Sunday, December 11, 2005

Another Snyder Chicken Home to Roost

The headline reads Brad Johnson Still Haunts The Redskins. The story that first appears in the Newport News Daily Press describes how well Johnson has done since the Redskins declined to to keep him under contract after the 1999 season. The Skins, that is, Danny Snyder, preferred strong armed gunslingers like Jeff George or Patrick Ramsey to savvy, accurate, winning pocket passers like Johnson.

Devaluing Johnson was among Snyder's many sins in his Little Danny days. Those were the days when the the little Snyde thought building a team meant assembling famous players rather than matching talent to your style of play. Those were the days when game planning meant "go long," and that it would work as effortlessly as in Madden NFL. They were the days when he thought, because he was rich, he had the experience and moxie to evaluate talent, develop a game plan, run a team; or at least berate Norv Turner after every loss. A triumph of style over substance.

His sins were many.

  • He released GM Charlie Casserly and kept Norv Turner, for which he later apologized to Casserly for "firing the wrong man." Now that's showing support for your coaching staff during the season!
  • He fired Turner with three games to go in the 2000 season, when the Skins were 7-6 and still contending for a playoff spot, albeit with slim chance to make it. No one was sorry to see Turner go, but dismissing him at that point was surrendering the rest of the season.
  • With no experience, he directed talent evaluation and the draft, accumulating an odd mix of aging stars happy to make withdrawals from the Snyder ATM machine, but whose play was nowhere near their former glory.
  • He released NFL-experienced Marty Schottenheimer after one season and replaced him with NFL-inexperienced Steve Spurrier at twice the money. Schottenheimer was consistent in building near-great teams. He likely would have led the Skins to a 10-6 record in his second season with the same talent. Spurrier led them down the toilet with talent no one else wanted. He walked away from his lucrative contract with Snyder.
  • His flawed concepts of football systems lead him to release players like Johnson and Stephen Davis for the likes of George or Trung Canidate. He partially atoned for that when he refused to sign quarterback Danny Weurffel at Steve Spurrier's urging.
  • He offended many when he signed ex-Cowboy Deion Sanders to be a nickel back and benched the Redskins own Darrell Green from that role. Sanders never did anything that Green couldn't have done had he played. (I think that misstep could hurt Green's chance to be voted on the Hall of Fame.)

Snyder fancied that, because he owned the NFL franchise, he owned the right to do as he pleased. Professional football teams are a public trust, not a private sand box. Fans are invested in the team. Ownership is a privilege and sound management a responsibility. I've been a fan and keen observer of football for longer than Snyder is old. I've played fantasy football since 1990. I had more qualifications to run the Redskins than Little Danny. Neither of us had nearly enough for the job. I knew that, he didn't. But, Little Dan atoned for everything the day he hired Joe Gibbs. On that day Little Danny became "Mr. Snyder."

The Redskins are still doing penance for ill considered moves by Snyder and, lets be fair, by John Kent Cooke. The Skins haven't been a good team since the first Joe Gibbs era ended in 1993. It may take another two years to put things aright. And the team will get there, as long as real football people, not Mr. Snyder, call the shots.

No comments: