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I always knew Redskins fans got it. .
Today's online poll proves it: 60 percent of you blame Dan Snyder for the team's problems. So do I. Because I know from a quarter-century of covering the NFL that the most crucial position on any team is owner, who must do one thing: hire good people and GET OUT OF THE WAY.
In fact, even owners with football knowledge, like Jerry Jones, end up screwing up their teams. Jones and Snyder are why the Giants and Eagles, two of the best-run teams in the league, are the cream of the NFC East right now and will remain so.
When the salary cap took effect in 1993, it had a leveling effect. Most teams weren't sure how to use it and some smart old-school executives (the Giants' George Young for one) hated it because they thought it negated good drafting. George also didn't like paying big money to free agents -- he treated the Mara-Tisch money as his own.
But in the last decade, 10 or 12 teams have figured it out -- the same 10-12 teams that generally finish north of .500. They recognize that the draft actually is MORE important than it was because if you draft well, it provides star talent at relatively low prices. If Dan the Fan wants to chase Adam Archuleta and DeAngelo Hall and, yes, Albert Haynesworth, let him. If you draft well, you're still ahead of the game.
Here are the organizations at the top of my list: Patriots, Steelers, Giants, Colts, Eagles and Ravens. No coincidence that they've won eight of the nine Super Bowls this decade and the only team that hasn't -- Philadelphia -- has been to five NFC title games. All draft well and use free agency to fill in around draft picks.
And all those teams usually draft low. Yet their picks turn out better than the teams that pick in the top 10. Early 2009 sample: WRs Jeremy Maclin of Philly (19 overall) and Hakeem Nicks of the Giants (29) plus RB Donald Brown of the Colts (27). A lot better than Darrius Heyward-Bey of the Raiders, seventh overall. And if an average player gets too expensive, they don't hesitate to let him go elsewhere -- Patriots who leave usually play a lot worse elsewhere.
At the bottom?
The Redskins because of Snyder. Then look at the standings: Lions, Raiders. Rams and Browns. And the Bengals because Mike Brown is tight with money and could draft talented players with bad characters lower than their talent dictated. And thus pay them less money.
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