Washington Redskins

The Trouble With Washington

The Gibbs era is a distant memory in Washington.

The Gibbs era is a distant memory in Washington.

The Washington Redskins are a boring franchise. It’s in their nature and who they are.  Don’t get me wrong; obviously their franchise has been littered with characters over the years from former owner George Preston Marshall to George Allen and to John Riggins.

Yet, the fun rarely materializes on the field. Was that by design? Definitely. Name one exciting thing about the 1972 NFC champion Redskins. You can’t. Other than the nickname of the “Over the Hill gang”, the Redskins were far from a flashy bunch.   How about those Redskins teams from the 80s besides Riggins? Nope.

Former head coach Joe Gibbs bucked the traditional game plan of getting a franchise quarterback. He won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks, Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien. Gibbs even managed to win two of those Super Bowls during strike years.

Those were the Skins though. Opportunistic. Steady. Workmanlike. Fundamentally sound. Boring. In this case though that was the plan year after year. Joe Gibbs and his brain trust were determined to bludgeon opponents with a physical offensive and defensive line.

Actually, it is what made the Redskins so good. They weren’t the quickest or the most talented but they could line up, smack people in the mouth and come crunch time, win. They were so precise and sound that they almost appeared robotic. They used cliches in postgame interviews and did what was asked of them.

Brad Edwards. Barry Wilburn. Darryl Grant. Charlie Brown. That’s not exactly a list of guys you’ll find in Canton at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. However, all of those gentlemen are world champions because they played a specific role within the Joe Gibbs-led Redskins machine, fitting around the other key cogs like Darrell Green and Art Monk.

The model built by guys Gibbs and former owner Jack Kent Cooke is long gone. Part of the change is due to how the game changed over the years. The Redskins won their three titles during two work stoppages, pre-free agency and pre-salary cap.

Today’s Redskins seem another kind of boring. The bad kind of boring; you know the one. It lends to apathy and not producing. The kind of boring that drags other teams into some sort of on the field sleep-inducing state. These Redskins are not motivated by their coach. In fact, by watching their games I”m not sure what motivates them.

While owner Daniel Snyder is aggressive in terms of signing players for big contracts (Antwaan Randle-El, Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, and Albert Haynesworth), the return for the money invested has been very little.

Since Snyder took over in 1999, the Redskins made the playoffs three times and brought in a laundry list of head coaches including Marty Schottenheimer and Steve Spurrier.

Jim Zorn has done little to raise the hopes of Redskins fans. A coach who allegedly specialized in quarterback development, has fallen flat with Jason Campbell and with an offense that ranks 29th in points scored. A team that changes coaching personnel like undershirts will now summons Sherm Lewis, who has been out of the NFL for five years, to call plays.

The Redskins, now a seemingly irrelevant part of the NFL landscape, need to get back to the business of finding good coaches and developing young players…at the same time. Once they fire Zorn and get into the offseason that process can begin. However, there is still a lot of football to be played before that point arrives.

The freefall of the Washington Redskins is not quite complete. The fall has already been an ugly one; filled with a loss to Detroit and Jason Campbell being benched.

Snyder needs to find his new Gibbs, not the 2005-07 version. Until he stops needlessly spending money on players and finds a head man with some sort of experience that can implement a plan and stick with it for a few years, the Redskins will go nowhere.

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