- There’s never a dull moment in the NFL in January it seems, though I suppose people define “dull” differently from city to city. In Washington, there has been very little meaningful football played in January over the last 20 years, but that hasn’t detracted from there being plenty to discuss about OUR Washington Redskins. I have been asked a very steady diet of the same questions over and over as I have attended watch parties and holiday gatherings this playoff season. As the representative Redskins fan at a bar in New Jersey, the club car on the Amtrak and in my extended family in the Northeast, I have realized something in the last three weeks or so...I think I actually believe my answers this time. Here are some of those questions and my thoughts on them. We will cover these and many more tonight on “Thank God It’s Tuesday: National Championship Edition.” I’ll be posting the show here on Hogs Haven tonight instead of tomorrow as we would otherwise have two terrible mornings this week (you know...kill two birds with one hangover).
- Which NFC East team that just hired a coach got the best one? I lead off with a very firm statement of bias, and it is that moment when I reconnect with the 90’s version of myself when there wasn’t a single Redskins question I answered that wasn’t some crazy statement of blind homerism (maybe also the early 2000’s...and 2012ish). Instead of bashing the Giants for hiring a guy who coached the wide receivers on a team that has been annually blasted for having no reliable wide receivers, or bashing the Cowboys for hiring a guy who is going to hate Jerry Jones making coaching decisions, I stick with what I think is the simplest and most obvious statement of fact. The number one problem for the Washington Redskins is and has been culture. Since Snyder took over the team, the biggest obstacle for the Redskins on Sunday has been Monday through Saturday. Time and again, the dysfunction present in the organization during the week showed up between the whistles on game day. Ron Rivera presents himself as the most capable man to tackle that problem. He makes no apologies about putting a high priority on environment and culture. His military background, as well as his ample experience in the league as a player and a coach, has armed him with an approach to running a team that puts a premium on the “way we do things.” I have no problem suggesting that Rivera was the best of the three hires. None of the three teams in question are playing ball right now—this answer may very well change when they do, but today, the Redskins actually made the best decision because the fit is simply perfect.
- What about Trent Williams? This question is less fun to answer because it involves the potential for the best player on the roster right now donning a different jersey next season. The topic of Trent Williams couldn’t be bigger though when you start focusing on this team’s prospects next season. Were Trent to walk back through that door, it would be like adding one of the best free agents to our team at a premier position. His presence could be worth a win all by itself. The core of his beef with the team at least seemed to be centered around Bruce Allen and the medical staff. Last I checked, all of those people were escorted out by security. Dan Snyder has been notably silent on Trent, and more importantly, Trent has been notably silent on Dan. I do believe there is a chance we could see some genuine healing take place between the organization and Trent, but we do have to remember that he drew a pretty fine line when he told people he was never playing for the Redskins again. It was in this space where we first entertained the idea that Trent was our biggest and most powerful ally in the #FireBruceAllen campaign last summer. Mission. Accomplished. A part of me thinks that Trent stays on this team and gets a hero’s welcome from everyone. Another part of me thinks this: whether he comes back or not, there will be a front office structure in place to responsibly deal with this issue. If there is a path back to the field in burgundy and gold, I am confident we will walk down that path. If the situation continues to point to Trent needing to move on, the Washington Redskins are going to benefit from a trade that will see valuable draft resources come our way. Removing pettiness and foolishness from the equation (aka Bruce) will allow this whole ugly chapter to be closed in a professional manner. Again, even if we don’t get the result we all want the most (Trent’s return), my confidence that we will see a proper resolution points to a feeling that we are moving in the right direction as a franchise.
- Why do the Redskins keep losing top young coordinators like Kevin O’ Connell? Losing KOC hurts...kind of. Don’t get me wrong, I think KOC is a good coach and is deserving of promotion and opportunity, but the idea that there is much about a 3-13 organization that just hit the self-destruct button that must be kept no matter what is preposterous. On the way out in Carolina, Rivera reportedly told Panthers ownership to give the coaching job to Scott Turner. He said he was ready and they wouldn’t want to lose him. They lost him. We traded an up-and-coming 30-something coordinator for an up-and-coming 30-something coordinator. More importantly, Ron Rivera is getting the guys he wants, which is something that hasn’t always happened under Dan Snyder. I wish KOC the best. The best news for him is that based on the track records of former Redskins coaches, he should be coaching in a championship game any day now.
- Is Dwayne Haskins the guy? In short, yes. We picked him in the first round and in limited action, he has shown what appears to be some pretty awesome potential. He has not gone all Jamarcus Russell on us. As for Ron Rivera, he never went all Kliff Kingsbury either, openly pining for a top draft prospect a year after his franchise drafted a first round quarterback. Thankfully for the Redskins, we have a quarterback with plenty of upside and LOTS of other needs, so overthinking this becomes a bit pointless. That said, I would think that given the way this has all gone down between Rivera and Snyder, if Rivera had a problem with Haskins, it would be solved however Rivera thought was best. I don’t get the sense that is the case at all. In fact, we have seen players kind of gravitate toward the tantalizing possibilities that Haskins offers his team next season. Game always recognizes game...and vice versa. It seems that Redskins players like what they see, and so it feels like the Haskins Era is not going to go the way of the Rosen Era.
- Is Dan Snyder really done messing up this team? I. Have. No. Freaking. Clue. I sure hope not. I know it is possible. Here is what I lean on: Snyder can’t escape the reality that he has shit all over this town and this fanbase. He has milked us for every penny and he has marketeered (a word?) this thing into the ground over two dongcades (definitely a word now). The guy looks pretty beat up...as beat up as a billionaire can look. The Rivera hiring buys him a shred of credibility. The promotion of Kyle Smith helps as well. The complete deconstruction of his utterly woeful operation over the past month has me leaning forward in my chair. I will gladly get excited about Rivera and Del Rio and Haskins and perhaps Chase Young...but I am not yet ready to employ my pixels in a full-throated defense of Dan Snyder. (I used them all when we signed Trung Canidate.)
The offseason starts once again with many questions...but the answers are actually not half as bad as they have been in the past.