Friday, October 27, 2006

Is there a draft in here?

"Joe Gibbs, Redskins president, is hurting Joe Gibbs, Redskins coach." That's how Redskins critic John Keim of The Washington Examiner assessed the team's roster moves under the coach-in-chief's regime. Keim examines Gibbs' trading hits and misses. More useful is Keim's look at how other teams used those draft picks.

The Redskins' theory is to trade the uncertainty of draft picks for the known quantity of veteran players. That approach worked for George Allen when he imported the Over-The-Hill gang in the seventies. Allen's "known quantities" were people he already worked with at the Rams for the most part. His quarterback move was to bring in a starter-ready Billy Kilmer to back up Jurgensen.

Gibbs, out of the game for a decade, had scouting reports and Vinnie Cerrato to work with. The hits have been spectacular: Moss for Coles and Portis for Bailey. Both Coles and Bailey were disgruntled players who wanted out. Keim questions whether any of those trades needed to be accompanied by draft picks. Portis for Bailey may have stood on its own without the second round pick that went to Denver.

In the nineties, GM Charley Casserly pulled of a draft coup when he scarfed up Heath Shuler, Michael Westbrook and Desmond Howard. With their college reps, the buzz was that Norv Turner would have a passing attack to rival the then dominant Cowboys. The drama and trauma that followed may explain the Redskins' disdain of draft picks today.

The Redskins are the oldest team in the NFL, Keim points out, but may not have enough draftees to fill in for the future. Trading my be their only viable option.

The moves may yet be successful, but the slow start when everyone expected dominance confuses players, perplexes coaches and leaves fans beside themselves.

Catch Keim's article, "Suspect architect," here.

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