Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Daniel Snyder, lose the "win now" attitude.

It's ruining the team. "Win now" didn’t work for the 2000 "$100 million team," and it isn’t working now. Instead, it encourages your management team to take short cuts at high cost. They buy other team’s stars, expecting instant results. Stars emerge from systems. If you aren't running the same system as that other team, the star you bring in may not be as effective for you. (See Archuleta, Adam) Even if that trade or free agent is successful, it's going to take a season for them to jell. The team will be more successful growing its own talent. Merge them with your scheme and keep them on your roster.

This comment arises from the stories of how the Lance Briggs trade offer came about. Briggs is a fine player. He can improve any defense. By himself, he cannot help the Skins D enough to fill all the holes. The suddeness of the offer, the investment of precious cap dollars to an area of strength, the left field nature of the whole thing are the earmarks of the worst characterist of the Redskins under your ownership -- ill-considered personnel moves that add players who don't really fit. Scouting by name recognition is what I do in fantasy football. It's not what you should do in reality football. Unless you grew up in a football family like someone named Halas, or Rooney, you will always be taken advantage of by a football professional when you drive the personnel moves.

Take a page from former General Electric chairman Jack Welch. Sure, he wanted to make the most profit in American business in every quarter. That was his result, but never his goal. He wanted results. Welch famously demanded that GE divisions hold a top three market share position, or he sold them off. Your equivilent is to demand the Redskins make the playoffs every year. That leads to a more patient approach, one that has longer lasting impact than the quick hits (and short duration) the Skins have become famous for in your tenure.

Coaches requisition needs. Scouts find talent. General managers have the vision and expertise to build a roster that can win within budget and over the long term. Mr. Snyder, you have the vision, but lack the expertise to pull this off. Your role is to hold your people accountable.

Demand to know why your homegrown talent is now the middle linebacker for the Giants. Demand to know why a cornerback on the 2005 roster is had a pro-bowl season — for San Francisco. Demand to know if the people, including you, who managed your roster last year should have as much influence this year.

These things are not as much fun as hobnobbing with famous players or closing big deals, but demanding accountability is the second most important thing good owners do. (The most important is to hire a competent general manager. That's more important than hiring a competent coach.) You are the only one who can hold people accountable. We need you to be good at it. Do that, and you are on the first step toward building a winning organization that can sustain success over the long term. If it's you that's overlooking homegrown, rising stars in favor of famous names from somewhere else, then you should take a look at your results and step aside for the professionals.

Put your team on a strict financial budget, and by budget, I mean both cash dollars and salary cap dollars. We fans admire your willingness to open the checkbook to bring in talent for unlimited dollars, but it’s a double-edged sword. When there are limits, you get a lot smarter spending your money. You learn that it’s OK if free agents walk away when they price themselves out of the market. You get smarter about the next player alternative. And you take a good look at talent already on your roster. You find people who can move up and you groom them to start. They stay longer at a reasonable cost.

It may surprise you to know that we fans invest in players who grow before our eyes. We love it when a LaVar and Champ and Fred and Jon mature with the team. Believe me, we are as invested in Chris Cooley as in Santana Moss. We have high hopes for Jason and Rocky and Carlos and Derrick and Kedric and Khari. Ladell is a success. We want to win with them. We'll miss them more than the stars you bring in to replace them.

You and your management are failing to spend your money wisely. Because you have so much to spend, you buy everyone at any price. That doesn't work. We are not building fantasy teams here. Not saying you should be cheap, but the sky is not the limit, either.

Here's what to do when you get excited by that trade prospect, take his 2006 stats and discount by a third. Cut every free agent’s prior performance by a third. Then, compare that to the performance of the players now on the roster. If the current player's performance is the same as that outsider's discounted stats, let the new guy walk, or, at least offer less to sign him. Save your cap dollars.

Free agents need time to fit in. For a single season, the guy already in your system will give you more than that free agent in his first season here. I assure you, Andre Carter will be better this year just because he's been in your system for a year. A lot of those decisions are left to the coaches and general managers (if you had one). Only you can impose financial discipline.

Restore the draft as a source of talent. The Redskins overvalue free agency as a source of talent. Think about this. Stalwarts Jon Jansen, Chris Samuels, Champ Bailey, Fred Smoot, LaVar Arrington, Sean Taylor and Jason Campbell (maybe) came to the Skins by the draft. In your ownership, Santana Moss is the only traded player better than the man he replaced. Shawn Springs is good, but he’s no Champ Bailey. Clinton Portis was traded for Bailey. He's one of the top five at his position, but Bailey is simply the best.

All of these issues come from your desire to win now. Change the goal to winning over the long term. The team that is built patiently, can contend for the playoff consistently. Consistent playoff contenders are much better postioned to go all the way and are a lot more fun to watch.

Don’t be so quick to give up those multiple draft choices for trades. Maybe when you see what Mike Shanahan, a consistent contender, does with that third round draft he got from you through Atlanta, you will start to get it.

Daniel Snyder Photo: William E. Amatucci Jr./WireImage from here.

1 comment:

Skin Patrol said...

I approve of this post.