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Om Field: 2011 Redskins--Winds of Change or Just More Hot Air?


Om

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August 2, 2011

The most overlooked factor surrounding the 2011 Washington Redskins is the fact it is a new regime's second season.

If that simple statement does not resonate, perhaps it should.

The team that head coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen inherited in 2010 was, in the most generous terms, adrift. Twenty years of regime changes and organizational about-faces take a cumulative toll.

The Redskins brand, on and off the field, had faded from bold light to indistinct shadow. Beyond a wildly successful marketing machine, the franchise lacked competitive direction, identity, philosophy and any other team-oriented facet you might care to name.

Well, that may ... may ... be about to change. What we are going to see in 2011 is whether or not the new regime's unmistakable establishment of a clear guiding philosophy has begun to "take." More excitingly, we are going to get an indication if that grossly undervalued team-sport commodity, synergy, translates into results on the field.

You remember synergy, right? Redskins fans should. They should remember, appreciate and yearn for its return more than any. The most wildly successful teams this city has ever seen, those under Joe Gibbs I between 1981 and 1992, were less about talent on the field than they were about team. About the whole being more than the sum of the parts. About that unquantifiable collective spark true teams take on.

We have talked this entire offseason about the current roster. About offensive linemen, inside linebackers, and, naturally, the quarterback roulette wheel we have suffered here for a generation, to the point of exhaustion. It's time to step back and see the big picture...

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I don't deny that familiarity with the system and having players who actually fit the system will have its benefits. Just not sure you'll see much tangible benefit this year. Not that many players currently on the roster got significant playing time last year, and the ones that did already produced at a decent level. But getting players like Chester, Bowen, Hankerson, Helu, etc.. in this year should have benefits down the road.

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Good read as usual Om, but when a substantial fraction of the fanbase believes that tanking the season for a higher draft pick is not only not a bad option, but the best one, you might find this one falling on deaf ears in many places. Concepts like synergy or character or team have fallen out of fashion.

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Good read as usual Om, but when a substantial fraction of the fanbase believes that tanking the season for a higher draft pick is not only not a bad option, but the best one, you might find this one falling on deaf ears in many places. Concepts like synergy or character or team have fallen out of fashion.

This year has all the signs of a bust. We are clearly going young, reshaping and rebuilding. Many "professionals" have us right on the bottom but just ahead of Cincinatti. Its all OK in my view to right this ship in a logical and professional progression. Lets check back in a couple of years.

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Trending Upward.

I brace myself for what could be another long season for my beloved Redskins. But, I rest knowing we are headed in the right direction. A year from now I think we will be looking at a much stronger team that may make a good run at the playoffs. Two years from now we may be looking at a the NFC East Champs and SB contender.

I am confident the new regime has a plan that they are implementing. I like what I am seeing.

HTTR

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This year has all the signs of a bust. We are clearly going young, reshaping and rebuilding. Many "professionals" have us right on the bottom but just ahead of Cincinatti. Its all OK in my view to right this ship in a logical and professional progression. Lets check back in a couple of years.

You have to define "bust" for me.

If your expecting a Super Bowl then yea this season is a bust. Playoffs, then yea it's probably a bust. But improvement on a team in the midst of a rebuild, hardly a bust.

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I remember writing something similar before Gibbs' second year....a piece about the inevitable "learning curve" year ANY new head coach---regardless of resume---must go through coming to a new team. Unless it's an in-house hire (coordinator), the new coach is learning about his team on the fly in Year One.

It's Year Two when the qualities of a new coach can really start to shine through.

Last year's team was only partly Shanahan's .... it was also still Gibbs', Zorn's, Cerrato's and to some unknown extent probably even Dan Snyder's. Mike had to learn his way around Ashburn, around DC, around the holdover roster, and both assemble and tune up an entire new coaching and scouting staff.

Oh, and he had to also prepare the team to play every week.

Year Two, this is his team. He knows his way around here now. He's had time to purge the roster of many of the problem children who he had to learn under fire last year weren't going to work in his system. He's been able to bring in quite a few people who he believes WILL fit. This year the team he gets to prepare every week is, by orders of magnitude, more attuned to his vision for a winner in DC than last year's.

His work isn't done, and surely he knows it .... the rebuild job was far too big for just one year. But the difference betwen Year One and Year Two is big too. Possibly the biggest jump we'll see in his tenure. Particularly so if he can get solid play from the QB position.

Very curious and more than a little excited to see what Shanahan Redskins team looks like. This year we'll get our first real taste.

---------- Post added August-2nd-2011 at 12:36 PM ----------

LD,

True enough old friend.

I'm taking it upon myself to yell it from the rooftops. :)

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Very little has actually changed.

We still drastically overpay players. See Bowen's contract. Compare to Jenkins. Compare Bowen to Jenkins as a player. We pay exceptionally well in guaranteed money, because we can. It is why people still come here. And it is a good thing too, as if we paid differently, we'd really suck. This year, as Shanahan said, was a year to add players to grow with as an organization. Sometimes, he said, you enter an offseason with a couple key spots to fill and you do things like Philly. Other times you have more building to do. Clearly the Redskins smartly recognized after a year in the new systems that MUCH change in personnel was required. And, smartly, they got 12 players in the draft. Half may well get cut, but of the other six, maybe two can emerge as real starters for us and another couple as good players for us and that's a great draft.

In free agency the team obviously identified guys entering their primes. Guys who'll play for three or four years before they are considered aging. This was, also, wise, as while some may fail, the more that succeed limit the number of people we need to add later.

This offseason is somewhat similar to the Archuleta, Lloyd, Randle El offseason. Save we are actually getting defensive line for the somewhat inflated (Cofield/Randle El) and substantially inflated (Bowen/Lloyd) premiums paid on our suckdom. The real difference being total overhaul and transition from older team to younger team. It is evident we won't close all gaps this offseason, but we have made a SERIOUS bit of effort to close many for this season. To the extent the team's relative success or failure lays with the positions we've done least with -- offensive line and QB.

One day we'll get lucky and those questions will be answered in a positive fashion.

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In free agency the team obviously identified guys entering their primes. Guys who'll play for three or four years before they are considered aging. This was, also, wise, as while some may fail, the more that succeed limit the number of people we need to add later.

This offseason is somewhat similar to the Archuleta, Lloyd, Randle El offseason. Save we are actually getting defensive line for the somewhat inflated (Cofield/Randle El) and substantially inflated (Bowen/Lloyd) premiums paid on our suckdom. The real difference being total overhaul and transition from older team to younger team. It is evident we won't close all gaps this offseason, but we have made a SERIOUS bit of effort to close many for this season. To the extent the team's relative success or failure lays with the positions we've done least with -- offensive line and QB.

One day we'll get lucky and those questions will be answered in a positive fashion.

Good point Art and that brings me to a question.

Do you think they decided to overpay these guys because the salary cap floor?

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http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1ecrr_scorpions-wind-of-change_music

follow the Moskva

Down to Gorky Park

Listening to the wind of change

An August summer night

Soldiers passing by

Listening to the wind of change

The world closing in

Did you ever think

That we could be so close,like brothers

The future's in the air

I can feel it everywhere

Blowing with the wind of change

Chorus:

Take me to the magic of the moment

On a glory night

Where the children of tomorrow dream away

In the wind of change

Walking down the street

Distant memories

Are buried in the past forever

I fallow the Moskva

Down to Gorky Park

Listening to the wind of change

Take me to the magic of the moment

On a glory night

Where the children of tomorrow share their dreams

With you and me

Take me to the magic of the moment

On a glory night

Where the children of tomorrow dream away

In the wind of change

The wind of change blows straight

Into the face of time

Like a stormwind that will ring

The freedom bell for peace of mind

Let your balalaika sing

What my guitar wants to say

Take me to the magic of the moment

On a glory night

Where the children of tomorrow share their dreams

With you and me

Take me to the magic of the moment

On a glory night

Where the children of tomorrow dream away

In the wind of change

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Good point Art and that brings me to a question.

Do you think they decided to overpay these guys because the salary cap floor?

Honestly, no.

I think we generally pay more in guaranteed money than other people for two reasons.

1. It gives us a competitive advantage acquiring the people we target and Dan Snyder will provide it.

2. Most of the time we kind of suck, so, no one is coming here on a discount.

No. 2 may change over time and years of success. No. 1 won't. Because Dan generates so much money and doles it out, I expect we will continue to lead the league in two parts of the cap and be lowest in one part. That being we'll have the most in guarantees most of the time and the most in dead money much of the time and the least in base salary as often as possible.

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I think the "team" cohesion could fall victem to a shortened off season and mandated reduction in practice times. In the short term, I see teams who have played together for a longer period of time having a substantial advantage over teams like the Skins with lots of new parts we hope will meld over the coming seasons. It's one of those hard facts which lead to us releasing a lot older players for no other reason than our expectations of their play 2 or 3 years out when we think we will be ready to compete.

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There has been a significant change-improvement between 2010 and this offseason. Last season, Shanahan wanted to go in two directions at the same time. The win-now moves and the rebuild moves were about 50/50. This season, draft + free agency so far, it's about 80/20 favoring rebuild. As a hardline advocate for a 100% rebuild, I'm pleasantly surprised.

I would have cut or traded every player over 29, except at the QB position. I would certainly not have signed players over 27. But, that kind of rebuild would have been too much to hope for. So, I'm pleased and surprised that old dogs, Mike and Bruce, whose extensive resumes show no evidence of a rebuild, have learned a new trick.

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There has been a significant change-improvement between 2010 and this offseason. Last season, Shanahan wanted to go in two directions at the same time. The win-now moves and the rebuild moves were about 50/50. This season, draft + free agency so far, it's about 80/20 favoring rebuild. As a hardline advocate for a 100% rebuild, I'm pleasantly surprised.

I would have cut or traded every player over 29. I would certainly not have signed players over 29. But, that kind of rebuild would have been too much to hope for. So, I'm pleased and surprised that old dogs, Mike and Bruce, whose extensive resumes show no evidence of a rebuild, have learned a new trick.

Did you play the part of that priest who beat himself in the DaVinci Code or what?

Is it smart football to shed a 93-catch, 1100-yard receiver who, if here, can help you on the field and help the young guys learn? We still have work to do....OR some of the young guys will have to emerge as real players. My guess is we're three years away though. Next year we suffer a rookie QB :)

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Did you play the part of that priest who beat himself in the DaVinci Code or what?

Is it smart football to shed a 93-catch, 1100-yard receiver who, if here, can help you on the field and help the young guys learn? We still have work to do....OR some of the young guys will have to emerge as real players. My guess is we're three years away though. Next year we suffer a rookie QB :)

I would not have re-signed Santana. It's much cheaper to let K.McCardell do the coaching. And, the young WRs need all the reps they can get.

I don't think you beat 31 other competitors to the top by taking half-measures. Santana was a good win-now move for a team that should not be making win-now moves.

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I think the "team" cohesion could fall victem to a shortened off season and mandated reduction in practice times. In the short term, I see teams who have played together for a longer period of time having a substantial advantage over teams like the Skins with lots of new parts we hope will meld over the coming seasons. It's one of those hard facts which lead to us releasing a lot older players for no other reason than our expectations of their play 2 or 3 years out when we think we will be ready to compete.

Good observation. The compressed offseason and camp most certainly will have some negative effect on the pace of Shanahan's deployment. Particularly given the number of new faces who will essentially have a month to get acclimated and be ready to contribute.

On the other hand .... the coaches had an extra 3 months free of the daily grind of player meetings, and media obligations, etc, to spend in the meeting and film rooms ironing out bugs from last year and fine-tuning their implementation plans for this year.

For every window the FSM closes, another opens. :cool:

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Honestly, no.

I think we generally pay more in guaranteed money than other people for two reasons.

1. It gives us a competitive advantage acquiring the people we target and Dan Snyder will provide it.

2. Most of the time we kind of suck, so, no one is coming here on a discount.

No. 2 may change over time and years of success. No. 1 won't. Because Dan generates so much money and doles it out, I expect we will continue to lead the league in two parts of the cap and be lowest in one part. That being we'll have the most in guarantees most of the time and the most in dead money much of the time and the least in base salary as often as possible.

Well i do agree that this has generally been the way they do things. Cash is King.

I just figured that the teams with so much under the salary floor could be at an advantage in bidding for free agents against that free agent's old team. (I was actually thinking they could have employed this type of strategy with Stephen Bowen since Dallas was over the cap)

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Two thoughts.

1. It kind of pisses me off when the talent level on those teams in the 80s and 90s is undervalued by saying stuff like "They had heart, man." Those teams were supremely talented. How many times does a team have the best defensive line AND the best offensive line in football? Those teams often have to take a little abuse because they did not have "stars" at the marquee positions of QB, RB (post Riggins), and LB. But those teams were deep with talent. I would argue that from top to bottom, it was the most talented team of the decade. San Francisco and the Giants probably had otherworldly talent at a few positions and could create devastating matchup problems. But Parcells and Walsh probably would have traded 4/5 of their roster for the comparable player on the Skins.

2. I don't feel like the Skins have unleashed some new strategy. Marty clearly spent his first year clearing away deadwood and was probably about to go on a massive youth movement before he quit/was fired/whatever. Gibbs basically did the same thing that Shanahan is trying to do - except he seemed to forget on occasion that rosters have 53 spots and not 18 or so. It's not entirely clear to me what the organizational focus was during the Zorn years.

Also, we'll know what about Mapplethorpe when we see it?

I'm intrigued by that sentence, because I am always exited to talk about Mapplethorpe. I may have mentioned this before, but one of the best memoirs I ever read was Patti Smith's book about living in NYC in the early 70s with Mapplethorpe. I can't recommend it enough.

---------- Post added August-2nd-2011 at 03:50 PM ----------

2. Most of the time we kind of suck, so, no one is coming here on a discount.

I've more or less come to terms with the Skins' approach to free agency, but I think there is a little danger here. On the one hand - Haynesworth aside - I don't think we've been the team were lazy old guys come to get paid for years. (I also don't think the Haynesworth signing was a bad thing in and of itself. Vinny and Shanny conspired to make that situation unworkable via a ridiculous roster bonus befor year 2 combined with an amazing stubborn streak).

On the other hand, we have been the team were average to good players get paid like superstars for so long that I think it throws the team dynamic off. The way the NFL works is that All Pros are supposed to make All Pro money and the guys that make All Pro money are basically designated as your stars/leaders/whatever. That doesn't seem to work here or in Oakland. Drafting better would fix that problem for the most part though as you want to make your guys rich on their second contract with you.

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http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1ecrr_scorpions-wind-of-change_music

follow the Moskva

Down to Gorky Park

Listening to the wind of change

An August summer night

Soldiers passing by

Listening to the wind of change

The world closing in

Did you ever think

That we could be so close,like brothers

The future's in the air

I can feel it everywhere

Blowing with the wind of change

Chorus:

Take me to the magic of the moment

On a glory night

Where the children of tomorrow dream away

In the wind of change

Walking down the street

Distant memories

Are buried in the past forever

I fallow the Moskva

Down to Gorky Park

Listening to the wind of change

Take me to the magic of the moment

On a glory night

Where the children of tomorrow share their dreams

With you and me

Take me to the magic of the moment

On a glory night

Where the children of tomorrow dream away

In the wind of change

The wind of change blows straight

Into the face of time

Like a stormwind that will ring

The freedom bell for peace of mind

Let your balalaika sing

What my guitar wants to say

Take me to the magic of the moment

On a glory night

Where the children of tomorrow share their dreams

With you and me

Take me to the magic of the moment

On a glory night

Where the children of tomorrow dream away

In the wind of change

Scorpions bring back fond memories.

:beavisnbutthead:

Maybe these winds of change will bring back the winning ways of our Redskins.

HTTR

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