By: Brianne Dempsey
As a lifelong Skins fan, I’ve had my fair share of heartbreaks and shattered hopes. Year in and year out, there seems to be one hiccup or another that have made this organization the epitome of one step forward, two steps back. Throughout my almost 28 years of fandom, I’ve witnessed nine head coaches with ten different changes (Gibbs was here twice). With each change us fans were promised a new regime, more discipline and most importantly – more wins.
There would be a season or two here and there where those promises were fulfilled, but never to the extent acceptable to most fans. The franchise seemed to make a bad case of history repeating itself. Paying veteran has-beens who were outside of their prime high dollar contracts with no on the field output to show for it proved to be our biggest problem.
Ultimately, these issues are not delegated to fault of the head coaches. As we have seen with the Redskins over the past 20 years, the fault lands with the front office. These bloated contracts weren’t coming from coaches trying to bring in the best talent to suit their needs and systems. It was the owner and general managers trying to force big names down the throat of the organization. It was often joked that Daniel Snyder and Vinny Cerrato were playing fantasy football in the real world.
I truly believe that it wasn’t until Mike Shanahan got here and put his foot down with Snyder that things really began to change. Unfortunately, this could have also be a shift that could have occurred years earlier with Marty Schottenheimer, though Snyder ultimately disagreed and Schottenheimer was let go. Maybe Snyder realized the mistake he made in 2001, allowing him to release the reigns to a proven coach and conceding to Shanahan.
Along with Shanahan came Bruce Allen taking on the General Manager role. With Shanahan’s eye for talent and Allen’s financial acumen, the Redskins were able to weather what could have been debilitating cap situations. (Yes, I know the cap penalty the Redskins took was a result of deals done by Allen, but I stand by the opinion that under the uncapped year, they did nothing wrong and were the victims of a jealous Jim Mara – fully supported by outside reports that showed almost every team in the NFL did what Allen and Jerry Jones did, but the only two teams punished were the Cowboys and Redskins. But that’s a whole other article).
The Redskins roster seemed to become younger and younger and the cap hits smaller and smaller. No longer did the Redskins have the reputation of shelling out the $100 million dollar contracts to overweight locker room cancers that could not pass a physical.
Unfortunately for us fans, Shanahan’s ego proved to be no match for Daniel Snyder’s and the relationship was severed. We were starting over again.
But this time, it seems like Snyder may have gotten it right. He hired someone who has been touted as the NFL’s best talent scout – Scot McCloughan.
McCloughan had a direct hand in the development of two Super Bowl Champions and another Super Bowl contender. Before the Redskins, McCloughan had only worked for three teams in twenty years – the Packers, the Seahawks and the 49ers. All teams who have been perennial playoff teams during his stints with each team.
McCloughan does not come without his risks though. Though many of us football fans had no clue who he was, McCloughan was known in the inner circles of the NFL as having an alcohol problem – one that he himself has been open about discussing. Only time will tell whether it will become an issue for him again.
The “Savior” of the Redskins is not going to be RGIII or Ryan Kerrigan or Jay Gruden or any other coach or player. The “Savior”, is going to come from the front office. It’s going to be the guy who can evaluate talent and its worth. Knowing it’s ok to take offensive linemen in the first round or to take a chance on a player who has fallen far from grace but was genuinely excited for a second chance to play at league minimum, not even 11 months after signing a $41 million dollar contract which was ultimately terminated for off the field issues. McCloughan has been at the receiving end of second and third chances, and knows what it is like to battle personal issues. Hopefully his savant-like skills will bring the Redskins back to their former glory.