Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sneaky Snyder

Dear Daniel Snyder,

I know you're used to doing things your way -- hell, you've made zillions of dollars doing so. But what you haven't done is helped build a consistently solid football team in Washington. Instead, you've always tried to grab the headlines by making a noteworthy or surprising coaching selection that really makes no sense. You know, Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier, etc.

Your biggest and best move, definitely, was to bring back Joe Gibbs. But he's retired now and a smart decision needs to be made. The Redskins made the playoffs this season when no one thought they would, and they need a coach to build off of a physically and mentally draining stretch of games.

I know Gregg Williams isn't the best head coach in the world. He struggled in Buffalo, but he's a brilliant defensive coach who has managed to overachieve with the Redskins for three out of his four years here. The players also love him; he works hard and motivates them, not to mention the fact that he obviously knows what he's doing week-in and week-out. He's the best choice and the choice that most Redskins' fans truly want you to make.

Unfortunately, you don't seem to be following this trend. For some reason, you've already interviewed Williams four different times even though he's been with your organization for FOUR years. Did you ever actually talk to him while he was on the Redskins' coaching staff?

Anyway, you've already tried to lure Jimmy Johnson and Dick Vermeil out of retirement. You've also probably offered to throw an enormous amount of money at Bill Cowher to bring him back to coaching a year early. You were probably pretty impressed with Jim Mora Jr., for some reason, and you may have even offered him the chance to coach, but he's going back to Seattle to wait for Mike Holmgren to retire after next season. So those options are out.

Since many of the reports are conflicting, I'm not even sure if you interviewed one of the best candidates, Russ Grimm of the Arizona Cardinals. He obviously has ties to the Redskins as one of the Hogs, but apparently that doesn't seem like a very profound selection, so he probably wasn't worth an interview.

You interviewed some others here or there, but no one really knows for sure what you've been thinking. But now we have an idea, and apparently Jim Fassel is now the leading candidate to coach the Redskins. Seriously, Jim Fassel?

What makes Jim Fassel a better selection than Gregg Williams? Is it his offense? That worked pretty well when he was working as offensive coordinator with his buddy Brian Billick with the Ravens. You already have an outstanding offensive coach in place named Al Saunders. The offense will never improve if the philosophies change year after year, no matter how good of a coach is hired to lead the way.

Is it Fassel's ties to defensive guru Rex Ryan, who is now rumored to possibly be headed to Washington if Fassel gets the job? What has Gregg Williams done in his tenure as defensive coordinator to warrant the thought of altering the defense's plan of action? He has coaches around him that get the job done and are all on the same page.

I'm sure that Jim Fassel is an outstanding coach, and for some other teams looking for change, he'd be a smart and interesting choice.

But for the Redskins, he doesn't make that much sense. The Redskins don't need an overhaul on the coaching staff or a change in identity; the players understand what they have to do. They saw what happened this season when they all came together and rallied with consecutive wins over the Bears, Giants, Vikings, and Cowboys. (That win over the Giants looks even better now.)

If you're ever going to help the Redskins become a winning organization again, you should try adopting this mindset: less is more.

Promote Gregg Williams to head coach. Make sure Al Saunders comes back to lead the offense. Restructure salaries as you always do to get the Redskins under the cap. Look for free agents that actually make sense, instead of just looking for the big names. Draft intelligently-- your team needs younger offensive linemen, a better defensive end who can help rush the passer with Andre Carter, a tall wide receiver who can make some plays, and probably some linebackers and cornerbacks to help fill out the depth chart.

Sometimes the simplest choices are the best ones. If you want to win and encourage fans to be proud of their entire organization again, try something different for a change: think first.


Just another confused Redskins fan

Monday, January 21, 2008

Nightmare ending for Favre and the Packers

After Lawrence Tynes missed his second field goal chance in a row in the fourth quarter to try and give the Giants the lead, the Packers seemed destined to head to the Super Bowl.

Not surprisingly, they won the coin toss and appeared ready to march down the field and steal the game from the Giants.

Unfortunately for the Packers, though, Brett Favre wasn't up to the task in overtime. His second interception of the night, this one to Corey Webster, put the Giants in position for a third attempt for Tynes, and this time he didn't miss.

Before the NFC Championship loss, Favre's play had been one of the highlights of the season. He seemed rejuvenated as he led the Packers to a 13-3 regular season mark. Favre threw for 4,155 yards and 28 touchdowns. He cut down on his interceptions and threw 15 of them, down three for 2006 and down 14 from 2005. He also managed to complete 66.5% of his passes, the most during his career, while also averaging a career-high 7.8 yards per pass attempt. His quarterback rating of 95.7 was his highest since 1996, when the Packers went on to defeat the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

As Favre continued his inspired play, others stepped up around him. Ryan Grant, who was traded to the Packers from the Giants earlier this season, emerged from obscurity to steady the Green Bay rushing attack, and receivers like Greg Jennings and James Jones allowed the Packers to spread the field in five wide receiver sets. The defense also improved tremendously, led by the play of cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Pro-Bowl selection Al Harris.

But what had been so successful for the Packers during the regular season left them when they needed it most. Grant rushed 13 times for a meager 29 yards. Jennings caught just one pass for 14 yards. James failed to record a reception. And Harris, shadowing Plaxico Burress for most of the night, was beaten time after time as Burress caught 11 passes for 154 yards.

Favre seemed to put up respectable numbers: 19/35 for 236 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs. But 90 of those yards came on one play, where the cornerback covering Donald Driver fell down, allowing Driver to coast to the endzone.

Besides that play, Favre looked more like the quarterback of the last few seasons, the one who threw passes up for grabs and didn't take care of the ball.

Favre was right, though, when he said after last season that he fully believed this team was one of the most talented that he had ever played with. But they aren't talented enough to play that poorly at home in the playoffs and still win against another very good team. If Favre does come back next year, then he'll have to be the one who steps up when they need him the most.

Sure, the weather was a significant factor and effected the outcome. But it didn't seem to bother Eli Manning as he led his team to its third straight postseason win on the road. And now they're going to the Super Bowl.

(It's even stranger to say that out loud. What a weird season.)