As I write this, I realize that I have no audience with owner Dan Snyder or executive vice president Bruce Allen. In about a week if they haven’t already done so, those two men will meet to chart the next course of the Washington Redskins. As this season continues to devolve into the worst we’ve seen under Snyder, it’s becoming clear that a clean sweep of the coaching staff will be the most likely result. Both Snyder and Allen need to demonstrate (cue the Axl Rose whistling) just a little patience.
Not patience with Shanahan or this coaching staff. The likely 24-40 record over four years is damning enough, especially given the money he’s making to have full control of football operations. Those making the decisions that will impact that next five, hopefully ten, years of this franchise need to do something else we have not seen under Snyder – rebuild.
This team with a high-profile coach, an assortment of veterans, and seemingly high internal expectations has averaged a 6-10 record over the past six years (two under Zorn and four under Shanahan). The Redskins are about to complete a 3- or 4-win season. Losing is something this organization is doing anyway, so why not lose the right way? The educated faction of this fan base would accept a rough couple years if it was leading to an exciting contender right around the corner.
For the first time in a while, the team has a nice assembly of young talent to build around. Sure, the offensive line needs to be almost completely rebuilt and the defense needs a lot of turnover. But, the Redskins have several young leaders who could easily make up the nucleus of a contender: Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed, Trent Williams, Roy Helu, Darrel Young, Ryan Kerrigan, and Perry Riley are all 27 or younger and have been relied upon as starters and contributors to this team. A new general manager and/or coach might even decide to hold onto some other young players who have been in the mix too. Kirk Cousins, Brian Orakpo, David Amerson, Rob Jackson, Bacarri Rambo, Jarvis Jenkins, and Chris Baker can add value or be leveraged to acquire other players.
So, the cupboard is not bare, but it would be a mistake to think that a new staff could win immediately by adding a couple players to that group. As mentioned, the team has plenty of holes (offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, wide receiver, and defensive back) to fill. Those issues are not likely to all be resolved this off-season, but the new front office and coach can put this team on the right course by building the correct way.
The Redskins need to commit to building a young and talented team. The organization needs to finally accept that a true rebuild might result in a year or two of inconsistent play before the team makes the strides to be a contender. The good news is that the Redskins have been losing anyway, so there really is no reason to try to find another shortcut. Also, the Redskins have a number of players around whom to build.
Some of the rumored front-runners for the head coaching job (Bill O’Brien and Art Briles) have shown that they are flexible and innovative enough to design systems around the talent provided to them. That is an ideal fit for a team that will hopefully employ a more traditional front-office structure with a general manager assembling the best talent available and a coaching staff getting the most out of that talent. It’s a different approach than having a coach only search for talent that fits his scheme and should result in better all-around players filling out the Redskin roster.
The Washington Redskins can be contenders as their current core of players hits its prime. All it will take is a proper structure in the front office, a commitment to building the right way, and avoiding the urge to look for shortcuts.