operations to the grownups.

The smoke signals the past three weeks have been promising, and full credit to Snyder for swallowing a ton of pride in pulling the trigger on his long-time relationship with and commitment to Cerrato.  We have seen promising smoke signals from Ashburn often enough, however, only to see them blow away in cold December winds, to allow ourselves the luxury of Truly Believing quite yet.

Finding out whether that light at the end of the tunnel is sunshine or just another oncoming train is something only time will tell.

Thanks to Jim Zorn for two years of personal class and character, and a symbolic smack to the back of his head for the key role he played in the wasteland of the past two seasons. 



By the way, one has to wonder what the oddsmakers will think of Washington's chances to walk away with the 2010 Lombardi Trophy given the sea change at the top of the organization. If you enjoy putting your money where your mouth is in regard to that kind of thing, try your luck with the pros at online sports betting.