For the past couple of weeks in Washington, Redskins coach Jim Zorn has been under fire. The names of his possible replacements are well known in NFL circles — Shanahan, Gruden, Holmgren, Cowher.
Big-name coaches for an owner, Daniel Snyder, who likes the big names, the big moves and the big splashes he always creates on the eve of free agency and in the coaching market.
I was part of two during my tenure in D.C. with Steve Spurrier and the move that will always be looked upon as Snyder’s best — the return of Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs from retirement and away from the garages of NASCAR.
But lately, it’s Snyder who is coming under fire. And surprisingly, it’s coming from his own players.
Sure, we can always say that Snyder is under fire from the media because we all know there isn’t an owner, other than Cowboys top man Jerry Jones, who’s subject to more media criticism than Snyder. But for his own players to come out and challenge ownership and the front office?
That I never saw. Yes, there’s always talk in the locker room among players about what “we” need to get better, but no one challenged the owner from what I saw.
You see, ‘Skins players like Snyder — a lot. I played for him, and whenever I’m asked about him, I always respond positively. He paid me to play football, just as he’s playing the 53 guys on the active roster this season. Does he overpay for players? Of course, but he treats them well, and as powerful as he looks in those blue suits and expensive overcoats on the field during warmups, he’s actually a good guy — and a guy who’s willing to pay whatever it takes to bring a winner to D.C.
But, this is where the issue now lies.
The players’ reactions
First it was corner Carlos Rogers, a first-round pick of Snyder’s who questioned the team’s personnel moves, saying that the issues start with “ownership.” And now it’s DeAngelo Hall, who prefaced his comments by saying that it was up to the players to do their jobs on the field, but in reality, they just don’t have the personnel to get it done.
And Hall was one of those “big splashes” re-signed by Snyder this offseason. Must be tough to hear those words down the hall from the owner’s office when your big-name guy is doing exactly what Rogers had already done — calling out Snyder.
Because Dan is the personnel man, despite the efforts of his right-hand man Vinny Cerrato. He has the final say, and if his own players — the ones he selected — are saying it starts at the top, how can we not say that this organization is becoming dysfunctional? How can we say they’re going to win?
And just today, another story and another request — from the locker room — this time asking for some public support from the owner’s box for head coach Jim Zorn. Yet another example of the players taking a stand against Snyder and the suits in D.C. My take? The players are telling the owner to jump on the train or get out of the way.
I’ll be honest because I hate seeing it happen there. I will always be biased toward that organization and toward Dan. I played for a number of teams in the league, but I still view myself as a Redskin of sorts. But right now, can it be fixed without Snyder relinquishing some of his power?
Time to yield some power
And that’s what I’m really asking you, Mr. Snyder, because that’s what I’m hearing from Redskins fans. And now you’re hearing it from me, one of your former players.
So what’s it going to be? The players — your hand-picked players — are throwing you under the bus to the Washington media. You play the Chiefs this week, another winless team and a game your club should win.
But does it matter, or are we already looking ahead to the next coach, the next big free agent, like a Julius Peppers, to come in and grab headlines? Or will you let go of some of that power and build a chain of command, one that includes yourself, a GM and coach, someone who has the real power when it comes to roster decisions?
You see, there’s nothing wrong with Dan’s passion for this franchise, and I could never question it after seeing it firsthand. He loves to win, and you can see the disgust on his face in the locker room after a loss. It means something to him – and it means everything.
But to complete that, to run this team and build it into a winner, it’s time for Dan to open his door to other options — and start winning for real.
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