The ROOT! of our problems in DC.

My emotions were quickly stirred up this morning when my fellow Ball Hog, Kevin Eaton went on Twitter and began armor-all’ing (is that a word) the tires of the good ole Braylon Edwards bandwagon coming to DC.  Rumors have started about the Redskins bringing Edwards over to DC, you can read more about it here.

Eaton spoke about “always entertaining upgrades at talent” and that he’s “6’3″, fast, had 900yds and 7td’s last year and that he would welcome him to DC.   When Eaton was challenged about his questionable work ethic, his off-the-field issues, etc… Eaton replies “why does everybody have to be a “leader,” “I’m all for great character guys but not all the guys on the team need to be great character guys.”  Unfortunately, Eaton speaks from the same perspective that MANY Redskins fans view our moves during the off-season, what’s even scarier is that I think our upper-level management tend to view free-agency through the same scope at times.

This is a hot button issue for me: talent ALONE does not win you championships!

I remember an interview Phil Jackson did earlier this year on ESPN1000 Chicago where he was asked about the talent in Miami, Jackson replied: “There’s no question about the talent they have, but talent doesn’t always win.  The team that shows the best teamwork will win it.”  He goes on later in the interview and added: “I always refer back to when Wilt Chamberlain was traded from Philly to LA.  Trading Wilt, put himself, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West together, three of the top scorers in the history of the NBA and they never won a championship and they were together for four years.” Jackson said.

One of Alan Stein’s (national strength & condititioning coach) favorite blogs is the one titled“Energy Givers.” Read the excerpt from Alan below (click on the photo to enlarge):

From what you know, heard and seen about Braylon Edwards, would you classify him as an “Energy Giver.”  I wouldn’t… and there in lies the problem in DC, for years are “stars” have not been our leaders.  If Braylon came to DC (that would mean Moss would be gone) he would immediately become our #1 receiver and the most notable face at the wide receiver position, our “star” at that position.

Look at this picture below of our captains in 2009:

Thats a lineup of: Rock Cartwright, Khary Campbell, Chris Samuels, Jason Campbell, Cornelius Griffin and London Fletcher, the team leaders, the team captains for your 2009 Washington Redskins.  I agree with Samuels and Fletcher being on the list but no offense to the others, they needed to go.  The PROBLEM I find with this is: when you look at our roster in 2009, the players that we market, promote, put on the front covers of our programs, sell the most jerseys of, pay the most money too, etc… ARE NOT IN THIS PHOTO.  Where’s Portis, Moss, Cooley, Landry, Hall, Rogers, Haynesworth, Smoot, etc… you know all the guys whose jerseys hang on the shelves of every Redskins Store in the DC, MD, VA area.  I love Rock Cartwright and all but how much can he “lead” the team when he’s sitting 3rd on the depth chart?  At the same time, Portis, if he chose to be a leader the impact would’ve been incredible and the organization knows that, they PAID him to attend off-season work outs and encourage guys, are you kidding me?

I’ve had an issue with this for as long as I can remember; I adamantly believe that the Redskins failures are due to the fact that our highest paid, most talented, most recognizable players are NOT our leaders. Think back to grade school or high school sports, the best players were always the ones that EVERYONE looked up to and followed their lead.  This is no surprise that in New England: Brady, Wilfork and Mayo are the Patriots team captains.  In Indianapolis, Manning and Bracket lead the charge.   Green Bay is led by Woodson, Rodgers, Jennings and Hawk, as it should be!

Every off-season we line up our player rankings and immediately look towards the top and try to figure out which next big uber-talented “star” we’ll bring in, while we’ll protect our signing by saying “we have a strong locker room,” AKA, “our 2nd & 3rd string guys are great guys who’ll keep the big-ego’d starters in line” – good luck with that!

This year we need to be even more careful with the overflow of young talent brought into DC.  We have the opportunity to mold them to exactly how we want them to be, but we also have the opportunity of corrupting them for good if certain bad influences get around them.

My hope going into this off-season is that when Bruce and Mike are about to make that call, or gas up Danny’s jet to begin the guerilla tactic approach for our first free-agent that they more than just look to see if Player A is talented (Eaton and thousands of others approach) but they also ask themselves: is player A going to make the 6-7 players at his position better on a daily basis too?

We’ve been lacking “stars” who are willing to lead like our W/L column has been missing wins, hopefully we can reverse both this year.