Wednesday, Jan. 21, 12:30 p.m. ET

The Redskins

Jason La Canfora and Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, January 21, 2009; 12:30 PM

Washington Post staff writers Jason La Canfora and Jason Reid were online Wednesday, Jan. 21, at 1 p.m. ET to discuss their story which analyzes the Washington Redskins' needs and potential courses of action in the NFL offseason.

A transcript follows.


19th and L: Mr. La Canfora, can you explain how Eddie Royal was the big receiver the Skins needed, in your Insider positional analysis, when the guy's 5-10?

Jason La Canfora: I should have phrased that better (was working on some serious stomach flu issues that day and a little out of it). The kid plays like a big receiver is what I was getting at. he is not strictly a sideline guy. He shows up over the middle and on third down. He makes big plays over the middle and in traffic. He isn't a shrimp and he is limited to certain routes. He plays an all around game and he plays big.

Bottom line is that kid would have been a major asset to this weoful group of receivers, and inept offense in general, period. And it's another case of this organization woefully misjudging the talent in its own backyard.


Raleigh, N.C.: J-squared,

The NFL formula for success is now simple: Add a proven QB and a solid coach, and you win games.

Dolphins, Ravens, Falcons, Cards, and Jets went from very bad to very good with this approach. These teams did NOT overhaul their o-lines or bring in new skill players.

Campbell is good, but clearly not good enough to overcome all the holes on our roster. So,instead of hoping Vinny finds the right 10 guys to surround Campbell, wouldn't it be a better bet to find the right two guys: the right QB and the right coach?

Jason Reid: Well, it's not as simple as just adding a proven quarterback and a solid coach. As we pointed out, or at least attempted to, in our piece on the organization today, the process of building a successful team is not just about the coach and quarterback. Yes, the coach and quarterback are, obviously, essential to winning. But in the examples of the teams you cited, they all made many solid moves, including moves along their lines. Getting rid of Campbell and Zorn, at this point, would be another huge step backward, in my humble opinion. It's not that I believe they are the best people in the league at the jobs, but you have to take a stand on building a program and sticking with it for a while. A big part of the problem under Snyder has been that they have not developed and stuck with plans.


Washington, D.C.: If the Skins are dead set at re-signing Hall and trading Rogers, would a Rogers to Detroit for their 20th pick work? I mean, would Detroit do it?

Jason La Canfora: I wouldn't say they are dead set on it, because from what I am hearing Hall is balking at their initial overtures and wants bigtime money. if that's the case, I figure he will hit free agency and I'm not sure Snyder is going to set the market at any position with his spending this offseason.

Spoke to Carlos yesterday and he's sitting back and watching and waiting. if they re-sign Hall and keep Springs, then he'd like to go elsewhere and start and not be part of a four-corner rotation. If one of either Springs or Hall leaves, then Carlos is cool with playing out his final year, gambling that he will have a big season, and then seeing where his value is.

As for his worth, I had two execs from other teams tell me the same thing - at best he's somewhere in the 24-32 range of the second round (bottom picks of that round) and at worst he'd probably fetch a third. The Lions have so many holes I'm not sure they will be trading picks for players; if anything they trade down a few times to simply get more picks.


Washington, D.C.: JT Must Go. Guys, I don't think there's much doubt that Jason Taylor is a drag on the salary cap at eight mil a year and that he needs to go... but can the Skins get anything for him in a trade, or do they just cut him. If they just cut him, do they take a salary cap hit?

Jason Reid: He has a salary of $8.5 million next year, so, yeah, it's doubtful they could bring him back at that number. As for getting something for him in a trade, well, that's highly unlikely. He had almost as many surgical procedures for acute compartment syndrome (two) as sacks (3.5). A second-round pick this season and a sixth-rounder in 2010 is a lot to give up for a guy for one ineffective season, but such is the state of things for the Redskins.


Washington, D.C.: An observation: none of the teams that you highlighted in your article has a reliable game-breaking receiver (a "true" #1 by your difficult standard). So while Fitzgerald has been an absolute killer this post-season, it is clearly possible to win in this league without that kind of threat.

Question: Given the above observation, and frequency at which high-profile pass catchers coming out of college fail in the NFL, is it worth the risk to use high draft picks on receivers?

Jason La Canfora: Interesting point. I would say Fitzgerald is the very reason the Cards have advanced this far, and the pairing of Boldin and Fitz gives them two legit No. 1. Of the other teams noted in the article and corresponding graphic, off the top of my head, Carolina has Steve Smith. The Giants had/have Plaxico Burress. New England has Randy Moss. Atlanta has Roddy White.

But I agree for sure that it is a dependent position and without a quality line and quality QB play it is a waste to sink numerous assets and dollars in that position. The Skins routinely did it this decade, without ever having settled on a QB of the future and with a line that has been in decay for a couple of years now.

So definitely I would call that foolish. If you look at the overall groups of wideouts that made it into the playoffs, though, most are much deeper than Washington. They haven't had a legit No. 2 WR in about 5-6 years (and that's if you count Rod Gardner as one prior to that). Moss is hindered greatly by the lack of any corresponding talent around him, and no pass protection stunts Campbell's development and makes it impossible to throw deep.

It's all intertwined, but building a team through your lines seems to make a lot of sense to a lot of people who do this for a living, with quality results.


Irving, Tex.: Do you think Jim Zorn will give Colt Brennan a chance to at quarterback this offseason?

Jason Reid: No. At this point in his career, Colt is a No. 3 quarterback. I'm not sure if he'll ever be more than that. Nothing against him, he's a nice kid, but he's got some mechanical things in his throwing motion that they have changed.


Burke, Va.: What made Vinnie enamored with West Coast offense? Did he show any interest while Gibbs was here?

Jason Reid: Vinny worked for the 49ers at the start of his career in the NFL. Obviously, the 49ers became one of the league's top teams under West Coast guru Bill Walsh.


Coral Springs, Fla.: Vinny has said that drafting pass rushers is a major crap shoot, so Iam gathering he's been gun shy to take chances on the position. Unfortunately the Redskins division rivals have done very well with this position, the Eagles found Trent Cole in the 5th, and Howard is emerging as a force. The Cowboys drafted Ware. The Giants have found three stud DEs in the draft with Tuck being a find in the third round. Do you guys think this is a big reason why the Redskins are arguably a step behind their division foes?

Jason La Canfora: With his track record, drafting anyone is a major crap shoot. The Giants found a ton of quality lineman at various points of the draft all decade, going to back to Griffin.

The Steelers have routinely rebuilt their stout D Lines through the draft and found plenty of quality and depth in terms of rushers.

THe Eagles and Cowboys have done it through the draft. Parcells finds them all over the place.

But I'll tell you this, if you only draft 3 of them in a 10 year span, and take none above the 5th round, then yeah you probably won't have a decent pass rush for a long time, as we've seen here.


San Francisco: Will Daniel Snyder ever wise up and get a real GM in his front office? Over the last decade of mediocrity, the only two constant variables are Vinny Cerratto and Daniel Snyder. We all know that Snyder will never sell the team, so the common sense approach would be to get a qualified general manager, right? Or does Snyder enjoy having a puppet GM with whom he can control?

Jason La Canfora: That's a question only he could answer, and he doesn't much make himself available to do so. And when he does, he doesn't answer probing questions, anyway.

Reality is reality and the team hasn't drafted well or wisely, traded well, spent cap dollars well or targetted free agents well all decade, and Snyder and Cerrato are the only constants in that part of the organization and despite all of that Cerrato has been promoted three times in 5-6 years.

Even if it falls apart next season and Snyder starts hunting for a new coach, I'd imagine he chases a Shanahan or Holmgren or Gruden and gives them the same power Gibbs had, and I imagine that fails, too, because it still means ownership is invovled in everything and you have a coach picking players when personnel is not their strong suit (Shanahan and Holmgren were not very good in the dual role).

If you want to get it right you get Accorsi or someone like that, let them study your entire franchise for a few months as a paid concultant, make a list of recommendations and suggestions and use that to find a very proven GM/team president.

Then get out of the way, given him full control to fire or hire who he pleases, open the check book when need be, and perhaps this sleeping giant will finally wake up.

Short of that I don't see any reason why the fortunes would change around here.


Capitol Hill: Would it be too much of a stretch to suggest that, basically, barring a Super Bowl appearance next season, Zorn's a goner? You can't tell me that Mr. Snyder would look at the abnormally long list of available star coaches with rings - Cowher, Holmgren, Shanahan, Gruden, Dungy - and not be tempted to throw beaucoup bucks at one, or heck, even two of those guys (say, Cowher for HC, Shanny/Gru for OC?). Sounds far-fetched, but this could easily happen, couldn't it?

Jason Reid: Perhaps a tad of a stretch. Perhaps not. Everyone who has followed this organization during Snyder's tenure as owner knows he likes star-power and has often changed course with coaches. There are some in the organization who believe Snyder would have fired Zorn if the team lost to Philadelphia at FedEx Field (they won, 10-3). Anything short of reaching the playoffs next season could be bad for Zorn. In fact, I would not be surprised if Snyder made an in-season coaching change if the team started slowly next season. You're right about all the big names that could potentially be without jobs next season. Snyder has a history of coveting those types of coaches.


Centreville, Va.: Jason, who are some free agent targets the Redskins are looking at?

Jason La Canfora: They haven't even begun the part of the personnel meetings where they focus on outside talent, and there are people in that building who don't think they will be spending a ton.

They may get one bigtime guy, but I would imagine that would be it. Then look for 3-5 value guys, who could start and fill some voids while they try to start getting it right in the draft.

With just 4 picks that will be tough. they might get one comp pick late in the draft, and maybe they make a deal for a pick or two, but until they begin yielding real rewards from their drafts it's hard to seem them getting younger and better.


Washington, D.C.: Jasno, Can you list where the Redskins will pick in the draft? Do you see any instances where we could trade current players for draft picks?

Also, what do you think of that guy, Ryan Clark. Starting safety on the No. 1 ranked defense, yet not good enough for the Skins? Thank you Gregg Williams!

Jason Reid: The Redskins currently hold the 13th overall pick and have selections in the third, fifth and sixth rounds. They traded their second pick (and a sixth in 2010) to Miami for Jason Taylor; their fourth to the New York Jets as part of the Pete Kendall deal; their seventh to Minnesota for Erasmus James. As for Clark, well, don't blame Gregg Williams. No matter what a defensive coordinator, an offensive coordinator or a head coach think about a player, it ultimately comes down to the people making the player-personnel decisions. Yes, Joe Gibbs also held the title of team president, and Vinny Cerrato and Dan Snyder are actviely involved in any major player-personnel decisions. Read into that what you will.


Los Angeles: Do you think it's possible that 2009 could be the make-or-break year for Vinny Cerrato? He's been with the team for so long, and the team's won a total of 3 playoff games in the past decade.

With teams like Arizona, Miami, Atlanta, etc. resurrecting themselves on an annual basis, Snyder has to take note that this kind of thing has never happened to him with Vinny at the helm. He also has to notice that the Cerrato Skins have never achieved the consistency of a Baltimore, New England or Pittsburgh.

Do you think Snyder could finally wake up and realize that the only constant (besides himself) in this decade of mediocrity is Vinny?

Jason La Canfora: People around the league wonder the same thing. Looking at it purely based on football, and not based on relationship or trust or loyalty or whatever, it's hard for many people to fathom. And in most instances Snyder is a cut-throat guy when it comes to business, with little time for sentimentality.

He seems wedded to winning his way, with his guy, on his terms. And if that's the case, then maybe you get on a decent run in December every few years and sneak into the playoffs in a league that basically mandates equality (its the most socialist of sports leagues in the world and dictates parity), but it's hard to see them building a true contender for years on end in this present state.


Clifton, Va.: Sorry Campbell haters but Theismann wasn't that great as a QB and neither was Phil Simms. Campbell has more physical talent than either.

Campbell needs a solid O line and an offense that doesn't change as often as skirt lengths.

Doug Williams was not the great a QB either, by the way.

Jason Reid: Not sure if there's a question there. The bottom line is the Redskins' offensive line needs major work. You really can't evaluate Campbell fairly until the Cerrato/Snyder address the line. It seems as if many Redskins fans want to run Campbell out of town. That's you're right. But if that happens, the same people who picked him could pick the next guy, too.


Detroit : A couple weeks back the Detroit Lions beat reporter asked coach Rod Marinelli if he wishes his daughter had married a better defensive coordinator which was clearly below the belt. Does the league ever fine reporters, or rescind their access to the team after such a dumb question? I hope the paper fires the guy.

Jason Reid: Newspaper reporters do not work for the league. As far as that question, I would not have asked something like that. The league could deny a media outlet credentials based on the conduct of their representatives. As unprofessional as that question was, however, I don't think it rose to the level where the league would get involved.


Nokesville, Va.: Well guys we have heard what Wise would do and what numerous fans/posters would do this offseason. Why don't one of you step up to the plate and lay out what you would do? Don't tell me Wise is the only guy at The Post that will publicly air his ideas for the offseason.

Jason La Canfora: I think the experts in the article today make it pretty obvious, don't they?

Focus on the draft, stockpile picks and address the lines on an annual basis.

Draft for need and not best player available, even if it's a position where you just have a 27 year-old a massive contract.

Quit re-working contracts for veterans and learn when to cut guys, take the hit, and move on, rather than getting in constant cap problems.

Use free agency as a pencil to shade in a flaw here or there and not a paintbrush to wash over your entire roster.

Begin gutting the lines, take the hit by taking a step back, but finally position yourself to make moves over several drafts to build a young nucleus of linemen who could lead you to consistent playoff appearances.

Now, do the Skins have the people overseeing those areas right now to pull it off? Many would look at their track records and say no. So perhaps it's a moot point until that day comes, but I think we presented the formula other quality organizations utilize.


DC: I really liked the table accompanying your story that indicated the Redskins never drafted lineman players at the same pace as other teams drafted lineman.

Which positions did the Skins favor more than other teams? Receiver? Or, is the problem that they just didn't have the draft picks because they traded them away?

Jason La Canfora: They have spent a fair amount of top 4 round picks on WR - Gardner, Jacobs, Kelly and Thomas come to mind - but more than anything else, they sink massive amounts of cap space into WR and CB, all the while often neglecting the very lines that make it possible for those positions to flourish.

And yes, you nailed it. The Ravens have drafted like 20 more players then the Redskins over a 9 year period - that's staggering. It's like getting 3 extra drafts than them in just 9 years. They don't draft well and they don't draft enough. Tough to get good that way.


Olney, Md.: Thanks for a terrific story this morning -- very insightful and right on the money!

However, I see little hope for the future until the ONE constant over the last 10 years somehow changes his approach. That would of course be Daniel Snyder who over the last ten years has made it painfully clear that he is NOT a knowledgeable football person nor does he have any intention of bringing into the organization a knowledgeable and experienced football person.

Jason Reid: I've dealt with a lot of owners during my time covering the NFL, Major League Baseball and the NBA. Many were wildly successful in the business world and thought they could enjoy the same level of success in sports. The best owners, in my experience, are the ones that quickly realized running professional teams is not as easy as some franchises make it seem. Those owners went out and hired proven player-personnel people, provided them with the resources to do their jobs and got out of the way. That hasn't happened here.


Haymarket, Va.: Our two young DT's are free agents this offseason. What do you think will happen with Golston and Montgomery?

Jason La Canfora: They will both get a tender from the team as restirced free agents and I would be stunned if they are not re-signed.


Orlando, Fla.: Who is representing the team at the Senior Bowl practices? Also, have the Skins started to interview for a TE coach?

Jason Reid: Cerrato and many members of the coaching staff are representing the team. As for the tight ends job, we're hearing that Zorn wants to promote from within. Bill Khayat, the offensive quality control coach, is someone to keep an eye on.


Chesapeake Beach, Md.: Doesn't it make more sense this year to go after a stud like Haynesworth and then take the best available lineman (O-line or D-line) in the draft with their 1st pick? He would certainly make Griffin (or whoever is next to him) better and free up Carter as well by getting the double teams that are missing.

Jason La Canfora: I think at some point they need to do both.

If they don't want to pay Haynesworth $30 million to sign I understand, and I would worry about his weight and disposition a bit once he gets this huge payday.

But they need to keep drafting DTs and DEs and G and T all the time.

Right now many in the organization would say they need a new starting RT, LG, RG and at least 2 DEs and a stud DT.

That's essentially re-doing both lines. It's going to take time and acumen.

You can generally find a stud tackle at 13, and let him start on ther right and then move to LT in a few years (and maybe coax another season or two out of Samuels on the less daunting right side).

I doubt Rinehart is ready to start this season (or ever), same with Heyer.

So you will have to draft guards either now or at some point soon. I'd try to get a second round pick to find a capable end, and DT could be a position where it makes some sense to spend some money in free agency for sure, I'm just not sure they are going to be setting the market.


Rockville, Md.: JLa-

Can the Skins afford to lose both Springs (Released)and Rogers (Trade) in the secondary assuming they sign Hall to a long term deal? Without adding a CB in free agency that would leave Hall and Smoot as the starting CBs with Tryon as the nickle CB. I was cringing as I was writing that last sentence.

Jason Reid: You should. I don't think they could afford to trade Rogers in the scenario you mentioned. And in no way do I see them having Smoot and Tryon in the roles you laid out. That would not make sense, unless the goal is to give up many 40-plus-yard recptions each game.


McLean, Va.: Do you agree with me that the Redskins opponents outside their division next season will be easier than last?

Jason La Canfora: I dont think you can say that either way. They lost to Cincy and STL and San Fran, and nearly lost to Seattle and Cleveland.

I don't think there are too many teams in this league you can look at and say the Skins would definitely beat on a nuetral field.

The NFC South has been tough on them over the years. Going to San Diego and even Oakland will be tough. The AFC has given them fits in general.

I'm not sure. Until we see what the health and rosters of their opponents look like come September, it's hard for me to say.


Manassas, Va.: The answer to the draft is trading back from 13 and grabbing Duke Robinson to take over at LG. Use the 2nd round pick on a DL or a LB and go from there.

Jason La Canfora: Two problems here, though.

Trading out of that pick will be tough.

And they don't have a second round pick.

I really think they take a tackle. They badly wanted to last year but blew it in a draft in which 8 went in the first round and most started right away.

We are miles away from the draft and we don't know who will be on the board, obviously, but I have a strong sense they look at that position first.


New Jersey: Have you spoken to anybody about Jon Jansen?

Is the ankle injury he suffered in 2007 usually a two-year injury?

Jason Reid: Jansen is expected to be on the team next season because of his contract situation as it relates to the salary cap, but coaching staff is eager to find a tackle to replace him. His injuries have been a factor to his decline, but the bottom line is the guy just doesn't get the job done in pass protection at this late stage of his career.


Silver Spring, Md.: I heard somewhere that the Redskins can't unload Jason Taylor because it would still count against the cap. Is that true?

Jason La Canfora: It's actually quite the opposite.

They can cut him and save $8.5 million in real money, as well as cap space.

Coaches and players would be stunned if he's back, but they're not calling the shots.


San Francisco: Has Jim Zorn outlined any changes he needs to make to his play calling next season? While he was definitely hampered by a bad offensive line and few play makers, his play calling left a lot to be desired.

Jason Reid: I don't think he's going to make a lot of chanhes in his play caling. He thinks the plays would have worked a lot better had players executed their assignments better, and you really don't know. Better talent, if Snyder and Cerrato can find some, should help, and the players should benefit from having a full year in the offense. Also, I think the coaching staff will do more to help Jason Campbell. In addition to making the line protections, he also had to make the formation calls. That's a whole lot to have on his plate.


Virginia Beach, VA: Back over the summer, the 'Skins hired a young executive from the Bears (I can't remember his name). Everyone raved about him from what I recall. Is he possible GM material in the future?

Jason La Canfora: Morocco Brown. Very smart hire. Has a great rep as a hard worker around the league and an up-and-comer.

The Skins had a robust practie squad this season, and that's one of the things Brown focuses on.

I have heard from several people in the organization that Snyder thinks very highly of him. He compiles vert detailed and astute scouting reports and has a good eye.

He is someone who I would see taking on a role similar to what Cerrato used to do - pro personnel guy - before making the leap to overseeing the draft and entire roster and basically every football ops decision in the organization, but certainly someone with a bright future in the franchise I would imagine.


Washington, D.C.: Jason Squared, When the regular season ended it didn't seem possible that Dallas could sink any lower. They were already the laughing stock of the league (which included a team going 0-16). However, it seems to be just the tip of the iceberg with all the problems that continue to emerge as this joke of a franchise begins to unravel. Is this all just a bunch of media hype, or has Dallas entered a new dimension of pathetic?

Jason La Canfora: I think part of it is fueled by ESPN's backwards love/hate relationship with all things Cowboys, and they blow things way out of proportion. But also, when you assemble so many bad eggs, and have a meddling owner and flawed front office, things generally start to rot after a while, and with no Parcells there anymore to exert some authority on Jones, run the draft and personnel and keep certain elements off the team, it certainly has tanked.

A lot of talent but not enough character. It takes a balance for sure.


Chevy Chase, MD: I get the general impression from you guys that Synder/Cerrato is looking for a bit of a low-key off- season, sign some lower free agents and focus on the draft.

Having said that, Julius Peppers wants out of Carolina. Haynesworth is a free agent. Boldin wants out of Arizona (I know, not another WR). There seems to a situation where some big names (and young too) are available at positions of need for us.

My question is: Will Synder/Cerrato be able to help themselves from making at least one splash? Or is the economy such where they couldnt really even if they wanted to.

Jason Reid: Great question! And really, doesn't that just sum up those guys. I mean, they were supposedly all about the draft last offseason, but yet they were chasing Chad Johnson, willing to give up two first-round picks for him. Cerrato has told sources of ours that they are going to be active in free agency. But will they make the big high-priced moves like they did in previous offseason? I really wonder. We'll know more after the organizational meetings resume when everyone returns from the bowl.


Tampa, Fl: From everything you guys here around the league, what are the chances a new agreement is reached before it goes to an uncapped year? Is there any way the NFL lets that happen?

Jason La Canfora: It looks very grim. The PA hasn't even hired a new chief, and there seems to be no desire to even start talking on either side. I'd be stunned if we don't see the uncapped year and all of those other poison pills come into play.


Anonymous: Jason, Cerrato can't be all that bad. I mean, we have a HOF third-string quarterback, right?

Jason La Canfora: It's not even a matter of all bad. He has made some nice decisions and solid moves, but the overall track record is hard to dispute. In manys ways he is misscast and asked to do things some would say are out of his depth. As someone who helped collect info, work in personnel, help indentify some things, it's cool. He's seen as a nice enough guy, harmless, by many around the league, but I cant see many other teams hiring him for the types of roles he's had here.

The year Snyder fired him - well, Schottenheimer fired him - he was out of football. Then Snyder checked Marty and re-hired Vinny and this team has not been on a consistent upward arc since. It's all fits and starts, sportadic success but somewhat aimless lurching from one player to the next, without a commitment to the draft or to youth or to building from the trenches out.


DC: Do you two (Jason & Jason) disagree on anything Redskins related? Seems that you two mirror each other's thoughts quite a bit. Thanks.

Jason Reid: Well, you just ruined my day (lol). Like any partners on any type of a beat, we see things differently from time to time. But as it relates to how Cerrato and Snyder have constructed this team through the years, well, the facts are the facts. If we're agreeing to much for your taste on this chat, I encourage you to check out "The Jasons" archives on the Comcast website. You'll see we really don't respect each other at all (lol).


Jason La Canfora: Well guys, our time is up. Thanks for all of the great questions and hopefully we can do these chats at least once a month or so through the offseason. Always fun.

Hope you guys stay warm and are having a great 2009.



Jason Reid: Well, looks we're done for now. Thanks to everyone for participating. I'm sure we'll rap again soon.


Editor's Note: moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company