There are just two weeks left in this season but for the Washington Redskins and their fans it probably feels like an eternity. The season has been a disaster for the Redskins and I am sure all parties involved just want it to end. Injuries and inconsistent play have set back the development of Robert Griffin III. Jay Gruden’s authority and control of the team seems weak at best with more and more players vocalizing their frustration. The questions on everybody’s mind is what does Washington do next?
There is some talent on the roster, they have possible potential in the coaching staff, but unfortunately they also have a propensity for ineptitude. The answer most fans would give is that the organization needs a culture change. But what exactly does that entail? Clearly, this team has fallen further too far from their glory days to be rejuvenated by a few notches in the win column.
Growing up in shadow of DC back in the 1980’s, I was fortunate enough to experience the greatest era of Redskins football since the 1930’s and early 40’s. The Redskins won three Super Bowl Championships, made history with Doug Williams, and established themselves as an elite NFL franchise. However, with the departure of Joe Gibbs at head coach and the loss of many key players, including breaking up “the Posse” and “the Hogs”, the Redskins found themselves on the decline just as their arch-rivals the Cowboys were taking center stage.
After a decade of tremendous success, the Redskins were quickly being over shadowed. The arrival of the Baltimore Ravens in 1996 did not help matters either. Suddenly, football fans in the DC metro area had another team vying for their attention in a nearby and historic football city.
I believe this was the crucial time in the downfall of the culture of Redskins. The popularity of the team had dropped, Jack Kent Cook passed away in 1997, and the team went up for sale. When Daniel Snyder purchased the team in 1999, Washington lost the last remnants of the championship culture of 1980’s Redskins.
Snyder’s approach to spend big and win immediately turned the Redskins into a knock-off of hated rivals the Dallas Cowboys. Coaching changes, free agent over spending, and too many seasons in the basement of the NFC have replaced the old tenants of what made the Redskins three time Super Bowl Champions. That is the culture the Redskins need to rid themselves of if they hope to climb back up the ladder to respectability. Not just in the standings but respectability as a franchise.
The off-season decisions have to be made from a perspective looking to move away from the overhyped and entitled arrogance that had marred the franchise for the past 15 years. As an organization the Redskins have to restore pride in the franchise and return to a workman’s approach to the job. When they have done that, then they can start to look for improvement in the standings.
Is RG3 capable of being that kind of quarterback? Maybe. Is Jay Gruden the type of coach to lead the players in that change? Possibly. But the overhaul needed by the Redskins is too great to narrow down the blame to just two people.
Washington must do a better job drafting and preparing their young players for playing on Sunday. There is too much turnover on the roster and too many players bringing in philosophies from other teams, that it makes establishing their own identity very difficult. Not to mention, building through free agency is too expensive and inevitably creates more holes on the roster than can be filled under the salary cap.
So, it may be that while RG3 has the potential to be an elite quarterback, the process will take too long to justify the price tag it to keep him and he may be more value to the future of the Redskins on the trade market. If that proves to be the case the Redskins will need to be willing to make move.
The downfall of the Redskins did not happen overnight and the restoration of the franchise will not happen that way either. Changing the culture will be a process and maybe a long one.