Browsing all articles tagged with Dan Snyder

Why Shanahan Should get Another Year

After the 23-0 loss to the Bills on Sunday, many Skins fans are calling for head coach Mike Shanahan’s head. That is understandable emotion from a fan base sick of years of losing and embarrassing performances. I’ve certainly overreacted to a loss before and pondered firing Shanahan.  But I hope owner Dan Snyder doesn’t get impatient and pull the plug too early, something he’s arguably done before. Norv Turner was fired during a winning season, a year after going to the playoffs. Marty Schottenheimer was never given a chance and was pulled after one year in DC. Joe Gibbs retired from his second stint as Redskins head coach after a year he led the team to the playoffs. What would have happened if any of these coaches had another year or two in DC? What if one had become the guy long term? Would the Redskins still be in this constant state of rebuilding that has lasted over a decade?

So far Mike Shanahan has led the Redskins to a 9-14 record and his offense looks terrible. Still, Snyder and the Redskins fans need to be patient. Firing Shanahan would create more problems than it would solve. Even if the team finishes out the season 3-13, Shanahan should get the 2012 offseason and at least six games next year. Why? To finish out what he started.

Brian J. McDermott flickr

Shanahan is currently in year two of a rebuilding process. Fire him and the last two years of losing will have been for nothing. If Snyder brings in a new coach what is the likelihood that the new coach will want to run a 3-4 defense, West Coast offense, and a zone-blocking scheme for the offensive line? Why would Snyder want to bring in a Shanny-clone if he thinks Shanahan failed? Any new coach Snyder brings in will want to blow apart the roster and start again.

A case for Shanahan’s firing can be made easily enough. He misjudged the roster coming in, believing he could win with the team last year. He has put too much faith in his system and his defense. He’s cut players that didn’t fit and brought in some questionable talent that did. Instead of working with players that have obvious football skills but weren’t system matches he let them flounder. Offensive guard Derrick Dockery and defensive end/outside linebacker Andre Carter failed so miserably under Shanahan that they weren’t even tradable.

His QB evaluation has been terrible in his coaching stint so far. First he let go of Jason Campbell last year and brought in Donovan McNabb.  Campbell was having a career year and putting up wins in Oakland this year before his season-ending injury. Meanwhile, Donovan McNabb flamed out in D.C. last year, was shipped to Minnesota where he flamed out even more quickly this season. Shanahan went into this season with John Beck and Rex Grossman, two career journeyman as his top two QBs. He believed he could win games with either. It turns out he CAN’T win games with either.

So, why should he get another season after those mistakes? Because some progress has been made and firing him would destroy all that progress. In the first four games the Redskins 3-4 defense was looking stout.  The team is still 7th in points allowed at the end of Week 8. They have given up a lot of points and yards since the Week 5 bye, but they have also been dealing with injuries and an offense that hasn’t held the ball for more than 25 minutes the past three games.

That offense has looked horrendous the past few games but it’s had one of the worst rashes of injuries in the NFL. In two of the first four games the Redskins rushed for over 170 yards. Then starting left guard Kory Lichtensteiger went down for the season and starting left tackle Trent Williams injured his ankle. Without those two starters the o-line has looked overmatched. The losses on the offensive line, combined with losing starting RB Tim Hightower for the season, starting TE Chris Cooley for the season, and number one wide-out Santana Moss has turned an average offense to an abysmal one.

But the point is that GM Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan were able to create a good starting core for their West Coast offense and 3-4 defense in the two seasons they’ve been here together. Give them another off-season and they should be able to finish filling in the holes and put some reliable backups in place. Next year an injury to a starter hopefully won’t have such a drastic effect on the team’s chance to win.

Lastly, Shanahan’s hasn’t yet chosen his QB of the future. I admit this is a bit of cop-out here as Rex Grossman, John Beck, and Donovan McNabb have all been floated to the media as “Shanahan’s guy”. Shanahan has had two drafts and not only didn’t spend a high draft pick on a QB he didn’t spend any picks on one. This is almost unconscionable in what is becoming an increasingly quarterback-driven league. The last five Super Bowl winning coaches had their Super Bowl winning QB starting or on the roster during their first year behind the reins. But the fact is Shanahan has bought himself extra time by avoiding this necessary step (perhaps purposefully). There are many QB options in the draft and through trades in the 2012 off-season. Shanahan should be easily able to get a guy that is both high-talent and fits his system. He may even be able to trade for his “now” QB and draft his future QB.

So, let’s stay patient DC. If after six games into the 2012 regular season the Redskins don’t look like they’re on their way to a winning record then Shanahan should get the ax. He’s clearly not going to win here.  But I think if you give him another off-season he’ll put in place the next franchise QB, a quality starting offensive line, and roster depth on both sides of the ball. At that point the Redskins should be setup to win for the next few years. But if Snyder gets impatient and fires him this season or during the off-season, he’ll just be restarting the three year rebuilding cycle with a different coach.


What Shanahan puts in his new contract

Currently Mike Shanahan and Dan Snyder are working out the details of a contract to put Shanahan in charge of the 2010 Washington Redskins.  We all know that past free agent acquisitions and coaches have come here to get as much money as possible.  Thankfully, we have an owner who is able and willing to make sure top talent and creative minds are attracted to come to D.C.

However, beyond the “max” deal, what could Shanahan be looking for in his new contract?  Let’s use the Jim Zorn experiment as a guideline, shall we?

1. Clear delineation of authority and power with regards to player discipline. Numerous reports have surfaced lately about discipline issues with players going to other sources when there were team issues.  Circumventing the head coach is an issue of rebellion and insubordination – even if they were “tight” with Vinny Cerrato or Dan Snyder.  If Shanahan wants a successful stint in D.C., he must lay down the law and operate under clear methods of communication between players and the coaching staff.

2. Authority to hire and fire staff as he sees fit.  Jim Zorn walked into this head coaching position with little if any authority to bring in “his guys”. Shanahan will be assumed to have this authority, as most head coaches would think they’d have.  However, if there is ever an issue he wants to be able to point to the contract (as it is rumored Cerrato did with Zorn) and point out his power.  For example, let’s say some time down the road Bruce Allen thinks there is another person better suited for the offensive line coaching position than Kyle Shanahan wants.  Papa Shanahan can go to his contract, make the decision and mediate between the two options.

3. Playcalling Operations. This almost goes without saying after the whole Sherm Lewis situation that Zorn went through this year.  Would Dan Snyder dare try and make a power move towards Shanahan?  Probably not.  I can’t even think of Bruce Allen concocting such a plan, but better safe than sorry.

4. Roster and draft procedure. Bruce Allen and Shanahan will likely operate as a team for making player personnel decisions.  But as we know during the Cerrato era, things can be a little unclear when decisions are made.  It’s always better have things spelled out.  There’d be nothing worse than for this new staff than confusion over who is calling the shots on the players that Shanahan will be coaching.

These are the vital issues not only to Shanahan’s contract with Snyder but also if there is going to be success in this organization struggling for a new way of doing business.


Christmas comes early for the Redskins

Whether you were on your morning commute, at your workplace, or just getting out of bed, the news spread like wildfire: “Vinny Cerrato is out”.  Vinny Cerrato resigned this morning as Vice President of the Washington Redskins this morning.  I probably got four texts from fellow Redskins fans announcing an early Christmas present.  Dan Snyder has also  taken a reach back to the past and has connected someone very familiar with a winning Redskins legacy by hiring Bruce Allen (son of former Redskins coach George Allen) as his new man in command.

At first I was skeptical, as most Skins fans are with such a bold move during the regular season.  But this seems to be a serious move by Snyder.  Mr. Allen was in Tampa with Jon Gruden and is credited with putting that Super Bowl winning team together ( led by former Skin  Brad Johnson).  Other than that I was unaware of his personnel prowess but the press release by the Redskins outlines it well:

  • From 1995 to 2004 Allen was the GM with the Oakland Raiders
  • “he was part of three AFC West Championships, two appearances in the AFC Championship game and a berth in Super Bowl XXXVII”
  • From 2004 to 2008 Allen was GM with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • 2005 and 2007  the Buccaneers were AFC South Championships

Questions Arise

Here’s the situation though, will Snyder step back and let George Allen do what he’s supposed to do?

Does this mean that Jon Gruden is automatically the leading candidate for hire for the Redskins Head Coach next year?

Will Allen give Jim Zorn a fair evaluation for the improved play of the team during these last few weeks.

Your Thoughts

Do you like this hire?

Same old story different name?


Dan Steinberg remembers Vinny’s “legacy


Is Gibbs III a Good Idea?

The hot rumor of the day is that Joe Gibbs could be back to try and bail out the amazingly more dysfunctional every day Washington Redskins.  Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk at is reporting that there may be a third coming of Gibbs to the Skins organization.

This would not be a third head coaching stint, however.  Dan Snyder would bring Joe Gibbs back to assist in bringing in a GM and the next coach.  This is just a rumor at this point, so let’s examine the pro’s and con’s of this possibility.

Gibbs III would be a bad idea because…

  • There were mixed results when Gibbs shared a joint role with Cerrato, Snyder as a Team President role. Adam Archuleta and Brandon Lloyd are just two of the misjudged people brought in to help the Washington Redskins during Joe Gibbs’ watch.  Those two players alone set the Skins back in dead cap money, roster spots and potential development of other players.
  • Would Gibbs have the time and will necessary to really turn this organization around in the long run. As screwed up as the Redskins are, there is a potential that this is going to get worse even next year.  The Skins need a major overhaul of the structure from which this organization operates.  Gibbs has a ministry he’s in charge of, he has a racing team, and a host of other things down in North Carolina.  For that reason, Jason Reid says that a source close to Gibbs thinks it’s unlikely that it will happen.  He’s just too busy.
  • Joe Gibbs worked very closely with Cerrato and Dan Snyder when he came back, is he willing to make the wholesale changes to the front office that it seems like the Skins need? There’s a reason that Dan Snyder and Joe Gibbs still stay in touch beyond the fact Gibbs was the last coach here.  How many of the ex-coaches under Snyder’s tenure does he still have some kind of a relationship with?  Does that tell us something?  Is Gibbs strong enough to finally put a “real” General Manager with real power in charge?  If they are close friends is he going to actually be able to keep Snyder out of the kitchen?
  • Does Gibbs still have the contacts after being out of the league for the past few years to accurately assess who should be here for the job?
  • Will fans dismiss this as a simple public relations move without substance and be even angrier with Snyder and the front office?

Gibbs III is a good idea because…

  • Gibbs is the only remaining link with the former success of the Redskins that has any ties to the organization. Gibbs knows what this heap of a mess used to look like when it was a championship winning team.  He knows what it should look like unlike the garbled mess that has been created by current management.
  • He had some success in personnel while he was here. Cooley, Moss, and Portis were brought in during Gibbs’ tenure.  These were major additions to this team and have been some of the only bright spots during the Skins past few seasons.
  • There is no one above Gibbs, not even Snyder. When Gibbs stepped back onto the scene Snyder stepped back.  It was amazing to see.  Gibbs has the respect of the owner and experience to back it up.  With any other person hired by Snyder comes along the possibility that it becomes a situation that we are currently dealing with.  Where someone is brought in but has no real authority to make things happen or staying power to weather the hard times (where real character and experience comes from).
  • There’s no way on God’s green earth Gibbs would keep Vinny, right? Could anyone?  This, and point #3 are probably the biggest things to hope for if Gibbs were to come back as a more hands-on consultant.  The real problem has been picking, keeping and signing talent.  The real problem has been not having a clear long term direction to take this franchise.

My Thoughts

I know there is a sentiment among Skins fans that Gibbs II was a complete failure.  I understand but disagree.  One of the things that I enjoyed most about it was that there was a coach who I knew I could trust was doing everything he knew how to fix things, was given the authority to do so and had the experience and character to back it up.

Jim Zorn could have eventually turned out to be a great coach here.  Unfortunately he was not given anywhere near the respect or authority Gibbs was on his return.  Zorn has been humiliated and dishonored here, as has our franchise’s once proud reputation.  Gibbs has a chance to bring stability back to Washington by setting up a map for the future and if there is anyone that could persuade Snyder, it would be him.

Your Thoughts

Do you think a Gibbs return would put this franchise in a better or worse situation for the future?

Other Links

Dan Steinberg sums up some of the latest analyst chatter about the Skins and our possible open head coach position.

Washington Post writers Jason Reid and Rick Maese say that Jim Zorn considered walking after the “suggestion” of giving up offensive play calling decisions.

If you haven’t read this piece Mike Wise wrote on John Kent Cooke, read it.  Now.


Skins Loss to Chiefs Prompts Major Changes

The Washington Redskins lost to another winless opponent yesterday, dropping one at home to the Kansas City Chiefs 14-6.  I wish I could have said this was a major surprise.  I wasn’t really shocked the Skins lost on Sunday but if you told me the following, I would have thought we were going to win:

  • Clinton Portis would break off the longest run of his entire career with a 78 yard run (15 rushes for 109 yards).
  • The Skins defense would have five sacks, would not allow a touchdown (to a team that scored 20 points against the Dallas Cowboys the previous week), and kept Larry Johnson under 100 yards rushing.
  • The Redskins would only have one turnover committed in the game on a “Hail Mary” pass at the end of the first half.

So, what happened?  How did the Redskins lose this game? In a nutshell:

  • The offense continued to struggle with putting points on the board and did not get in the end zone at all, even going against one of the worst defenses in the league.
  • The wide receivers and quarterbacks of the Redskins could not consistently connect on deep routes even though Thomas, Moss and Randle El looked to be beating coverage.
  • Timeouts were wasted.  Again.
  • The offensive line gave up a safety for the second straight week.
  • Jason Campbell was benched after missing open receivers down field.
  • Instead of going for a 52 or 53 yard field goal, Zorn elects to have Jason Campbell throw it towards (not even in) the endzone.
  • Special teams had problems again this week and surrendered excellent field position after our punt was blocked.

Six points.  That’s it.  The Washington Redskins are now 2-4, sitting at the bottom of the NFC East and are faced with a potentially disastrous matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles on national television next Monday night.  Something has to be done, right?  Something’s got to give, something must change.

The Change

After another pathetic performance by the Redskins offense, Vinny Cerrato and Dan Snyder met with Jim Zorn Sunday night and according to Zorn, “strongly suggested” that he give up play-calling duties.  This is the “too much on his plate” approach.  It definitely must have been tough on Zorn after being brought in initially as the Offensive Coordinator before he was hired as the Head Coach.  This is also in the context of the organization’s hiring of Sherm Lewis to be that “extra set of eyes” to see if he can fix the offense.  Now Lewis is the one who will be calling the plays.  Sherm Lewis said when he was hired here, he wasn’t “trying to take anyone’s job” and I believe him.  And now he has Zorn’s job of play-calling.

But at this point, is this the answer?  I am not entirely sure if Lewis will have any more success in his calling of the plays than Zorn did with this personnel.  The offensive line might have lost Chris Samuels not just for the season, but for his career after last weeks “stinger” and his narrowing spine problem.  That means that whether Todd Collins gets the start next Monday night or whether it’s Jason Campbell again (which I find more likely) it’s still going to be a bumpy ride.

The Effect

It’s hard to look at this move and not see that Jim Zorn’s days as the Skins Head Coach are numbered.  Whether it’s deserved or not, it’s clear that the fans and Dan Snyder will want change next season (if not much earlier).  There’s an off chance that the Redskins win big Monday night which might buy Zorn more time.  If the Skins wind up winning a few more in the harder part of his schedule he might be able keep it for the remainder of the season.  My view is that if the plan is to fire Zorn after Monday night, just fire him now.  Deal with him like a man, or else just let him do his job.

Stay tuned this week for an examination of who might be the Redskins next head coach if Zorn gets the axe, a comparison of Campbell and much, much more.


Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post has done a great job collecting thoughts from various media and football persona’s regarding the changes Cerrato has handed down.  Tony Dungy’s take here and everyone else you can think of is here.

Tony Kornheiser talked on his radio show this morning about his conversation with Dan Snyder in the owner’s box and Joe Theismann even came up as an option for a candidate to be the next (interim-only please?) head coach.

Comedian Danny Rouhier examines the futility of the Redskins great draft picks since 1991 and his latest “Redskins Anonymous” meeting.  It’s awesome, I promise.

Your Thoughts

What do you expect the product will be like against Philadelphia on Monday night?

Is the Zorn Era over?

Should it be?

Is Campbell done here?