Washington Redskins: Stuck in the Middle
Oftentimes in life, we find ourselves locked in a situation that is neither good nor bad. Over time, the habits and routines that we all develop morph into a comfortable way of life that becomes an unconscious part of our existence.
However, if we aren't careful, we can allow this comfort to blind us from the true status of our own lives. In essence, we become complacent not out of apathy, but out of habit. We accept mediocrity not because we strive for it, but because we become used to it.
Oscar Wilde once said, "Nothing is so aggravating than calmness."
When it comes to the Washington Redskins...he's absolutely right.
Don't get me wrong here, I am a consummate optimist when it comes to the Redskins. I look at that 2-2 record and I see two road losses by less than a touchdown. I see two upcoming games against currently winless opponents. I see winnable home games against the Chiefs, Broncos, and Cowboys.
It was, however, while I was doing this that something hit me. I realized the Redskins are stuck. The more I thought about it, the more I realized if the Redskins don't do something soon, things might really start to fall apart.
If you look at the roster right now you will see improvement in the areas that have plagued the Redskins the most in the past few years: depth at wide receiver and talent on the defensive line. The Redskins have invested a lot of money and draft picks recently in shoring up these areas.
Honestly, I think they've done a good job too. Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas aren't exactly the second coming of Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders but they're young, talented, and improving. And I'm just waiting for Marko Mitchell to turn a few heads.
The thing that troubles me is that there seems to be no long-term goal. The Redskins seem to be stuck in a routine that involves mediocre play on the field, drafting only one or two impact players, and only addressing needs on a season-by-season basis.
While I was in college, I had to suffer through some brutal classes (as I'm sure all of you have too). Classes where the teachers were so boring it made you wonder if human interaction on a personal level could even be possible with such a personality-void individual.
During these inspirational hours, in order to stay awake (and to look busy), one of my favorite pastimes was to write out the Redskins depth chart and play GM in my head. For years I felt that one of the strengths of the team was the offensive line. I got so used to writing "Samuels, Dockery, Rabach, Thomas, Jansen" that it almost made me smile when I would do it.
The same is true with the secondary. Filling in names like Springs, Smoot, Rogers, Taylor, Landry, Archuleta (eesh), Hall, and Horton always made me feel confident that teams wouldn't be able to move the ball easily through the air.
Why do I bring this up? Because I think Daniel Snyder and Vinny Cerrato have been doing the same thing.
If you dig below the surface right now, beyond the obvious lack of depth on the offensive line, there are a surprising amount of holes on this team.
In the secondary, Carlos Rogers is 28 years old (thanks to him being the only 24-year-old rookie that I can remember not going to BYU or playing pro baseball). Aside from him, Fred Smoot is getting older too. Rogers, who has seemed to drop more "gimme" interceptions than anyone I can ever remember, is already one of the most overrated corners in the league. In a year or two neither of these players will be able to keep up with the game's elite receivers.
The offensive line needs no explanation...it just needs talent. If the Redskins don't take an offensive lineman in one of the first two rounds of this year's draft I might commit a homicide. Just a warning.
The receiving corps lacks depth behind Moss, and while the young talent is in place someone is going to have to emerge as a future No. 1, not just a serviceable No. 2.
At quarterback, Jason Campbell is in a contract year, and as much as I love him it sure looks like Snyder is going to try everything possible to have someone else under center next year. Todd Collins, even with no wear and tear, can't hold a clipboard forever. And Colt Brennan and Andre Woodson have yet to prove they can do anything on the NFL stage.
On the defensive line, Phillip Daniels and Renaldo Wynn are on their last breaths and even the super-human Andre Carter should be slowing down soon. Cornelius Griffin has given the Redskins some great years in the middle, but he too is at that age when defensive tackles either start slowing down or getting banged up.
Montgomery and Golston are decent replacements, but does anyone here really want to pencil them in as starters (despite Montgomery's incredibly favorable "85" ranking in Madden 2009)?
For the record, I'm a huge fan of Jeremy Jarmon, and with Orakpo and Wilson I am less worried about the future of the defensive end spot.
These are just a few of the areas that seem to have been ignored the past few seasons while Snyder and Cerrato have been throwing money around and trading high draft picks for over-the-hill guys like Jason Taylor.
How about signing a kicker that doesn't give the 90,000 people at FedEx a heart attack every time he kicks a field goal? Why the Redskins didn't draft Mason Crosby over Dallas Sartz in the fifth round of the '07 draft I will never know.
The management of the Redskins seem to be using the whole "squeaky wheel gets the grease" mentality to build a football team and it really doesn't look like it's working. In a few years, the 'Skins could be looking at a team with no Samuels, Thomas, Moss, Griffin, Daniels, Rogers, Smoot, and Fletcher.
At the very least, it seems pretty safe to say that by 2012, even if those players are still with the team, their performance will have dropped off noticeably.
Except for Fletcher, of course. That man is a machine.
Personally, I don't feel comfortable filling the aforementioned spots with players like Jeremy Bridges, Chad Rinehart, Devin Thomas, Anthony Montgomery, Chris Wilson, Justin Tryon, Kevin Barnes, and H.B. Blades.
The last problem that the current strategy has created is the lack of a champion. Occasionally the band-aid, fix-it-now approach does work. The Celtics won an NBA title in 2008 by practically mortgaging their future. It worked. And Boston fans are thrilled.
The Redskins, however, continue to turn out a product that varies from sub-par to pretty good. Even as optimistic as I am, I know the Redskins aren't a championship caliber team.
What does this do?
It creates the illusion of being "on-the-cusp" when in fact all it's doing is giving the Redskins first round picks in the mid-teens and hampering change that is so desperately needed.
Sometimes in order to win, you need to bottom out. The entire reason the Spurs dynasty was created was because David Robinson was injured during the '96-'97 season. The result was the Spurs having the third worst record in the league, winning the draft lottery, and landing Tim Duncan.
A great example of this is Week 17 for the Redskins last year against San Francisco. This was a completely meaningless game that the 'Skins lost. Meaningless, except for the fact that had they won...no more Brian Orakpo.
I'm not saying that the Redskins should tank, or that doing horribly is better than being average. I'm just saying that when you continually fix a flawed system you will continually produce a mediocre product that is resistant to change.
All in all, something needs to be done about the current "plan of action" in D.C. Instead of just addressing glaring holes in the roster, some forward thinking should be applied so that in the future, not only are the holes filled...but they are filled with talent.
That's a Redskins roster I want to write out to keep from falling asleep.
So please, Redskins management, for all of us fans, start looking ahead. We'll understand if we have a losing season or two while the talent develops. We will. But trying to fool us by continually dressing up a mediocre team with a very expensive bow isn't going to work anymore.
We demand more from you. We demand excellence.
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