OK: on to 2005.
Reality Distortion Field #1: Redskin Park
I'd like to be optimistic, but right now I'm seeing too many errors in judgment coming from the Gibbs braintrust to have much confidence. This boat has a lot of leaks, and they're not getting fixed fast enough to compensate for the surprise leaks that are sure to come.
Examples are legion, but right now my biggest problem is with the offensive coaching, from Gibbs to Bugel to Breaux to Hixon, the WR coach. It's a tough thing to take on guys I revere, so I won't dwell on it here ... much as I avoided doing so during the season.
Suffice it to say: I think these guys are seeing what they want to see, not things as they are. And I think their reputations (Gibbs, Bugel, Breaux) are cementing their views, silencing contrary opinions, and isolating those who dare challenge them. And on a more fundamental level, their player coaching skills, game planning and in-game cognitive powers aren't what they were.
Worse, it's hard for me to see these qualities getting better. They are a symptom of age -- not an essential symptom, but a common one.
I think certain players were isolated and marginalized early this past year out of some kind of personal antipathy -- most notably Ramsey and McCants, for different reasons. It's all off-stage to us, but that's my take. I think certain other players were overrated by coaches, most notably Brunell, Gardner, Thrash (as a WR) and Dockery ... suppressing the development of Ramsey, McCants and Jacobs and instilling higher confidence in the OL than was earned.
I also have detected some denial of reality from Bugel and Gibbs at times ... a denial bordering on peevishness. Bugel at various times slighted Ramsey and the WRs, when so much fault could be laid at his own unit's door. Now they seem to have decided that the WRs are the problem, and they plan to ship out Gardner and McCants. While I will be glad to see Gardner go, shipping out McCants at the same time is doubly a mistake: it creates a vacuum at WR that impels a fix through a high draft pick (Mike Williams or Braylon Edwards).
Reality Distortion Field #2: ExtremeSkins
So far the smart money seems to be lining up for either a high WR pick, or a high DE pick (perhaps after sliding down a few slots).
While I think our WRs have problems with or without Gardner, I don't think the best way to start fixing the offense is by picking a top WR. What our offense lacks is consistency, drive and purpose: and you don't get consistency by just dropping in a great WR (assuming you get that lucky with the pick). What you get is more losses punctuated by some nice highlight plays.
Assuming Gregg Williams sticks around, picking a DE #1 is pure silliness. I have huge respect for Williams, and it's now all too evident that he could gather a pack of homeless men ... and in a few weeks coach them up to an NFL level. The last thing we need is a mindless QB hunting machine at DE, with so many other pressing needs on offense ... and our defense already ranked #2 without LaVar. (Evidence enough that Williams doesn't need star athletes ... as shown everywhere else in his defense.)
The ASF plan to fix the Redskins
This is really quite simple. Maybe they'll do it ... but I'm not holding my breath.
- Make a formal deal among Snyder, Gibbs and Williams, by which Williams is guaranteed to be the next head coach of the Washington Redskins. Put it on paper as a contract, with a few options for raises along the way if it takes time to happen. Put poison pills in the deal ... so Williams forfeits big money if he leaves for another team, and the team forfeits even more money if they renege on the promise. Make it such a slam-dunk, perfect deal that Williams doesn't even think about leaving the team. There's your defense done ... for a good long time.
- Realize that our offense (with these coaches and our existing talent) must be a running offense more than anything else. Turn that coaching plus Portis/Betts into a strength ... and extend the strength through the draft. Convert the #9 pick in the first round into THREE interior linemen and one TE with strong blocking ability. Major on the center position with TWO high picks. (I have strong feelings about strong centers.)
It could be these four guys (as an example):
David Baas: G/C
Ben Wilkerson: C
Elton Brown: G
Joel Dreesen: TE/H-back
Figure that Baas and Wilkerson will fight it out for the #1 center spot, while Baas and Brown press Dockery at RG (RIGHT GUARD). Randy Thomas moves to LG. Keep Friedman or Raymer around for insurance, in case the rookies aren't ready by week 1.
Add Jansen and Samuels, and that's one strong OL that's on its way UP. Dreesen gets a look at TE and backup H-back behind Cooley.
In the backfield, suddenly Ramsey has time to throw, and Portis and Betts have the power up front to make long grinding drives.
Oh yeah ... WR. Here's the thing: if the other nine guys on offense do their jobs, you don't need star WRs. We could get by just fine on Coles, Jacobs, McCants and Thrash for a year, if our running game is dominating. And then ... in 2006 ... we add the icing, the star WR.
It won't happen this way. But that's what I'd do.
Carry on: fruit cup, please.