It's been a few days since the horrific beating the was levied by the Philadelphia Eagles to the Washington Redskins.
My anger has subsided and I've been thinking clearly for the past 24 hours or so. This has given me time to reflect on the game, as painful as that might be, and see just what are the bright spots, and what can be learned from it.
First, let me say that yes, this was a terribly embarrassing loss. However, it's just one game, whether you lose by one or 100 it still only amounts to one game.
The team can either dwell on it or let it motivate them for Sunday's game in Tennessee. Where we the fans are probably going to think about this game long into the off-season, hopefully the players have put it behind them.
One positive is that Mike Shanahan may have finally learned some humility. Shanahan is an old school coach set in his ways. He's right and we're wrong, that's the way he sees it. That's fine, the guy has two Super Bowl Rings to my zero.
However, his system hasn't been working to his impossible expectations because he does not have the proper personnel in place. I'm not speaking about Donovan McNabb either. With all the talk that McNabb doesn't fit the scheme, I find it hard to believe. McNabb is very much like Elway, and if it worked for Elway it can work for McNabb.
No, I'm speaking more towards the offensive line.
The line, for the most part, is abysmal. If someone isn't stepping on McNabb, they're missing a block, or committing a drive-killing holding or false start. We were once a franchise that was commended on our offensive line play. In fact, on the rare occasions where the team would have a break down in protection (86 at NYG and 90 at PHI), the linemen were the first to come out and say they were disgusted in the way they played, not the team, themselves.
They took ownership of their faults and fixed them. They were all too ready to take the blame for a loss instead of saying that it fell on the team as a whole.
The Hogs were a band of brothers; they weren't just teammates, they went beyond that. They carpooled together, hunted together and went out to dinner together; and when Russ Grimm was finally elected to the Hall of Fame, they partied together.
These offensive linemen are not the Hogs, nor will they ever be (at least not assembled the way they are). What made the Hogs great was that they were five guys (six if you count Doc Walker and I do) that came up together.
When they were in Washington they were, for the most part, young guys who stayed together for just about their entire careers. When one guy left or retired, a new cog was plugged in, and because the core was still there that new cog fit right in and became a Hog as well.
We don't have that now, and we haven't had it for some time. At one point it looked like we were building that kind of line. We drafted Chris Samuels as a first round pick in 2000 and the year before, took Jon Jansen in the second round.
The franchise was building a young and sturdy line. Or at least that's how it appeared. Instead of continuing to draft young and capable linemen to build up a core of badass men like we once did, we started going after sexier position players.
Since drafting Samuels in the 2000 draft, we took WR Rod Gardner and CB Fred Smoot in the first two rounds of 2001 (drafted no linemen that year). In 2002, the team took QB Patrick Ramsey and RB Ladell Betts one and two, but did draft OT Reggie Coleman in the sixth round.
In 2003, with our total of three picks, we did draft Derrick Dockery in the third round. However, since the 2003 draft we've only taken four offensive linemen and none sooner than the fifth round.
Yes you can find gems on the offensive line in late rounds, but when you see guys like Rod Gardner, Patrick Ramsey, Jason Campbell and Devin Thomas being your top picks, you've got to wonder if former President of Player Personnel Vinny Cerrato was trying to win football games or win a bet on how long he could do this to the franchise before getting fired. The answer: he did it for nine seasons.
Because of the bull-headedness of the owner the ineptitude of Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins were completely hung out to dry this off-season.
They had too few picks, but at least they were smart enough to take Trent Williams with the number four overall pick.
Unfortunately with no collective bargaining agreement in place, this season was uncapped and there were very few unrestricted free-agents on the market. The Redskins had to roll the dice and piece together a patchwork offensive line.
Unfortunately for the team, this approach has not worked out as well as they'd hope.
However, this off-season (and I'm going on the assumption we have a season next year) there are some attractive skilled position free agents on the market so maybe the team can focus on their most desperate needs in the draft —the offensive and defensive lines.
There is no quick fix for what is wrong with the Redskins, but football, no matter how much it evolves, still comes down to one basic principle—my big guys beating up your big guys.
If the Redskins can build a young, solid group of guys, especially on the offensive front, than maybe with the Coach and Franchise quarterback in place this team can go on one wicked run.
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