To all the Redskins fans in the world, I know what you were thinking last weekend. As you watched the Wild Card Playoffs unfold, all you wanted was to be a part of it.
Dan Snyder was thinking the same thing. The Redskins owner is widely known as one of the biggest reasons the team has not made the playoffs very often during his tenure. It is not for a lack of trying, though. Snyder simply has made several failed attempts at building a dominant franchise.
And that’s the problem: he’s too impatient. Building a Super Bowl-caliber team takes more than one season. Several pieces have to come together to craft that perfect mold that leads to a winning atmosphere.
His first mistake was hiring Mike Shanahan. He brought in the former Super Bowl-winning coach for a hefty price, $35 million over five years. That’s championship money. Unfortunately, the Redskins are not a championship team right now.
A smarter idea would have been to bring in a veteran coach at a cheaper cost for fewer years. Someone like Marty Schottenheimer, who coached in Washington before, or Herm Edwards, would have been great coaches to run a disciplined program while the franchise rebuilds.
Those coaches would have been on the three-year plan at most, but would have been under less pressure to win immediately. With Shanahan, the expectations are as unrealistic as ever in Washington, and that’s saying something.
The first thing Washington needs to do in the offseason is retain Jason Campbell. The much-maligned quarterback has thrived in catastrophic conditions for an NFL quarterback. Playing for his fifth offensive coordinator in six seasons, Campbell finished just above the middle of the pack in passing efficiency, yards, and completion percentage.
He also dealt with an offensive line decimated by injuries. Stephon Heyer, Mike Williams, and Chris Samuels made up a MASH unit at tackle during the season, making life tough on Campbell.
He also was one of the most affected victims of the turmoil with coach Jim Zorn’s relationship with the franchise. After he was stripped of play-calling duties in week two, the Redskins season was virtually written off as a failed one, leaving Campbell in a no-win situation as a quarterback with an expiring contract.
If a younger, healthier line is acquired this off-season, Campbell can provide everything the Redskins need from the quarterback position at this time.
The rumors that the front office is enamored with Sam Bradford could be dynamite for the franchise. The former Oklahoma quarterback is coming off a serious shoulder injury for one, and is a big risk for any team that is willing to take him in the early first round. Washington would be setting its franchise back at least two years if they took Bradford at quarterback, or any other player at that position in the first round.
If they want to develop a young player to eventually replace Campbell, Colt McCoy could still be available in the second round. Sean Canfield from Oregon State or Max Hall from BYU would be great third-round pickups.
The offensive line is the biggest concern, and signing a couple young but experienced tackles would be the best thing for the team. Donald Penn is an unrestricted free agent from Tampa Bay. He is 26 years old and has been starting at left tackle for three years. He would come at a reasonable cost and could provide stability at that position for the next five years at least.
Logan Mankins of the New England Patriots has been rumored to be too pricey to stay in town. He would have to be the biggest coup of the off-season for Washington, and would immediately be locked in as the right guard for years to come. However, if the price is too high, Snyder needs to keep his wallet shut and look elsewhere.
In the draft, the fourth pick could be used to pick up an offensive or defensive tackle. Cornelius Griffin is 33, and while still effective, a player like Gerald McCoy from Oklahoma could come in and be a difference maker at that position.
Another option would be Eric Berry at safety; though it is highly unlikely he’ll be around at the fourth spot. A defensive back extraordinaire in the Ed Reed mold, he is as close to a surefire superstar as there is in this draft.
Clinton Portis needs to be shipped out of town as well. Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright have been strong backups and have been more effective as tandem when Portis is out than what he does alone when healthy. The problem is the very openly close relationship he has with Snyder, which would make it seem unlikely the owner would let him go.
If he did find a suitor for Portis via trade, it would not only help the offense take a step forward, but it would show to Redskin fans that Snyder is doing whatever it takes to build a respected successful football team.
Teams that could use Portis include the Seahawks, who own the sixth pick and fourteenth pick in the draft. Washington could try to package the fourth pick plus Portis for one of those two selections (preferably the sixth, of course) and a fourth-round selection. That would clear some money, as well as give Washington another choice at young player to help rebuild the franchise with.
If it becomes apparent that Berry would still be available at the fourth pick, all bets should be off on any deals being made to ship that selection, because passing up Berry would be an immortal sin.
There is not as much wrong with the Redskins as it may appear, personnel-wise at least. The biggest problem with the franchise is to adjust its mentality and quite simply just be patient.
You might have to bind Snyder down to his cushy seat in the FedEx Field luxury suite to make that happen, though.