A team hovering around .500 can be a lot of things. It can be a team going in the right direction (Chicago). It can be a team that caught some bad breaks (Philadelphia). It can be a team stuck in mediocrity because of unfortunate circumstances (Houston). It can also be a team that's a lot worse than its record. A team like the Redskins.
Don't let the four-game win streak in the early part of the season that got everybody talking. This team was never built to seriously compete. From its lack of pass rush to its lack of pass protection to its incompetent management structure, the Redskins were, to quote Vice President Ted Matthews in My Fellow Americans, "all just a big facade" (mispronounced fah-kade).
I have a plan to fix the Redskins and it goes so contrary to typical Kay Logic that I'm actually excited about this. My plan starts with two words: Steve Spagnuolo.
Yes, I want to see Diva Dan fire Jim Zorn and replace him with Spagnuolo. Let me explain.
First off, it guts the Giants of a key coach. That's always good. In the same vein, Spagnuolo knows the NFC East. He knows how to stop Tony Romo. He knows how to stop the Eagles. And you sure as hell know he'll know how to stop the Giants.
He's a defensive guy. In a perfect world where I own a team, I don't even bother interviewing offensive coaches for the head job. It just doesn't make sense. An offensive coordinator's job is move the football down the field in the most efficient way possible. OK, a noble task. But a defensive coordinator's job is to stop an offense dead in its tracks. So to be an offensive coordinator you just have to think you have a good system. But to be a defensive coordinator you have to know the offensive system you're playing each week and tailor your defense to it. So a defensive coordinator, by trade, is forced to know the ins and outs of an offense for a defense is dependent on how the offense lines up. An offense exists in a vacuum world of its own. Hiring a defensive coach means you get somebody with expertise on both sides of the ball. Plus, they're usually more badass.
What I really like about Spagnuolo is this: he finds ways to make the talent he has work, which is the complete opposite of what the Redskins currently do on offense. Jim Zorn, the offensive genius he is, is unable to use the pieces in front of him in an effective manner. But Spagnuolo, down Usi Umenyiora found ways to still get to the quarterback. He understands his personnel, which is something the Redskins coaches fail at time and again.
But is it worth disrupting stability AGAIN in Ashburn. Yes, but only in this situation. Only if it's with Double-S. Only if you provide him the proper assistant coaches (say, a savvy vet o-coordinator on offense like Norv Turner. And only if somebody like Norv Turner is done trying to be an unsuccessful head coach) and only if you say to yourself, "Diva Dan this is the last hire I make for three years barring something completely crazy. I repeat, this is the last head job hire barring something completely crazy. And that includes Bill Cowher saying he wants to coach again. That includes Urban Meyer saying he wants a new challenge. And that includes Bill Parcells saying D.C. has nice homes."
The Redskins need a coach from the defensive side of the ball. They haven't had one since Marty Schottenheimer was unjustly fired and it's evident year in and out. Offensive coaches are egomaniacs who can't keep a team composed. It makes sense, too. Offensive coaches are driven by the need to be creative and different. But this sport is all about being on the same page from the top to the bottom. And that's how you make a good defense, by everybody being on the same page.
On top of this drastic move, it's important to continue a. building through the draft, and b. always reinforcing your trenches through the draft. The Redskins must get younger, quicker and stronger on both sides of the trench if they ever want to succeed. No more skill players. No new quarterback. I'm sorry Jason Campbell, but you'll have to suffer through a new coordinator once again (but I promise it will be one who understands how to use your mobility). That is, unless a Stafford or Bradford drops to the middle of the first round.
On top of all this, Diva Dan must empower a proper VP of player personnel. Vinny Cerrato has proven that his one strength, late round draft picks, is not enough to make up for his free agent and trade oversights. Look at what happens when you have a VP of player personnel with a vision, as is the case in Miami or Atlanta.
Washington is still a destination for coaches and players, but it won't be for long. There will come a point where the tradition of mediocrity will begin to outweigh the tradition of excellence forged by Jack Kent Cooke. Go for gold one more time, Diva Dan, but do it knowing that this move is it, and it must be backed with time-honored ways of running a football team. Not say, by conducting a coaching search only to end up with the guy you brought in to run the offense as head coach.
P.S. Ditch the West Coast offense and fine anybody at Redskins Park that uses the words "west," "coast" and "offense" in a sentence.
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