January 3

HERE’S A way Daniel M. Snyder could salvage a silver lining from the dark, dismal cloud of Redskins dysfunction.

The Redskins owner, it’s no secret, has not made himself Washington’s most popular celebrity. His football team, long the center of sports passion in the nation’s capital, just finished the season with three wins and 13 defeats — tying its worst performance since 1961, as Post columnist Thomas Boswell noted. Mr. Boswell called the 15 seasons of Snyder ownership “a morbid laboratory experiment in mass alienation of football affection.” We don’t think he meant that as a compliment.

We have no advice to offer to stiffen the team’s pliable defense. We don’t know whether trading backup quarterback Kirk Cousins is the way to go. But we do think opportunity can be found at the bottom of this particular barrel. After all, a primary reason Mr. Snyder has offered for refusing to change the name of his team is the attachment fans felt to the great Redskins tradition of sportsmanship, gritty effort and success. As Mr. Snyder wrote not long ago, “That tradition — the song, the cheer — it mattered so much to me as a child, and I know it matters to every other Redskins fan in the D.C. area and across the nation.”

The Snyder era has gone a long way toward straining those bonds and undermining the legacy. This hasn’t been his intent, of course, and the failures have resulted not from a lack of effort or from stingy spending (though the perception of milking every possible last dollar from fans hasn’t helped). Yet as the NFL playoffs begin, the Redskins find themselves in a painfully familiar spot: searching for a head coach and facing another spring and summer of rebuilding.

What better time, then, for a jump-start on a new image? The Redskins name, again without Mr. Snyder’s intent, is offensive. It simply makes no sense to keep fighting for a brand that is widely taken to be a racist insult — that no one would use in conversation with a Native American.

Why not make 2014 the year for a truly fresh start: a new coach, a healthy quarterback and a name that denigrates no one?