For Redskins, change starts at the top

December 9, 2013

Dan Snyder has owned the Washington Redskins since 1999. Since then, the Redskins have won two NFC East titles and had seven different head coaches. (Ray K. Saunders/The Washington Post)

It’s not just about who becomes the next coach of the Washington Redskins. And it’s not simply about hiring a general manager. The team has tried every combination with little success since owner Dan Snyder’s arrival in 1999.

If Year 16 under Snyder is to be any different, the Redskins must find a balance between ownership, management and players. Otherwise, there will never be peace in the perpetual circus.

And the only way for that to happen is for Redskins Nation to rise once more.

Snyder responds to two things: empty seats and constant criticism. Oh, you don’t see him respond publicly anymore since fans booed him off the field a decade ago. However, Snyder fired favorite minion Vinny Cerrato (whom I still believe will return within the next 10 years as a consultant) after a 2009 fan revolt left massive numbers of seats empty at late-season games. And there were still twice as many fans then as the 25,000 or so at Sunday’s loss to Kansas City.

Snyder is cornered into firing coach Mike Shanahan, whose Monday news conference was a classic 30 minutes of denial. Everyone knows Shanahan will be fired within minutes of the Dec. 29 season-ender. Indeed, none of Snyder’s coaches have ever finished their contract, so Shanahan leaving a year earlier isn’t surprising.

Shanahan even seems to be taunting Snyder into firing him by likely benching quarterback Robert Griffin III for the last three games (while saying the team will do everything it can to win the last three games). Sure, 3-10 always gets better by benching a franchise passer. Shanahan’s lame excuse was Griffin needed protecting after 24 sacks in five games. Yet Shanahan won’t even try reserve linemen?

But Snyder needs to just ignore Shanahan and concentrate on first picking a new personnel man who then will pick the coach.

The Redskins are once more a black hole and those with options won’t come to Washington. Sorry, you can’t overpay for the top talent because they can go other places and win. Snyder must find the second wave of talent.

The problem is that rising stars like Baltimore’s Eric DeCosta and Pittsburgh’s Omar Khan won’t leave great front offices to run this mess. They usually receive only one chance to succeed, so why take a no-win deal? Maybe Cleveland assistant GM Ray Farmer or New Orleans director of player personnel Ryan Pace are options.

For coach, Penn State’s Bill O’Brien is a perfect candidate — NFL experience and crisis management at PSU.

Afterward, Snyder needs to find new friends who don’t play football. No more favorite players. He should just come by on Sundays or else nothing will ever truly change.

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Adam Vingan · December 9, 2013