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Was 1993 the Year it All Went Wrong?


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While it's never particularly cut and dry, this franchise (like many others) seems to have fateful years that define particular eras of its history, especially if they've been around awhile. 

 

There's obvious choices like 1932 (founding), 1937 (first year in D.C.), 1962 (integration), 1971 (George Allen's first season), and 1981 (Joe Gibbs' first season) but I believe, at least for the franchise's current era, 1993 might be the most significant. It set the foundation for this team's improbable - like, statistically improbable - streak of mediocrity and it seems to be the year everything came to a head. Along with a pretty "meh" draft the year before and the year of, Joe Gibbs gets burnt out and retires, leaving Richie Pettibone with a badly aging team, setting the stage for their worst season in 30+ years. It was also the first year of Free Agency and a significant number of players who were part of the later Gibbs years (especially Wilber Marshall and Gary Clark) while none of their free agent signings really panned out. 

 

The next year was even worse as the franchise hired Norv Turner, lost Art Monk, had one of the most infamous drafts ever, went 3-13 (in which they did the impossible and went winless at RFK Stadium), and got further wrecked with the implementation of the salary cap. But it seemed like after 1993, the team never got its barrings and has been recovering ever since. Hubris and prejudice is what (largely) created the first "dark age" of the franchise's history but it seems this one was build on an incredibly poor ability to adapt to the modern NFL.

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You know what really sucks about 1993?  I was old enough to drink.  C'mon Team, get it together one last time for us old-enough-to-drink-in-1993'ers!  We did have a pretty good team in 1999 and it was damn fun to watch.  (From 1992 to 2005 we had one 10-6 team:  1999.)  That's the one where Brad Johnson dumped 50 on NY in NY.

 

What becomes of our Team when nobody remains

To cherish those stories of enemies we slayed?

What becomes of our Team when nobody remains

Of enemies no longer afraid?

 

What becomes of our Team when nobody remains

To cherish those glorious victories of old?

What becomes of our Team when nobody remains

To revel in SB glory so bold?

 

 

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1999 was the first year I really got into football and it was an exciting, albeit heartbreaking one. That's another important year of course but 1993 seems to be the year everything came to a head. I don't know why this team has had such a tough time adapting to free agency and the salary cap but they have in a unique way - like night and day. Hell, even the Browns were on their way to great things before Art Modell pulled the rug out from the franchise and the city.

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If I wanted to put a single year, I'd argue for 1992 as the beginning of our current down cycle. Last up cycle went from about 1971 to the SB after the 1991 season. We pretty much backed into the playoffs in 1992,

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Yes, 1993 was the start. We were due for a rebuild so the fact that we went 4-12 wasn’t that huge a deal (although it was still a shock to the system for fans, myself included). But it was the start. 
 

We for sure wasted a year because we approached 1993 like we were trying to win the SB again. Passed the torch from Gibbs to Petitbone and pretty much kept the core together. Made a bunch of FA signings that were old older guys at the end of their careers. This added to our roster which also had a bunch of older guys at the end of the careers. Then we blow out the defending SB champs on the opening Monday Night of the season. It was like, boom, another great Redskins year. 
 

The next week we lose to lowly Cardinals at home. Ugly loss. That was a warning sign. 
 

The next week was when it hit home. At Philly, a really great back and forth game. We lose a heartbreaker at the end on a Randall TD pass. What struck me about that game was that we never would have lost to a lesser team one week and then lost a heartbreaker the next under Gibbs. We always found ways to win those and avoid ruts. The season completely went down the drain from there. 
 

So we wasted an entire year where we probably should have started rebuilding. 
 

Then, JKC was infatuated with Norv and turned the franchise over to Casserly. Disaster. Also FedEx opened during all of this. 
 

There is no defending Snyder and his tenure here. But he took over a mess. 1993-1998 were horrendous off-field (and on of course too) years for the franchise. 

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In the "America's Game" for the 1991 team, Gibbs mentions JKC getting in his face and telling him how much better Jimmy Johnson was doing down in Dallas. And the Squire wasn't wrong but as we all learned, Norv Turner and Charlie Casserly (combined) were not on the level with Jimmy Johnson. That's why the latter's gonna have a bust in Canton. The Cowboys, at least at first, adapted to the new NFL well. Maybe it's because Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson were new to the pro game while JKC and the front office in Washington were from the old guard. Furthermore, Cooke wasn't a particularly patient man - he was used to winning and at his stage of life, he probably wasn't trying to hear anyone talk about a rebuild, though that's obviously what the team needed. 

 

And maybe that's one of the reasons why Joe Gibbs ended up retiring. He was burnt out for sure but he had to know this franchise was on the decline and maybe he also knew free agency was going to hit it like truck.

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JKC was the ONLY owner who voted against the salary cap. We had the most bloated payroll in the league, and by a significant margin. Our payroll was iirc reportedly 40% over the determined cap limit.

Gibbs did not leave the franchise in good shape, having traded away 2 firsts for Desmond Howard, a 1st and a 3rd for an over the hill Gerald Riggs, traded away the next franchise QB Stan Humphries to Beathard for a draft pick on a punter who was cut in camp.

The Hogs were gone, and Rypien was exposed without a superb OL and no Gary Clark. Most of all, OC Rod Dowhower was putrid. The decision was made to abandon air Coryell for a WCO, but other than an aging Art Monk, we didn't have the WRs for it, and even on his best days Rypien's short passing game was lamentable.

Finally, we had a slew of injuries. Petition was a defensive genius, but even he could not make much of the personnel still standing.

My biggest regret is that at the end of the year we didn't fire Casserly instead of Petitbon. He was the main architect of that disaster and his decade of bad drafts and mostly lousy FA signings would prove he was not GM material.

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A good friend used to host a party for one game a year. I remember it was the Cardinals and we ALWAYS beat the Cardinals. Until that day. I'll never forget his brother and I looking at each other and saying "we suck"with a stunned look on our face.   It really hadn't happened to me before, other than that one year in 1980, and we didn't know how to handle it.  

Edited by Darrell Green Fan
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4 hours ago, thebluefood said:

In the "America's Game" for the 1991 team, Gibbs mentions JKC getting in his face and telling him how much better Jimmy Johnson was doing down in Dallas. And the Squire wasn't wrong but as we all learned, Norv Turner and Charlie Casserly (combined) were not on the level with Jimmy Johnson. That's why the latter's gonna have a bust in Canton. The Cowboys, at least at first, adapted to the new NFL well. Maybe it's because Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson were new to the pro game while JKC and the front office in Washington were from the old guard. Furthermore, Cooke wasn't a particularly patient man - he was used to winning and at his stage of life, he probably wasn't trying to hear anyone talk about a rebuild, though that's obviously what the team needed. 

 

And maybe that's one of the reasons why Joe Gibbs ended up retiring. He was burnt out for sure but he had to know this franchise was on the decline and maybe he also knew free agency was going to hit it like truck.

The 1992 was the draft that confirmed my growing suspicion that Joe Gibbs was a targeter. Yes, a friend of mine who played for Gibbs (1986-1992) felt Gibbs retired because he did not want to go through another rebuild (1981, 1985, 1989) and the core those rebuilds centered around was now about to age out.

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6 hours ago, Darth Tater said:

The 1992 was the draft that confirmed my growing suspicion that Joe Gibbs was a targeter. Yes, a friend of mine who played for Gibbs (1986-1992) felt Gibbs retired because he did not want to go through another rebuild (1981, 1985, 1989) and the core those rebuilds centered around was now about to age out.

It kind of makes you wonder what was going through Gibbs mind at the end of 2007 when he retired a second time.  The public story is that he wanted to spend more time with his grandson, but you also have to wonder what he felt about the makeup of the team and particularly Jason Campbell, who Gibbs/Cerrato drafted, but you had the sense that his development was uneven. Plus the tragic loss of Sean Taylor which made the end of the season wrenchng. 

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11 hours ago, Riggo-toni said:

JKC was the ONLY owner who voted against the salary cap. We had the most bloated payroll in the league, and by a significant margin. Our payroll was iirc reportedly 40% over the determined cap limit.

 

I did not know that but it does make sense. I have to imagine that lead to some deeper, systemic issues that lead to the franchise's state today - something that's proportional to the payroll they had when the cap was implemented. 

 

And yeah - those post-Bethard drafts were not always the best. There were a few hits like Chip Lohmiller, Mark Schlereth, Brian Mitchell but when the franchise lost Bethard, it was noticeable. 

 

11 minutes ago, hail2skins said:

It kind of makes you wonder what was going through Gibbs mind at the end of 2007 when he retired a second time.  The public story is that he wanted to spend more time with his grandson, but you also have to wonder what he felt about the makeup of the team and particularly Jason Campbell, who Gibbs/Cerrato drafted, but you had the sense that his development was uneven. Plus the tragic loss of Sean Taylor which made the end of the season wrenchng. 

I believe 2007 was Joe Gibbs' best coaching job - even better than guiding the team through the '87 strike season. 

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1 hour ago, thebluefood said:

I believe 2007 was Joe Gibbs' best coaching job - even better than guiding the team through the '87 strike season. 

Joe's leadership qualities were/are without question and certainly paid dividends down the 2007 homestretch after the gut-wrenching Taylor murder. And the 2007 team wasn't bad (5-3 at the midway point) but Joe was brought back to win titles and you have to wonder after four topsy turvy seasons if he wanted to continue to work himself to exhaustion in pursuit at that, particularly after tragically losing the team's best player and having a big question mark at QB going forward.

 

I know you started the thread because 1993 is the obvious demarcation point between when the team was considered of the league's elite between Allen/Gibbs and the joke we are today.  And as Ed said, Snyder did not inherit a favorable situation in early 1999. We did swing for the fences in 2000 and I think Snyder gets a bad rap for that particular season, with the exception of treating Norv like crap and not waiting until the end of the season to fire him. However, one has to wonder if Snyder's choice to recreate glory after 2001, first by pursuing Beathard (who wouldn't work with Marty and who we lowballed anyway) and then rehiring Gibbs in 2004, were six seasons relatively early in his tenure that could be looked at as wasted ones.  People will debate Marty's first season here and no doubt he still didn't have any playoff success in San Diego after he went there, but its hard to imagine we wouldn't have been better with him at the helm overall those six seasons that what eventually did result. I will say that if we could've somehow landed Joe right after the 2000 season instead of Marty (and perhaps Dan tried), Gibbs 2.0 might've produced more results. But by 2004 and with Joe three years older, it was probably too late. 

Edited by hail2skins
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Posted (edited)

And the kind of energy Joe Gibbs invested into coaching wasn't sustainable; it's incredible he lasted as long as he did over two different tenures and didn't end up checking into St. Elizabeth's or a divorcee. I know his second term wasn't nearly as successful as his first but considering who he was working with, it's a wonder he led this team to two playoff appearances and a playoff win in four years. The only other coach to do that in the Snyder era was...Norv Turner. And the only person to win a playoff game in Washington before Norv Turner was...Joe Gibbs.

 

Come to think of it, only five coaches (out of 30) in this franchise's nearly 90 year existence have won in the postseason. Jeez. 

Edited by thebluefood
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The aging roster/salary cap double-whammy was 3-4 year rebuild, though we didn’t know it then.  And Late-90s Norv/Casserly fielded some pretty good teams in an era where the NFC East was VERY deep.

 

So, when did it really go wrong?  When Dan dumped Marty after an 8-8 season for Spurrier...and I like Spurrier.

 

Within 3 years Ol Ball Coach was headed to South Carolina and Marty was 14-2 with the Chargers.

 

We never really recovered.

Edited by TryTheBeal!
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1993 has special significance to me because it's the year I moved to DC after growing up a Redskins fan in another part of the country. You can imagine how excited I was to finally get to see the Skins on TV every week. Needless to say, the excitement didn't last. 😄

 

The team's MO from the day George Allen was hired all the way through the Gibbs era was to trade picks for veterans and field an expensive and experienced roster. It was always going to be a tough transition away from that to accommodate free agency and the salary cap.

 

The weak leadership of Casserly, Turner and a faltering JKC made the transition much harder. People forget, though, that the team won the division in 1999 with a reloaded, exciting roster. If John Cooke had gotten the team, it's possible they would have been set for another run of success.

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5 minutes ago, profusion said:

The weak leadership of Casserly, Turner and a faltering JKC made the transition much harder. People forget, though, that the team won the division in 1999 with a reloaded, exciting roster. If John Cooke had gotten the team, it's possible they would have been set for another run of success.

Norv led this team back to average, but probably should've been fired somewhere during that 0-7 start in 1998. Then you probably would've had an interim coach from the staff for the rest of the season. However, with the ownership situation being in such flux, who knows how the search for a new coach would've proceeded after the 1998 season. You would think he would've been selected before Snyder took over. Remember, Snyder famously wanted to reverse the trade that brought Brad Johnson here.

 

Interesting how history repeats itself, though. In Jay, Snyder probably had his most Norv-like coach, and probably should get credit for sticking with him for 5+ seasons before rightfully firing him in the midst of the disastrous start to last season. And in Rivera, he probably has his most Marty-like coach.

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7 minutes ago, hail2skins said:

Norv led this team back to average, but probably should've been fired somewhere during that 0-7 start in 1998. Then you probably would've had an interim coach from the staff for the rest of the season. However, with the ownership situation being in such flux, who knows how the search for a new coach would've proceeded after the 1998 season. You would think he would've been selected before Snyder took over. Remember, Snyder famously wanted to reverse the trade that brought Brad Johnson here.

 

Yeah, Norv was never going to get any team over the hump, and that 1998 team might have been dangerous with more disciplined coaching. 1999 was a correction, though, and 2000 is where it should have been Lombardi Trophy time.

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Barry Switzer could have won a SB with all the talent that was on that Chargers team; Schotferbrains lost to Sanchez and the Jets. Also, people forget Schothead's  previous years in SD were not good, and that Norvo the Clown took them deeper into the playoffs. 

Spurrier and Schotferbrains were both bad hires. Dannyboy wouldn't know front office talent if it stuck it's head out of the toilet and bit him on the tuckus. Consider this - Rivera is the only hire other than Gibbs who is hiring qualified coordinators rather than going for the friends and family plan.

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49 minutes ago, profusion said:

 

Yeah, Norv was never going to get any team over the hump, and that 1998 team might have been dangerous with more disciplined coaching. 1999 was a correction, though, and 2000 is where it should have been Lombardi Trophy time.


My biggest “defense” of Snyder over his tenure is 2000. I know he’s always probably treated people poorly but one year wasn’t enough to say the culture was so bad that it translated down to the field. 2000 was much more of a coaching issue in my mind. 
 

The signings we made more or less panned out. Deion gets blasted around here and obviously his contract was silly, but he played well for us that year and was a big part in our defense going from something like 30th in 1999 to 4th in 2000. 
 

Problem in 2000 is that it just became a total Norv year— finding all manner of ways to lose games. One week the offense throws 4 INTs and still loses just by three. Then our kicker melts down and we give up a 99 yard fumble return TD and still lose by just 1 point. Then we give up a 80 yard INT return for a TD in the last play of the half. The offense in general was a disappointment in large part because Brad Johnson lost all the magic he had in 1999. He stunk in 2000. The dirty truth that no one wants to admit is that Jeff George was better. Offense moved the ball much better under his direction. Should have turned it over to him earlier in the year. 
 

The 2000 Redskins were the best team talent-wise since 1991. Better than 1999, better than 2005 (although that is close), better than 2007 and 2012. They just blew a golden opportunity. That was not a failure by Snyder. That was on-field. 

 

The timing was bad; we should have/would have fired Norv after 1998, but the ownership thing was tied up and no one could do much of anything. Perhaps if a decent coach was hired BEFORE Snyder was hired things would have worked out better and 1999/2000 would have been more successful. Dan was obviously eventually gonna mess it up, but perhaps we could have had a higher high had the timing been better. 

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The 2000 Redskins were a fantasy football team, not a real one. The signings disrupted the chemistry they had going. Signing Jeff George when Brad Johnson had just put in a huge season was inexcusable. The Deion signing didn't bother me as much. CBs always live out there on an island. Plus, it was the sheer number of big name signings, even if many would have been justified individually.

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1 hour ago, profusion said:

The 2000 Redskins were a fantasy football team, not a real one. The signings disrupted the chemistry they had going. Signing Jeff George when Brad Johnson had just put in a huge season was inexcusable. The Deion signing didn't bother me as much. CBs always live out there on an island. Plus, it was the sheer number of big name signings, even if many would have been justified individually.


Totally disagree on the QBs. BJ was awesome the first half of 1999, then dropped off big time. He didn’t play well down the stretch in 99, especially against better teams. He was then absolutely awful in the playoff game at Tampa. Granted, the Bucs D was fantastic but we had a 13-0 lead late in third quarter. All we need was BJ to not screw up. Well, he did. He threw a terrible INT to John Lynch that totally shifted the momentum of that game. 
 

BJ was terrible to start 2000, picking up right where he left off in 1999. George was the superior QB at that point and probably should have been starter week one. 

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No, Norv should've been fired after the 97 season, when we fell to 8-7-1. 

 

It went all wrong, the moment Dan Snyder become owner of this team in 1999.  Dan Snyder made mistakes from day 1. He never should of said that Norv had to make the playoffs to remain coach.  He should've said we will review the coaching position after the season.  Noone would've begrudge him if after 1999; he said he wanted to bring his own coach.  Hell, Dallas wanted Norv. We could've traded him to Dallas.

 

If some other ownership group had won control; doubtful the last 21 years would've gone the same way.

Edited by Rdskns2000
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