The Sad Reality
Over the last decade, being a Redskins fan has been a miserable reality. Every year you try to go into the season optimistic that your team will finally have a decent playoff run and you just need a few changes for your team to be a perennial contender in the division. Being a Redskins fan is like being in a dead end relationship that is going nowhere but you stay because you’re loyal to a fault; so every football season you become less and less a fan of the NFL because your team is stuck in losing and drafting players that don’t pan out. Even for teams that are perennial losers like the Redskins, it still isn’t as bad because when you go to their games they at least have more of their fans filling the stands than their opponents. When you go to a Redskins game it is one of the most demoralizing things for an NFL fan. This might be the only team in the NFL where home games are probably worse than playing on the road. Almost every game the opposing team is louder than the Redskins. When the Eagles, Cowboys, or Giants come into town, it’s almost like they’re having a home game and the Redskins are on the road. Ever since Daniel Snyder has taken over the Redskins, a once proud franchise with Superbowl wins is now a joke around the league. Almost every three years the Redskins have the same proverbial problems. The head coach is fired and the first round drafted quarterback or the starting quarterback ends up being a bust. In that span there is always one season where it looks like all the team needs is a few pieces, then they come out the next year and completely fold. How does a team that went 6-3 to start last season end up starting this season 0-5? Some blame the coaching, others blame the Owner/GM, and some blame the name.
On the Field Product
There is one thing that remains consistent with the Redskins: every year this team is one of the most penalized and least disciplined. Every coach in the last decade was supposed to be a sort of offensive savant that would change the way the Redskins play and win games. A once stout defense running a 4-3 decided that it was time to run a 3-4 not because it would actually make them better defensively, but because who ever makes these decisions for the Redskins watched too much tape of the Steelers and thought it would be easy to recreate. What the person who makes these decisions forgot to do was actually draft players that fit the defense. A staple of the 3-4 defense is mammoth size defensive linemen that take up two block on almost every down. By mammoth size I mean 340 pound nose tackles like Haloti Ngata who will be in your backfield on every play if you decide to guard him with one man. Most people who run a 3-4 defense know that this is one of the most important pieces of the 3-4 defense. Not the Redskins decision makers. Constantly they employ players in schemes and positions that don’t fit them. For years we just tried to put former corner backs at safety thinking this was the way to improve our defense. To this day we still have issues at safety. The Redskins don’t just pick up free agents and play them out of position; they might have the worst draft scouting department in the NFL. How many defensive coordinators would take a talent like Montez Sweat then have him go all out for the quarterback on every down? How do you take all these big time players from Alabama’s defensive line to just be dominated week in and week out? Quarterbacks keep being put in positions to fail. What organization gives a rookie no notice of playing time or reps with the first team offense in practice or training camps, then expects him to play well? The Redskins, that’s who.
How to Turn it around
To turn around the Redskins you need more than a new head coach and a highly drafted Quarterback. What the Redskins need is a culture change. It starts with Daniel Snyder. What he needs to do is establish a deeper fan base. He can do that by having the players connect with the community and giving tickets to youth programs: this way he can build the fan base for the next decade. Also, instead of hiring the next brilliant offensive-minded head coach he needs to hire a coach that holds his players accountable and hires a player development staff that helps college players grow into pros. Trading draft picks should not be a part of this new culture. Overpaying free agents who don’t fit the system or are past their prime should be prohibited. Starting spots should not be gifted to highly drafted players but for those who show they work hard and play well in the preseason. A recent example of a player who has played well in the preseason but hasn’t had a chance to play is Cam Sims. Also they need to stop trying to keep players who don’t want to play for the team or are holding out, then trade those players for players who want to be on the team and are committed to the organization. Next they need to alter their offense and defense to fit their personnel. After drafting a quarterback that played in a run-n-shoot style offense, it would make sense to allow him to play in a similar style offense to assimilate him to the NFL quicker. They also need to learn to do better in free agency by finding players who fit the scheme in the bargain bin of free agency. One of the most recent finds in the bargain bin was Adrian Peterson. The issue is that one year after Adrian Peterson ran for 1000 yards the Redskins decided to begin the season starting a running back that sat all of last year on injury. They should go to a strategy of easing young players into rotations unless they are just so dynamic it would be crazy for them not to play. Lastly, they need to stop giving up on young players before they have had a chance to shine. A recent example of this is Preston Smith. With the Redskins, he was average and sometimes underperformed, but with the Packers he has already won player of the week. More attention to player development and building an accountable winning culture from the fans to the players will set the Redskins back on the path that Jack Kent Cooke had them on.