John Feinstein: Another Year of Mediocrity
Monday, December 29, 2008; 1:17 PM
And so, another season in the on-going soap opera, "Days of the Mediocre," has come to an end.
As with any good soap, the usual cliff-hanger questions are being asked:
Is the quarterback good enough to lead the gritty, never-give-up team to a championship?
Can the good-guy coach survive to take his team someday to the Promised Land?
Which free agents will be re-signed? Which veterans won't be back?
When will our heroes get the breaks they deserve that will allow them to beat such juggernauts as Cincinnati (4-11-1) and St. Louis (2-14)?
The problem with the Washington Redskins is really pretty simple: the wrong questions are being asked each and every year. The other problem is this: you can't fire the owner.
In today's world of professional sports everything about a team starts with the owner. He not only handles the purse strings but has final say on critical decisions involving everything from on- and off-the-field hirings to fan relations.
Dan Snyder has failed in every possible way during his ten seasons as an owner. It is no coincidence that the Redskins best season under Snyder's ownership was the first one, 1999, when the team put together by Charley Casserly and Norv Turner went 10-6, won a first round playoff game and barely lost in Tampa with a chance to play the next week for the conference title.
Since then, when Snyder began to put his stamp on the team with bad free agent signings (remember Deion Sanders, Jeff George and Bruce Smith?), the constant badgering and firing of coaches and the bad feeling he brings to any building he is in, the Redskins record (even with all the money that's been spent) is 67-80 with two playoff appearances (both as wildcards) and one postseason victory.
Even bringing back the great Joe Gibbs only resulted in a slightly higher level of mediocrity. Gibbs made the playoffs twice -- getting that one win in 2005 in Tampa -- but his four year record was 31-36. Even so, it can be argued that the personnel decisions he made are the reason the team has remained respectable. If Snyder's reign of error had continued after Steve Spurrier walked away in disgust, the Redskins might be in Detroit Lions territory right now.