I have been fortunate enough in the past several months to do business with a player from the Redskins’ “Glory Years”. I won’t disclose his name since I didn’t ask permission – but I’d be happy to share my experience privately if you’d like to hear more. Being as I am twenty-five years old, my fanaticism for the Skins came to be as our run as a feared professional football team was coming to an end. My few interactions with him about our beloved team sparked a desire in me to discover what made those Redskins so successful and also what created such a passionate fan base. Dan Snyder hired Bruce Allen because he has shown competency as a football executive, but also because his family is deep rooted in Redskins’ tradition. I say take it a step further. Everyone seems to be throwing out rebuilding plans so here goes mine. I apologize for the length...I just simply could not stand for anymore plans that involved trading every player on the team or somehow drafting Tim Tebow six times in the same draft.
One thing that was pointed out to me by this player is that we are one of a few teams in the NFL who had a group of players so dominant that they forged an identity for a franchise that remains relevant today. In my eyes, there are only four teams in the NFL that have this quality.
1. Dallas Cowboys and the Doomsday Defense of the 70’s
2. Chicago Bears and the Monsters of the Midway teams of the early 40’s and 80’s
3. Pittsburg Steelers and the Steel Curtain defense of the 70’s
4. Washington Redskins and the Hogs of the 80’s
In order to make this list, your team’s group must still be revered in their respective fan bases, played together and had success for a prolonged period of time, and played a key role in winning championships. Championships truly solidify legacies. That is why you don’t see the likes of the Denver Bronco’s Orange Crush or the Philadelphia Eagles’ Gang Green on this list. They are the Dan Marino and Jim Kelly in this category.
Now this is just my opinion, but I believe that certain teams (especially the above four) can greatly benefit from building their team according to what history dictates. The Steelers are the best at this. They have their usual hits and misses in the draft but they appear to be intentional about selecting players that fit into Steelers football. When I say Pittsburg Steelers football – don’t we all know what that means? When I say Jacksonville Jaguars football…does that mean anything? No. History dictates nothing for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Washington Redskins football – what does that mean to you? Think about that for a moment. What pops into your mind? Without any concrete memories of them, into my mind pops a picture that is similar to the logo of this blog…a bunch of big, fat offensive linemen. I would imagine many of you see the same thing. The most loved players in the history of our team are a group of offensive linemen. What other team’s fans can say that? Here lies the shame in what we have become…what Vinny and Dan have allowed to occur to our beloved Redskins. We are the only franchise in the NFL where drafting offensive linemen actually is the sexy pick. Why have we been denying our history for so long? We continue to compete with the Cowboys in a player collecting, money making beauty pageant. Doing so is OK for Dallas. Sure it doesn’t exactly fit what history dictates for them, but at least it makes sense for them to do so because, as their unofficial state motto states, “Everything is bigger in Texas”. Texans get excited about big things. That’s why Jerry Jones built the BIGGEST stadium in the league. Also, don’t think for a second that JJ doesn’t take pride in having the BIGGEST offensive line in football. Having big, shiny things is something a majority of Texans will gladly support. The same approach does not work here.
Our owner participating in this adolescent pissing contest has not only ruined our team, but has doused the flames of a once fervent rivalry. The Cowboys-Redskins rivalry should easily be the greatest rivalry in the NFL. I won’t go as far as to say the Cowboys don’t care at all about playing us, but they certainly don’t care as much as they should. Once we get back to what once made us unique, they will care again. Consistency plays a major part in this as we are all aware. A constantly changing, constantly mediocre team is tough to hate. Can’t you see that there’s a reason why everyone seems to hate the Eagles more than any team in our division? The same faces are there year after year. I’ve been watching Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid handle this division for a decade. In regards to football, I hate them. I still hate Brian Dawkins. I hate the entire team because they beat us while at the same time personifying exactly what Eagles football is all about. Blitz, Incorporated is built in the same mold as Gang Green. They have constructed their team based on what history dictates. Consistency matter, ESPECIALLY in a rivalry. If you don’t agree with what I’m saying, read this article and count how many times the Hogs mention Cowboys' defensive linemen Randy White.
On to the plan…
The first thing is out of anyone’s control. Dan – you need to realize that you are nothing but a wallet. Be the wallet, stay in your pocket. Let the GM grab you when he needs money.
Secondly, we need a complete culture change – top to bottom. This begins off the field. Every person who played a snap for the Washington Redskins needs to be embraced by this franchise. Even more humiliating than the losing has been watching Redskins greats become alienated from the organization that they dearly love and broke their bodies for. John Riggins should not be an outcast. LaVar Arrington should not be an outcast. Members of the greatest group in Redskins history should not be without tickets to games as mentioned in the article above. It is disgusting how we have treated our alumni. Invite these men to be part of the team in some capacity. Go a step further to rebuild these bridges. My idea, with the debate about disabled NFL veterans – go out and find every Redskin who is suffering from football related ailments and make sure they want for nothing. You have the money. Imagine the statement that would make.
That is actually the easy part. The on-field changes are the tricky part. The most exciting thing that Bruce Allen said in his press conference was that he will be looking for “good teammates” when putting this team back together. Please read the article about the Hogs again if you have any question what being a good teammate means. Those guys loved each other. If someone from the opposing team pulled a cheap shot, they were all insulted and the consequences were enforced as a team. If a mob of angry Atlanta Falcons surrounded Darrell Green like they did D’Angelo Hall – how long do you think it would’ve taken for Dexter Manley and Charles Mann to break up that mob and protect their teammate? The correct answer is that the mob never would have had time to form. More pathetic is that this team almost let it happen again against the Giants. Thanks AH for getting it.
Fixing the on-field problems begins with eliminating bad teammates. Say goodbye Clinton Portis. Sure you throw vicious blocks and you have made your presence felt in our record books, but you are not a quality teammate. You tried so hard to be the new John Riggins. You have the personality, production, and are even respected the same way Riggins was for the way he played. You are just missing one thing – you don’t practice. You have shown an uncanny ability to place yourself above the team. I was a major CP supporter before I began my research and discovered how badly John Riggins wanted to be a part of the Hogs, of the Redskins TEAM. He vocalized it to the point that the locker room “erupted in cheers” when he was given his Hogs t-shirt, thus signaling his induction into the fraternity of swine. I find it hard to believe that Riggins’ actions didn’t resonate throughout the whole club. If you are highly respected, a recognized leader on the team, and the best player – everything you do matters. I would venture a guess that Clinton Portis’ stance that he didn’t need to participate with the team except on game days resonated with this team in a similar, yet negative, way.
As for other changes with current players, most of you can identify the moves that make sense. I don’t think the solution is moving players necessarily, just putting them in positions where they have the best chance to be successful.
Recognize what you have and what you lack.
Jason Campbell – Get behind this guy as your starting Quarterback for next year. There are no better options in FA. Spending millions in guaranteed money on a QB in the draft is a risky proposition until you can ensure that he will be protected. We are in no position to protect an investment like that. Drafting a QB with our first round pick would be an Archuletian waste of money.
Todd Collins – He can definitely be our backup. I am just not sure that it makes sense to have a 38 year old backup if you are rebuilding.
Colt Brennan – Name him the backup and finally figure out exactly what you’ve got with this kid. It wouldn’t hurt to do something to boost fan morale.
Clinton Portis – Gone
Ladell Betts – A great team player. Let him stay and get a speed back in the offseason to compliment him. If he doesn’t perform, pick up a power running back next year to compliment the speed back. Or, go with a clean slate and sign LenDale White and Darren Sproles. Hell, anything can happen here in an uncapped offseason.
Rock Cartwright – Should never wear another uniform.
Mike Sellers – I didn’t get the performance I was expecting from Sellers this year. Someone needs to review goal line blocking with him.
Santana Moss – Santana would give us more as a number two receiver. Despite the fact that it would cause a logjam at receiver, I am an advocate of going after Brandon Marshall. Don’t fool yourself into thinking Snyder will come to his senses in an uncapped off-season. Big splashes will unfortunately be made. I won’t complain if Marshall is one of them.
Antwaan Randle-El – Even without Marshall, he really doesn’t do anything for this team that is worth holding onto. He is easily replaceable.
Marko Mitchell – Needs to be playing this year, but more importantly next year. Like Colt, let’s see what we’ve got with this kid.
Chris Cooley – His personality means too much to this team and to the fans. I don’t see how you can let him go even if he nets you a decent pick.
Fred Davis – Means we have two Pro Bowl caliber tight ends on the roster. One of the most exciting things about having a solid offensive line is the potential to run some two tight end sets. I will truly be disappointed to never see this.
Todd Yoder – Todd blocks. I like Todd. Keep Todd.
The whole squad should be backups outside of Casey Rabach who I don’t particularly care for anyways. I won’t regurgitate what has already been said about this unit because, frankly, it makes me regurgitate.
Albert Haynesworth – Let the man run free.
Andre Carter – No problems here.
Jeremy Jarmon – continue to invest in his development. Could be a good one.
I’d like to see us make a run at Richard Seymour since he will undoubtedly be looking to get out of Oakland. How do you block Carter, Haynesworth, Seymour, and Orakpo? Bullets, that’s how. Remember, anything can happen in an uncapped offseason. This of course means we release Griffin, Daniels, Montgomery, Wynn and allow Golston to sign elsewhere. I also wouldn’t mind making a run at Darryl Tapp for more young depth at the ends.
Lorenzo Alexander – Does too many things well and is too good of a teammate to let go.
London Fletcher – Coach K has a contract with Duke that says he can coach as long as he wants to. Something similar should be offered to London Fletcher. We have no top ten defenses without this man.
Rocky McIntosh – Played great all year. He should only get better with experience. His progress is thrilling. Can’t let him walk.
H.B. Blades – In my opinion, H.B. is a great reserve for us. I don’t think he will ever be a starter, but I don’t think his full potential has been reached. Continue to stay close to London.
Chris Wilson – I am indifferent on his role next year. Serviceable backup but certainly not irreplaceable.
There are quite a few linebackers who will hit the market this offseason. I would prefer us to fill the void left by Orakpo moving to the line through free agency, thus freeing up another pick to assess more pressing needs. I don’t know enough about the bigger names on the list to have a strong opinion. I do feel, however, that signing Shawn Merriman would be a mistake.
D’Angelo Hall – I just don’t trust the guy. I think he is a fine player but there is something that irks me about him. There won’t be any upgrades available here so DHall will remain the top corner.
Carlos Rogers – I am actually against getting rid of Rogers unless he does get you a high pick. He won’t. I say roll with him.
Fred Smoot – Let him be the nickel back until someone takes his spot. Keep your fingers crossed that someone takes his spot. That person should most definitely not be…
Justin Tryon – I know Darrell Green speaks highly of him but he just flat out cannot compete at this level. His consistently makes fundamental mistakes.
Kevin Barnes – Continue to let him develop. Pray that we draft Jahvid Best just to bring the vomiting incident full circle.
LaRon Landry – The best leaders put their men in a position where they will have the most success. For LaRon, free safety is not that position.
Reed Doughty and Chris Horton – It’s tough because both men are great teammates but neither one really deserves to start. I might see what it takes to get Darren Sharper to leave New Orleans. As a realist, I probably give Horton another year to lock this spot down before I make a change.
Don’t kid yourself. Shanahan will be the coach…and that’s a good thing. His pedigree alone should allow him more time to develop this roster as he sees fit. I anxiously wait for the rebuilding of our offensive line and the implementation of his zone blocking scheme that seemingly anyone could run behind and gain 1000 yards. Good luck to you Mike. I pray, for your sake, that results come sooner than later and that your consistent presence and success on our sidelines will garner the appropriate hatred from division rivals and not from us.
As of now we are without a pick in the third and sixth rounds. Ideally, we can trade down in the first round in order to gain another pick in the second. The most likely scenario is that a team will fall for Bradford, McCoy, or Tebow and trade into our slot to get him. Legit tackles should be available in the middle of the round as well. Until that happens though, I’m working with what we’ve got. Here is how I would draft by position in each round. I’ll let the scouts do some work before I throw any names out there.
Round 1 – Offensive tackle
Round 2 – Offensive tackle
Round 4 – Running back
Round 5 – Offensive line
Round 7 – Secondary
In round four, I’ve got my eyes set on Noel Devine. He’s got a little Joe Washington in him doesn’t he? Toby Gerhart could be the second coming of Riggins but that seems to be an impossible scenario. If we can gain another pick in the second, I’d like to see it go towards a running back, thus shifting the focus of our round four pick to the linebackers.
In conclusion, we as Redskins fans still have a great deal to be thankful for despite this decade of mediocrity. This organization has a rich tradition that, if embraced instead of ignored, can guide our management in their upcoming decisions about this roster. These hard times will make the parade in downtown Washington D.C. all the more enjoyable WHEN the Lombardi Trophy is once again ours.