On the day known as “Black Monday” for NFL coaches, the Redskins fired head coach Jim Zorn in what ESPN anchor Sage Steele said was the “worst kept secret in the NFL.” As always, Zorn has handled himself with class, and Snyder has shown he has none.
I will start by saying that I have no qualm with the Redskins firing Jim Zorn. As classy as he is, all that matters at the end of the day is wins and losses and Zorn had trouble with that in this past season. In addition, the ‘Skins have a new GM, and as most new GMs do, Bruce Allen wants to start his tenure with a head coach that he picks. I understand all of this. It is the way that they went about firing Zorn that I take issue with.
My opinion on the striping of Zorn’s play calling is well documented, so I won’t go back to that, but I will start with the Shanahan talks that started in early December. The fact that we were reaching out to another coach with five games left in the season is ridiculous, I don’t care if Snyder had already made up his mind, he isn’t allowed to do that. Despite all of this, Zorn never faltered in his diligent work preparing for each week’s game. Zorn never complained about the sneaky, conniving way Snyder handled business, and never once addresses behind the scene issues1.
The Redskins were in such a hurry to get rid of Zorn and hire a new one, that they actually interviewed one of their black coaches (there is a rule that states you must interview one qualified minority before hiring a white guy) this past week, just to get it out of the way. Unless they were ready to hire Shanahan like now, there was no reason to interview someone WHILE Zorn is still the coach.
Everyone is saying that the Redskins coaching job is still desirable because Snyder wants to win so bad and is willing to spend money, but when did being a part of a class organization go out the window? Snyder has no issue with throwing people under the bus2, and fielding teams of all stars that have absolutely no identity whatsoever.
If Shanahan is foolish enough to take the job, he better have a clause in his contract that says that Snyder doesn’t get to even make suggestions on personnel, because he loves to do just that. Why can’t Snyder see that owners shouldn’t do that? Does he look up to Al Davis and admire what he has done with the Raiders? There is a reason that no head coach has ever had a winning record under Snyder.
If there is such thing as karma in football, Shanahan will laugh at the Redskins offer and decide to coach elsewhere. That being said, I’m pretty sure Shanahan will be our next coach. If for some reason Shanahan does say no, the ‘Skins are all of a sudden in a bind and look really bad. In that situation, I think Allen should look at Tom Cable, who is almost certainly going to be fired by the Raiders today. Cable would have had a much better season this year had Davis not forced him to start JaMarcus Russell the first nine games of the year3. He has spent two years under an equally difficult owner in Davis, and I think is still a good coach.
On a different issue, what the Redskins do this offseason will be very interesting because I feel Allen will be making drastic changes in players. These are the players I see possibly getting the axe this offseason: Jason Campbell, Antwaan Randle El, Mike Sellers, Ladell Betts, Chris Cooley, and Clinton Portis.4
As I said, I don’t know what is going to happen, but if Dan Snyder has anything to do with it, the franchise will most likely continue to fail. As most of you know, the salary cap as we know it will most likely end at the end of next season5 and at that point, expect the Redskins to look very much like the Yankees and contend for a Superbowl6. Until then though, expect the team to succeed in being mediocre.
1. I have always thought that issues should stay in house and not be leaked to the public. Every team has conflicts at one point or another; the difference is that good teams don’t let it get out into the media.
2. The perfect example is when Snyder’s good friend Vinny Cerrato resigned as GM. Everyone knew Cerrato was nothing but Snyder’s puppet and Snyder made all of the decisions, yet Snyder was ok with Cerato getting most of the blame.
3. The fact that Russell was forced upon Cable was made most evident not when he was benched for Bruce Gradkowski in week 11, but when Gradkowski got hurt in week 14 and Cable chose to start Charlie Frye in week 15. That showed the Cable thought that Russell was not only not deserving of being the starter, but that he should have been the team’s third string quarterback.
4. For the record, I think that Portis probably should be given one more year. In addition, I think Allen should keep Cooley because people in D.C. love him so much. That being said, the emergence of Fred Davis has put the team in a predicament with having two good tight ends.
5. If this indeed happens, football will be significantly less fun to watch in the upcoming years. Great small market teams like Green Bay and Indianapolis will struggle to compete with teams like the Cowboys and Redskins because they can’t offer as much money to free agents.
6. Even will a 500 million dollar salary, Snyder will find a way to screw it up I’m sure.