Washington Redskins Hire Sherm Lewis at the Wrong Time

Anthony BrownCorrespondent IOctober 7, 2009

DETROIT- NOVEMBER 28:  Special assistance-offense coach Sherman Lewis of the Detroit Lions watches his team play the New England Patriots on November 28, 2002 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. The Patriots won 20-12. (Photo by Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images)

I read Jason Reid's Analysis Behind the Sherman Lewis Hiring and shake my head.

Leave it to Daniel Snyder to make the wrong move at the wrong time.

In Lewis' case, he's the right candidate for something, but comes, oh, two training camps and 20 games too late.

I know Sherman Lewis, by reputation. Though he had departed by the time I arrived at Michigan State University back in 19-long-ago, Sherman Lewis was mentioned with reverence in occasional stories in the student newspaper. There was a picture of Lewis as a Spartan football player in the old Jenison Field House, world headquarters of the MSU athletic empire when both the Spartans and the Big 10 were football dominant.

In the days when a black guy could play football but not hope to coach, Sherman Lewis was Exhibit A of the foolishness of that ancient custom. Tony Dungy would supplant Lewis in the 'Eighties as the symbol of discrimination against a good man, but Dungy made his break-through. Lewis could not.

The Michigan State University Athletics web site tells the Sherman Lewis story in all its historic dimensions and it is worth the read.

As one of only 390 African-Americans in a student body population of 44,000, I enjoyed being confused occasionally for Sherman Lewis. I am grateful to him for that.

It's too bad Daniel Snyder didn't check out the Sherman Lewis story years ago. He might at least have talked to Lewis about his coaching vacancy in 2002 instead of rushing to hire Steve Spurrier.

Lewis might have noticed the double whammy Snyder dealt to Jim Zorn by pushing him to head coach while allowing Zorn to be the only candidate other than Jim Fassel to name his offensive coordinator.

Zorn picked Sherman Smith, with whom he shared the Seattle Seahawks backfield. Like Zorn, Smith had neither coordinator nor play calling experience.

Where was the bright idea then to tap Sherman Lewis as a consultant, or better, as offensive coordinator?

That Zorn got the Redskins to 8-8 last season with those handicaps shows that he's got something. He's worth keeping in spite of the current rough patch. So I hope Lewis can help him. Or help Daniel Snyder think football before Snyder stirs the pot again.

Sherm Knows, But He Won't Tell You About Receivers or Linemen

Any advice that Lewis the consultant gives should be shared with the coach and owner only. It's unprofessional for any consultant to break confidences. Don't look to read Lewis comments in the media, except on Radio Free Redskins, but I'd be curious to know Lewis' opinion of two areas: receiving and blocking.

Our young receivers can't seem to break free of coverage. What's his opinion of those guys, especially fellow Spartan Devin Thomas?

The Redskins decided last season to implement the West Coast Offense for the passing game and keep Joe Gibbs' Downfield Offense for the rushing game. Does this hybrid scheme make any more sense than a two-headed goat?

Doesn't it challenge an offensive line to pass block one way for the WCO and run block another for the Gibbs-Coryell system?

I see these things and shake my head.

The Spartan Connection

Sherm Lewis is the most recent Spartan connection to the Redskins.

Jimmy Raye was Marty Schottenheimer's offensive coordinator in 2001. Raye quarterbacked MSU to a national championship in 1965 and played in the infamous 10-10 tie game against Ara Parseghian's Notre Dame in 1966.

Schottenheimer and Raye brought in former MSU quarterback Tony Banks to back-up Jeff George, Snyder's handpicked successor to Brad Johnson.

No other team wanted George at quarterback. Neither did Schottenheimer after the first two games of 2001.

George was benched. Banks played. No one confused Banks as anything other than a back-up player, but he did manage an 8-6 record as Redskin starter.

Snyder released Schottenheimer and Raye before anything came of that.

MSU pursued Redskins' defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis as a head coach candidate in 2002. Lewis remained committed to a pro coaching career and was named head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003.