"A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason."
When Thomas Paine wrote these words in the introduction of his pamphlet Common Sense, he was of course questioning the authority of the British government. He placed the blame for the pain and suffering of the fledgling American colonies squarely on King George himself. I am often reminded of these words as I watch yet another year of Redskins mediocrity. Reason has been notably absent at times this season (as well as in recent seasons). Tumult has ruled supreme.
We started The Revolution here at Hogs Haven last year as a way to stir the masses, fortify our resolve, and make our case to the man who has long been the face of our pain and suffering. While I won't compare Dan Snyder to King George III today, I will say that he absolutely deserved all the blame for the years of shenanigans he oversaw. He was rightfully called out for a decade of questionable decisions. But he has made changes, and seemingly for the better.
(more good news for Snyder after the jump)
Today, I look back at what we accomplished last season through all of our collective efforts (we weren't the only ones to mobilize). Snyder fired Vinny Cerrato. He hired an experienced general manager. Snyder fired a head coach that was ostensibly unprepared to be a head coach--at least not the head coach we needed in D.C. He hired an experienced coach with Super Bowl credentials.
A huge HD video board was installed at FedEx Field, and then NOT used to blast the stadium with ultra-loud commercials at every turn throughout the season. (this one was huge for those of us who have gone to games in recent years)
We were given a sit-down interview with the team owner where, in between some rather softball questions, we discussed where things had gone wrong. Dan Snyder told us to our faces he had made mistakes.
Publicly, Dan Snyder apologized to the fans.
I sense the great unrest and negativity in Redskins Nation today. I understand why apathy has gripped our hearts and why we fail to be shocked at all when these games are lost with such absurdity. But if a new course was indeed plotted at the end of last season, we need to stick it out. One of the main things we begged Dan Snyder to do was commit to a long-term plan. We can't turn around a year later and demand to scrap everything once again and start over fresh.
Shanahan has made some mistakes this season to be sure. Bruce Allen may very well never live down the McNabb deal--at least until he makes a trade that is as amazingly beneficial to the Redskins as the McNabb deal was glaringly detrimental. But letting these guys live to see a new day and continue tinkering with this organization is the only course of action that makes sense. Another year of roster upheaval should (should) lead to a group of players that are more in step with what it is Mike Shanahan wants to do here in Washington. Another year of teaching the tenets of the 3-4 defense should (should) lead to a more cohesive attack from the linebacking corps as well as a greater understanding of roles along the defensive line. Installing a new ideology on both sides of the ball takes time.
We can--and will--argue about the errors in judgement made by the people Dan Snyder put in place to make decisions. We can--and will--debate the soundness of the strategy to go away from things we did well in the past (like the 4-3 defense). Among those things that are inarguable is the fact that no matter how good we were on defense in recent years, and no matter how lucky Vinny ever got with a draft pick or trade, we were simply not a good team. Another fact that seems obvious to me is that Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan are committed to getting as far away from the Vinny Cerrato era as humanly possible. This has entailed not only the jettisoning of players that Vinny invested significant resources in, but also the decision to put good players on the sidelines in the name of building a sounder franchise (Haynesworth, McNabb). Creating distance from such a massive dung heap takes time.
I like hearing Mike Shanahan suggest that "we need to learn how to win." In addition to being true and obvious, it represents an admission that currently, we simply don't know how to win. And given that we all watch the games and can see this very obvious fact, hearing the face of the Redskins franchise suggest this feels a lot better than hearing him say, "The Future Is Now." Learning how to win takes time.
Reason has long been the nemesis of this Washington Redskins franchise. Dan Snyder has thrown good money after bad, made undeniably insane moves and surrounded himself at times with guys who probably wouldn't have been granted even an interview in any other NFL city. With Shanahan and Allen in charge now, Snyder is ostensibly saved from himself. For the first time in a long time, it seems that Dan Snyder can (if he chooses) avoid the wrath of the masses by simply doing nothing. If it's true that time makes more converts than reason, Snyder should be the happiest man in town. Should he prove capable of abandoning his previous customs, Redskins Nation stands a very decent chance of emerging a lot stronger when the tumult subsides.