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Being a Redskins fan right now

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It’s one of those ‘good news - bad news’ things

NFL: Washington Redskins at Carolina Panthers Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Week 17 of the 2019 season is a strange time to be a Redskins fan. For me, it’s filled with contradictions.

Lots of positives

For example, the team lost in Weeks 15 & 16 — two division games to the Eagles and Giants. Normally, this would be extremely disappointing, but the fact that the ‘Skins had the lead with half a minute left against the Eagles, and that they went into overtime against the Giants with Dwayne Haskins looking like he was a very positive force on the field in both games gives me a lot of hope for the future.

Being in position for the 2nd overall pick in the draft and not needing a quarterback is also something that makes me a bit giddy. Of course, with a win over the Cowboys this coming Sunday, the Redskins could still drop way down the draft order if the Lions, Giants and Dolphins all lose, but if Washington finishes the season with the 2nd overall pick, the possibilities for draft selections or trade-downs are enough to keep mock drafters sleepless and arguing for the next 4 months.

Of course, it hasn’t just been Dwayne Haskins that has offered fans like me hope for the future of the roster.

Terry McLaurin looks like a 5th year receiver already in terms of what he does on the field and how he carries himself off of it. He has a legitimate shot at reaching 1,000 yards in 15 games this season.

Steven Sims is an undrafted free agent who still makes rookie mistakes, but is showing promise of being an offensive starter and kick returner for years to come.

Kelvin Harmon has come on strong in the latter part of the season, and even Cam Sims made a play or two this week.

We haven’t seen Bryce Love on the field yet, and Derrius Guice hasn’t been able to stay healthy, but with the entire off-season to ask, “what if” the two runners are healthy and teamed up with Adrian Peterson... it’s enough to make a fan of explosive running attacks salivate on his keyboard.

Defensively, the team can afford to upgrade some positions, but there are no obvious holes in the defensive roster that demand immediate attention or else.

Overall, the Redskins have a roster that is young, and the team has opportunities to trade a couple of veterans for draft picks to supplement the 6 regular picks and one projected comp pick that they currently appear to have in hand. As mentioned above, the front office could also potentially add more picks by trading down one or more times in April.

And, while there are a number of teams that will have more cap space available, the Redskins should be in a very strong situation, with $70m or more available to spend on veteran free agents in 2020.

I took a few minutes and put together a projected depth chart (less than 53 players) to see what the Redskins roster could look like come September. I’ve listed the current ages of most of the players next to their names on the chart to emphasize just how young the roster will be.

  • You can see that I have cut Josh Harvey-Clemons, Josh Norman and Paul Richardson.
  • I have traded away Trent Williams and Ryan Kerrigan, each for a third round pick, and then I have traded both 3rd round picks for a single 2nd round pick.
  • With the 8 picks available to me (the lowest number that I expect the Redskins to have) I have drafted:

1 - a starting left tackle
2 - a tight end
3 - a backup offensive guard
4 - a wide receiver
4 - a backup QB (comp pick)
5 - a cornerback
7 - backup OT
7 - BPA/special teams player

  • I’m looking to free agency for two starters:

a. I’m targeting TE Austin Hooper as the premier FA signing of this off-season for the Redskins

b. I’m looking for a lower cost option to replace Brandon Scherff at RG

  • One other veteran free agent signing would provide a borderline backup/starter quality right tackle.

My point here isn’t to predict exactly what the Redskins roster will be, or to say how free agency and the draft will be used; rather, it’s to demonstrate that the franchise should have enough draft and salary cap resources to put together a competitive roster in 2020 — one which can provide a foundation for the next few seasons as they transition away from Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan, Josh Norman, Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis and others, to a “new generation” of Redskins cornerstone players.

Lots of questions

With only a few days left in the regular season, many fans like me are holding our collective breath as we wait to see what Dan Snyder will do with the front office organization and the coaching staff.

The number one question being tossed about right now concerns Bruce Allen’s fate. Will he be fired? Will he retire? Will he be shifted to a business-only role intended to keep him away from the football side of things (or at least give that appearance)?

If Bruce is made or allowed to go away next week, what does that mean for the organization of the front office? Will he be replaced as President? Will the team have a General Manager again? If they do, who will be more influential - the GM or the Head Coach?

Speaking of head coaches, the Redskins have been amazingly silent about their search for a new man or woman to coach the team. Could this mean that they are gonna elevate the current interim guy, Bill Callahan? Is it a sign that they already have a handshake deal in place with an outside candidate? Does it mean that they haven’t yet begun the search in earnest, and won’t until the “Bruce situation” is resolved?

The Redskins organization could, literally, do anything at all in the coming week(s). There could be a complete scorched earth program that clears out the executive suites, the personnel group, the salary cap guru, and the entire coaching staff. Alternatively, Dan Snyder could take the approach that consistency is more important than change, and we could find ourselves with Bill Callahan being named the full time head coach in Jan, with Keven O’Connell being extended in an effort to provide continuity for Dwayne Haskins and a young group of players that seems to have responded to Bill’s style in the latter half of the season.

As a fan, I have strong feelings about what should happen, but realize that I’m powerless to affect any of the decisions that lie in the immediate future.

Lots of worries

The many unknowns leave me, as a fan, chewing my nails and feeling stressed.

I don’t know who will be in charge of hiring the coaching staff. I don’t know what kind of leader will be targeted. I’m not sure if the front office will be re-organized before the coaching staff is hired, or if it will be re-organized at all.

What I do know is that the organization definitely needs an overhaul. Whether it’s more akin to changing the spark plugs or replacing the engine depends on Dan Snyder, and, unfortunately, he has a 20-year history of either making or not making decisions, with nearly every action or inaction somehow always turning out wrong.

Huge Opportunity

The fan base is hungry for change.

The roster is in an unusual state. This team has won just 3 of 15 games played this season, but the team on the field for the past two weeks, especially, has looked waaay better than the team that took the field for the first 5 weeks under Jay Gruden. I get the sense, with the offense in particular, that the young players are finding their rhythm now, and that there’s a ton of upside ahead for them.

The defense looks like a decent roster that suffers from bad coaching. I think a whole new approach is needed there, but I feel like the roster provides the raw materials needed to get the job done.

There’s a popular story that says that the Chinese character for “danger” also means “opportunity”. I don’t know if that’s true, but risk and reward go together. If there is a mighty big upside possible for the Redskins if the right decisions are made in the next few weeks (think back to Bobby Beathard’s decision to partner with Joe Gibbs), then there is also the danger of getting it all completely wrong, and kicking off a fresh 5-year period of frustration and failure.

The eternal caveat

Growing up a Catholic, and going to Catholic school for 12 years, it became almost automatic for me to “cross myself” in many situations... a quick tap of the forehead, heart and each shoulder as a form of automatic prayer and blessing.

Here on Hogs Haven, we now have our own automatic caveat used to warn other fans away from any potential optimism. No one is allowed to hope, expect or wish for good things for the Redskins until Bruce Allen is gone. Even then, we have to acknowledge that Dan isn’t going away... like the master of the underworld, Dan is an eternal evil that is greater than his minion Bruce Allen, so firing Bruce Allen won’t be enough; nothing will ever improve as long as Snyder owns the team.

Hope springs eternal

That said, sports fans are a tough group who are always looking forward to something better. My dad was a Chicago Cubs fan for his entire life. They went 108 years between World Series wins, and my pop didn’t live to see them finally make it, but every year he was there to cheer them on.

Redskins fans have haven’t had it so bad compared to that kind of futility.

Pity the poor Vikings fans, whose team has been to four super bowls, all in the 1970s, and all losses.

There have been bad owners in sports for as long as professional sports teams have existed. There is one hope for us long-suffering Redskins fans. It is that Dan will see the light, hire an extremely competent chief executive to oversee his franchise, then step back and enjoy the perks of owning a successful NFL team. Dan should get a lot more enjoyment from his investment if his team is winning on the field.

To be a Redskins fan, I must subscribe to the Lloyd Christmas belief that there’s always a chance, and the Mudville fans’ belief in Mighty Casey’s ability to overcome the deficit when the score stood 2 to 4 with just one inning left to play.

Sometimes belief is all we have.

The Mudville fans seem to have been in a situation very much like Redskins fans today.

It looked extremely rocky for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood four to two with just one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought if only Casey could but get a whack at that—
They’d put up even money now with Casey at the bat.

When you’re two runs down in the bottom of the ninth, with no one on base and two outs, it’s pretty ugly. A fan would have to be a blind optimist or simply stubborn to stick around and see the outcome.

Detroit Lions v Washington Redskins Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Flynn preceded Casey, and so did Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a washout; the latter was a fake.
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.

We need an incredible lot to go right in the coming days and weeks if we hope to see the Redskins rebound from the ugly situation that exists right now. The Redskins may be in the darkest days the franchise has seen since the year of my birth, 1960, nearly 6 decades ago. We need Dan Snyder to step up and do the unexpected — the unimaginable.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despised, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third!

There’s that glimmer of hope right now. There’s the chance of real and meaningful change; something akin to what many fans felt when we first heard the news that Scot McCloughan had been hired. Finally! A true football guy!

I’m saying there’s a chance.

This is Christmas time, and it’s possible that the coming week or so could see the Redskins fan base rescued by a true savior.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.

There’s a real possibility that Dan Snyder, in his third try at it, can get it right. That he can take a swing and connect, allowing us long-suffering fans to reap the reward for our dedication.

An entire fan base has its hopes tied up in the decisions that will be announced (or not) in the coming days and weeks. We need Dan Snyder to step up to the plate and hit a home run. We desperately need a win here.

And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.

Poll

Which of the following is closest to what you believe will happen to Bruce Allen in the coming week(s)?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    He will be fired
    (49 votes)
  • 31%
    He will be allowed a gracious exit, such as an announced retirement
    (144 votes)
  • 16%
    He will legitimately be shifted to a role with the organization that completely removes him from any influence on the football operations and coaches
    (77 votes)
  • 23%
    There will be an announced move, but Bruce will manage to retain his power and influence, defeating any attempt to geld him
    (109 votes)
  • 17%
    No change is coming. Bruce will be retained in a ‘business as usual’ fashion
    (82 votes)
461 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Which of the following best describes the person that you believe will actually be chosen to be the new head coach of the Redskins

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    An experienced NFL head coach — someone like Ron Rivera, Mike McCarthy, etc
    (73 votes)
  • 21%
    It’ll be a guy who is currently an offensive coordinator on another NFL team
    (84 votes)
  • 7%
    It’ll be a guy who is currently a defensive coordinator on another NFL team
    (30 votes)
  • 1%
    It’ll be a special teams coordinator from another NFL team
    (5 votes)
  • 22%
    He will be a successful coach coming from the college ranks (someone like Lincoln Riley, Matt Rhule or Urban Meyer)
    (87 votes)
  • 16%
    His name is Bill Callahan
    (65 votes)
  • 10%
    It’ll be Kevin O’Connell
    (41 votes)
  • 2%
    I have a different idea altogether
    (9 votes)
394 votes total Vote Now

Poll

When the dust settles, will the Redskins have a General Manager prior to March?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    Yes
    (233 votes)
  • 41%
    No
    (163 votes)
396 votes total Vote Now