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In Wilbon's World

The Front Office and the Redskins in 2009

I'd convinced myself two weeks ago, after sifting through roster and training camp information for several days, that the Washington Redskins had the stuff to be a 10-6 team, maybe even 11-5, perhaps beating out the New York Giants or Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC East title.

After trying but failing to do a really stupid thing and replace Jason Campbell, the Redskins ultimately made what appeared to be moves that should help the team substantively. Of course, the Redskins overpaid Albert Haynesworth, but that's what the Redskins do; they overpay just about everybody. But Haynesworth ought to be a player of impact.

I love when teams reinforce already existing strengths, which is why the drafting of Brian Orakpo seems to be a perfect pick. The Redskins defense has the personnel to be suffocating. And there are certainly enough weapons on offense -- Clinton Portis, Chris Cooley, Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle El, Campbell, Ladell Betts -- to improve dramatically over last season. Okay, it's crazy to throw too much praise a team's way when it is remaking the offensive line. Even so, the Redskins, on paper, look pretty capable.

And then James Grimaldi's series in The Post on the club's ticket madness led me to have more conversations with more pro football people about the Redskins.

Many of them reminded me how what happens in the executive suites can so thoroughly undermine what happens on the field, of how no team can survive year after year after year of bad, dumb and even mean-spirited decision-making in various areas. It's a trickle-down theory, really. Bad management almost always shows up on the field at some point during the season.

I started thinking about the last time the Redskins acquired a player like Haynesworth. They got Dana Stubblefield in the prime of his career, too, and that was an unmitigated disaster. Nobody's suggesting the Redskins, presuming relative health, will be 5-11 bad. But so many people see the franchise as unable to rise above 9-7, which probably won't be good enough for a playoff spot, and probably stuck at 8-8. If the Redskins, again presuming relative health, can't do any better, they deserve to be taken to task because they ought to.

The franchise could certainly use the lift because Grimaldi's reporting embarrassed ownership to no end, though you would never hear that from Redskins Park. Nothing is management's fault, which of course is what all the worst franchises say, from the NBA Clippers and the MLB Pirates and NHL Blackhawks. This latest episode, suing people who can no longer afford the tickets, is downright indecent. It speaks to a basic lack of civility that's shocking, even now when shock value is difficult to achieve.

I suppose the people on the field could dramatically outperform the executives in charge, but it's not something you see all that often. Until there's evidence to the contrary, I'm downgrading my own expectations of the Redskins to 8-8. Anything more suggests a level of confidence the franchise surely hasn't yet earned.


Michael Wilbon

 |  September 8, 2009; 12:40 AM ET  |  Category:  NFL , Redskins Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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haha.. Wilbon couldn't predict a wet fart.

Posted by: rickymartin94 | September 9, 2009 12:55 PM
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The funny thing about Wilbons predictions is that they are just as dumb and asinine as any other NFL fan. It's easy to make a prediction on the skins since they have been mediocre the past several years and do not look to improve much this year.

Anyone thinking his prediction is better than anyone else's is one crazy mutha.

Posted by: barrysmith1 | September 9, 2009 12:26 PM
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Snyder has an ARMY of apologists and defenders that swear he can do no wrong. Im convinced he can do no right. As we have evidence that nothing he does goes right, apologists where's your evidence he can do no wrong ?

Posted by: apesnbears | September 9, 2009 12:00 PM
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Dan Syder can take great solace and satisfaction in knowing that his mismanagement of the Redskins has brought shear, unadulterated joy to the million (or so) Washingtonians who hate his team, their bandwagon fans, their awful stadium, and -- above all -- their disgraceful name.

Please keep up the great work.

Posted by: Losercuda | September 9, 2009 10:01 AM
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How is the name "disgraceful"? In what way? It's impossible to make this argument when 90% of Native Americans are not offended by the name, according to polls conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center. Sports Illustrated has conducted a similar poll showing that nearly 8 out of 10 Native Americans are not bothered by it.

What is disgraceful is when people like yourself feign outrage.

Posted by: Barno1 | September 9, 2009 11:48 AM
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Ha hah hah. Michael my man how you could even think 2 weeks ago that the Deadskins are going to beat out my Eagles and even those hated G'ints and go 11-5. They've got the same team as last year except for the 300+ lb overpaid, overweight, never played a full season Haynesworth. All the O players you mentioned except for Cooley are either hurt all the time or over-rated - Portis especially. Campbell??? Give me a break (sorry to use your words). He's a solid QB, nice guy who holds the ball too long. The Defense is suffocating??? You've got to be kidding - choking is more like it. Except for Horton, who's a terrific but underrated player, they're dogs. Who plays LB for these guys by the way??? And finally the number 1 thing that makes me as an Eagles fan happier than anything when it comes to the Deadskins.. Little Danny Boy.

Posted by: billm32 | September 9, 2009 10:39 AM
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Posted by: carolina1 | September 9, 2009 10:32 AM
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I've long suspected that the team will never return a place among the league's elite franchises as long as Synder is the controlling owner. He just seems incapable of putting a proper general manager in place & let that person run the franchise... a la Bobby B. or George Allen. No fun in that!! He came out & said that publicly following the year Marty was the GM.

So... we get what we get. The latest Post feature today (which seems to threaten that Synder will blow it all up & start over if the team doesn't make the playoffs this year) just seems to confirm my long-held suspicions. So, you throw Zorn under the bus & can him...then what??? What quality head coach would take this job? It's a hospital pass!!! GM? Director of Player Personnel? Ditto... This franchise is becoming the place where promising careers go to die.

That's a shame. Ownership has completely broken faith with everything the team used to stand for.

Posted by: clb_in_md | September 9, 2009 10:21 AM
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Dan Syder can take great solace and satisfaction in knowing that his mismanagement of the Redskins has brought shear, unadulterated joy to the million (or so) Washingtonians who hate his team, their bandwagon fans, their awful stadium, and -- above all -- their disgraceful name.

Please keep up the great work.

Posted by: Losercuda | September 9, 2009 10:01 AM
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Is the front office a problem? Yes. But it is too late to change them now. Their bungling has insured a contoversy in waiting with the QB position every time Jason has a rating of less than 100.

While the defense is always considered solid, I disagree. I seem to remember the defense failing to hold on to leads several times last year. Do you think Skins when ask to name the great defenses? Ravens, Titans, Patriots, and Steelers yes. Skins? No. That said they should be better this year. At this point, the defense has one dominate player, Haynesworth. Several people need to step up for the defense to be better.

The offense does not have an identity. Are we a running team or a passing team? A Zorn style "West Coast Offense" is what they are. AHHHHHH! At 6-2 last year, the offense was okay not great. The final 8 games were Jason's fault apparently. If I accept the weapons you cited, then the onus falls on Zorn to make his system work for most of them. I would suggest that, with Poris unable to average 4+ ypc and no substantial deep threats in the receiving corp, there is a problem. You have to play mistake free football and that isn't real. The game cannot be allowed to come down to the last 3 minutes and last year it did too often. Lock down defense and or homerun hitters on offense are needed for that.

Posted by: concerned13 | September 9, 2009 9:54 AM
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I'm no Snyder fan, but suing fans who don't honor contracts they willingly sign is acceptable and within his rights.

Why do people think it's acceptable to stop paying their bills? This attitude is how we got into this housing/mortgage mess, right?

What has happened to personal responsibility in America?

Posted by: clandestinetomcat | September 9, 2009 9:24 AM
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Someone better take a long hard look at our illustrious defensive coordinator who in my opinion doesn't belong in the NFL. Who the hell is greg blache and what credentials does he have to garner such a prestigious position? Smoke and mirrors with no substance is what he produces. Those hollow 4th and 6th ranked defensive ratings are garbage. Look at the big picture. No sacks or turnovers whatsoever. That bum has to go immediately. His head is like a slab of concrete and he's way too inflexible. It's time to light a fire under him and see some squirming!!! He's the problem!!! Along with the owner of course.

Posted by: kublacon20716 | September 9, 2009 9:09 AM
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There seems to be a lot of people who hate Snyder. Personally, I wouldn't base any opinion on what out side media guys say.We have been hated for a long time.

That said, Snyder has built a team that can compete and beat anyone.

We only have two questions, with the exception of health(nobody controls that)

Is Jason ready to shine? Is Zorn the guy?

As much as you guys hate Snyder, He has built a great defense and look at our receivers now.

Posted by: skinsbacker | September 9, 2009 12:42 AM
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Great post by Wilbon. We will suffer as long as Snyder owns the team. If by some chance we have a good year, Snyder will have "justification" to continue to be an out of touch, mean spirited jerk. That won't pay off in the long run. Ask Dick Cheaney.

Posted by: ezetimibe | September 8, 2009 8:01 PM
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Every Redskin fan knows in his heart of hearts that as long as Snyder is owner, this will not be a team to be proud of. Even when they do well, they show his box with him and Tom Cruise, (who is also 5'5)
and you just feel a little sick to your stomach.
Oh for the days of the Squire and Bobby B., when people were professionals and not toadies.

Posted by: bmiddleton1 | September 8, 2009 6:47 PM
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When are you fools going to realize, you can't just get ride of an owner? Gee, don't you think there are plenty of teams worse off? Can you imagine being a Raider Fan? At least we have an owner that put's money into his team and wants to win at all costs? Ya, darn fools!

Posted by: redskins_rule_2006 | September 8, 2009 12:04 PM

Al Davis does throw tons of money at his players, just like Snyder. Yes we are lucky the Skins aren't the Raiders. But at this rate they will be. Davis has just been in charge a lot longer, and he didn't have Joe Gibbs come out of retirement to inject some decency into his franchise. Give Snyder some time.

Posted by: rfjh1 | September 8, 2009 6:40 PM
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I've just had too many years of SNYDER and his FOOLS! They have such a high opinion of themselves, I think this is the year it ALL FALLS A PART! I predict 4 win season....SNYDER MUST GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Obviously, you haven't looked at the schedule... we'll be 4-1 at the WORST to start.

Posted by: tony325 | September 8, 2009 6:07 PM
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The "waiting list" is a joke. I cancelled my tickets and got 12 letters begging me to come back. They even offered different seats on the 50 yard line. btw, canceling tickets doesn't hurt Snyder any. He owns Stub Hub too and sells all the unused tickets to Pittsburg and Philly fans. Soon they will be the only team without a home field.

Posted by: larrypalma | September 8, 2009 3:47 PM
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How come Wilbon doesn't write about the Capitals?

Posted by: hessone | September 8, 2009 2:06 PM
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Seldom if EVER have I read a column or story that is more "right on the money" than this terrific column. The sad part is that the Skins management team will never ever "get it"

Posted by: rrlyon131 | September 8, 2009 1:32 PM
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I think 9-7 or 10-6 is probable if the team is reasonably healthy. The defense probably won't be what we hope (awesome), but will still be very good. The offense appears to be more diverse now, instead of a two-trick passing pony with only Moss and Cooley truly contributing.

The organization deserves some backlash for the lawsuit debacle, but I find it disappointing that ticket holders are left completely unaccountable. If you sign a contract, you honor it, and team tickets should be the first thing you knock off the budget if there is even a THOUGHT you may have some difficulties paying...and these are $5000 a year tickets...seriously, don't commit yourself to that kind of money unless you have a LOT of cushion.

The Redskins stink for how they handled this, but people need to grow up and be accountable.

Having said all that, the backlash appears to have influence on other publication predictions, like the Sporting News's ridiculous 5-11 prediction, while claiming 8 of the 22 best players by position in the NFC East play for the Redskins.

Posted by: shaunsherman12 | September 8, 2009 1:10 PM
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Freakin' sheeple!

Posted by: benevolentanarchist | September 8, 2009 1:06 PM
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The Redskins are going nowhere again as long as Jim Zorn can't make up his mind about whether to be Head Coach or Offensive Coordinator. He proved during the second half of last season and during the preseason that he can't do both. The lack of offensive punch is not Jason Campbell's fault. A weak offensive line and no one concentrating full time on a plan for the offense doom the 'Skins to another 8-8.

Posted by: kalaharidude | September 8, 2009 12:09 PM
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When are you fools going to realize, you can't just get ride of an owner? Gee, don't you think there are plenty of teams worse off? Can you imagine being a Raider Fan? At least we have an owner that put's money into his team and wants to win at all costs? Ya, darn fools!

Posted by: redskins_rule_2006 | September 8, 2009 12:04 PM
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Mike, Mike, Mike. I thought you were a better analyst than this. Mountains out of molehills, my friend. For the competitiveness of a team, the most important things, outside of the players themselves (talent, work ethic, and character), are the coaches. And we've got a pretty good mix of good-to-outstanding coaches (and they're here for a 2nd year! Two cheers for that!). As for the impact the front office's machinations have on the team, I think turnover of coaches and coach reactions to questions are a really good barometer of how the front office is impacting the organization(the prosecution calls the Oakland Raiders to the stand.) Recently, Tom Brady gave the defense some fits and Blache gets crotchety during an interview. Well, he bloody well should. And the defensive secondary is worrisome because they should be better than what they've been showing. But it also speaks volumes that coaches are starting to stick around; anyone notice that Joe Bugel remains the OL coach for Zorn's 2nd year? That's a better barometer to me than the front office suing a handful of fans over unpaid ticket contracts. Now, did some staff do some stupid things in order to maximize revenue and did it blow up in their face? Sure. Did those expectations get transmitted down by an out-of-touch management? Yes, absolutely. But unless the Redskins start hiring convicted dog killers as back-up QBs, I don't see how you can stretch some minor front office mismanagement of the fan base and turn it into *2* extra losses by the Redskins during the season.

Posted by: dragon2eden | September 8, 2009 11:50 AM
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You're letting Snyder off easy, but your theory about bad owners making bad teams doesn't work. How do you explain the Yankees' success with George Steinbrenner running the show?

Posted by: donnolo | September 8, 2009 11:44 AM
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This worries me because I think he may be right. I agree with a previous commenter who said this reasoning sounds "mystical," but I also can't deny that it seems accurate. At least it FEELS accurtate.

I was happy to see Wilbon's original prediction of 10-6 last week, because it was one of the few "national pundit" takes on this that actually seemed to be based on reality instead of just lazily basing everything on the past. Clearly the team is better than last year. Even if they lose to the giants on Sunday, they would have to completely flop not to be at least 5-3 at the break. So 6-10 seems really, really unlikely.

But suddenly, the scrappy underdog feeling has been replaced with a dark cloud.

Posted by: bigfoot1 | September 8, 2009 11:40 AM
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Are there copy editors anymore at the Post? This is a horrible piece of writing. Truly.

Additionally there is no logic, whatsoever, provided to support your theory.

Posted by: HDiniMFO | September 8, 2009 10:52 AM
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How can you throw in a series of hatchet articles by Grimaldi into your predictions? You got your hit from it and now it is over.

It always makes me laugh when the source of criticism is the Redskins competitors. Why would they be anything, but critical of the team?

You should have stuck to 10 - 6 as this years record.

Posted by: punchdaclock | September 8, 2009 10:19 AM
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I agree: 8-8, 9-7 at best. The offense should improve, but I think the defense is overrated and the chances of the OL staying healthy are slim. In the end, there's something about this team that just doesn't look like a winner. And it does start at the top.

Posted by: RIP-21 | September 8, 2009 9:53 AM
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Dan Snyder and Peter Angelos should buy my new book; Ownership For Dummies! If they'd like... They can come to my seminar, Compassion Learned for the Ignominious and Wealthy!

Posted by: smith_avan | September 8, 2009 9:44 AM
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I think you should go by what your gut tells you Mike, not what other people tell you.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | September 8, 2009 9:01 AM
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Snyder will never leave. He's dug in like an Alabama tick. The care and feeding of his ego is a 24hour a day job. Vinnie "frog eyes" however may be the target of any undoing (unless they both skewer Zorn). Poor Zorn. Having a meeting with these two megalomanics must be like sitting before a Parole Board. Prediction, Skinz go 6-10.

Posted by: Maximus6 | September 8, 2009 8:32 AM
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Wilbon's conclusion that the Redskins suing some ticket holders (an awfulstory, by the way) is going to directly affect play on the field in terms of wins and losses this season sounds a little mystical to me. I understand the general idea of front office decisions affecting play over the long term, but I can't see how something so removed from the actual playing of football will translate directly into losses on the field this season.

Posted by: hithere1 | September 8, 2009 8:00 AM
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Well said. Cheers

Posted by: MPNangle | September 8, 2009 7:35 AM
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Just another example of lousy management by the Redskins. They make controversy where there is none [tried to obtain another QB], they alienate players that give their all [Rock Cartwright], they reward behavior detrimental to team play [Clinton Portis]. I'm just sick of it.

Oh yeah...the waiting list is a joke and they should just STOP bragging about it.

Posted by: rriley25 | September 8, 2009 6:35 AM
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Posted by: bobeaston | September 8, 2009 5:15 AM
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I've just had too many years of SNYDER and his FOOLS! They have such a high opinion of themselves, I think this is the year it ALL FALLS A PART! I predict 4 win season....SNYDER MUST GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: LongTimeSkinsFan | September 8, 2009 5:01 AM
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