It’s Okay to Be Skeptical

Washington Commanders

So, the Redskins have turned a few heads in these past two months. Cerrato and Zorn are out; Allen and Shanahan are in. Dan Snyder seems committed to showing the fans that he has done away with his meddlesome nature (which this blogger believes ended with the re-hiring of Joe Gibbs) and is going to leave the football decisions to his newly hired staff.

As usual, there is a lot of buzz around the Redskins in the offseason. Not all fans are excited about the recent changes. Many don’t see how this is any different than any of the other “sure-fire” fixes the Redskins have done in previous years. Can you blame the fans for being more than a little skeptical?

I recently had someone (who shall remain anonymous) send me this which shows clearly the pulse of skepticism among the fans. What follows is a breakdown of what he sent, and my replies to his points.

Anonymous Fan:

—“And could we please not pretend that the Redskins have even a bare hint at having a good year next year? It’s going to be one of the worst, Shanahan has a worse record than the Redskins over the last 9 years”

My Reply:

Shanahan’s worst season came in 1999 when the Broncos went 6-10. This was the year that Elway retired. Snyder purchased the team in ’99, and that year Norv Turner somehow managed a 10-6 record. Shanahan from ’99-’08 went 91-69. The Redskins during the same time period went 76-84.

Shanahan went to the playoffs in four of those years, while the Redskins went three. Both won only one postseason game, but the Broncos went as far as the conference championship, (the game before the Super Bowl) while the Redskins were eliminated in the Divisional round.

In 14 years Shanahan only had 2 seasons where his team finished with a below .500 record (’99 and ’07)

In that same time frame the Redskins finished below .500 a total of 6 times.

During Shanahan’s tenure with the Broncos, his team finished with 10 wins or more 7 times. During that time frame, the Redskins have never had more than 10 wins, and have only had that amount twice (’99 and ’05)

I wouldn’t exactly say he’s done worse than the Redskins.

Anonymous Fan:

—“and if it weren’t for Elways’ help that 10th year would have been bad too.”

My Reply:

There is no doubt that John Elway made all the difference in ’97 and ’98. The man had been playing since 1983, and had been to several Super Bowls (’86, ’87 and ’89) but it wasn’t until ’97 and ’98 that he finally won them…under Mike Shanahan.

Sure the Broncos dived the year following Elway’s retirement, finishing 6-10, but they rebounded a year later to finish 11-5. The team cooled in ’01 and ’02 finishing 8-8 and 9-7 respectively (the Redskins went 8-8 under Schottenhiemer and 7-9 under Spurrier those years) but got hot again from ’03 to ’05 finishing 10-6, 10-6, and 13-3.

Anonymous Fan:

—“It feels like we got Gibbs back, sure he was fantastic at one time but that time has passed,”

My Reply:

Gibbs had been out of the game for 11 years when he came back. The year after Gibbs retired, the League instituted Free-Agency (something Gibbs had never had to deal with during his tenure previously). Many of the rules had changed, most notably, the play-clock had been reduced from 45 seconds to 40 seconds. This interfered with Gibbs’ love for pre-snap motion.

Shanahan has been unemployed 1 season. He’s won two Super Bowls and has made the playoffs 7 times in the Free Agency era. He was fired by the Broncos after going 9-7, 7-9 and 8-8 in his last three seasons. During that same period, the Redskins went 5-11, 9-7 and 8-8.

Anonymous Fan:

—“of course I could be wrong, I hope I am, since he does have GM powers along with the head coaching spot maybe he gets all the tools he needs, who knows. But I doubt it”

My Reply:

It’s too early to tell, but maybe now you see why there is so much excitement. Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan have been given a blank check for whatever they want or need.

If 2010 goes uncapped as it looks like it’s going to, this could be a good thing for the Redskins. Not because they can go nuts and sign everyone to ridiculous contracts, but because some of the players who would have been too expensive to “get rid of” now will have no impact on a salary cap.

The Redskins can unload anyone they see as “dead weight” and they still have a majority of their draft picks.

We’ll have to wait and see.

End of Message

Now my interpretation of the impact of an “uncapped year” may be wrong, I haven’t seen or heard anything to that effect, but it stands to logic that if there is no cap, then there are no “negative salary cap implications” to releasing a player for 2010.

As I said in my message, we’ll have to wait and see. I don’t think anyone is realistically expecting this year to be much; typical of a new coach on a rebuild. It’s the future that people are most excited about and currently, the future looks a lot brighter now than it did in November.

Go ‘Skins!

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3 thoughts on “It’s Okay to Be Skeptical

  1. I was a great fan of Joe Gibbs coaching because that is when i started watching the Redskins, the fun bunch and the hogs. I also liked Jim Zone bu felth like he really wasn’t ready for a head coaching job. joe Bugel i have always enjoyed watching him coach and his talks with George Michael. However we are moving on to Coach Mike Shanahan someone i also think will be a good coach of the Redskins and am glad he is here.

  2. Like everyone else it is hard not to be skeptical but at least he knows about the Redskins Zorn was always way out of his depth (though after his first year I felt he might have been heading in the right direction). Like every other new dawn we just have to wait and see and give the new management a clean slate to start with (and hope that Dan lets them do what they are paid to do). Though I don’t get to see the games as often as I would like (being Scottish) but I have followed the Redskins for over 20 years and shared the good (Diesel & The Hogs plus the Fun Bunch) and the bad years and was there when we finally sacked Turner so like every year I hope we can finally get back to what we had under Joe Gibbs first tenure.

  3. Bob,

    I’ll echo Betty’s thoughts and add a little bit of food for thought as we head into an offseason of change.

    Shanahan has won two Super Bowls. Without John Elway as his QB his teams were about average.

    Accept it people. Shanahan had a little something to do with those wins, and he had something to do with the medium performances of his teams since those wins.

    Let’s not forget that John Elway had weapons around him that elevated his game all the way into Canton.

    WR Rod Smith played for the Broncos for 14 seasons from 1994-2008, and to this day remains the only undrafted player to catch for over 10,000 yards in his career.

    Hot Rod had 8 seasons catching for 1,000 or more yards. In 2001 he led the league with 113 receptions, and that two years after Elway called it quits.

    In the Broncos 34-19 win in Super Bowl XXXIII, Smith had 5 receptions for 152 yards (the fourth highest in SB history)

    Rod Smith is the Broncos all-time leader in receptions,(849), yards, (11,389),and TD’s. (68)

    RB Terrell Davis led the NFL in rushing yards with a brilliant performance in 1998 amassing 2,008 yards from scrimmage. He became only the third running back in history to accomplish this feat.

    Shanahan picked him in the sixth round out of the 1995 draft. He played for six seasons from 1995-2001.

    In Super Bowl XXXII, TD rushed for 3 TDs, 157 yards and caught 2 passes for 8 yards. He suffered from migraines throughout his brief career.

    He shined the brightest on the grandest stage. His 8 TD’s in 3 playoff games for a total of 48 points remained an NFL record until Adam Vinatieri broke it in the 2006-2007 season.

    TD’s total playoff stats from 1996-1998 are astonishingly good.

    204 carries for 1,140 yards and 12 TDs wit 19 receptions for 131 yards.

    He had 7 consecutive 100+ yard rushing games (all Bronco wins) breaking the previous record held by none other than the beloved Skins’ barnburner, John Riggins who had 6 for his illustrious career.

    What I want to engage with you Bob and the rest of the family, is that it will take more than one man to bring us back to a high level of play.

    It starts with Shanahan and Bruce Allen coming together for a singular goal… to win and win often.

    Rebuilding our character with smart, football-minded players would be an ideal starting point for the new regime era in DC.

    Dan Snyder has enemies. They will not be convinced that he is not the work of the devil win or lose.

    A meddling owner is not always such a bad thing, and with our record of futility in the last decade overall, he should step in and make moves. Why else do what he does?

    They might not turn out to be the “right” moves, but learning from your mistakes makes you a better leader as you go along.

    Next year’s team will be disciplined, and the shenanigans that occurred under Jim Zorn will be a distant memory.

    Let’s play with heart and determination boys. I love to cheer for you. So give me reason to shout, shout let it all out.

    Go Skins.

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