Cooley points to absence of leadership
Before the Shanahan Era begins, one final note about the Redskins and leadership. Chris Cooley was on SIRIUS NFL Radio's "The SIRIUS Blitz" Tuesday, primarily to talk about Bruce Allen and Jim Zorn and Vinny Cerrato and Mike Shanahan. But at one point, hosts Adam Schein and Rich Gannon asked Cooley about the team's locker room leaders. And Cooley said something that would probably have made headlines had his initials been CP.
"Well, I'll tell you, the problem with our team is we haven't had a lot of offensive leadership," Cooley said. "I think defensively, there's guys like London Fletcher and Cornelius Griffin that have really stepped up and been leaders, and it shows. The defense was outstanding this year. It's been tough because of the carousel of players in and out offensively; we lost Chris Sameuls early, who a lot of people looked at [as a leader]. To be honest, someone that I thought was a good leader was Casey Rabach, someone that I think we really need back, a guy going into free agency this year. But there wasn't enough offensive leadership. There wasn't someone that took the team and said, 'THIS is what we're gonna do.' "
Gannon interrupted at this point to say that it's troubling when the first leader mentioned by Cooley wasn't the quarterback. Cooley responded with perhaps more nuance than 26 would have, but the point was basically the same that Portis made.
"It's been tough for Jason," Cooley said. "He's tried to be a leader of the team, and he's tried to do everything right, and I can't say he's done a bad job. It's tough for me to kind of go into [that]. Obviously you'd like him to continue to build, I think he's probably our guy going into next year, but he's had so much trouble the last couple years [with] is he gonna be the guy, does this franchise want him? They showed last year that maybe they don't. So it's tough for a guy to take that offseason and really step in and say 'Oh yeah, I'm gonna run this team.' "
Maybe that's what Portis meant. And it sort of makes sense, actually. Oh, subtlety, how the Internet age misses you. Cooley was also quite honest when asked about the Bruce Allen hiring, saying it was a good and necessary move.
"The direction that we were in and what had happened over the last five or six years really outside of Joe Gibbs, we almost had to make a change, it was almost something that had to happen," Cooley said. ""Having a job in the NFL is 100 percent success driven. And it was apparent, very apparent, that we weren't successful. I mean, realistically, we were closer to winning zero games this year than we were to making the playoffs, and that's unacceptable, especially for this franchise, a franchise that's willing to get players, that's notorious for spending money and trying as much as they can to win. You just have to have different people in place to bring guys in. And I think a lot of guys liked Vinny, and I think Vinny worked very closely with Dan to do everything that they could. It just wasn't working. And that was the same thing that I felt about Jim Zorn, was that he did everything he could. It wasn't like the guy wasn't working his ass off as a head coach, and we all respected that. It' s just something was wrong, there was not chemistry there between the staff, the organization. There just wasn't a chemistry, so the change I think is in a good direction."
Cooley's best line, though, came when it was suggested that the Redskins needed a new coach who would give them a good ass kicking.
"Wait, you don't think we've taken enough ass kickings over the last few years?" Cooley asked.
-- Dan Steinberg
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