Many fans out there are bemoaning the “loss of consistency” due to the firing of Gregg Williams and Al Saunders and the hiring of Jim Zorn.
I am not one of those fans.
The biggest reason, as far as I can tell, stems from a sound-bite of Dan Snyder saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Firstly, he was not talking about the coaching, he was referring to the “need” for a GM, in response to a reporter’s direct question. I’m not going to get into that issue here, because what I’m referring to is our supposed lack of consistency. Not having a GM in 2007, and not getting one for 2008 would be the definition of consistency…regardless of whether you think it’s the right decision.
Secondly, losing Joe Gibbs to retirement was the biggest blow to consistency. Even if Snyder had handed the keys to Gregg Williams, or Al Saunders, that doesn’t guarantee consistency. Who’s to say that Gregg or Al wouldn’t have wanted to make some changes…do things their own way?
The fact is there were a lot of things that we wouldn’t want to be consistent. We really didn’t do very well last year. Sure, we made the playoffs, but as a wild-card ranked third in our own division with a 9-7 record. That doesn’t mean we were that good, it simply means that everyone else in our conference was that bad.
If you remove the last four games of the season, we were abysmal. We were plagued with injuries, we’d jump out to early leads and lose in the second half, and it often seemed like we beat ourselves. With four games left in the season we were 5-7, with no hope of making it into the playoffs. In order for us to make it we had to win all four and the right people had to lose. Just because that happened, doesn’t mean we were a great team, we just pulled it together when we needed to.
One of my biggest complaints of the previous coaching staff was that they seemed to believe solely in the system, irregardless of the players. I gotta admit that I was amazed to find that our defense was ranked 9th in the league considering how it seemed like we just let teams march down the field on us. When you line up your defensive backs 12 yards off the line of scrimmage, and have your safeties sitting in the front row end-zone seats, you are going to give up some yardage. It may only be a few yards here or there, but those yards add up. We certainly didn’t get beat deep very often, but we let teams march into the Red-Zone.
Our offense wasn’t much better. If you want proof that Al Saunders system takes years to learn, you need look no further than the last four games of last season. Todd Collins looked great, better than both Mark Brunell, and Jason Campbell…right up until we played Seattle. I know a lot of people wanted to see Collins start this year, but he is not the future of the team…Jason is.
Now, do we honestly believe that either Williams or Saunders would stay on under a new head coach, especially after being passed over for the job themselves? Even if they did, does anyone think that would be a harmonious relationship?
Of all the candidates available I believe Zorn was the right choice. I don’t believe that Williams would have done any better here than he did in Buffalo, and I don’t think Saunders would have been any better. Saunders has a good system, but it’s just so complex that it takes years to master.
Blache and Smith seem to have the right attitude; you game-plan around the strengths of your players. Smith was with the Titans when they first put Young in. In 2006 the Titans changed up their normal game-plan to be something more like what Young was used to playing in college. They were forced to do that since they had lost their starter to injury, and had only just drafted Young. When they did that, Young looked unstoppable. The following year, in 2007, they felt comfortable enough to return to their original system, and Young didn’t look nearly as good.
Blache has said he believes that the strength of the defense starts at the corner position. This indicates to me that we will see defenses tailored around who is on the field, versus the “one-size-fits-all” style that brought us Adam Archuletta.
With Zorn’s perceived ability to develop QBs, and his coordinators perceived willingness to game-plan around what the players do well, it would seem that we have a coaching staff willing to do whatever it takes to get the most out of their players.
Now we’ll just have to wait and see if it works.