We knew it was going to be a tough year for several SPF teams. We are going to spend some time this week on a few individual teams to give a sense of their respective level of desperation.
Our first team is the Washington Redskins. Their fall might be the greatest because of where they stand historically. This team has one of the Footprint's oldest and largest fan bases. The Redskins are also one of the NFL's most valuable franchises behind only the Dallas Cowboys.
However, owner Daniel Snyder and his perceived "yes man" Vinny Cerrato have turned this proud franchise into a local joke in our nation's capitol. The problem with Snyder is that he has seemingly tried to patience of Redskin Nation too long. He had a brief reprieve by getting legendary Redskin coach Joe Gibbs to come out of retirement, but things have quickly gone back to a dire state.
The Redskins have played a schedule in which every team they have faced has been winless, yet they sit at 2-4. Along the way, they've lost to the Detroit Lions, an 0-19 team up until then, as well as the 0-5 KC Chiefs this past Sunday.
The answer from Snyder and Cerrato has been to slowly allow overmatched HC Jim Zorn and his QB Jason Campbell to twist in the wind in their hopes that fans will take their anger out on them. The problem is that it isn't working. Snyder has tried this before and the fans are on to him.
The biggest problem for Snyder when it comes to Zorn is that he hired him and showed all the faith he could in Zorn after Gibbs retired again two seasons ago. Snyder failed to get his top choice, then Giants DC and now current Rams coach, Steve Spagnuolo, to sign on as the Redskins new head coach replacing Joe Gibbs. Strangely and suddenly, he turned to Jim Zorn who he had already hired as the team's new OC - a hiring that happened before putting his HC in place which is never a good idea.
Here was Snyder speaking of Zorn at the time of his hire:
"I told [Zorn] we were considering him as the next head coach, and asked if he wanted to move forward. Without hesitation he said 'absolutely,' and that's all I needed to hear. We spent two days taking Jim through the same interview process as every other candidate. Those sessions only confirmed my earlier comment to Joe [Gibbs]: Jim Zorn will be a terrific head coach."
It was a strange beginning considering that Zorn initially had no interest in anything more than being the OC. Once he was given a chance to be HC (in addition to several million more in salary), Zorn accepted. The hiring made no sense at the time so hanging Zorn out to dry as a scapegoat makes even less sense.
As far as Jason Campbell goes, many NFL experts questioned how the Redskins acquired him in the 2005 NFL Draft. At the time, Campbell was not considered a first round pick, but the Redskins traded up in the first round, giving up multiple picks to the Broncos in the process, to get him. According to reports at the time, Joe Gibbs was behind this pick as he stated then, "I was a part of selecting Jason; I certainly think he has all the qualities."
So basically, Snyder's Redskins overreached on both their QB and their coach due to poor management and their answer is to hang the two individuals out for public scorn to try and take the attention off the real culprits - Snyder and Cerrato.
The Washington Post has a slew of great sportswriters, and they are all weighing in on the Redskins this week. John Feinstein finds himself longing for the days of Norv Turner's coaching mediocrity. Tracee Hamilton points out that it is unfair to make Zorn the fall guy. Mike Wise thinks its sad that QB Jason Campbell is the "next in line" fall guy. Michael Wilbon pulls no punches when he writes that Snyder must step aside and allow real football people to run his team.
Snyder is no longer getting a pass as the guy who spends plenty of money and uses that as a sign to the fans that he cares about winning. He does do that, but fans inherently know that money alone won't buy championships. They know that winning comes from having a great organization. The feeling amongst Redskins fans is clear - as long as Snyder is running the show with Cerrato, the Redskins can't compete with the NFL's best franchises.
The question remains - will Snyder ever fire himself?