The Chat House With Michael Wilbon

Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, October 12, 2009; 1:15 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House, where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Mon., Oct. 12 at 1:15 p.m. ET to discuss the Redskins, the NFL, the MLB playoffs, the impending NBA season, World Wide Wilbon (which is Not Just Another Sorry, No-Account Sports Blog) the latest sports news, his columns and anything else on your mind.

A transcript follows

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Crofton, Md.: Omigosh Mike, you are gonna need several hours for fallen Redskin nation today!!

Michael Wilbon: Ain't that the truth! Hi everybody...I flew from Chicago back to D.C. late last night, got in around 11 p.m. So I've only been here half-a-day but it didn't take long to feel the angst...and the anger in relation to the Washington Redskins. They're not a good team, not that it's news to say that. But it is the reality. And without some introspection and change of direction at the top of the pyramid, I don't see them getting any better soon. Gosh, Redskins fans are getting a taste of what it feels like to be a Cubs fan. I don't see how this Redskins team, even with this cupcake schedule, can finish better than 8-8, if that. I still see losses to the Giants (again), Dallas at least once and Philly at least once. In those five games I see the Redskins going 2-3 at best, probably 1-4. But they've got the Cheifs and Raiders, which are Ws. (Yeah, I said it). One would think the season-ender in San Diego might be a W, but who knows what incentive the Chargers might have or not have by then. Point is, it's going to be a long season with lots of buried heads in hands ...


Bethesda, Md.: Michael: Happy Columbus Day. First, Williams turns around New Orleans's defense; Second, Saunders turns around Baltimore's offense; Third, Norv is coach of a Super Bowl favorite; Fourth, Mike Nolan has the Broncos playing lights out defense.

Yet, each of them turned out to be a bum in D.C. What is preventing Snyder from seeing the pattern: the only constant is HIM.

Michael Wilbon: Ahhhhh, yes. You would have hit that nail on the head. Now, let's not get carried away with the Chargers and Norv. I bought that stock at the beginning of the season, too. I have the Steelers and Chargers playing in the AFC title game, and I feel terrible about it now because once again the Chargers under Norv seem like underachievers. They've already had the GM rip the team on-the-record, which is awful for a team of vets that says it has championship aspirations. Nevertheless, you're right. These guys aren't bad coaches; they're all professional coaches who have strengths but need the right players to coach and executives to pickt he right players and staffers. We could do the same thing with a list of players the Redskins didn't value (Steelers Ryan Clark) who have gone elsewhere and excelled ...


Bristow, Va.: Considering that both Zorn and Campbell won't be Redskins next year and this season is already looking like a wash, why don't they play Collins and other second stringers for the remainder of the season?

Michael Wilbon: Collins? You're joking right. And playing a career backup would accomplish what, exactly? And at 2-3 why would you give up on the season? You don't. It's five games in. You think THEY think their season is over just because you do? Sorry ...


Washington, D.C.: Mike,

Obviously nothing is going to change until Snyder hires a real GM and gets out of the way -- but in the interim what can fans do to push for change? I think a boycott is in talks -- and no-shows at Fed-Ex, lost concessions etc...hurt Snyder more than all the media harping ever will.

Michael Wilbon: Here's where I start to lose it a little bit. I understand your frustration. And you could start a boycott that nobody would pay a dime's worth of attention to. Fans cheer or boo and that's that. They can't do anything to improve any team in any sport. Yes, they can withdraw their support and hurt any owner financially, and there are cases (Baltimore Colts and the Bob Irsay) where that has happened. But I don't know that the result is a franchise in contention, and in the case of the Washington Redskins it's not going to happen anyway ...


Potomac, Md.: How long have you known Tony K?

Michael Wilbon: Good change of pace question: 30 years ... since the summer of 1979 when Tony came to The Washington Post from Newsday and I was a summer intern at The Post between my junior and senior years at Northwestern. Way more than half my life. A long time.


Fredericksburg, Va.: Mike,

What do you think? If Jack Kent Cook had willed the Redskins to his sons, John and Ralph, would they have operated the team as passive owners who hire football people to direct its daily operations and to make all coaching and football personnel decisions?

Regarding Dan Snyder as owner, in the final analysis, isn't he a Jerry Jones wannabe who will never be a passive owner?

Michael Wilbon: Good question requiring a totally speculative answer...and I have zero idea, though I think I share your inclination (and have no reason why) they might be passive, like the Halas family which still owns the Chicago Bears and says absolutely nothing about matters relating to football operations. Quick note on the Jerry Jones comparison: Jones is a football guy ... Been around football all his life. Snyder has not.


It's still on the coach: Mike

I agree with you that the Redskins' problems start at the top. Snyder and Cerrato have assembled a roster with some massive holes, the o-line in particular. You also have a QB that does not see the field well and doesn't make very quick decisions that is always under pressure.

All that said, it is Zorn's job to adjust his scheme to the personnel that he has. This roster is obviously not suited for the west coast offense.

Do you think this team has a slightly better chance by running a constant shotgun to give Campbell a better view of the field and to allow Portis to get a few yards here and there on sprint draws.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting different resullts. The Redskins personnel in the West Coast Offense is proving to be a decent example.

Michael Wilbon: Okay, I LIKE how you're directing your anger. Very smart. I like the shotgun for both of those reasons you state. But adjustments don't seem to be the calling card of the people at the top of this franchise. But I'll give you credit for the observation.


Arizona Bay, Az: Re: my Angelos/Snyder question.

After these past couple of weeks, still think it's Angelos who is worse?

Michael Wilbon: Ha! Boy, both their ball teams stink, and do regularly. But the Redskins have been to the playoffs twice recently. The Orioles have not. And as is always pointed out to me, Angelos fired Jon Miller, which really is unforgivable ...


Greensboro N.C.: Hi Mike,

I heard that Sonny Jurgensen apparently said that if Todd Collins was starting, the Skins would have been 4-0 going into Sunday's game. It it is true? And if it is, I would like to hear your opinion on that!

Thank you.

Michael Wilbon: You all know I sat alongside Sonny for 12 or 13 years doing Redskins Report and I tend to defer to Sonny on all issues football, especially as they relate to QB. Maybe he's right, in which case I wouldn't be saying playing Collins from here on out is a bad thing. But I'm not a Collins fan. There's a reason, lots of them probably, he's been a backup for so many years ... one who hasn't played a lick, by the way. I didn't hear Sonny say that, but I presume he's talking about Collins seeing the field and getting rid of the ball quicker and more decisively. But I've had two defensive starters in the NFL tell me the Redskins offensive line is dreck ... And I will not discount what they're telling me in terms of figuring out whether or not Collins could operate behind such a line.


Charlotte, N.C.: I was at the game Sunday in Carolina - one of many 'Skins fans there. Anyway, I'm not sure why some people keep calling for Todd Collins. The O-line stinks! Jason Campbell did pretty well Sunday considering how little protection he got. I can't for the life of me see what Todd Collins is going to bring to this club...

Michael Wilbon: As you can tell from my last couple of comments, I'm with you on this. But Sonny's opinion sways me ... some.


Fredericksburg, Va: Mike, About the comments submitted by "It's Still on the Coach" who wrote that the coach must adjust his scheme to the personnel he has. Isn't that what happened to Joe Gibbs who had brought with him Air Coryell and when he got to the Redskins saw that he did not have Air Coryell people.

Instead he had 3 yards and a cloud of dust people who brought him an 8-3 record after going 0-5 in the first game. It's true that there are a host of problems but isn't this one of them where the west coast offense may not be suited to Jason Campbell and some other players?

Michael Wilbon: Yes, absolutely. I believe that, without a doubt. Jason Campbell is best going down the field. He should be the QB of the Raiders; God knows he's infinitely better than Jamarcus Russell, who could be the worst QB since Heath Shuler. Adjusting to personnel is the hallmark of great coaches ... unless you're superior in talent, which is hardly the case in professional sports nowadays. Look at the radically different styles of play that characterized Don Shula's great teams over the years, from Baltimore to Miami.


Snyder/Cerrato: Given the amount of power/influence that these two men have over the Redskins' organization, and football operations specifically, why aren't they more vocal in support of their decisions? I feel like I never see these two guys in front of cameras or doing interviews or talking with the press. I know they have the coach to do that for them but given their role in this mess I would hope they would be more front and center - seems like Jerry Jones is.

Is this just typical of owners and I'm just wishing for a reality that doesn't and won't ever exist? I want to hear these guys explain themselves.

Michael Wilbon: I don't think you see many NFL owners defending their positions on TV all the time. Who? Jerry Jones, okay. Jerry has a unique personality and played college football. Who else do you see out there in public? Robert Kraft? I don't think so. Dan Rooney? Maybe around the playoffs or when something is monumental and we press him into talking publicly. You can't even tell me who the owners are of some franchises, which means they're not out there. I don't think Snyder and Cerrato have to talk; I think they have to get it right at some point, right?


Tysons Corner, Va.: Speaking of recent players that the Redskins should never have let go, Antonio Pierce comes to mind. Completely boneheaded move to let him get away.

Michael Wilbon: That's right, Pierce going to the NYG is management's fault, period. A bad, bad, bad decision. Just like Ryan Clark. And I know the most fanatic Redskins fans can point out short term memory seems shot these days ...


Anonymous: The Redskins need a soul. Forget a coach with all the right plays. We need someone who can instill a culture of winning. A motivator. Someone who inspires. I have no idea if John Riggins would be a good coach or not, but they should stick that guy in the locker room and let his attitude rub off on the guys.

Michael Wilbon: John Riggins would be the first to tell you that's insane. Thanks for playing the game.


Re: Boycott: I guess I disagree with you. Voting with your pocketbook is one of the most powerful things you can do. It certainly more effective that just booing at players that ill prepared and ill suited to execute. I don't think it will magically solve the Redskins problems -- but it is a lot more constructive than the other options.

Michael Wilbon: You don't disagree with me. We agree that it is one of the most powerful things any consumer of any product can do...My point is it ain't gonna happen. You think thousands of people haven't cancelled their tickets over the last 10 years. I know 100 or so personally. And what has it changed? Nothing, because we're still talking about it.


Can the owner change?: Mike, take out your sports history books and answer this question: has an owner of a sports franchise ever gotten his act together and become a successful owner in the end? I don't think last year's Super Bowl run gets the Bidwills off the hook. I thought of the Steelers but really, they didn't turn around until Art Rooney gave his sons more control of the decisions. Any thoughts on this one?

Michael Wilbon: You're right about the Steelers. Dan Rooney was increasingly in control of the team when they ascended. And the same is happening with the Cardinals, where young Bidwill is now much more involved than his father...The answer, I think, to your question would be George Steinbrenner who did all the wrong things for years and afetr awhile simply got it right. And he never really changed who he was...But it's a tiny list. I can't think of anybody else and TK and I have been having this conversation for weeks. I'm sure there are others but I couldn't come up with any...


Pentagon City, Va.: Thoughts on Virginia Tech? I'm guessing you don't think they're the No. 4 team in the country, but they have stepped it up big (see Miami, BC). Do you still think they can't make it on the big stage?

Michael Wilbon: No, I don't think they're the No. 4 team in the country. And they have to do what they never do, which is finish strong, beat somebody good late. Look at their recent history. When they do that I'll be the first to tip my hat to Virginia Tech. Until then, I'm skeptical.


North Carolina: What about the Yankees? They look great, Whats your take?

Michael Wilbon: That they look great. That they're the favorites to win the World Series, though I think the Angels could beat them. Somehow, even though the Yanks are the best team in baseball, I think the Angels and Dodgers are going to play in the World Series, which needs to happen since it could end on November 5. What MLB deserves is for the Rockies and Yankees to win and play in the snow. How great would that be?


Washington, D.C.: Jim Zorn seems like a nice guy, but it's pretty obvious that he's a terrible coach, no? Sure, there are a host of -other- problems, but have you ever seen a coach make obvious mistakes so frequently? (Other than Steve Spurrier, of course).

Michael Wilbon: Yeah. Do you watch anybody else in the NFL or just the Redskins. Happens every week. You see how many bad teams there are in the NFL right now?


Washington, D.C.: In fairness to the offensive line, they actually have played reasonably well in pass protection for most of the year (prior to yesterday). Even when Jason has time, he uses ALL of it. It's like he's not capable of throwing the ball until a WR is at the END of his route. Ugh.

Michael Wilbon: Yeah, he takes way too much time. I think we know that...I just don't want to discount what defensive players have told me about that O-line. Ahhhhhhh, we could do this forever, but I can't because I have to go and prepare for PTI right now. Big Monday show, Jaws is our 5 good minutes guest. Redskins beat Chiefs Sunday. Beat down coming, trust me! Until next week, peeps. Everybody have a good one. MW


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