Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cleaning House is Exactly What The Redskins Need to be Doing

The Redskins have fired their two coordinators, Al Saunders and Gregg Williams in light of the retirement of Joe Gibbs. In their place they have hired Jim Zorn, from Seattle, to lead the offense and promoted Greg Blache to lead the defense.
In my mind there was no other way to effectively make this team better than to clean house in the way that Dan Snyder has done. I'm not saying he should have hired two assistant coaches before the head coach, but he definitely should have chucked both Saunders and Williams after ties to Gibbs were cut.
This team, as a whole, has been stuck in mediocrity for the last four years. Making the playoffs isn't good enough and the coaching staff, now of the past, had done nothing to inspire our confidence in their progression towards excellence. Personally, I like Gregg Williams and am disappointed that he won't be a Redskin anymore, but when you look at the bare facts of the matter, the Redskins, in their entirety, are trying to get better and that means change. The Redskins have great defensive personnel. The defensive line is strong and the secondary, with the addition of another cornerback in the off-season can match up against any offense in the league.
But this move isn't about where the Redskins are right now, it's about where they want to be next year and the year after that. The intangibles of a coaching staff go a long way toward consistently winning and after four years, neither of these coaches has shown that inner desire or that transcending confidence to make this team great.
Consistency is always important when you are trying to grow players and develop a winning ball club, but after four years shouldn't there be better results? Who have they really brought in to grow and develop? Why are injuries so crippling to the Redskins while other teams are able to win with good second string players? With all his natural talent, shouldn't Jason Campbell be better than a 77.6 quarterback rating and a 60 percent completion rating? With all their weapons, shouldn't the offense be better than 20.9 points per game? Why, after four years, are the Redskins continually struggling to be a wildcard team? Why did this team squander victories in the second half? Why couldn't this coaching staff get the most out of, what they tell us is, an incredibly talented team? Why should the Redskins settle for this kind of production, hoping that the team will suddenly turn it around? Suddenly make great strides when after four years, the only thing that has changed are a couple of the players names.
Some fans are angry, but do not kid yourselves, this was not a perfect team. Nor would it have been under the direction of Gregg Williams, whose stint in Buffalo languished as a lopsided defensive-minded team who went no where. Their time has come and gone. They had their chance and they did their best. Both coordinators either didn't know how to manage who they had or they didn't know how to bring in the best players to make their system work. By bringing in new people the current players will have another perspective on the game. They won't forget everything they were taught by either Williams or Saunders and will incorporate new techniques and styles into what they already have as a foundation. We'll have to wait and see, but maybe that extra little bit will take a good team and make them great.

- The Hokie


DMG said...

I think the problem people have with the Redskins is that they constantly overrated them - every position, every year and I think that if you look at their defense it's good but not great and I don't think they're going to be better without Williams than they were with him.

The problem with the team comes down to the on-field personnel. It just isn't great and that's the fault of Gibbs, who has been running the football operations and apparently has no idea of the value of a draft pick. I do think the Redskins have more depth that you give them credit for: Collins stepped in and did well, the line did better than I think most people expected given the injuries it had and the defense continued to be strong with Sean Taylor.

But as for the players: Jason Campbell's QB rating in this, his second season, is almost exactly what Carson Palmer's was at that point in his career. I think the other offensive players are pretty good but without a guy at QB, RB, WR or TE that can just take a game over the offense probably isn't going to be great.

Was the problem the play calling and schemes or was it the players? Saunders wasn't the one fumbling the ball once a game at quarterback nor the one dropping the back on crucial plays. Nor was he the one calling constant runs up the middle during crucial junctures or trying to illegally call extra timeouts (Gibbs, I'm lookin' at you).

My gut just tells me that unless the personnel changes or improves on an individual basis I don't think this team will be better on offense or defense next season and while I'm no football expert I am the one person who predicted the Pats would go 16-0 in our poll earlier this year - just wanted to point that out so that I can feel all smart.

Yard Yoder said...

I find it hard to believe the redskins defense will do better then it did under Williams. When the team was healthy all it did was succeed defensivley.

The problem with the redskins the last 4 years has been its inability to sustain continuity. When the defense was messed up last year becaues of injuries and the lack of a saftey on teh bonehead decision of signing adam archaletta...they had to change schemes.

Campbell Clearly didnt yet understand the Saunders offense, but it is clear that when we put in a quarterback who did, it was a great offense. Campbell now has seen how the offense needs to work and has much better tools the Collins.

I think the best possible thing for this team would have been continuity...not change. There was such momentum and confidence comming off the end of the season. I fully beleive the team was only a big reciever or tight end away from being a scary football team. But now we will never know.

Consider this about the redskins past season.

They finished 9-7, they had one of the hardest schedules in the NFL and their losses were to
Giants-in the superbowl
Cowboys-2nd best record in the nfl
Patriots-best team ever
Packers-3rd best team in football
Phillidelphia-erratic but very good some weeks
Tampa-Wild Card team
Bills-Game after sean taylor died...

I think the team could have gone another year before rebuilding

The Tar Heel said...

I fully agree with the yoder in the yard. Dan Snyder is obsessed with big splashes every time he makes a move - be it within the coaching staff or with trades and free agent signings. There is certainly something to be said for a little continuity and this was a great opportunity to show that Snyder is willing to give that a chance.

No, the Redskins were not a great team at any point this season, and yes, they are still lacking the playmakers at several positions they would need to really become contenders. But to say this team made no progress this season is hogwash. Jason Campbell, though still erratic and inefficient in those last drive situations, was improving before his injury. He showed great strides in several close games early in the season and even played well in a few losses (see Dallas). The last thing a young quarterback needs is a complete shake-up at the top, just as he's starting to grasp the 700+ page playbook. But the firing of Saunders is not nearly as foolish as letting go of one of the best defensive minds in the game.

This Skins team does not have a high-octane offense. They're not the Pats, they're not the Cowboys and they're not any other team that averages 25 or more points per game. They are a grind it out, close game type of team to a fault. But until they get Joe Montana under center, a big possession receiver and another explosive back, that will be their identity. The key to winning if you're that kind of team - as evidenced by Washington's wins this season - is a rock solid defense. It wasn't always there and the secondary sustained far too many losses to be as good as it could've been. But the defense was what sparked the Skins to their torrid finish and their second playoff appearance in three seasons.

It's more than likely that Gregg Williams would've walked had he not been offered the head coaching job, but honestly, you're not going to get a better defensive coordinator OR head coach than triple-G. End of story.

As for the head coaching options, today it was announced that Snyder had spoken with Pete Carroll - which was neither surprising nor intelligent - and Jim Fassel? Are you serious? Since when did the Redskins lick their chops at the prospects of signing a Ravens reject? Whoever the Skins get, it will no doubt set them back two to three years at the very least. Hopefully the fans enjoyed the ride at the end of this season, because we might not see 9-7 again anytime soon.

The Friendship said...

Bottom line, the retirement of Joe Gibbs was going to happen sooner or later. His departure has set up all these situations, which are neither surprising nor unexpected.

Williams and Saunders were being paid very respectful head coaching salaries. Therefore, whoever the Redskins would bring in as a head coach this year or the next would have to be paid an outrageous amount of money to establish a monetray heirarchy. Or have Williams and Saunders take a pay cut (which would be as direspectful as letting them go).

This way they show a bit of fiscal responsibility, keep some continuity on the defense with Blache, bring in a simpler offensive guy to further help Jason Campbell and can bring in a head for less money that you would've coughed up to Williams.

I'm sorry but coordinators come and go. They help but are not the heartbeat of a defense. Our team won't be crushed by inconsistancy next year. They will only get better with new personel.

Williams does have a good defensive scheme, but he priced himself out of the job. His value as a head coach is much less after he bombed in Buffalo and he would demand too much money as a defensive coordinator in a system without a top tier head coach.

I don't see the Skins taking such a huge step back. No, Fassel is not the answer, and neither is Carroll, but I don't see the players getting drastially worse just because the scheme changes.

They aren't a rebuilding team, it hasn't been gutted. They just had to make a couple of expected changes because of Gibbs departure.

In closing, progress over a season is expected, but progress over four seasons is necessary and it is the later that the Redskins didn't achieve.

DMG said...

(1) The latest year I could find information for was 2004, but in the year the Redskins were worth 1.1 billion dollars, had revenues of 245 million and an operating income of 69.6 million - all the most in the NFL

(2) Snyder has never shown a concern for salaries before.

(3) The team paid 120.5 million in player's salaries last year

(4) Since Williams had a contract and was fired, the Redskins still have to pay him.

The decision to fire Williams was not about money.