It is almost too easy a task to track down former Redskins and ask them to compare their current situations to those in Washington. Others have left Ashburn and found success elsewhere — Brandon Lloyd in Denver and St. Louis, Ryan Clark in Pittsburgh, Andre Carter in New England, on and on.
Rogers is the latest, and currently greatest, example. The ninth overall pick in the 2005 draft by Joe Gibbs’s Redskins, he made eight interceptions in six years in Washington, dropped countless more, was occasionally benched by former defensive coordinator Greg Blache and wasn’t as consistent as current coach Mike Shanahan would have liked. On a one-year deal with the 49ers, perhaps the best defensive team in the league, he had six interceptions, was versatile enough to play both outside and in the slot, earned his first Pro Bowl berth and is about to play for the right to go to the Super Bowl.
So sit back, 2,400 miles away from Ashburn, chill — and smile.
“I needed a fresh start,” Rogers said. “I wanted that, my last two years, out of Washington.”
Rogers’s final two seasons with the Redskins were after Gibbs and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams were gone. Rogers doesn’t fondly remember those times – the chaos of Jim Zorn’s final season as head coach, then the tumult of Shanahan overhauling the roster and the mind-set. He said he was tired of it all, “everything that goes on around there.”
“Coach Zorn, he didn’t really have control of that team,” Rogers said. “He just was that coach that they all of a sudden picked as a fill-in. He wasn’t the coach that they really wanted. That’s why he was gone after two years.
“With Coach Shanahan there, all that stuff sounds good — his record, his track record. But I wasn’t a big fan of that whole thing that was going on in Washington.”
Why? He sighed.
“It was probably more me just wanting to be out of there,” Rogers said. “It probably didn’t have nothing to do with them. I was just ready to leave.”
So he left, though not for the kind of deal he once envisioned – a one-year contract worth $2.125 million, with a $2.125 million signing bonus. The 49ers, entering training camp, were a team in transition as well, with new Coach Jim Harbaugh hiring a new staff and installing both a new system and a new attitude. The easy question, then: Compare his former organization to his new one.
“This is more solid from the top to the bottom,” Rogers said. “You got ownership — great ownership — that interacts with the players. The GM’s the same way. The coach is a head coach. He understands us. He played in this league. He’s been in the same team meetings that we’re in. He understands what it takes to get a player going, what’s too much for a player, how to push those right buttons. And it’s been working, because we got everybody in.”