Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Hard Bigotry of High Expectations - Part Two

Or, Gambler's Mentality

A couple of readers have commented lately, including the esteemed Rich Tandler, senior Redskins blogger and editor of Redskins Warpath Insider, on my takes on Redskins owner Dan Synder and his choices and his intentions. Redskins fans are struggling to figure out what is happening to this team. Joe Gibbs lasted twice as long as any other head coach hired by Dan Snyder and for better or worse, for Gregg Williams or not, Redskins fans thought this team was on the right track and was going to keep building in the same direction. That all changed when it became clear Dan Snyder was taking this team in an entirely different direction. The team now risks paying a price on the field and with the fans for failing to deliver a consistent product.

Part One: Norval Martyball the Ol' Ball Coach and Saint Joe
Part Two: A Failed Coachinomics Policy


Dan Snyder had no idea when he bought the team in May of 1999 how lucky he was. Despite going back on his word and firing longtime general manager Charley Casserly in July of that year, along with 25 other Redskins employees he had pledged not to fire, the team came together as it was built, won ten games and the NFC Beast, beat the Lions in a playoff game and then lost to the Buccaneers in the last second on a bad snap. That first year must have infused Dan with the sense that this was the way things went, the Redskins were good and his job as owner would be fun and people would love him the way they loved that old codger Jack Kent Cooke.

Sadly though with few exceptions Dan's methods have not been consistent, have not shown commitment and have not produced a winner. Make no mistake, Redskins fans do not believe Dan is actively trying to tank the team, he is not some agent of Jerral W. Jones, intent on keeping the team down forever. Redskins fans do believe that Dan has the team's best interests at heart. Personally and I am not alone in this feeling, Dan simply does not have the skills to make the Redskins a long term success on his current path.

Fans are discontent with all the coaching options now because Dan has established a body of work with this team and the returns keep falling into the negative.


With the start of the 2000 season Dan Snyder began implementing his signature team policy. Dan collected veterans such as Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, Jeff George and Mark Carrier and put together a 100 million dollar payroll. While it may have felt good to be the architect of that team all the new faces set the team off its center and they were not spectacular. Threatening to fire head coach Norval Turner for not playing Jeff George over Brad Johnson and if the team did not make the playoffs did not help matters.

After losing at home 9-7 to the Giants Dan kept Norval waiting around for over two hours, likely while Dan and that Snake Vinny Cerrato and spicy Pepper Rodgers decided Norval's fate. Tired of being disrespected Norval went home and was fired the next day. The team was 7-6 and still in the playoff hunt. Terry Robiskie finished out the year as head coach going 1-3 for an 8-8 2000 season.

Policy verdict, Norval Turner and the 2000 season: botched. It was known going into Dan's ownership of the team that he was not a fan of Norval Turner. In retrospect it was obvious that Dan wanted to take his new toy out for a ride hard and fast but something held him back, he fired Charley Casserly but could not bring himself to fire Norval even though he wanted to. Although Dan was no doubt happy the 1999 team won the division and a playoff game Dan was likely also bummed he did not have a reason to fire Norval and quote unquote start fresh. Sure fire the guy if it's your team but the roadblocks Dan put up with Jeff George and the micromanagement made it impossible for Norval to succeed and Redskins fans knew it.

So in 2001 Dan moved on to Marty Schottenheimer in what is to date still his brightest football move. Marty is a Joe Gibbs contemporary, had lots of experience and when Dan responded to fan and media charges of meddling to the point of team detriment fans applauded, I don't really remember anyone thinking Marty was a bad idea. Marty fired Vinny Cerrato, a move that was applauded, even though many Redskins fans had tired of Charley Casserly, he never had the independence or judgment of Bobby Beathard, fans did not appreciate how he was treated and how Vinny came to the team.* Marty was in charge and Vinny was not in the plan.

Although it was a smart football move to hire Marty the team he inherited was not tooled to Marty's ways. Marty is a strict disciplinarian, given to long speeches intended to infuse players with motivation and direction. The 2001 Redskins were a bunch of been there done that veterans. Recognizing this, Marty put together a three year plan for the Redskins.

Year one would be to dump as many expensive contracts as possible, take the dead cap hit while installing the offensive and defensive systems and using known quantity veterans to hold the line. Gone were Mark Carrier and Deion Sanders and Brad Johnson and Tre Johnson and Adrian Murrell and Dana Stubblefield and Larry Centers and their contracts. In were Donnell Bennett and Ki-Jana Carter Tony Banks and Kevin Lockett and Eric Metcalf, all affordable or veteran players with small contracts.

Year two would be the year the team made a run at the free agents needed to exploit the systems and year three would be the year the Redskins were a seriously dangerous team.

But the veteran leadership on the team yearned for a players' coach and tuned Marty out. There was Bruce Smith bitching to Mark Maske about the Oklahoma Drill. There were the under the breath player accusations to the media that Donnell Bennett and Kevin Lockett, Marty's former players in Kansas City, were locker room snitches. Marty was above it all and never retaliated in the media.

The real problem of management there was that the owner never stepped in to advocate for his football director Marty. When a project leader has no executive champion, the line workers will disrespect the leader with no fear of consequences.

Despite all that Marty won them over in the end and despite a 0-5 start still finished 8-8. What did Marty get? Fired and his staff accused Dan Snyder of bugging their offices.

Policy verdict, Marty Schottenheimer and the 2001 season: botched. As spectacular a move as hiring Marty to run the team was, it was more than offset in the negative column by Dan's indifference to Marty's struggles with veteran players and persistent rumors that Dan felt uninvolved even though he had hired Marty to run the team because people had said he was too involved. Dan never forgave Marty for firing Vinny and as the season went I can imagine Dan spiraling into a paranoid rage, wondering at the motives and conversations of the coaches that were certainly conspiring against him, leading him to plant listening devices in their offices at Redskins Park.

Steve Spurrier arrived on the scene in 2002 and it was Dan Snyder making his play. Steve was fresh to the NFL as a coach and the NFL had had a crush on Steve for some time. Dan gave him the world and Redskins fans be damned, turns out it was not so hard for Dan to do things his way, the fans were not happy with Steve per se as he was a pitch it around guy and not a power running coach but there was an electricity to Steve and the owner was so confident that all of us three yards and a cloud of dust fans were going to convert to Team Ball Coach once we saw the Redskins demolishing the rest of the league.

I'll spare the details, Redskins fans remember Danny Wuerffel with the glove on his right hand so he could hold the ball, Patrick Ramsey getting sacked 50 times, the Redskins were 7-9 in 2002 and 5-11 in 2003 with all major stats going downhill. Then three days of silence and the Ol' Ball Coach had exited the building.

Policy verdict, Steve Spurrier and the 2002 and 2003 seasons: botched. Dan Snyder's belief in Steve Spurrier never matured into success. Whether Steve and his system simply are not suited for the NFL is unknown, I tend to think he runs a pro style offense very similar to the Patriots spread offense. Neither Steve nor the team made any substantive effort to stock the Redskins with players that could really run that offense so whether it was the coach, the system or the players, it was likely a bit of all three. Dan rejected Marty Schottenheimer in favor of an unproven guy, gave him a lot of money and said to Redskins fans, we'll see if you are still complaining in a couple of years when we win the Super Bowl. Dan's football sense again proved exactly wrong.

Entering the 2004 offseason Dan was at a serious deficit of fan appreciation. He had leveraged so much fan interest and turned it into negative returns that a near revolt was on his hands. So far he had mishandled every situation and fan expectations were not lowering. This was not the Bengals with a fan base content to be whipping boys year after year. This was the Redskins. Dan was going to have to do better than Dennis Green or Jim Fassel.

And he did, he produced Joe Gibbs. Joe could do no wrong by Redskins fans. I'll spare readers the details here, they are well known. Of interest might be that I never personally believed Joe had the final say, Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato were always lurking, Joe was up there to take the glory and the responsibility and the hits when things did not go well. Otherwise why would we have read about conflict between Joe Gibbs and the team namely Vinny over the team's first round pick in the 2005 draft? Vinny had said to the press and the team had posted a press release stating the team would use the pick. However that same day Joe Gibbs contradicted the report stating all options were on the table. Maybe ticky tack maybe not. The team did eventually use the pick on cornerback Carlos Rogers.

Whatever problems existed were largely papered over and even though myself and others often wondered aloud whether the team was going in the right direction it has been accepted at the end that it was. A solid team, low round draft picks (gasp!) actually starting, solid free agent signings. There were problems, such as the hemorrage of free agents at the beginning, Walt Harris, Fred Smoot, Antonio Pierce, Ryan Clark, but the team recovered. Things were looking up.

Then Joe retired and the team was forced to move on.

At first Dan and Joe wanted continuity. Then when there was no more Joe Dan did not want continuity and that takes us up to today. Because of the abruptness of Joe's departure and the way the team has handled the search it is impossible to consider the policy verdict of the Joe Gibbs years and the ensuing coaching transition separately:

Policy verdict, Joe Gibbs and the 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 seasons and search for a new coach: leading indicators point downward. I am not here to say that the successes of the Joe Gibbs II years are now irrelevant because the team trampled on him after he left. I am also not here to say that the owner is taking a team built for one system and is going to try and force it into a system it does not know, which he is. There were two winning seasons and two losing seasons so on it's face that's pretty average. Factor in the notion that most everything Joe worked for is now being discarded and it makes some sense why fans would be pretty fed up after nine years.


Dan Snyder has mishandled the team and fans do not trust him to put a good team on the field. Nine years and he still has not realized there is a way the Redskins can win, a way the fans want to see football played. Norval Turner came from the same Don Coryell system as Joe Gibbs. Marty Schottenheimer ran power football. Steve Spurrier and his aerial attack were rejected. Joe Gibbs came back and introduced us to Al Saunders, a flawed but workable Don Coryell alum. Except for the two years with Steve the Redskins coaching and philosophy stretches in a family tree back to 1981. Throw in the decade before of power running under Vince Lombardi, George Allen and Jack Pardee and that's nearly four decades of a thing.

Help us out Dan, pick up the thing.

* During the bidding process for the Redskins in March 1999 Vinny Cerrato was a consultant to then Redskins suitors Dan Snyder and Howard Milstein. Dan's and Howard's bid was 100 million more than John Kent Cooke could muster and the trustees of the team, put in place by Jack Kent Cooke's estate, approved the higher bid. Dan and Howard sent Vinny to get to work at Redskins Park but because the league had not yet approved the deal and finalized it, John Kent Cooke and Charley Casserly denied office space and access to team resources to Vinny. This story by Mark Maske in the Washington Post archives talks about this period, Vinny working out of a hotel room and allegations of smuggled team videotape.

Composite image by me; Marty Scottenheimer detail from
here; Steve Spurrier detail from here; Joe Gibbs detail from here. results.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Hard Bigotry of High Expectations - Part One

Or, Heading for a Coaching Recession

The esteemed Rich Tandler, Redskins blogfather (old blog, new blog), editor in chief of Redskins Warpath Insider and author of The Redskins From A to Z, the story of every Redskins game played from 1937 to 2001, dropped by Curly R's Hatchet Job series on the team's efforts to move past Gregg Williams and feign fan involvement in decision making. Here is what he said in response to part two, the kerfuffle over whether Gregg Williams somehow insulted Joe Gibbs to Dan Snyder's face in one or more of Gregg's four interviews:

OK, I still have yet to hear anyone who claims that Snyder wants only to hire a butt-kissing lackey to be his head coach give an answer to this question:

How do you explain his choices of Marty, Spurrier, and Gibbs as the three head coaches he has hired?

As a matter of fact I can explain it and at no extra charge I can sum up why fans are discontent with all the coaching options in the offing.

Part One: Norval Martyball the Ol' Ball Coach and Saint Joe
Part Two: A Failed Coachinomics Policy


Dan Snyder was out of bullets after Steve Spurrier. He bought the team before the 1999 season and by the 2000 season the pattern was established: just buy whatever looked good. That led to Bruce Smith and Deion Sanders and Jeff George, the team that thought it didn't need coaching and to Norval Turner getting fired while the team was still in playoff contention which is funny because Norval doesn't do the Inspiration Thing so one would have expected that veteran team to respond to him. Dan had a strong hand with that team and misplayed it in football and with the fans.

Dan's reaction to accusations of meddling after the 2000 season was to raise the stakes by hiring Marty Schottenheimer, who had savaged Dan a month earlier on ESPN, saying he could never ever work for an owner like Dan, one that had no idea what it really took to build a team in the National Football League.

Dan showed huge maturity and gave Marty a four year 10 million dollar contract and made him director of footall operations (op. cit.), in theory Marty was running the team from top to bottom. Well played Mr. Snyder, well played.

From the beginning there were questions about whether the new money wet behind the ears owner and the old school disciplinarian could coexist and after firing that snake Vinny Cerrato as his first order of business Marty went 0-5 to start, then 8-3 to finish for an 8-8 record in 2001.

Marty is the inverse Norv, only doing the Inspiration Thing so the reasonable expectation would have been that the 2001 overpaid aging veterans would have tuned Marty out which they did. That team resisted Marty, remember when Bruce Smith bitched to Mark Maske about the Oklahoma Drill? But Marty reined them in and we can never know how years two and three of Marty's three year plan would have played out.

After that 2001 season Marty was out and three of the assistants fired with Marty accused Dan Snyder of bugging their offices and phones, on more than one occasion Dan knew snippets of what had been private conversations that did not involve him and Dan knew them verbatim. An interesting sidelight to this conversation is that newly re-signed Redskins linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti and new Dolphins head coach Tony Soprano Sparano were both on that Redskins staff. I'd ask them about that if I thought I could get a straight answer.

Dan Snyder had wanted Steve Spurrier to succeed Norval Turner after the 2000 season* but Steve was not yet ready to leave the University of Florida. A year later he was and Dan gave Steve the richest deal ever for an NFL head coach, 25 million over five years.

Spurrier was just a bad bet. Like Marty's plan we can never know if Steve's pitch and catch way of bidness would have succeeded in the NFL, it looks a lot like the quote unquote spread offense the Patriots ran this season, Steve never had the wisdom to look for the players he really needed and team management never had the foresight to help Steve out.

So there Redskins fans were, watching the puerile drama play out, Steve Spurrier on a South Carolina golf course, Dan Snyder in Washington, everyone playing games of the coach Spurrier can stay as long as he wants just not too long.

All that time, that three days when we wondered what was going to happen to Steve I thought the team and Steve's agent were negotiating a buyout. But no, radio silence not unlike how Dan has treated Joe Gibbs' assistants so far this offseason. Steve finally phoned in his resignation, gave up 15 million dollars by not insisting on a buyout or absent that letting himself get fired (op. cit.), he was so disgusted with himself and the Redskins he just wanted it to end. Dan had misplayed this one badly in football and with the fans.

And there we were, Marty had gotten away, Marty Schottenheimer, maybe the closest thing left to the old school and from Curly Lambeau to Vince Lombardi to George Allen to Jack Pardee to Joe Gibbs to Richie Petitbon the Redskins knew about the old school.

Meanwhile Martyball was across town with the San Diego Chargers where he amassed a 47-33 record and two playoff appearances in five seasons and in an irony right particularly galling to Redskins fans was fired after a 14 win season.

Marty was the one that got away.

Redskins fans were angry, it was a parade of weak tea candidates for the Redskins head coaching job in January 2004, Jim Fassel, Dennis Green and Ray Rhodes, all qualified guys but all retreads. Dan Snyder had fucked the team and unfucking it was going to take time and Redskins fans were not excited about sticking around for three years while some already been heard from outsider underachieved. After sacking Marty and then soaking fans with Steve Spurrier all the while spending money and draft picks like a drunken sailor to no avail, Redskins fans were not confident about the future of the team.

Then out of his ass hat Dan Snyder pulled Joe Gibbs and suddenly we were home again, like a hug from mom and warm apple pie.

Curly R's Hard Bigotry of High Expectations concludes tomorrow with part two, A Failed Coachinomics Policy.

* A Google News Archive search of Steve Spurrier and Redskins and pre-2001 yields these

Composite image by me; Marty Scottenheimer detail from here; Steve Spurrier detail from here; Joe Gibbs detail from here.

Hatchet Job - Part Three

If you really think Dan listens to us then don't read this

Don't be fooled, Dan Snyder and that snake Vinny Cerrato have been deliberate in their efforts to ensure Redskins fans forget Gregg Williams and remember him not as the man that should have gotten the job but instead as the man that disrespected Joe Gibbs after the kindness that old man showed him by salvaging Gregg off the Buffalo Bills scrapheap. Curly R's three part series on Dan Snyder's hatchet job concludes today.

Part One: The Missing Man Formation
Part Two: Gregg Williams Disparages Joe Gibbs
Part Three: The Jim Fassel Non Hiring


On its face it sounded bad. Gregg Williams gambled with ten men on the field and never told the boss or the owner. Then when confronted on it made matters worse by insulting the man himself, Joe Gibbs. The narrative prepared, the axe falls and Gregg Williams is ushered from Washington, not as the head coaching favorite passed over, but rather as the disrespectful hothead that could never be given the keys to Joe Gibbs kingdom.

Well it was all bullshit, Gregg was set up and the Redskins never wanted him, it didn't matter what the fans wanted.

But there is a third setup as well, it's a hatchet job on Redskins fans, treating us like we are children, it is a misconception Redskins fans should know about:

The Jim Fassel non hiring. When Jim's name surfaced as the quote mystery candidate unquote, the one that interviewed after Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and before Gregg Williams' first interview, there was serious fan outrage, so much so that it made it into the print edition of the Washington Post.

Jim was offered, then un offered the job, and now says he feels manipulated by the Redskins and the process. That said Jim still remains a strong candidate for the job.

But there is a narrative out there that is untrue, one that pretends at giving Dan Snyder credit for listening to Redskins fans. The story goes like this: Jim Fassel interviews in secret, Jim Fassel is loved by Redskins ownership, Jim Fassel has talks about which coaches and coordinators he might be able to work with, the Redskins then go about rounding up those candidates.

Sensing a disturbance in the Force, wise beyond his years Dan Snyder takes the pulse of the Redskins fanbase and finds them to be almost universally displeased with the choice of Jim Fassel. Valuing his relationship with Redskins fans above all else, wise beyond his years Dan Snyder bravely terminates Jim Fassel's public candidacy, reveling in the mutual love flowing between owner and fans.

Sadly though this is bullshit and all part of a plan to lull Redskins fans into believing Dan Snyder gives a rat's ass about what fans think and what fans want for the team.

Dan did not reject Jim Fassel based on fan reaction. He's never done anything based on fan reaction, the lone exception being when he killed a selfish and silly plan to force all Redskins season ticket holders to purchase their tickets with the Redskins Mastercard.

In 2001 Dan hired Marty Schottenheimer to run the team and gave Marty total control. In the midst of an 0-5 start I distinctly remember reading about Dan, this was back when he still talked to the media, copping an attitude that basically no one should blame him, it was the fans and media that wanted him to hire a football guy so he did and look at what happened.

But I don't think Dan really succumbed to any kind of pressure, I believe Dan thought that is how you are supposed to do things, you hire a football guy and let him run the show. When Marty fired Vinny Cerrato as first order of business, Marty actually wanted total control over hiring, coaches, management and players Dan realized Marty did not respect Dan's football mind and that if Dan wanted any kind of say in things he was going to have to get rid of Marty which he did after one season.

When Dan hired Joe Gibbs after two miserable seasons of Steve Spurrier, Dan was not responding to fan concerns that the team was off the rails, he was practicing hero worship and frankly who would not, you're 40, you bought the Redskins and now Joe Gibbs is flying in for a meeting how cool is that I bet if Dan had any friends he would have called them all.

After Joe resigned this month Dan did not respond to pressure to hire a general manager, a real GM not a fake one like that snake Vinny Cerrato. One with independence from the owner and a rock solid contract so he does not have to look over his shoulder continually.

Further, Dan did not respond to fan pressure to hire Gregg Williams, the overwhelming fan and media favorite. If the team was really looking for some continuity over the next couple of seasons while it worked out its new plan for the longer term, the team would simply have made Gregg Williams the head coach the day Joe Gibbs resigned, much like Joe Gibbs' first retirement press conference was also Richie Petitbon's hiring press conference.

Same with Russ Grimm. He is qualified, his name has not come up once in connection with the team yet his name is almost universally preapproved by Redskins fans.

So why then do we believe the not hiring of Jim Fassel has anything to do with fans? Answer: it does not. The not hiring of Jim Fassel is all about Dan Snyder's search for the next big thing, what's over the next hill. Shit if I can get Jim Fassel this easily who else can I get? No need to make a quick decision, it's not like Jim is going anywhere.

Dan had a flash of Jim Fassel coaching the team and he backed down not because you or I thought it was a bad idea, but because he could conceive a better idea. That said, Jim may still be the coach, which would be fine with me at this point. With Vinny running the show now, I just don't know.

Dan did not budge on the GM thing despite fan outpouring, he promoted Cerrato (op. cit.) despite widespread fan displeasure, he discarded anything resembling real continuity when he shut Gibbs' staff out and started looking around for the next thing. The fans have never been a part of this process.

Hatchet in the head from here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Could he be the next big thing?

Super Bowl week is upon us and Redskins owner Dan Snyder has assured that tongues will be wagging on the team by dropping the names of Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnulo as potential head coaching candidates.

If you have been paying attention then you know there is a tinge of desperation to this revelation since if the Redskins had requested permission to talk to Josh and Steve before championship weekend and their teams agreed, the Redskins would have been able to conduct an interview during the bye week before the Super Bowl, which is to say last week. This is the Charlie Weis Romeo Crennel rule, that the top assistants were getting cockblocked out of jobs because teams felt they had to make head coaching decisions before the Super Bowl was over. Except the Redskins that is.

The Redskins did not request interviews of Steve and Josh before the bye week which signals that the Redskins were not targeting Steve and Josh two weeks ago. Or that the team didn't realize they had to request an interview in advance which means they are dumb.

Either way there is growing speculation that the Redskins are using this Super Bowl week as cover for a surprise hire that will be forthcoming, one that is not Steve or Josh, more to come on this from Curly R.

Anyway, with a hat tip to the Washington Times sports editorial staff there is a media day report from David Elfin in Glendale Arizona that Josh was asked directly about the Redskins job, that he aspires to be a head coach one day and that he would not rule out talking to the Redskins after the Super Bowl.

Josh will be 32 years old when next season starts, is he the next big thing, would coming into a situation where his coaches are already in place and he got little or no input on them and on how the team is run, would that be an attractive proposition?

It would if Josh understands that to become a head coach at such a young age he is best served letting his new team set things up and him run the show. He can focus on management and working with his coaches rather than starting things from the ground up.

It would not if Josh really believes he is an up and comer and despite his youth has a plan and wants to do it his way, start from scratch and make it his own, very much like Eric Mangini and Mike Tannenbaum did with the Jets.

I have no read on the guy so I don't know. What I do know is that the way the Redskins have set this whole thing up, it is going to take a pliable coach that is willing to tolerate Dan Snyder and that snake Vinny Cerrato messing, meddling and standing over his gameplans.

Beware Josh.

Josh McDaniels: uncredited photo from here.

Hatchet Job - Part Two

This is just bullshit, Gregg is his own man, he did not insult Joe

It was not enough for Dan Snyder simply not to give the Redskins head coaching job to Gregg Williams. He had to be sure Gregg left town in disgrace, to ensure fans do not revolt and to minimize the shock of an all new face on the sideline next season, when Gregg, the guy the fans and players wanted was already right there. Curly R's three part series on Dan Snyder's hatchet job continues.

Part One: The Missing Man Formation
Part Two: Gregg Williams Disparages Joe Gibbs
Part Three: The Jim Fassel Non Hiring


When the Redskins' on field tribute to Sean Taylor is somehow turned into a political loyalty test and the man behind the tribute fails that test then you know something foul is afoot. But wait it gets worse. A tidbit from those four interviews was leaked, a tidbit that would purport to reveal Gregg Williams as a heretic in the eyes of Redskins fans:

Gregg Williams spoke disparagingly about Joe Gibbs during his interviews.
While this may well be a story related to management's anger over the Bills game, that Gregg's alleged disrespect of Joe may have been the failing to tell him about the ten man formation, it is being represented as a separate matter. The narrative here is that in the process of interviewing for the head coaching position that Gregg Williams somehow insulted Joe or his methods or something. Even though all parties have now denied that there were bad words (op. cit.), that it was all a miscommunication, the old saying goes a lie is halfway round the world before the truth gets out of bed.

If this were true, if the story that Gregg Williams insulted Joe Gibbs is accurate as represented then it would signal the end of Gregg in Washington. Joe Gibbs is, always has been and always will be a revered figure in this town and by these fans, he is untouchable, we will need to see another three Super Bowl victories before anyone can even come close to Joe. He is the Redskins, the Redskins are Washington.

But this story is bullshit. There are so many things that get said in any conversation, much less an interview for a million dollar position like head coach of the Redskins, that if one party has a motive to misrepresent or discredit the other that anything can be taken out of context and made to look bad.

What I think happened here is that when all parties sat down to begin the interview Gregg thought it was already a negotiation, he probably started in on priorities, how he would run things. Dan, ever the little man, wanted Gregg to be more formal, even obsequious to His Danness and when Gregg was all business, er, all football it offended Dan and they chose to hear criticism from Gregg about Joe when there was none. Could have been a leading question to Gregg, like what would you change about the team? And when the answer was I'd run a more uptempo offense Dan rubs his little hands together and says there it is, he just insulted a Hall of Fame coach's methods, there's the petard, all I need now is a hoist.

Personally I believe Dan was never really interested in Gregg Williams. Like Marty Schottenheimer, Gregg is blunt and all he cares about is football. Gregg is more like stoneface Bill Belichick than backslapping Steve Mariucci, Gregg is cut from the Buddy Ryan cloth, not the Steve Spurrier. Because Gregg only cares about football and not whose ass he needs to kiss and how much to kowtow to the owner and that snake Vinny Cerrato he could never work there. Gregg is not Joe Gibbs, the only man with enough wattage to outshine Dan Snyder.

Curly R's Hatchet Job concludes tomorrow with part three, The Jim Fassel Non Hiring.

Hatchet in the head from here.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Hatchet Job - Part One

Dan doesn't just kick you out, he mows you down

Regular readers and Google dropins know that Curly R endorsed neither Al Saunders nor Gregg Williams for the head coaching position, though I never would have wanted them treated this way, ignored and left to rot and wonder at their fate before being fired by press release. Today The Curly R begins a three part series challenging some of the emerging conventional wisdom surrounding the Redskins' coaching vacancy.

Part One: The Missing Man Formation
Part Two: Gregg Williams Disparages Joe Gibbs
Part Three: The Jim Fassel Non Hiring


It does not matter that Al Saunders and Gregg Williams were well paid with generous severance, it is a matter of common decency, when we examine how Al and Gregg were shown the door it raises questions about owner Dan Snyder's sincerity since day one of Joe Gibbs' second go round. To have these guys occupy such high level and critical positions of player and fan trust, to build this team, a team that had a real future until this month, and then to see them shitcanned, the firing referred to as a quote release unquote, like these guys are players, if I were Al or Gregg or Joe Gibbs I would wonder if Dan Snyder ever respected me in the first place.

I'm going to set the record straight on a couple of things out there in Redskinsland, I believe the team is on a campaign to discredit Gregg Williams to soften the blow of unceremoniously firing the coaching heir apparent, the fan and player favorite. The rationale is fans and the media will care less about questioning this insane decision making and why Gregg was mysteriously disqualified after four years if they think he was an asshole that disrespected Joe Gibbs. To wit:

The missing man formation angered management. There is a story floating around out there that goes like this: Dan Snyder and Redskins management were pissed at Gregg over Gregg starting ten men in the Buffalo game, the first game after Sean Taylor died. On the Bills' first play from scrimmage Bills tailback Fred Jackson took a left sweep 22 yards. After the game Joe Gibbs evinced no foreknowledge of the ten men thing and somehow through some puerile game of Operator it got back to Dan Snyder that Gregg Williams disrespected Joe Gibbs by not telling Joe of the plan to start the game.

I think this is bullshit. In the first place I read of the rumor of ten men to start that game at least three days before the game, so did every Redskins fan on my street when we talked about this over the weekend. It was a rampant rumor. The rumor even went as far as to say that the Bills and Redskins were working out a gentleman's agreement that the Redskins would start ten men and the Bills would just run it up the middle.

The key here is league rules. Teams are prohibited from colluding on anything pertinent to the game. To allow that the Redskins and Bills had an agreement is to allow that they colluded to fix a play. When you go to a Las Vegas sports book and can bet on anything from the coin toss to the margin of victory then it becomes a more serious matter.

The Redskins could not make public plans for the missing man formation because they would be in violation of league rules. Then you have a media circus when all the team wanted to do was honor Sean Taylor.

I believe it was worked out with Joe Gibbs' knowledge, and probably the front office knew something was in the works but maybe not specifically or exactly how it would be done.

Joe Gibbs is then silent on the matter for plausible deniability, if it does not go up to Joe then fewer would question whether the Bills were in on it. Whether or not he worked it out with Dick Jauron or Marv Levy or whether Gregg did it himself is not really important.

What is important is that the Redskins planned this and everyone one knew it was going to happen. If Dan Snyder somehow thinks Joe did not know about it and got pissed at Gregg, then Gregg did the right thing, he took responsibility and took up for Joe Gibbs and maintained the plausible deniability.

Personally I believe it is a smokescreen by Dan, designed to represent Gregg as disrespectful toward Joe, as Gregg going off the reservation and doing things without looping the head coach in. This way if Dan can represent that Gregg was disrespectful and insubordinate as he shows Gregg the door then perhaps the fans will be a little less pissed that the known quantity and fan favorite did not get the job.

Curly R's Hatchet Job continues tomorrow with part two, Gregg Williams Disparages Joe Gibbs.

Hatchet in the head from here.

On Gregg Williams for the Jaguars Job

Good luck Gregg, thanks for everything

With Gregg Williams in the running for the defensive coordinator position in Jacksonville, Chris aka River City Rage over at Big Cat Country, our 5 Questions partner for the 2006 Redskins game against the Jaguars, the thrilling 36-30 overtime victory at Redskins Stadium, the game Redskins blogfather Rich Tandler called one of the best if not the best game ever at Redskins Stadium, asked about Gregg and his time in Washington.

I have posted my thoughts on Gregg, his ups and downs and whether the Jacksonville job would be a good fit in a diary at Big Cat Country here, head over there and drop a comment with your thoughts on Gregg. It is known that I did not endorse Gregg for the head coach position in Washington but I sure as hell would never have wanted to see Dan Snyder hitch him to the back of his Maybach and drag him through the streets on his way out of town the way he did.

Jaguars rarrgh I swipe at you logo from here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Redskins Do the Cowboy Thing

He'll be great for someone

Despite having no head coach the Redskins have signed legendary Seahawks quarterback and more recently Seahawks quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn as offensive coordinator despite having no head coach.

Jim comes in high regard and all comparisons to the Cowboys hiring Jason Garrett before Wade Phillips aside I have no idea what the fuck this team is doing. Jim has been quarterbacks coach in Seattle for seven years, Matt Hasselbeck's entire time there. Nota bene that the Seahawks have been to the playoffs five seasons straight.

This will be Jim's first time as an offensive coordinator. Queue adieu adieu to yu and yu and Al Saunders.

So much for continuity.

Thanks to the Washington Times editorial staff for the scoop, more to come from Curly R.

Jim Zorn 1977 player card from here.

Burning Every Bridge They Can Find

Because he thinks he's something he's not

What happened to continuity?

The last team with no coach keeps screwing itself out of anything resembling a real candidate. For all the now oft cited negative fan reaction, Jim Fassel would have been a fine head coach, he did turn a pretty weak looking Giants team into a Super Bowl contender, it was under Jim Fassel that Tiki Barber first became Tiki Barber.

Phil Simms, John Elway blah blah yeah who needs a guy that can develop a young quarterback right? Because even though Jason Campbell wants to keep Al Saunders' offense in place I don't much sense that Al Saunders works with the players, I get the sense that he is a system guy.

That's not to bash on Redskins quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor it's just that Jim Fassel is proven as a guy that works well with young QBs and Jason is a young QB.

Now Jim feels manipulated and it looks like he's falling off teh radar, it makes me wonder how much input Jim had in the aborted formulation of a prefabricated coaching staff, Jim Zorn, Rex Ryan and John Ramsdell.

And it makes the Redskins really look amateurish, what are these other teams just going to bow down to the Redskins and give up their assistants for lateral moves to Washington?

Why do I get the sneaking suspicion that now is the time the Redskins chose to go cold turkey on giving up draft picks, picks that would have gone to the Seahawks, Ravens and Chargers for these guys? Great idea, bad timing.


Now step back and imagine you are Gregg Williams, twisting in the wind for three weeks. Would you be psyched for this job after four seasons and then this?

Dan Snyder and that snake Vinny Cerrato think they are in the position of strength because there are no other coaching openings and for those teams with a new coach the coordinator spots are filling fast. In reality they are pissing off a bunch of wealthy people that don't need to work for the Redskins this year.

Gregg Williams can pay the mortgage out of his pocket and I bet someone will pay him some scratch to talk about football for a year before he comes back as a legitimate head coaching candidate, the future narrative being the Redskins experience having quote matured him unquote better than his four years as a coordinator for the Redskins.

Jim Fassel, he has nothing to lose, he was not a coach last year, it's status quo for him. And once you've been to a Super Bowl as a head coach you never ever have to do the kneel and bob thing to get a job.

So now we are on to the next group of guys (op. cit.), the magical mystical guys that will somehow bring positive change and maintain continuity, Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, both conveniently not available until after the Super Bowl.

Unless the team is looking at them as head coaches their current teams can just block interviews. And if the team is looking at them as potential head coaching candidates then they wasted a fucklot of time and the coordinator cupboard will be pretty bare, these guys better have a bunch of loyal assistants that are ready to jump ship with them to the Redskins for promotions, a bunch of first time guys, there's your continuity for you.

The Redskins will not have a coach in place until February.

[cue mental patient laughing in background]

Burning bridge from here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Go See Cloverfield

Because it's that good

We interrupt this broadcast for an important message:


Case designate CLOVERFIELD outstanding movie. Go see.


We now return you to coverage of the slow motion trainwreck that is the Washington Redskins.

Cloverfield screengrab of poor doomed Marlena from here.

Barry Svrluga to Cover Redskins

Welcome, we are already in session

Brandon pointed me to a post on Washington Post Nationals' beat writer Barry Svrluga's Nationals Journal blog. Barry is ending his time as a baseball writer and coming on board as part of the Redskins' beat coverage along with Jason La Canfora and Jason Reid.

Nationals fans' loss is Redskins fans' gain, Barry is a great writer in that too cute by half WTF I write 200 pieces a year kind of way, his work was the primary source for my daily coverage of the Washington Nationals on cousin blog Curly W, a blog Brandon and I ran then stepped away from but has been reborn as a daily again under Tony DeFiore, go check it out.

I look forward to the sissy slapfight for who is top dog covering the Redskins, WaPo Redskins fans take Jason very seriously and Other Jason has always been assumed to be the writer of the future. I bet Other Jason is bummed today, hang in there tiger we still love you.

I guess Emilio Garcia-Ruiz can only tolerate Howard Bryant and Les Carpenter throwing furniture screaming about how sick and tired they are of all the Redskins shite they have to push to keep this beast fed, a beast I am very much a part of.

Welcome Barry!

Image of Barry Svrluga & wife Susan Kinzie nabbed from William Yurasko here. It appears to be a photo of the print edition of this Washingtonian article from March 25, 2005.

No Adult Supervision

Make a fucking decision or I'll do it

So Jim Fassel is the mystery guy and the fan reaction is so negative it makes it into the Washington Post sports page.

Looks like the Redskins were set to offer Jim the job. That Washington Post piece just linked was originally titled Redskins Expected to Name Fassel as New Coach, it comes up that way in this Google News search. I clicked through and now it it titled Redskins, Zorn Talk Offense. Here is a screengrab of that Google News page, click through to see full size.

Yesterday Jason La Canfora reported on Redskins Insider that it was starting to look like coach Jim Fassel with Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan as a possible defensive coordinator should Gregg Williams not be retained which he would not if he is not named head coach at this point.

Meantime the Redskins coaches and players down in Mobile Alabama for the Senior Bowl were caught off guard by the quote poorly worded unquote Redskins press release on that snake Vinny Cerrato's promotion, that little part about Vinny having roster control. Players and presumably staff and coaching from other NFL teams are having a good laugh at the Redskins right now and Jason even uses the words laughingstock of the team and meddlesome of Dan Snyder (op. cit.).

Then this afternoon Jason reports that Seahawks quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn is interviewing... for the offensive coordinator spot even though the team does not have a coach. This is reminiscent of what the Cowboys did last season, interviewing and hiring Jason Garrett before Wade Phillips.

Two hours later Jason reports that it's all but a done deal, head coach Jim Fassel, offensive coordinator Jim Zorn, defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, everyone is just working out details and compensation to the Ravens for Rex since this would be a lateral move. Jason must then have had clearance to go ahead post the Redskins Expected to Name Fassel Head Coach piece that will be in tomorrow's print edition (op. cit.).

Ninety minutes later Jason has his succession planning conspiracy in place: Rex comes from Baltimore unless they do not let him go in which case the Redskins go for Tennesse Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, the first to interview for the Redskins head coaching job, this assumes they have compensation worked out for him as well. In this scenario Gregg Williams leaves Washington in disgust and becomes the Titans defensive coordinator replacing the man that replaced him in Tennessee. The Titans then beat the shit out of the Redskins 44-0 the next time they play.

The latest thing up on Redskins Insider is Complications With Zorn, linking back to the print piece from tomorrow, which now has had its name changed to Redskins, Zorn Talk Offense (op. cit.).

Adding to the mayhem now ESPN is running a TV report, we'll read it in the morning I guess, that ESPN report linked here at Hogs Haven, that Jim Fassel was not offered the job.

At this point I have no speculation, was it a glitch with Zorn or Ryan, or Snyder and Cerrato responding to the negative fan reaction, for me personally Jim Fassel would not be a bad head coach, just not a great one.

Either way kids this is it, the big letdown. It's going to underwhelm because Dan Snyder played his cards three times and doubled down each time, Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier and Joe Gibbs and now the house is calling in the note. There will be no blockbuster coach and there might even be a trainwreck.

Start prepping your goodbye posts for Gregg Williams, Al Saunders and the Redskins Cast of Thousands Coaches.

Depressed kitten from here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The First Step Is Realizing You Have A Problem

81%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?And I have one. A big one.

Curse you Steve in Tennessee, blogger of chess, the Redskins and anything else, and loyal Curly R reader. I followed your quiz results back and took the quiz and I've got it bad.

Any of you other blogger readers out there take it, drop me your results in comments.

Blog addiction quiz is here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Mystery Candidate Is Jim Fassel? Really?

No wonder it was a secret

Prior to today there were four candidates confirmed as having interviewed for the Redskins head coaching job. Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator and Gregg Williams protege Jim Schwartz on 10 January, Gregg Williams four times, on 12 14 15 January and one other date, maybe the 13th, former Falcons head coach and Seahawks assistant head coach and defensive backs coach Jim Mora on 16 January and Colts defensive coordinator Ron Meeks on 17 January.

There was a fifth candidate, an unnamed candidate that interviewed after Jim Schwartz on 11 January (op. cit.).

With a hat tip to Skin Patrol and Jason La Canfora scooping his own story, that candidate was Jim Fassel. And it gets better, he has interviewed again, yesterday 21 January.

So I won't hop on the same anti Jim Fassel bandwagon as Jason La Canfora's readers at Redskins Insider (op. cit.), I will just say it is odd. We know Jim wants another shot at a head coaching job and that Jim was a finalist for the Redskins job in 2004 before Dan Snyder miraculously reconstituted Joe Gibbs.

Jim has some bona fides. In 1997 he brought the Giants back to the playoffs in his first year after a three year lapse, with Dave Brown and Danny Kanell splitting quarterback and Charles Way (Wahoowa!), Tyrone Wheatley and Tiki Barber (Wahoowa!) in the backfield, none of those guys got 700 yards rushing.

Three years later he took the Giants to Super Bowl 35, all told the Giants made three playoff trips in seven seasons under Jim Fassel. Check your history sports fans, that would be one more trip than in any seven year stretch for the Redskins going back to 1991.

The thing that gives me pause on Jim Fassel would be that in the first place he did not get another head coaching job immediately after taking a team to the Super Bowl and then openly declaring he wanted another job before he got fired, then three years later in 2004. No jobs were forthcoming.

His buddy Brian Billick hired him before the 2004 season to run the Ravens offense then six games into the 2006 season Brian had to fire Jim because the Ravens offense was a hah hah hahribble number 28 in the league.

I would not be surprised if Jim Fassel and Jim Schwartz are both really coordinator interviews, that if they do not get head coaching jobs this season and Dan Snyder does not pull a rabbit or a Cowher out of his hat that Gregg Williams gets the job, Jim Schwartz is named defensive coordinator and if Al Saunders who has been in the dark since Joe Gibbs stepped down is to be fired that Jim Fassel is named offensive coordinator.

The quick problem I see there is not simply that Jim's offenses in Baltimore from 2004 to 2006 were bad but rather that Jim openly talks of wanting to be a head coach. Like Gregg Williams he has been a head coach. Unlike Gregg Williams Jim Fassel has been to a Super Bowl as a head coach.

Would Jim seek actively to undermine Gregg? Probably not but he would be content to be the guy in the corner rubbing his whiskers while Dan Snyder berates Gregg for another three game losing streak? Just sitting there, waiting for the owner to ask him for his two cents? Yeah, I can see that.

Jim Fassel, AP photo from here.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Jim Mora is Out of the Game

I just want to kiss you

Jim Mora is out of the running as a candidate for the Redskins, he has withdrawn his name from consideration. He and his family are invested in the Seattle area and if Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren retires then Jim is likely the leading candidate.

I never put much into Jim's relationship with that snake Vinny Cerrato from their time together in San Francisco. Known quantities to one another yes, but not necessarily in any hurry to work together.

Conventional wisdom says that if Jim is withdrawing his name that means he knew he was not the favorite or not going to get the job. But there is another interesting tidbit in there.

Jim's agent is Bob LaMonte, who if Al Saunders has not changed his representation since the Redskins hired him is also the man that represents Al. Al is thought to be in danger of getting fired as his offense never was huge, at least not as successful as it was in Kansas City.

I wonder, are they getting signals from their mutual agent? If I were representing both in this situation I would not want one coach with strong prospects, that being Jim, to get wrapped up in the firing and termination of another who is viable but not as hot as the other. Even if Jim could be convinced to keep Al were Jim named Redskins coach Dan Snyder may have other plans.

Not a conspiracy, just an interesting detail in all this.

Jim Mora and broadcaster Kara Henderson from here.

The Case for Russ Grimm

Make it happen Dan

Joe Gibbs has passed the Redskins torch, again but this time no one is there to take it. January 2008 moves into its third week and still the Redskins have no head coach. Today concludes The Curly R's five part look at the Redskins coordinators, leading candidates and also rans for the highest profile coaching position in the NFL.

Part One: What a New Coach Means for the Redskins
Part Two: Al Saunders
Part Three: Gregg Williams
Part Four: The Rest of the Pack
Part Five: The Case for Russ Grimm


Bill Cowher swears he's off the market. Al Saunders has never been a part of the coaching discussion. Gregg Williams burns bridges and pisses people off. The cast of other candidates is lukewarm at best, none of those guys has the wattage needed to burn in Ashburn. But there is one man, one assistant in the NFL that could break owner Dan Snyder's addiction to star coaches, one man who is ready to rise from ranks and be embraced by Redskins fans and the media alike, a man that embodies Redskins football.

That man is Russ Grimm. He should be the next head coach of the Washington Redskins.

While Curly R acknowledges that Russ has not been a part of any discussions involving the Redskins head coaching position that will not stop Curly R from making the case for Russ. From the perspective of the Redskins right now Russ has everything going for him and nothing against him.


Russ was drafted in the third round of the 1981 NFL draft out of the University of Pittsburgh. Russ played 11 seasons, all for the Redskins, all for Joe Gibbs and retired after Super Bowl 26, the fourth Redskins Super Bowl appearance in Russ' career. He was a founding member of the Hogs, that famous or infamous depending on your perspective front five offensive linemen for the Redskins that came to embody the principles of Redskins football, a notion Joe Gibbs continued to espouse even through his second tenure.

A run blocker, there is little Russ enjoyed more than putting an opposing defensive tackle on his ass. Russ went to the Pro Bowl in 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1986 and has been named a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame every year since 2005. This year is his fourth year on the finalist ballot.

There may be no player from the Redskins glory days that evokes memories of hardnosed Redskins football than Russ Grimm.

After retiring as a player Russ immediately joined Joe Gibbs' coaching staff as tight ends coach, a position he held through 1992, Richie Petitbon's ill fated 1993 season and was held over in that position through Norval Turner's first three years as Redskins head coach. In 1997 Russ became the Redskins offensive line coach, the position he held through the end of Norval's tenure in 2000. In 1999 tailback Stephen Davis set a Redskins team record and led the NFC with 1405 yards rushing. In 2000 despite the turmoil associated with Dan Snyder's rise as activist owner Stephen Davis again had a great season with 1318 yards rushing, finishing third in the NFC.

Russ left the Redskins in the aftermath of Norval's firing and joined Bill Cowher's staff as offensive line coach before the 2001 season. Russ' early tenure in Pittsburgh coincided with the decline of tailback Jerome Bettis and even through the Amos Zereoue and Duce Staley days the Steelers maintained a commitment to the run. Before the 2004 season Russ was named Steelers assistant head coach in addition to offensive line coach. Willie Parker became the established Steelers tailback in 2005 and had 1200 or more yards rushing each of Russ' last two seasons in Pittsburgh. After the 2005 season Russ added another Super Bowl win to his resume when the Steelers beat the Seahawks in Super Bowl 40. In that game the Steelers amassed 181 yards rushing and needed only 158 yards passing.

After the 2003 season Russ interviewed with the Chicago Bears, that team having fired coach Dick Jauron. The job ultimately went to Lovie Smith. After the 2005 season the Detroit Lions expressed an interest in Russ for the head coaching position but with the Steelers in the AFC Championship and then Super Bowl Russ' former Redskins teammate Matt Millen was unable to wait for Russ to become available and hired Rod Marinelli. When Bill Cowher stepped down from the Steelers head coaching job after the 2006 season Russ was considered the favorite candidate for the position. Ultimately it went to Mike Tomlin and Russ left Pittsburgh to join former Steelers offensive coordinator and new Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt's staff as assistant head coach and offensive line coach. Russ is expected to draw interest every year as a head coaching candidate.


Which brings us back to the Redskins job. Owner Dan Synder's three hires as Redskins head coach have all had something in common: star power. In 2001 Dan tried to cede some authority to a quote football guy unquote in Marty Schottenheimer. Unfortunately for Dan Marty saw Dan's toady Vinny Cerrato as part of the problem and fired him immediately. After an 0-5 start an 8-3 finish could not save Marty's job and he was fired, Vinny was rehired and Steve Spurrier was hired to a five year deal worth 25 million dollars.

Steve limped through 7-9 and 5-11 seasons in 2002 and 2003 before becoming so disgusted with himself that he resigned and walked away from 15 million dollars rather than wait and be fired.

When Joe Gibbs was hired before the 2004 season it was not only a surprise to Redskins fans, it was the balm Redskins fans needed to help get over Steve Spurrier.

For you see Steve Spurrier despite his success at Duke and the University of Florida was never embraced by Redskins fans or the hometown media. Steve eschewed Redskins football, a strong running game, ball control and using the clock as a 12th man in favor of pitch and catch, dink dank dunk and it failed miserably in the NFC Beast. Fans were nearing revolt and if Dan Snyder had gone with another candidate that continued to take the Redskins away from those tenets of the game that made them successful that coach also would not have been embraced.

Any coach that wins is loved. This is not a novel concept. There is the notion though that a team's history sets its future and the Redskins have a strong history in a certain kind of football. Any new way of football in Washington will be met with hugs and effusive coverage by the blogs... until it doesn't work and then I and the Washington Post will go on a sustained tirade about how far the Redskins have fallen from their roots as a football team.

Dan Snyder may own the team equity and may have to write some checks and cash others. He is however only the steward of the team, we the fans are the real owners. Don't believe it? Next time you are sharing a cuban and a single malt with Dan ask him why he never does interviews or public appearances anymore or why he never comes out for halftime ceremonies anymore. It's because he thought he would be loved just because he was the Redskins owner and as it turns out Redskins fans call the shots and even the owner can be chased off the field to a cascade of boos.


Let's try this again, back to Russ Grimm and the Redskins head coaching job. Russ Grimm is the right man for this job for three reasons.

1. He has more celebrity in Washington than Bill Cowher and more than any other named candidate. Bill's name has been dropped almost as often as stories of his distinerest, I will not be surprised if Bill is quietly rebuffing every Dan Snyder advance, not wanting to be associated with a dysfunctional football organization like the Redskins.

After Dan's perception of Marty Schottenheimer as a failure after 8-8 it seems as though Dan decided never again to surrender football decision making, wanting to be more like Jerral W. Jones than Jack Kent Cooke. If there ever was a time to use the cover of Joe Gibbs' retirement as a chance to hire a general manager and blunt criticism as to why it took so long it would have been now, there are plenty of candidates on the market. Dan has chosen not to, preferring to continue doing things his way. So far not so good, two winning seasons in eight years as the owner.

2. Russ Grimm is qualified for this job. The great Bill Cowher, the man that seems to be Dan Snyder's white whale this year saw fit to hire Russ seven years ago and then made Russ the assistant head coach. Russ now has 15 years of coaching as an assistant and Russ was thought to be Bill Cowher's preferred candidate for the Steelers job and how lucky did Ken Whisenhunt feel when Russ got passed over and was available. Like the Redskins in 2002 with Marvin Lewis Cardinals fans know Russ will be gone sooner rather than later. I wonder which shit disturbing Cardinals blog is already advocating for the firing of Ken and the promotion of Russ.

To those that somehow poo poo Russ because he has never been a coordinator or a playcaller, or that somehow his past as an offensive lineman somehow makes him a grunt, unable to coach a team, that's just bullshit. The head coaching position is the top of the food chain, it would be Russ' job to set the tone and the coordinators' jobs to run the show. And as an offensive line guy you can bet the team will always consider that a basic principle of winning.

3. Russ Grimm embodies as much or more continuity when it comes to Redskins football as simply retaining the remnants of Joe Gibbs II. In a literal sense many of the coaches could be retained, up to and including the coordinators. Joe Bugel, Don Breaux, Jack Burns, all the Space Cowboys would be here to see the game turned over in a season or two to the next generation of Redskins heritage coaches.

In a figurative sense whatever continuity the team thinks it has goes away in two seasons with the combination of any other coach and the decision making regime that is in place, namely Dan Snyder and Vinny Cerrato. Any coach will try and mold the team to his vision and even though all Redskins coaches eventually realize there is a certain way of doing things that a) wins in the NFC Beast and b) is appreciated by the fans that realization inevitably happens too little too late. Marty Schottenheimer got it early, Steve Spurrier cursed it on his way out.

Bring Russ Grimm in here and he represents a respect for history and the ability to win. Partner him with the owner and his toadies and let Russ help Dan to understand what Redskins football really is.

Russ Grimm from here.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Rest of the Pack

Wait out here please Mr. Snyder will see you one at a time

Suddenly Joe Gibbs seems like a long time ago, we have moved officially into the second half of January and the Redskins still have no head coach. Today The Curly R continues its five part look at the Redskins' coordinators, leading candidates and also rans for the highest profile coaching job in the NFL.

Part One: What A New Head Coach Means for the Redskins
Part Two: Al Saunders
Part Three: Gregg Williams
Part Four: The Rest of the Pack
Part Five: The Case for Russ Grimm


Transitions are never easy for an NFL team and neither the Redskins' offensive nor defensive coordinators is right for this job. There is no high profile supercoach coming to save the team but there is a deep bench of assistants out there, qualified and interested in the job. All of them have the football sense to lead a team and all of them will, this season or another.

Then why isn't any one of them right for this job? What's the big problem? None of these talented assistants meets the non football criteria for the Redskins job.

You see dear reader Redskins owner Dan Snyder calls the football shots on this team. And he doesn't hire nobodys. In the ivory tower of Ashburn, all these guys are nobodys.


Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz aka Jim Schwartz Perfigliano. He interviewed Thursday 10 January 2008, this is such an odd pick I have to think this is either a courtesy interview or a little misdirection play. Jim is a Gregg Williams' protege and when Gregg left the Titans for the Bills head coaching job before the 2001 season Jim was promoted from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator, a position he has held since.

He makes sense, because... well I don't know why. Jim has an economics background and has been involved in a number of statistical analyses of football, he is known as something of a wonk. Which might be good I guess, someone with some insight into the factors that determine a winner besides 3rd down percentage and red zone efficiency.

But as a branch of the Gregg Williams coaching tree which is really a limb off the Buddy Ryan hangin tree it does not make sense. If they wanted that defensive philosophy they already got it with Gregg.

So maybe Gregg insisted the Redskins give Jim an interview as a means of establishing Jim's bona fides for future interviews and jobs.

Unless this is strategery. If Jim is not hired for any of the head coaching positions and Gregg is promoted to Redskins coach Gregg will have to replace himself as defensive coordinator. It would be just like Gregg to sacrifice that there continuity in the form of Greg Blache or any of the Redskins current assistants to have quote his guy unquote in there.

Verdict: Jim Schwartz is an unknown and therefore is not invited to this party.

Friday 11 January a quote unnamed assistant unquote interviewed with the Redskins. That assistant's name to date has not been released though it was reported that the unnamed assistant is not former Redskin, former Redskins offensive line coach and current Cardinals assistant head coach and offensive line coach Russ Grimm.

Verdict: unnamed assistants are like fat chicks and mopeds.

Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg Williams interviewed Saturday 12 January (op. cit.) at the palatial and more important than trees estate of owner Dan Snyder. Gregg interviewed a second time Monday 14 January. And a fourth time Tuesday 15 January. There was a third interview in there somewhere.

Verdict: Curly R has covered Gregg extensively here.

Wednesday 16 January former Falcons head coach and current Seahawks assistant head coach and defensive backs coach Jim Mora, not the Saints and Colts Jim Mora the other Jim Mora the Saints and Colts Jim Mora's son Jim Mora who is apparently not actually Jim Mora Junior interviewed.

Jim was successful in Atlanta despite Michael Vick who was also the one that finally ran Jim out of town. Jim has coaching experience on both sides of the ball and is generally an excellent coaching candidate, he will be back as a coach once the sting and stink of the Falcons job has subsided.

If there is any concern about Jim's ability to coach the Redskins it is that Jim comes from the San Francisco west coast system coaching tree. He got his start with the 49ers and after leaving Atlanta went to work for Bill Walsh's direct coaching descendant Mike Holmgren. As Jim was wasting away and winning in Atlanta I used to muse ironically that Matt Schaub looked better in preseason than Micahel Vick ever did in the regular season, Matt having played in an offense at the University of Virginia that was run by former 49ers quarterback, former Redskins quarterbacks coach and George Seifert disciple Bill Musgrave, Jim Mora ran a similar offense.

The Redskins are not built to be a west coast style team and despite the success the Eagles have had in the NFC Beast for nearly a decade under fellow Bill Walsh descendant Andy Reid it will be a long and painful transition if the Redskins were to veer away from the Norval Turner slash Joe Gibbs slash Al Saunders Redskins heritage offense.

Verdict: Jim Mora is not nearly high profile enough; his offensive philosophy is not a good match.

At least one other coach in due for an interview, with several other names in play amusingly. Colts offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell is apparently not among them (op. cit.), the Redskins do not seem too jazzed on him and in any event he is the leading candidate to replace Tony Dungy if Tony decides to retire.

Colts defensive coordinator and former Redskins assistant Ron Meeks however is in line (op. cit.) for an interview. Ron was Norval Turner's defensive backs coach in 2000, the season Dan Snyder took operational control of the Redskins and fired Norval at 7-6 and still in the playoff hunt after making Norval wait for two hours like a child after his last game.

Ron is the interview that satisfies the racist abomination known as the Rooney Rule.

Verdict: Ron has the chops and is in line to be a head coach and likely will do well somewhere. He is however not high enough profile for the Redskins and therefore cannot get the job.

A final note on a coaching candidate whose name has come up exactly twice, here and here, Marty Schottenheimer. After trashing Marty on ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown in December 2000 Marty surfaced as the head coach and president of football operations for the Redskins in January 2001. He came hard with change, unsettled some older players, started 0-5, finished 8-8 and was fired right before Dan Snyder hired Steve Spurrier.

Let me go on record saying I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE MARTY BACK!!!!!!!!!!

According to Mark Maske whose word I trust Marty and Dan have repaired their relationship but sadly Dan would never hire Marty back for two reasons: first it would mean that Dan would have to admit he was wrong the first time, something Dan never does and second Dan holds grudges and even if Dan and Marty can share a cuban and a single malt Dan will never forgive Marty for realizing Vinny Cerrato is terrible for this football team and firing him immediately after taking the job in January 2001. But it would be cool.

Now that the Ravens have lost Jason Garrett I hope they hire Marty, they have talked to him, they need him and I'd love to have him just up the road if'n he can't be here.

Curly R's coach evaluations conclude tomorrow with The Case for Russ Grimm.

Pack of llamas from here.