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Tony Kornheiser

Getting Raked Over Coles

By Tony Kornheiser
Tuesday, February 22, 2005; Page D01

So Laveranues Coles is unhappy and wants to leave the Redskins?

Fine. Let him. Give him his release today and tell him not to let the door hit his behind on the way out.

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So he doesn't want to play for Joe Gibbs, who is only one of the great offensive minds in the history of the NFL? Swell. Tell Mr. Coles to have a nice day -- only have it somewhere outside the Beltway.

Coles reportedly is so serious about getting out of here, he's even willing to give some money back -- gaaaack! Now that's serious. Nobody gives money back. Coles wants to get away so badly he could be on one of those Southwest Airlines commercials. Fine. The Redskins should tell him he's now free to move about the country.

Maybe 90 catches weren't enough for him here. Maybe Coles wanted the ball thrown to him every time. Or maybe he got tired of all those short routes and he wanted the ball thrown to him deep. Surely, many teams will want him and will accommodate his wishes to have the ball thrown downfield to him more often. Big fish are routinely accommodated in today's NFL. (Heck, maybe the Redskins will decide they want Coles around, and they'll promise to go downfield to him every play.)

The disturbing and puzzling aspect of Coles wanting out is that he's not considered a malcontent or a bad guy. He caught 90 balls, and played tough the whole season. That means you have to ask yourself if there's some kind of philosophical disconnect between him and Gibbs. But if that's the case, you have to tilt toward Gibbs. By a count of three rings to none.

The Redskins are already a very good defensive team. And because Gibbs actually learns from his mistakes, they are going to be a better offensive team next year with or without Coles, or Rod Gardner, for that matter. The Redskins may have no wide receivers by the end of this month. But they have gotten this Mark Brunell nonsense out of their system, and they are going to go downfield more. Patrick Ramsey likes to go downfield. If Coles doesn't want to be a part of that, vaya con Dios. Drop us a postcard when you get work. Wide receivers are easy to come by. I can almost hear Dan Snyder barking: "Gas up the jet! We're going on a wideout run!" (Check the itinerary. Is Minneapolis on it? How about Pittsburgh?)

I bear Laveranues Coles no ill will, and would welcome him back. But if he wants out, fine. The computer's "spellcheck" always spits his first name back at the copy desk. It's just easier for everybody in the newsroom when there's a wide receiver named, oh, Randy. Even one named Plaxico. No current Redskin has been part of any kind of sustained winning here. So what does it matter if any of them -- or all of them -- go?

It's just troublesome that this pattern continues: So many of the big-name free agents The Danny brought in have performed sheepishly and/or left as disappointments. The roll call of flops includes Jeff George, Deion Sanders, Danny Wuerffel, Jeremiah Trotter and Brunell. Now Coles wants out after a season in which he caught a lot of short passes, but got only one touchdown -- and that was on a trick pass from Clinton Portis. The revolving door here for players and coaches persistently seems to let air out, rather than keep quality in.

Continuity -- especially of the coaching staff -- is what the Redskins have missed for all of Snyder's tenure. Now, with Gibbs and Gregg Williams, that may finally be behind them. The Redskins could be a lot better this year. You'd think players would run toward that, not away from it.

When workers are unhappy, they are not productive. It is better to let them go immediately. And by immediately I mean before sundown today. Obviously, Coles's unhappiness is not about money, as he is compensated well beyond his actual worth. All the Redskins are compensated well beyond their actual worth. Dan Snyder is a virtual ATM. Considering their won-loss record, the players and coaches on this team for the last five years have gotten more money per victory than anyone in the world. Coming to Washington is like coming to a Club Med. That money Coles may want to give back? The Danny can spread it around to the cabana boys at the pool.

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