The 2013 Washington Redskins are, from top-to-bottom, an utter debacle; a fiasco so wholly horrific that I wince when I tell people at school that I'm a fan of the team, and often fight the urge to dry heave when I watch them attempt to play football. This season, this blazing airplane on a one-way ticket to Hell season, is the first one I can remember that made me actively dislike a majority of the people in the organization. Mike Shanahan is as inept at evaluating talent outside the running back position as he is at making adjustments. Kyle Shanahan would have been fired weeks ago if he had a different last name; Jim Haslett should have never been hired, much less have attempted to switch to a defensive scheme that best suited exactly zero percent of the talent we had at the time. Our quarterback is extremely talented, but still misses way too many open receivers downfield and needs to learn to be a little smarter about what he says publicly (even if it's the truth). Our supposed #1 receiving target throws a pity party every time a ball thrown his way is even a little off-line, and is starting to get a little mouthy himself. Dan Snyder is, well, Dan Snyder, nothing much has changed there. Our GM has as much real power in terms of bringing in talent as the Royal Family does in England. And yet . . .
And yet, I still violently love this dumb team.
I don't know why. I shouldn't, honestly. They've made the playoffs 4 times in my 19 years on this planet, never advancing past the Divisional Round, never showing any real signs of growth or hope of one day becoming a legitimate contender. And on those rare occasions when a carefully cultivated and cared for seed suddenly sprouts out of the cold ground and into the sunlight, like 2012, winter always puts summer on its deathbed and snuffs out every molecule of life in that poor, unsuspecting Primrose; that would be this year.
And yet, I still sport my Sean Taylor jersey, my logo-injected pajama pants, and my RGIII "Go Catch Your Dream" socks when watching their games. I still scout draft prospects to see who would fit the team's needs. I still cherish guys like Alfred Morris and Santana Moss.
I still care. A lot. And I know everyone still tuned-in enough to be reading this article does, too. We want them to pick themselves up and wash the grime out of their cuts as they recover from an unbelievably disappointing and arduous season (yes, this season is, for all intents and purposes, over). We want them to get back to their 2012 form and ideally take the jump to the next level. Of course, a ton has to happen for that utopian dream to become reality.
Here, I've outlined what, in my eyes, needs to happen for the Redskins to compete at a high level as soon as next season:
- Fire Mike Shanahan and his staff:
I know Redskins Nation is slightly divided on this issue, and during last night's game, color commentator Cris Collinsworth stated that he thinks we can compete for the NFC East in 2014 by sticking with the same core.
I think Shanny's completely lost the team, and needs to hit the road. As far as replacements go, Mark put together a compelling case for Bill O'Brien, and other candidates I like include Stanford HC David Shaw and Bengals DC Mike Zimmer.
The NFL has seen multiple first-year coaches have success in recent years; this would not necessarily have to be a "blow it all up and hope to be good in like three years" type of deal. We already have a franchise QB, so the most important piece of the puzzle is on the board. Now we need someone who won't screw him up.
- Get RGIII a few new toys.
This upcoming offseason, the Redskins get $18 million back to toss around after being handicapped the previous two. I know people got scared of the idea of free agency during the Cerrato era, but it is a viable tool when used correctly. Sign a guy like Jeremy Maclin as a cheap, extremely high upside guy, and maybe even splurge on someone like Eric Decker, while also bringing in a few wideouts through the Draft (Jordan Matthews, Odell Beckham, Jr., and Brandon Coleman are a few possibilities on Day Two).
Add that to an emerging star in Jordan Reed, a stud RB in Alfred Morris, and returning vets Pierre Garcon and Leonard Hankerson, and you have an offense capable of scoring on anyone at any time.
(Also, as an aside, please just let RGIII run the offense out of the no-huddle. He's clearly much more comfortable doing so.)
- Fix the defense
Fletch, I love you, but it's time to hang ‘em up. Getting the contracts of Adam Carriker and potentially Stephen Bowen off the books will help too. The new regime (in this scenario) would ideally go back to a 4-3 to better fit the talents of guys like Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. Draft Shayne Skov to replace Fletcher, sign Jairus Byrd to bolster the secondary, and get healthy returns from Keenan Robinson and Richard Crawford and hey, this defense doesn't look too bad . . .
Of course, this is presuming we listen to Bruce Springsteen and "take care of our own". Locking down D-Hall, Orakpo, and Perry Riley is key, and will take up a good chunk of that $18 million in cap space. However, all of those guys are talented, and will produce if put in a position to succeed. Being paired with healthy teammates and fresh, gifted rookies in a better scheme will do just that.
- For the love of God, do something about the Special Teams unit
People love to take Special Teams for granted until they're a horror show. Good teams usually have, at the very least, average ST units, and right now the Redskins have a High School level one. As a Band-Aid, I'd love to see the team pick up P Pat McAfee in the offseason, and take a flyer on K Anthony Fera from Texas as a UDFA. I'd also like to see a draft pick used on someone who can return punts/kicks, because I can't sit through another year of Josh Morgan.
What do you all think? Cut ties with the "Shanaclan," or keep them around for another year? Vote below and sound off in the comments.