President-elect Barack Obama campaigned on a platform of change. His campaign slogan was "Change We Can Believe In."
Washington's professional football and basketball teams have endured some changes in the past year—changes we didn't believe would happen and most recently changes we didn't see coming.
The change we didn't think would happen:
Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs decided to retire again in January. After an exhaustive search, owner Daniel Snyder decided to hand the coaching reigns over to a man with no NFL head coaching experience in Jim Zorn.
Not much was expected of the Redskins this season, yet they are tied for second place in their division with a 7-4 record. Those seven victories include road wins over Dallas and Philadelphia.
With all the change around Redskins Park, one thing has remained the same. The Redskins formula for winning is still the same as it was during the Gibbs regime. Run the ball on offense, stop the run on defense, and win the turnover battle.
The change we didn't see coming:
Washington Wizards coach Eddie Jordan was the longest tenured coach in the NBA's Eastern Conference.
After a dismal 1-10 start to the NBA season, the Wizards fired Jordan today.
Some would say that Jordan's dismissal is justified based on the Wizards' record and uninspired play. They would say that the Wizards should not have lost to a Knicks team with only eight players dressed last Saturday night. And I would agree with all of that.
I do not believe however that firing Jordan will fix what ails the Wizards. If you take two starters (Arenas and Haywood) and a key reserve (Antonio Daniels) off any NBA team, that team is bound to struggle.
If those two starters are the team's best offensive and defensive players...well, then you have the Wizards. You need to look higher up the food chain to determine what ails the Wizards. Ernie Grunfeld is the person responsible for assembling the talent or lack thereof on this team.
Ernie Grunfeld gave a $111 million contract to a player (Gilbert Arenas) that has played about 22 games in the past 18 months. Grunfeld re-signed Antawn Jamison for $50 million over four years. Grunfeld signed Andrae Blatche to a contract extension. But, Grunfeld still has his job.
If I asked you to bake an apple pie, but gave you all of the ingredients except apples, could you bake the pie? Eddie Jordan was like a chef without all of those ingredients. What he had without Arenas and Haywood is the crust.
It's a shame that the players didn't put forth more effort for him. Jordan had more success with this franchise than any other coach in the past 20 years.
Ed Tapscott is a short-term fix for a long-term problem. He has no NBA head coaching experience. The Wizards presently have no salary cap room and won't for many years unless some trades can be made.
As the leadership in Washington D.C. changes from Republican to Democrat and experienced to inexperienced, Washington sports fans can only hope that the changes they didn't expect continue and the changes they didn't see coming lead to a new start.