The Redskins also lost Colt McCoy, likely for the season, and now face easily the most dire weekend of the year: another divisional game, this time with a quarterback who has been around for less than a month and with a shattered offensive line, a pessimistic fan base and a growing chorus of voices calling for significant, franchise-altering changes.
Such changes didn’t happen after last year’s late-season swoon. The injuries offered a valid excuse, and the Kirk Cousins for Alex Smith swap was thus the only major offseason upheaval. There’s no great way to judge where fans are on these issues or whether a continued slide down the standings this month would prompt universal demands for a change in course. But the people who talk to the fans seem to have had enough, anyhow. A few examples from the past week of outrage.
Kevin Sheehan, the longtime (former) host of the team’s pregame radio show, lit into the club’s leadership on his podcast this week, using as a peg the news that last Monday’s loss in Philadelphia earned just a 21.6 television rating, which just a few years ago would have been an unfathomably low number for a prime-time division game with first place on the line.
“The television ratings are just another in the list of things that make me believe that Dan Snyder is going to make big changes, barring a late season run,” Sheehan said. “If they don’t make the postseason, they have to get rid of Bruce [Allen] and Jay [Gruden]. They have to. The fan base is eroding at a faster clip than in recent years. The Indianapolis home opener crowd is a reflection of that. The ratings on television locally the other night is a reflection of that. They’ve got to be gone.
“Nobody wants Bruce back. Can we all agree on that?” Sheehan asked. “I haven’t met one person who wants him back.”
Sheehan then referenced Allen’s quote last spring, that “Wins and losses is the most important statistic when it comes to an equipment manager, a team president, a quarterback, a running back, a guard or a coach.” The Redskins are 58-81-1 in the nine seasons since Allen took control.
“Well, his record isn’t good enough,” Sheehan said. “And that’s on the field. Off the field, from a subjective standpoint, nonquantifiable: Arrogance. Limited, intelligence-wise, in terms of the way the organization is operated. Sleazy, low-rent too much of the time. They need a change because it’s warranted first and foremost based on record. But they need a change because it’s the only chance they have to keep the [fan base] from eroding at the clip that it has been diminishing at.”
“They’re nowhere near having a good franchise,” he said later. “It’s time. Now, if they make a late-season run and they win a playoff game miraculously, then I will change my view and I will give the coaching staff unbelievable credit . . . but it’s probably not going to happen. I want a good franchise. And there’s nothing about this leadership group that tells me that they’re going to be able to build a good franchise.”
Danny Rouhier, on 106.7 the Fan, was of a similar mind.
“The Redskins have been kind of dead man walking, and we haven’t really fully realized it,” he said this week. “All I know is nobody should be comfortable at Redskins Park today. Nobody should be. That’s from Bruce Allen on down, and if you could fire Dan Snyder, I’d fire him, too. Nobody with an office, nobody with a locker should be comfortable today. This season is over. And the infighting and the arguing about who should take snaps for the last four games, to me, is irrelevant. There’s no relevance to it. . . .
“There’s no point to any of this,” Rouhier said. “We are now hamsters on a wheel, arguing over minutiae. Big picture: People need to be fired. They need to embrace a rebuild. Their best players are old and often injured. They need to start over.”
Fire Bruce Allen
Longtime local columnist Rick Snider came to the same conclusion but with a bit more specificity, writing in The Washington Post Express that the Redskins “can’t fire team President Bruce Allen soon enough.” Here’s how that little ditty began:
It’s time for the Redskins to fire team president Bruce Allen. They should not wait until after the season or even until Sunday, when they host the New York Giants at an empty FedEx Field. Allen’s exit can’t come quickly enough as part of a teamwide teardown.
Just like Green Bay fired coach Mike McCarthy on Sunday to get a head start on finding his replacement, Washington needs to ready a new general manager to pick a next coach, who will then choose the next quarterback. Otherwise, nothing will change for this franchise of fools.Rick Snider, Washington Post Express
Whether you agree, this is a remarkably explicit demand for the move so many fans have requested in recent months.
Strip mine the roster
Another longtime local analyst, Team 980 host and NBC Washington contributor Steve Czaban, presented two ways forward this week. One: Attribute this season to a second-straight avalanche of impossible injuries and try it all over again in 2019. Or two: Slash and burn, shedding every player with any sort of salary cap burden, signing a mediocre veteran quarterback for next season, keeping Jay Gruden for now and just accepting the punishment.
“And you push off from shore next September, and you lose,” Czaban said. “And you lose, and you lose some more. And that way, if all goes according to plan and you win two games, you are now in a much better place cap-wise, and you can get a really good quarterback [in the 2020 draft]. This, I think, is the only way out of purgatory. You know how they say the only way out is through? This is the only way out through the fire.
“Of course you keep Jay for next year. In fact, tell Jay to do more crazy stuff,” Czaban said. “The more losing the better. You basically straddle your team with an impossible situation by having aggressively having gotten rid of some players. . . . And so you go into next year and you lose, you lose you lose you lose, hopefully you win two games max, you’re in a good position to get the quarterback of your choice, you’ve got cap flexibility, and then you get your new coach. You get your new coach in 2020.
“Or, you can hope it works out next year. But what if it doesn’t work out next year? Well, then you’ve extended your misery for at least another two years, maybe three. Because the idea of Alex Smith was, hey, he’ll prop the window open to win something of note in the span of three, maybe four years. Well that window collapsed when his leg broke. And that’s unfair, and maybe the plan wasn’t that good anyway, maybe Alex Smith even healthy wasn’t that good anyway. But the old plan is in tatters. So what’s your new plan?”
Reset the culture
The week’s final fan outrage came Thursday, when Gruden acknowledged some discontent in Washington’s locker room about this week’s practices.
“When you have 63 guys out here practicing, there can be some griping and moaning going,” Gruden said. “We had pads on today for the first part of practice, we had to check out our new lineman and people weren’t happy about that. Yesterday, practice they weren’t [happy], they just played on Monday night.”
Al Galdi, the current host of the team’s official pregame show, did not much like that response.
“I cannot tell you how much I hated this. HATED it,” Galdi said. “You know, I’ve tried to give this team the benefit of the doubt. I really have. I get accused sometimes of being too optimistic with the Redskins. I don’t know, though, how you hear something like that from Jay and how you don’t just shred the culture that’s going on these days at Redskins Park in terms of discipline and attention to detail. Especially when you take the revelation of yesterday and you compound it with all that D.J. Swearinger has been saying, all the D.J. Swearinger ripping of Redskins practice and preparation over the last two seasons.
"And let me say this: When it comes to Jay, because I’m blasting the players right now, Jay absolutely bears massive responsibility here. Let me make that clear. What does it say about the tone that he’s established that his players don’t fear complaining about practice? That should never happen. Do you think Patriots players complain to [Bill] Belichick about practices being too long and hard in December? Could you imagine what Belichick would do to some player who was like, ‘Do we have to do this Bill, c’mon Bill, I don’t want to do it.’ Can you imagine someone whining to Belichick like that? I could not get over this when I heard this.
“I guess in a way it didn’t just infuriate me; it also sort of showed me the light,” Galdi said. “Hell yeah, there’s a culture issue going on.”
If the Redskins lose on Sunday? Well, these voices aren’t going to get quieter.
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