Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder finally awoke from almost a decade slumber of hypnosis by firing executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato. A firing that has come a decade too late, as Cerrato has crumbled a once proud franchise with horrible draft picks, terrible free agent signings, moronic trades, and overall idiocy during his time with the team.
The Cerrato Era was so bad that even the most loyal of Redskins fans were questioning their own allegiance to the team. Snyder, who many thought was either having an affair with Cerrato or was being blackmailed to keep Vinny on the payroll, tried to tell the media Cerrato stepped down from his position to save face. No one is buying it.
No one is crying over Cerrato being gone, except perhaps his own family. His career in the NFL is virtually over, unless some owner was just born today and did not notice how the Redskins lived in the basement of the NFC East a great deal during his time calling the shots. A time where Snyder spent millions of dollars to try to get a championship team, only to be rebutted by an overall lack of talent on rosters built by Cerrato.
One only needs to look at the past two drafts for a taste of the Cerrato way of doing things to see how clueless Vinny was. Drafts that were depleted by his trading away for a 11 game rental of defensive end Jason Taylor, who contributed virtually nothing to the team in that time. Taylor is now back with the Miami Dolphins playing well, along with the draft picks wasted to get him that include quarterback Pat White.
In the 2008 draft, Cerrato neglected the Redskins defensive needs by drafting wide receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly, along with tight end Fred Davis, in the second round. While the Davis pick has looked decent after All-Pro Chris Cooley went down with an ankle injury, the Kelly pick has looked totally wasted. Players like defensive end Jason Jones were still on the board. Jones has now given the Tennessee Titans nine sacks in just 20 games so far, while Kelly has has just 18 receptions and no touchdowns in his 18 games with the Redskins. Other players bypassed that year were Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, and Dallas Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett.
Things got no better in the 2009 draft, a year that saw the team missing two picks from Cerrato trades of the past that hurt the team. The team had no outside linebackers on the roster other than Rocky McIntosh. Even though the team had spent millions to get free agent defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, they had no depth at defensive end. The Redskins were so desperate, they asked 13th year veteran Phillip Daniels to return to be the run stopping defensive end they have few of.
While Washington lucked into Brian Orakpo falling into their laps in the first round, they asked the defensive end to switch to linebacker due to the lack of depth. Cerrato then waited until the fifth round to address this issue again, picking a malcontent named Cody Glenn. Glenn was a fullback most of his time in college, and was quickly cut by the Redskins. They also drafted undersized linebacker Robert Henson in the sixth round.
While Henson has played in one game and contributed nothing to the Redskins, the list of players bypassed that are playing well for their respective teams is long. Players like Bernard Scott, James Davis, Will Davis, Aaron Brown, Al Afalava, Brandon Gibson, Sammie Stroughter, Julian Edelman, Moise Fokou, Kevin Ellison, and LaRod Stephens-Howling are just a few of those players ignored by Cerrato.
Snyder decided to get rid of Cerrato and the endless cycle of failure that came with him. With head coach Jim Zorn soon to be fired, Snyder realized he could not procure a good head coach to replace Zorn so as long as he had Cerrato at the helm of a sunken ship that had taken on way too much exhausted indigence.
Bruce Allen was hired to replace Cerrato, and instantly represents an upgrade. Allen won the George Young Executive of the Year award with the Oakland Raiders in 2002, and also worked for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for four seasons. He was given the title of general manager by Snyder, and is only the eighth person ever to hold that title with the team. Three are members of the Pro Football Hall Of Fame, including his father George Allen.
The one criticism of Snyder was his seemed disregard of the teams legacy, even though he claims to have grown up a fan of the team and their traditions. His wanting to establish his own mark has been seen throughout the Redskins stadium and headquarters. By hiring Allen, the team gets a hint of tradition through lineage without any real ties to the organizations front office past.
The next steps to trying to build a winner won't be seen for a few weeks, which should entail the firing of Zorn shortly after the season is completed. The rebuilding of the team will take time. Besides still having issues of linebacker depth, the team needs to get a running back to help their aging stars. One of the backs, Clinton Portis, appears to be near empty in his tank. The Redskins also need to get more offensive linemen, especially after All-Pro tackle Chris Samuels career ended earlier this season. Then there is the decision if they should retain quarterback Jason Campbell, whose contract expires at the end of the season. Campbell has shown tenacity and desire, yet he has taken a huge pounding behind a porous blocking scheme that has some questioning if his ceiling of promise has been lowered.
Maybe Snyder got sick of neglecting all of these areas finally, with the culmination of events jumping the shark recently after Cerrato took him to scout Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen in person. Cerrato, who was employed as a recruiter by Notre Dame from 1986 to 1990, then had Clausen as a guest on his radio show on one of the radio stations owned by Snyder. Seeing the direction of neglect continuing on the horizon, Snyder decided to send a clear message to all that he had woken up from the web spun by the dream weaver Vinny.
This is a message that will reverberate throughout the Redskins locker room, the league, prospective coaches and future free agents. No one had respect for Cerrato, and this had been stated by many talking heads in the media. Many of which have stated that Cerrato couldn't get the job he held with any team in professional football other than the Redskins because of Snyder's lack of football knowledge. This included members of ESPN, a network Cerrato worked for a year in 2001.
Cerrato left the Redskins offices with a statement thanking Snyder, the team, and coaches like Joe Gibbs, Greg Blache and Sherman Lewis. His leaving out Zorn may be a show of immature bitter spite, believing his hiring of Zorn cost him his job and NFL future. Cerrato also said he thought that he left the team a solid foundation and bright future.
Considering how he built a roster this year that included an offensive line without a single reserve having NFL experience, despite it being an oft-injured unit, and the fact that he has oversaw a franchise that won only one playoff game since 2000, the bright future of the Washington Redskins actually was born the moment Vinny Cerrato left them.