The League

Dave Goldberg
Sports Reporter

Dave Goldberg

Covered the NFL for the AP for 25 years and now is a senior NFL writer for

Blame Snyder


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.

By Dave Goldberg  |  October 12, 2009; 2:19 PM ET  | Category:  Washington Redskins Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Sadly, this is a pretty accurate description of why the Redskins are facing a bleak future regardless of who the coach is. Snyder wants to be the puppet master on an NFL team more than he wants to be the owner of a successful NFL franchise. Being able to take credit for the wins, no matter how few, gives him a rush that winning while watching others take the credit never will.

Posted by: will_ga | October 12, 2009 4:39 PM

I used to excuse Dan Snyder's failures. He clearly wants to win, and has spent money like a fiend in the hope of doing so. The problem is, in the salary cap age, tying up lots of money in star contracts makes it difficult to build a team -- especially in football where players age quickly, where different coaching schemes require different types of players (meaning that a change in coach requires a turnover of roster), where team chemistry is extremely important (again necessitating the quick purging of a roster when a team has gone bad), and where good players at some of the most important positions -- think linemen -- are discovered (usually amidst lots of failures) and not made. Snyder has a lot of skill position players with talent, but an O-line that can't provide the skill players time to do their thing. They have a quarterback that better fits a traditional offense than a West Coast offense, and an air of bad karma that has affected too many players' minds. That's why this team can't sustain drives, get big plays, and seems to get bad breaks. Unfortunately, after 10 years, Snyder does not appear to have learned any of this -- and that's why he no longer gets excuses. The only, ONLY hope this team has is if 2010 is a non-cap year: they can terminate contracts (paying the guaranteed money) and try to rebuild the roster around good O and D lines and their coach's philosophy (whether it's Zorn or someone else). But I don't think Snyder has learned that this is what needs to be done.

Posted by: tfirey | October 12, 2009 5:25 PM

Is there any way we can trade Snyder? My son is now 12 and he told me last night, "Daddy, I am now officially a Vikings Fan". I grew up watching Sonny and Billy, the Over-The-Hill Gang and the great years under Mr. Cooke and Coach Gibbs.

Danny and Vinny are a laughing stock! They keep blaming coaches, but they pick the crappy players. Thank goodness for the Caps and Ted Leonsis. The Skins are now almost as irrelevant as the Wizards.

Posted by: FormerPostStarDeliveryBoy | October 12, 2009 5:33 PM

If the Redskins were in the Lingerie Football League and not the NFL, then Vinny would be drafting ugly, flat-chested women and Danny would be spending millions on over-the-hill hags long past their prime.

The draft and free-agency go hand-in-hand in building a dynastic football franchise. Sadly, the Redskins organization appears to be clueless in both departments.

Posted by: hisroc | October 12, 2009 7:15 PM

David Goldberg joins Jhn Riggins, Chris Core, Sally Jenkins and 80% of those who responded to a WPost.Com poll: Dan Snyder is responsible for the Reskins' current and past decade of dismal performance. And no one sees any prospect of Snyder changing his ways. The alternative: fire Snyder.

Riggins and another WPost sports writer say that nothing can be done about ending Snyder's ownership of the Redskins. I disagree.

Snyder's continued ownership rests on fans, en masse, forking over lots and lots of money. He continues as primary owner of the Redskins because the fans continue to fork over heaps of their money. Cut off enough of the piles of money, and Snyder will be forced to sell.

Don't buy tickets to the games. A stadium with half the seats unsold would send a powerful message, hit Snyder's wallet hard, and sooner or later, force Snyder out.

I know, the idea of not going to the home games hurts. But a decade of Snyder is more than enough to bear. It's time for Snyder to go, and to go sooner rather than later. That's the only way for Redskins' fans to regain hope for and joy in their "Skins".

Want to do more? Don't watch or listen to the games. Or if you do, note the advertisers, boycott them, too, and tell them of your boycott, and why.

If enough Redskins' fans don't buy tickets and boycot the broadcasts or advertisers for the games, the economic sanctions will send Snyder to the showers.

And as the boycott grows, the NFL and the owners of other teams will get concerned, especially the owners who are messing up their teams, too. A successful fan revolt in Washington could be a model for fans in other cities.

Let's lead the way. Let's not talk, let's act. Let's Fire Snyder. We have only the prospect of regaining the Redskins as a source of pride.

Posted by: jimb | October 12, 2009 8:26 PM

Dan Snyder, a know-it-all "I made a $billion" because I am smarter than you creepy critics" loser who apparently doesn't realize that he has become a national joke in the sports world. No doubt his motives in trying to make the Redskins a success were sincere but the glib egomania, access to other people's money, and tribal preferences and loyalties that made him a success in the business world haven't worked in the sports world. As one sportswriter noted, it is as if Snyder was playing the Redskins organization in a fantasy football pool. The Redskins are Snyder's toy as he lives out his Alice in Wonderland fantasies.

Snyder has ruined the Redskins organization and obviously is determined to continue to ride it further into the ground thinking he, personally, can fix it. I understand Snyder is a rather young fellow among major league sports owners. Considering what he has accomplished so far, can you imagine what he and the Redskins organization will be like when he is as old as Al Davis?

I became a Redskins fan in the 1950's when they had players like Eddie LeBaron, Joe Walton, and Don Bosseler. I cheered and moaned through weekly games (at that time each team had its own network if it one at all) as the picture on the tv from a far distant station snowed in and out, often as Johnny Unitas drove the Baltimore Colts to another late touchdown to beat us once again. I subsequently lived in Virginia for twenty years and watched, and rooted for, the Redskins every week through good and bad, and then experienced the joy of those fantastic Joe Gibbs years, never wavering in my loyalty.

I am wavering now, thank you Dan Snyder, but still hold on. I had to search to find an off-the-beaten-path sports bar where, if I get there before most others I can commandeer a large screen HDTV to watch the shell of a team perform today. If one goes to a mainstream sports bar expecting to see the Redskins game, one must be prepared to get a crick in their neck staring up at a 19" tv hanging from a distant part of the ceiling while the Sunday crowd watches the Steelers or Giants on the large wall screens.

Such is the status today of a Redskins team and a once proud organization. I don't like it but I can take losing. As a Skins' fan through thick and thin for so many years, I became had to learn to live with that. But, I can't take embarrassment, disrespect, and ridicule Dan Snyder and that is what we fans have to cope with now. Do everyone a favor. Hire someone to hire someone to hire someone (at least six degrees of separation required) who knows something about pro football, then come to the stadium on Sundays, sign the paychecks, then sit down and shut up. If you are lucky, in a few years people might start referring to you as something other than a clown and the Redskins could again be what we want them to be.

Posted by: Lazarus40 | October 12, 2009 8:28 PM

Sad state of affairs. JKC was the best owner an NFL team could have he knew enough to get out of the way. Snyder is this geeky kid who made it big and is seeking revenge on the jocks that spurned him by controlling them.

I wish he would take some of the criticism to heart and change his ways. I fear though his ego won't allow it.

Posted by: cleancut77 | October 12, 2009 11:29 PM

I find it quite absurd the comments blaming Snyder. First of all he has hired some of the most talented and most praised coaches in the NFL (Marty and Joe) then he tried some of the best college coah hoping perhaps to do the same that Jones did with Jimmy Johnson. He has spent the money and no one can argue that Snyder loves the Redskins. You are blaming the person who bought and keeps paying for the groceries because the food does not taste good. Blame the right people. The players are not doing the job, The players are not playing as a team. The Redskins coaches are not getting the whole bunch of fat guys getting paid millions to perform, Blame the players that are just walking to the huddle. Blame the horrible management of the clock. Blame the ridiculous calls made by the coach. Blame the fact that players get guaranteed contracts even if they play like crap. Stop blaming Snyder because he has tried hard and loves his team.

Posted by: author98 | October 13, 2009 7:15 AM

I hope Bill Cowher Tells Danny Boy that he'll coach the Redskins only if HE runs the show, fires Vinnie and gets to pick a G.M............and Danny says O.K.

Posted by: US-conscience | October 13, 2009 8:15 AM

Is there any doubt that Author98 is Dan Snyder. He is a sick enough person to read blogs and post. Danny boy is to blame. He fired the only GM and Charlie Casserly and admitted he made a mistake. Then hire a real GM. Vinny I don't know how to tie my own shoes Cerrato is blind and dumb. Even a blind squirel finds a nut occasionally. Nothing from the draft. Maybe we will get lucky and Danny boy will get hit by a bus and we can get a new owner or I may just sell my rooting on Ebay. Rooting for the Bengals can't be this bad.

Posted by: dganderson13 | October 13, 2009 8:31 AM

Author98, I am amazed at your short sided evaluation of the team. You seem to forget that Dan Snyder is the one that seeks out and pays too much for groceries that are past their expiration date and thus, taste bad. It was his idea to go out throw tons of money at players that are at the end of their careers, do not fit a defined role, or are just busts. Examples include Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, Antwaan Randle El, Mark Carrier, Dan Wilkinson, Adam Archuleta, Brandon Lloyd, and the list goes on and on.

Guess who drafted two wide receivers and a tight end in the second round when the teams biggest needs were on the offensive and defensive lines. If you are going to say that it is the player's fault that he doesn't work hard or can't understand the plays, then who was the one that evaluated the player and determined that they should be taken in the second round of the draft?

Guess who hired the coaches that can't make the right play calls and can't get the players motivated.

The biggest problem with your evaluation of the team is that you might be correct if this were an isolated incident. But this has been a reoccurring problem for the last decade and there is no end in sight.

The only hope us Redskins fans have for a good team is if Snyder fires Vinny Cerrato, hires a real GM that can build the team from top to bottom, and then sit back and collect his money while keeping out of the managerial process.

Posted by: MeatSweats | October 13, 2009 11:08 AM

Author98: "I find it quite absurd the comments blaming Snyder. First of all he has hired some of the most talented and most praised coaches in the NFL (Marty and Joe) then he tried some of the best college coach ...."

Author98 is either Dan Snyder or Vinny Cerrato. Yes, Snyder hired Marty -- and then fired him (despite an 8-3 run to finish the season) when Marty insisted on full control of the roster. Snyder then hired Steve Spurrier, whose U. of Florida system had absolutely NO chance of EVER succeeding in the NFL simply because, as any casual fan well knew, NFL pass defenses are too good and too fast (BTW, the day Spurrier was hired was the day I dumped all my Redskins paraphrenalia on my co-worker's desk and walked away from 30+ years of never missing a Redskins game). Bringing Gibbs back was a combination of desperation and Snyder's childhood/child-like fantasies. As Tom Boswell explained in his Monday colum, Gibbs (despite a mediocre W/L record and some embarassing sideline/time-management problems due to his being out of the game for so long), managed to rebuild the organization and put a clear successor (either Gregg Williams or Al Saunders) in place -- only to have Snyder fumble Williams away with that ridiculous 10-hour interview. What happened next was just appalling: Snyder and Cerrato hired Zorn as offensive coordinator (a QB coach who'd never been an OC) instead of letting their then-unnamed coach hire his own OC, and then elevated Zorn to head coach when no other candidate was available. And all of this was done while both ignoring the needs of the offensive line (oddly ignoring the Hogs' role and continuity during Gibbs' glory years) and continuing to throw huge money at overrated players (Deion, Jeff George and Bruce Smith early on, more recently Adam Archuleta and now Haynesworth).

Those of the moves that got the team to where it is today. All of them were made by Snyder, aided and abetted by Cerrato. They have turned the franchise I bled with and cheered for, win or lose, into a laughingstock. And until Snyder severs all ties to Cerrato and cedes all control to a talented coach and/or a bona fide GM, it's not going to get any better.

Posted by: daltongang13 | October 13, 2009 11:58 AM

Redskins fan for life... but this season is a loss unfortunately... Dan Snyder may as well sign Tom Cruise as this season is Mission Impossible 4.

Posted by: Dubz4Skins | October 13, 2009 1:07 PM

I hope that Joe Gibbs, when he had dinner with 'the danny' the night before Sunday's debacle, had the chutzpah to tell him exactly what you opine here - hire a good GM and get out of the way and stay out of the way. Just sign the checks.

Posted by: Wallpass | October 13, 2009 1:46 PM

David, you are right on target. I just wish there was something that could be done to take away teams from bad ego-maniac owners like Snyder that are letting down a generation of sports fans. Yes, Mr. Snyder owns the team, but Congress granted an antitrust exemption to the sports leagues that doesn't allow any competition. So, if the government gives Snyder and other owners the ability to own only game in town, shouldn't the owners owe something back to the public and shouldn't there be a mechanism to take a team away when they betray the trust of their communities?

Posted by: jswift1 | October 13, 2009 2:03 PM

You hit the nail on the head. Snyder is a bit of a control freak, and he uses Vinny as his proxy. They have sabotaged coaches, players and ultimately the fans.

Suing fans, collecting the judgment - then selling the collection rights for that judgment for a profit - and reselling the seats gave the Redskins organization at least 150% profit on the stadium seats. At the very least its immoral, but it should be illegal. We have a baby Madoff here in Washington.

That shows the type of owner we really have. If thats how he treats his CLIENTS, how do you think he treats employees? I gave up my season tickets years ago. I suggest the other fans do the same. Why would you patronize any institution who would do that?

I'm done with this team. Go Ravens!

Posted by: 20yrskinfan | October 13, 2009 2:30 PM

I'm doing the only thing I can think of to convince The Danny to hire a GM and coach and let them run the football operation: Not renew my season tickets. The day Snyder can't sell tickets, and the stadium stops being an ATM and starts to look empty, is the day Snyder will change, and not before.

BTW, The Danny is bad, but the currently senile Al Davis is worse. At least our QB is a legitimate NFL player and our coach isn't assaulting his assistants. Not to mention that Orakpo is a heck of a lot better than Heyward-Bey will ever be.

Posted by: | October 13, 2009 3:03 PM

Sorry David, but not this time. Yes, Snyder is a rotten owner. Perhaps the worst in the league. But it wasn't Snyder who lost Sunday's game; it was the folks on the field. Look, bad things happen to bad teams, and the fact bad things keep happening to this team ought to tell you something. Right now this team sucks.

But this didn't just suddenly happen. Loosing to looser teams started the second half of last season. They were winning and then they started loosing. Why? I don't know, but teams don't collapse halfway through a season because of who the owner is or what he is like. They collapse because there is a real attitude problem going on behind the locker room door. Find and fix that problem and you will turn things around. Good teams win regardless of who the owner is.

I suggest "killing a few chickens." Get rid of a couple of non-producing sacred cows earning a few million a year and the rest will get the picture pretty quickly. WE certainly can't do any worse than we are now, and maybe, just maybe, we will find out where the real problem is.

Posted by: Obamasux | October 13, 2009 3:14 PM

Looks like CR is need to start from the ownership on down...

Posted by: dpena75 | October 13, 2009 3:46 PM

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