The Washington Post is running a 3 part story on what went wrong with this season. Most of it is fairly damning and is a must read for fans trying to figure out what the hell happened.
Part One chronicles, among other things, our personnel mistakes. That will be the focus of this post, though I encourage readers to also check out Part Two on the disconnect in Offensive Philosophies between Al Saunders and Joe Gibbs.
The content of these pieces will be of considerable debate and interest throughout the offseason. You'll be doing yourself a favor by reading them. Part Three will touch on our defensive woes and will come out tomorrow. It is likely the most anticipated (and damning) of the three.
I am going to focus on how the Redskins front office makes personnel decisions, a process brought slightly to light by Jason La Canfora's Problems At The Core.
Some would replace the word "unique" from above with "broken". Vinny Cerrato receives near unanimous condemnation from fans and peers alike for his personnel evaluations. Despite what Joe Gibbs says about all decisions being primarily his, there is a personnel heirarchy of decision makers participating where plenty of blame can and should be handed out. Vinny Cerrato is near the top of that heirarchy.
I don't want to spend to much time burning the Dan Snyder effigy, but one result (perhaps) of his direct involvement in the negotiating process is that it increases the tendency of this team to overpay for players of lesser talent. There is a difference between being capable of writing a check, and knowing whether the amount on that check is sensible. There is a market value for players and coaches we frequently ignore. I would like to hear, from Eric Shaffer or Dan Snyder, why Adam Archuleta was worth exactly the highest safety salary in NFL history.
We've already suffered the anti-draft strategy and its results. This is not a deep team as we pay large amounts for FA starters at the cost of draft picks. The effect the Shawn Springs injury had on our defense was devastating and, in my opinion, a main reason for a setback 2006. At some point the Washington Redskins must learn to acquire cheap, young, talented players in the draft. Free Agents must be paid market-value (or above, in our case) making them costly and inefficient long term solutions. But let's return to Vinny Cerrato for a moment:
Part of this reminds me of the Mark Brunell scenario, where I felt the team retained his services as a starting QB for too long. Those of us with eyes can witness Cerrato's errors, and more confusing is that many people throughout the league predicted it before the fact. That someone who makes bad decisions can climb the Personnel Heirarchy through promotion is by itself strong evidence that said Heirarchy is broken.
More confusing, why does Gibbs feel "sorry" for Cerrato? "Given the stalled progress of the team" why should we dole out apologies for the people responsible for said failure? I feel sorry for the consumers of the product. How can there possibly be any accountability on this team when the best the high command of the team offers is pardon? What is Vinny Cerrato a victim of besides his own decisions?
Something to consider that I had not, until this article:
Let's now focus on a specific bad decision, in this case on Brandon Lloyd. I don't want to waste too much time documenting what went wrong, as we are all fairly familiar with it. He was overpaid to become one of the least productive starting WRs in Redskins history. He has on-and-off field attitude issues that make him a poor fit for the Redskins. Ben at Curly R makes the point with force:
We had also heard about Lloyd's problems in San Fransisco prior to his arrival, so it would be disingenuous to act shocked at what has happened with Lloyd here in Washington. What I had hoped was that his production (combined with a winning record) would muffle that attitude. I was wrong.
Here comes the important part of the article:
Also, I have no idea why we were so insistent on offering Lloyd an entirely new contract where one already existed, though perhaps a reader can inform me why.
Finally let's address some of the attitude problems that are just now coming to light:
I'll leave the reader with an exchange that allegedly took place with Saunders and Lloyd that I think best demonstrates why Brandon Lloyd cannot be a Redskin in 2007. It took place during the New Orleans game (which we won, by the way) after Lloyd lost a Jason Campbell pass that could easily have gone for a touchdown. That this exchange could take place, could be so predictable had the coaches merely been required or capable of evaluating Lloyd's character prior to his arrival, calls into question the entire process I've outlined above. So many failures, so many completely avoidable mistakes.
"Tough one out there. Those lights are tough," Saunders said.
Lloyd looked at him coldly.
"You're joking, right?" he said.
"No," said Saunders. "It looked like you lost it in the lights."
"What? That ball was 10 yards underthrown," Lloyd said. "Go talk to the quarterback."