For Washington Redskins' Fans, Change Is a Painful Process
As difficult as it may be for Redskins fans to admit, owner Daniel Snyder is a "Redskin" at heart. Surely he has made many mistakes during his tenure as owner, but he has also showed that he has learned and grown during that time.
With the apparent direction the team/organization has taken since the second retirement of Redskins' icon Joe Gibbs, I do believe that the Redskins are undergoing a serious transformation of sorts.
Very quietly, the Redskins are no longer the oldest team in the NFL. Add to that the fact that so much of the youth are low-round draft picks and undrafted players, workman-type guys that most Redskins fans can relate to and appreciate, just like "the old days."
What makes it difficult is the reality that so many people, the media and fans alike, simply won't let go of the past. Snyder screwed up with big-name signings early in his ownership, trying to "buy" a championship. There is no debate about that, not even from Snyder himself.
The reality is that he really hasn't done that in a long time. What "big name," "over the hill" players have been signed in the last seven years? That's right, SEVEN YEARS. There have been several free-agent busts during this time.
But I would contend that Daniel Snyder hasn't "meddled" and made these decisions himself. I would contend that Snyder has in fact done what his head coach asked him to do: offered full support to his selected coach.
Marty Schottenheimer was a valiant effort to make dramatic change. Perhaps too dramatic. Schottenheimer wasn't given enough time for anyone to know whether or not the direction he had set forth would work, and that was another mistake by an inexperienced owner, an owner who has since outwardly admitted that his impatience with Schottenheimer was one of the biggest mistakes he has made as an owner.
Steve Spurrier was apparently a mistake as well. But fans and the media don't remember that Snyder didn't fire Spurrier. Spurrier quit. Snyder was by all appearances prepared to live through the difficulties of a changing franchise and let the coach he believed in try to get the job done.
Fans also don't recognize that the past four years were on Joe Gibbs, completely. The draft trades, the free-agent busts, the poor planning for the future: all on Gibbs. Snyder just wrote the checks that Gibbs requested, and Cerrato did what Gibbs asked him to do.
For Gibbs' part in the "problems" everyone sites (free-agent busts, trading away draft picks) his efforts here were devoted to turning over the roster, trying to re-create the character of the team as a whole, and he did that.
One can look at the roster he had when he started and see that in his first two years, he turned over nearly 70 percent of the roster. Mostly with free agents (most of whom were, and still are, productive, as much as any other free-agent signings around the league).
Snyder deserves to be criticized for "overpaying" players, but the players themselves were not of his choosing. They were Gibbs' choices, from recommendations by his coaching staff, his personnel men.
Now is the time to move forward with a plan.
Vinny Cerrato, although people want to crucify this guy for the Redskins' issues for the last 10 years, wasn't the guy making the decisions before now. And Jim Zorn is a new kind of coach and needs to be given the time to work through the identity of the Redskins and "Zorn" himself. The time to work through the difficulties of a new system, new coaches, and many young players.
The media and Redskins fanbase have been clamoring for real change in the direction of the franchise, to use draft picks to build the team, and now that it seems to have taken place, without instant success, these same people, the media and fans, want ANOTHER CHANGE.
Isn't that what we have been complaining about for 10 years?
The impulsive, reactionary, and often misguided efforts of a rookie owner are now being called for by the very people who have ridiculed the Redskins' leadership for years.
Everyone knows that one cannot properly rate any drafted players for two to three years. So why the call for Vinny Cerrato's head? There is NOTHING to indicate that the Redskins' 2008 draft class will be anything at all, good or bad.
There is arguably plenty of talent within each selection, and football critics have lauded the picks as being good talent at each of the points in the draft which they were taken.
There are many drafted players that have outstanding rookie campaigns. Many of those players go on to fall apart and never live up to the promise they created in their rookie years.
There are many other drafted players that were invisible in their first two years in the league, and then the light comes on the they become Pro Bowl-caliber players.
So why don't we just calm down and let time tell us whether or not Cerrato (and Snyder) have done good things since Gibbs announced his retirement?
Why not let the 2008 draft class play a year or two and find out if any of them can really play the game? Why not let Jim Zorn learn from his mistakes and grow into the head coach he can be, and then pass judgement?
Why not let Jason Campbell learn ONE offense for more than ONE year and see what he can do without THINKING about what's to take place on each and every play?
Why not show the patience that we have been calling for?
Change can be painful, but it may just be the road we need to travel in order to bring back the respect, the stability, the pride, and the tradition of one of the oldest and grandest franchises in football.
And maybe, just maybe, it will also bring a championship.
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