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Redskins lack of direction leaves fans feeling lost

Remember the good old days of 7-9 football?

Washington Redskins v Buffalo Bills Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The Redskins drafted Dwayne Haskins in the first round of the draft. Jay Gruden felt he wasn’t ready to play.

Jay got fired and Bill Callahan was given control of the team. Bill also felt that Dwayne wasn’t ready to play.

But injuries to the suddenly fragile Case Keenum have put Haskins into three ballgames already.

Following the loss to the Bills, interim head coach Callahan refused to name a starter for the Jets game that will come up after the Week 10 bye.

The Redskins have started three quarterbacks this season.

Colt McCoy started against the Patriots.

Dwayne Haskins started against the Bills.

Case Keenum started the other 7 games, but only finished 5 of them, being replaced by the rookie following injuries in Week 4 against the Giants and Week 8 against the Vikings.

The team is 1-8 and in last place in both the division and the conference.

Trent Williams made clear his intention to hold out early in the off-season when he skipped the voluntary OTAs, then the mandatory minicamps.

He skipped training camp and the pre-season, then held out for the first several weeks of the regular season.

Bruce Allen said, rather smugly during the off-season, that Trent would play in 2019 and that he would play for the Redskins. Brucifer repeatedly said that the team wouldn’t trade Trent.

In short, Bruce Allen spent months playing chicken with his best player, and refusing to deal him for draft capital until the 11th hour, when it was really too late to make a deal.

The trade deadline passed, Trent showed up at the facility, his helmet didn’t feel good, so the team said he had failed his physical.

Shortly after that, Bruce Allen formally asked the NFL and NFLPA to conduct an investigation into the medical treatment of Trent Williams. With no obvious reason to ask for such a review, aside from trying to prove the team was right and the player wrong, this amounted to a “shot across the bow” from the Redskins.

Most recently, Trent has asked the NFLPA not to participate in such an investigation.

Whatever the two sides are trying to accomplish, the words “productive and positive relationship” don’t seem to describe the expected outcome.

The Redskins drafted Derrius Guice in 2018 as the team’s apparent ‘running back of the future’. His knee was torn up in his first pre-season NFL game, and he spent most of the next year in rehab.

When Week 1 of the 2019 season rolled around, Jay Gruden announced that future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson would be inactive, while Derrius Guice would get the start.

Asked about the decision, Jay said that there was limited room in the 46-man active roster for running backs who didn’t play special teams, and that, unless the team was going to run the ball 50 times per game from the i-formation, he didn’t see how Peterson could be active.

This begs the question of why AD was even on the roster. It hints at some tension between Bruce Allen, who probably had final say over the 53, and Jay Gruden, who decided to thumb his nose at a decision he may not have been on board with by simply making Peterson inactive — a decision that Jay had control over. He seemed to double down on this with a double-middle-finger-salute by starting Colt McCoy in Week 5 against the Patriots - ultimately Jay’s last as head coach of the Redskins.

All of it was bad optics, and seemed to point to dis-integration at Redskins Park.

In Guice’s absence — he went on IR following his injury — the team turned to Adrian Peterson. Under Jay Gruden, he received limited carries and was rather inefficient and inconsistent.

That all changed when Bill Callahan took over. During this most recent 4-week stretch under coach Callahan, Peterson has carried the ball 75 times for 383 yards; that’s an average of 5.1 yards per carry, and it’s a pace that would see him put up 1,532 yards in a 16-game season. For the past month, Adrian Peterson has been one of the most productive runners in the NFL.

This week, Derrius Guice was re-activated from IR.

What is the plan going forward? Will Guice sit on the bench? Will he be eased back in? Will Adrian Peterson be benched in favor of the second year player who hasn’t yet logged 60 uninjured regular season minutes in his pro career?

When Bill Callahan was asked in a press conference about the plan at running back, he gave the same answer that he did when pressed about the starting quarterback for Week 11; that is, he declined to answer, saying that he wouldn’t make a decision until later.

Jay Gruden was fired because the Redskins were losing, and they looked bad on both sides of the ball. The team appeared poorly coached, and the team lacked consistent execution on both sides of the ball.

When Bill Callahan took over, he stated that he wanted the Redskins identity to be that of a “running team”.

It has been very much that in the 4 games of Callahan’s tenure. After years of bemoaning how quickly Kyle Shanahan and Jay Gruden would abandon the run, Redskins fans are now watching games that are reminiscent of football from the middle of the last century.

The New England game was the start of the team’s streak of games with 75-plus yards rushing (5 games) and was their first of four 100-yard days in the last five weeks. They’ve averaged 23.6 rushes since that game, but have scored just 8.4 points per game in that stretch. The team only ran it 17 times per game in their first four games, but also scored almost twice as many points on average in those contests (16.5). It will probably say “Establish the Run” on Bill Callahan’s tombstone, so there is no point in hoping for this trend to change.

Game Time- The [Bills] game only lasted for 2 hours and 40 minutes, which makes it the third-shortest contest of the entire year. The two shortest games of the year? Well, they were the Burgundy and Gold’s last two outings (2:39 at Minnesota and 2:36 vs. San Francisco).

Just saying that doesn’t really articulate how fast these games have gone by, though. Those three games and last year’s Week 17 finale against the Eagles were four of the fastest five games in the last decade (1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th).

Bill Callahan’s offense has scored 35 points in the 4 games in which he has been the interim head coach. While the defense seems to be playing a bit better than it had been under Jay Gruden, watching the offensive point production drop by nearly 50% to the worst per-game average in the league simply doesn’t inspire confidence.

So, Jay Gruden was sacked, Bill Callahan doesn’t seem to be doing any better. Surely there’s a plan for the next head coach?

Apparently, there won’t be any forward progress on the new coach until January.

We’ve heard rumors, but nothing solid. There was an early report that, among others, Dan Snyder was interested in potentially trading to acquire Mike Tomlin from the Steelers. We haven’t heard any more on that front for the past few weeks. There was a later report that both Bill Callahan (the current interim head coach) and Kevin O’Connell, the current (young) offensive coordinator, would be interviewed for the job. The offensive woes under their watch for the past month, and the limited progress of Dwayne Haskins as a quarterback during that time have dampened whatever muted enthusiasm existed for those two in-house candidates in October.

The most reviled man in Washington D.C. is actually the President of the Washington Redskins franchise, Bruce Allen, who is equally incompetent at running both the business side and the football side of the franchise.

For some reason, Dan Snyder seems to be blind to Allen’s obvious failings, and Bruce has not only been retained, but has enjoyed a number of promotions over the course of his ten years with the organization, and seems adept at securing the ouster of anyone whom he perceives to be a threat to his power.

Redskins fans don’t like Dan Snyder, but recognize that the United States will become a constitutional monarchy before Dan would willingly sell the team.

Our only hope is to get rid of the chief henchman — the evil and incompetent Bruce Allen — and then pray that two things happen:

  1. Dan Snyder needs to hire or promote a talented “football guy” to take over the football side of the franhise.
  2. Dan needs to get out of the way, trusting the football experts he has hired to run his team to do their jobs without interference in player evaluation, the draft, roster construction, selecton of coaches, and relationships with players.

Nobody is holding their breath, though there was a flutter of excitement this week when a local reporter put out a story suggesting that Dan is ready to remove Bruce Allen completely from football operations at the end of the season.

The problem is, we’ve heard it all before, and our hopes have, every time for the past twenty years, ended in tears.

The result of all this is a Redskins fan base that continues to have no faith in the direction of the team. True, the ‘confident’ vote rose from last week’s 0% level to 1% this week — likely on the strength of Dwayne Haskins getting his first start and not looking completely lost on the field — but that leaves 99% of fans who cared enough to vote saying that they don’t believe in the direction of the team.

The Redskins have a roster that will be poorly constructed in 2020 if no action is taken. Josh Norman is overpriced and underperforming. Jordan Reed had a $9.6m salary cap hit this season, and never saw the playing field in the regular season. He has likely played his last game as a Redskin, and perhaps his last game as a professional football player. His backup, Vernon Davis, is in the final year of his contract and has missed the past month with a concussion. Ryan Kerrigan is an immensely popular player who has been a consistent producer for the team since being drafted in 2011, but he is 31 years old, has the 2nd highest cap hit of any active player on the roster, and seems to be slowing down. The team’s largest cap hit for a single player in 2020 will be for Alex Smith ($21.4m); Smith hasn’t played since his leg was broken in Week 11 last year, and took a $20.4m bite out of the 2019 salary cap.

The Redskins will have Adrian Peterson, Derrius Guice and Bryce Love on the roster next year. It may be a good problem to have, but there may be at least one too many thoroughbred stallions in that stable.

Questions abound about Dwayne Haskins, and they won’t go away until he starts and finishes a game looking as though he has command of the offense, then does it again.

The team has no head coach. Whoever gets hired will not be able to pick his quarterback, but will have to live with this season’s commitment to Haskins. The guy who will likely choose the new head coach — Bruce Allen — is a man that, based on his track record, no one believes can do an effective job of hiring the right guy to lead the team.

And it may be difficult to find a top-level candidate anyway. Who wants to take over a team that has a badly constructed roster, Bruce Allen as a boss, and a two-decade history of dysfunction? Someone pointed out recently that, no matter who has come into Washington as a coach in the past twenty years (aside from the sainted Joe Gibbs), each has left with his reputation tarnished.

Atop all this dysfunction sits King Dan, the little tyrant who wants desperately to win, but who has no idea how to build a winning culture.

Whether you talk about the roster, the coaching staff, the front office organization, or the ownership, the Redskins lack any clear direction, and it has left fans feeling lost.

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