Covering The Redskins

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Friday, February 29, 2008

Suisham In, Brunell, Broughton Out

As promised the Redskins have sat back during the start of free agency to let the big money go first..

As far as team news goes, Mark Brunell is done as a Skin, with the team signing Todd Collins as the primary back-up to Jason Campbell, Brunell will not be among those receiving a contract offer from the team..

FB Nehemiah Broughton who has dealt with injuries throughout his short tenure with the team was not tendered a deal as an excusive rights free agent, so he becomes an unrestricted free agent..

K Shaun Suisham was extended a tender which means the Skins retain his rights, he likely returns s the kicker for the team next season..

OK men

February 29-- Collins agrees to terms

Todd Collins has agreed to terms on a 3 year deal worth reportedly 9 million dollars.. The signing bonus is believed to be 3 million, so my guess, and this is a guess, would be that the final year of the deal has a large base salary making this more likely an effective two year deal with a low cap number for this season..

Collins posted a 100+ QB rating in 3 of the four regular season games he played in winning all four and helping the Skins back to the playoffs..

Jacksonville and St. Louis made strong pushes to get Collins to come there, but like in Washington, he would have been a primary back-up..
Collins returning likely signals the end of Mark Brunell's tenure here in DC..

OK men

Thursday, February 28, 2008

February 28-- This time, Skins will watch what happens during free agency

Expect the Skins to make few if any moves at all as free agency opens tonight at midnight..
Vinny Cerrato told us today on Redskins radio that we will all be shocked by the amount of money that will be given out to players who might not deserve the size of the deals, i.e. they are not in the bidding wars for the big names, Asante Samuel, Lance Briggs etc..

As for Briggs, who was a target last off-season, that ship appears to have sailed.. Briggs is expected to land a huge deal and as Cerrato put it, "I can't talk specifically about certain free agents but let me put it this way, we like our linebackers."

The team is looking for help along the offensive line, specifically an interior lineman, but Cerrato says that will likely be addressed through the draft.. The team is also vying for another receiver.. The Skins have reached out to free agent WR Reche Caldwell and told him they have interest in resigning him but are expecting him to test the market first..
The Skins have also been very public that they want to retain back-up QB Todd Collins, but the Rams are expected to make apush to bring him in with former coach Al Saunders, the Rams just released back-up Gus Frerotte.. Collins is looking at options to be a starter however and that wouldn't be a likely scenario with the Rams, so if it comes down to St. Louis and Washington, the Skins would retain a shot..

Cerrato was calling the money that will be put out there with numerous teams well under the cap "crazy." Ironic coming from the Redskins point of view that others will pay "crazy" money but the Skins have been at the forefront of large bonus/back-loaded deals, so this off-season, the bills have come due in terms of ability to be a major shopper.. That said, the team has been consistent in their belief that the pool of candidates is shallow..

Look for a WR (DJ Hackett, Jerry Porter) and a CB (Drayton Florence) as possible signings if the price is right.. Free agent RB/KR Rock Cartwright will test the market and see what he is worth..

QB Jason Campbell was on the air with us as well, he said his knee is 100% and that the new offense he will be running is very similar to the one he ran at Auburn his senior season.. Campbell said he did not need to hear Jim Zorn announce he is the starter because he has the inner drive to compete no matter the situation.. That said, he expressed excitement to work with the former quarterback and hopefully trend the way Matt Hasselbeck was able to in his time in Seattle..

OK men..

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

February 26-- I'm back, B Lloyd gone

In a one sentence press release, the Redskins announced they have released wide receiver Brandon Lloyd.. 25 catches, no touchdowns, a paltry 1.8 yards per game last year, Lloyd turned out to be a huge risk with absolutely no reward..
LLoyd had numerous run ins with coaches including Joe Gibbs, Al Saunders and Receivers coach Stan Hixon in his two tumultuous years and never seemed to believe any of it was his fault..
He came to Washington with a bad reputation, ripped by former teammates in San Francisco for being selfish and preferring to make the highlights then to go home a winner..
In the end the Skins gave up two mid round picks and 10 million guaranteed who I can promise to you a person who won't be missed in the locker room.. This is certainly an example of addition by subtraction..

Lloyd was not scheduled to make a large base salary this year, but I am pretty sure he had a roster bonus coming and for certain the Skins weren't about to throw more money at a guy who was the fourth wide receiver at best even when healthy..
The signing bonus was 10 million spread out over a 7 year contract so 2.4 or so was already spent for cap purposes over the first two years of his deal..
If the Skins spread the cap hit out over the next two years, they owed some 7.7 but can take the bulk in '09, and they save on this year's cap by not paying the roster bonus.. Only those with exact knowledge of the contract could tell you the cap ramifications, but it goes without saying that there will be a bill to pay, likely in 2009..

So the Skins have made it clear they are in the market for a wide receiver.. The Bengals have adamantly denied the desire to trade Chad Johnson.. Randy Moss figures to resign in New England, but I suppose you never know.. DJ Hackett, Seahawks free agent to be, Jerry Porter, Raiders free agent to be seem to be the most likely targets..

There are a few very good options in the draft including Texas speedster Limus Sweed, Oklahoma's Malcolm Kelly and Michigan's Mario Mannigham so I suppose we'll know if the Skins are thinking about their first round pick at that position dependent what happens in free agency...

The Skins continue to contend they are not expected to be big players in free agency, the reasons are two fold: There are not many viable candidates as exemplified by the numerous franchise tags utilized even on some players who arguably don't warrant being paid in the top five at their position.. Also, the Skins do not have the cap freedom as numerous other teams who figure to use their money overpaying for the few players worth spending on.. Basically, the Skins will beaten at their own game this time around.. But if there was ever a year not to have the cap wiggle room, this year might be it..
I expect a corner to be signed, maybe Drayton Florence.. A swing G/C, I'd say unlikely to be Alan Faneca from the Steelers who should field big cash..
We'll see if the Skins find the room to break the back as they were going to with Lance Briggs a year ago, but my guess is that ship has sailed and Briggs will find the money he wants elsewhere..

I saw some quotes from Rock Cartwright to my man John Keim who writes for the Examiner saying he is looking for a shot to be a #2 and wants a payday.. Look, I can't blame him and he is squarely behind Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts, so at this point, all I can say is we wish you the best..
The team wants Todd Collins back as a back-up, he wants to see if he can land a starter's job and this is likely the last time in his career that this is even a possibility so I expect Collins to land elsewhere, but if the money is not outrageous and he appears not to have a guaranteed starter's position, I think the Skins will have a shot..
Mark Brunell is working out daily at the Park and wants to play next year, where that is, I don't know, his contract expires in a few days..

OK men

Saturday, February 16, 2008

February 16-- Cerrato sheds light on off-season direction for Skins

Vinny Cerrato joined Redskins radio for the full hour on Friday and was very open and candid about the decision behind hiring Jim Zorn as the team's new head coach as well as giving a sense of the direction the team will take in rebuilding the roster during the off-season..

First on Zorn: There was some assertions that Zorn was close friends with Vinny and therefore led to his promotion as the head coach from offensive coordinator.. Cerrato says that is untrue, that the first in depth conversation he had with Zorn came when he was here to interview for the offensive coordinator position..
On the reasons behind Gregg Williams not getting the job and being allowed to part ways with the organization a few weeks ago before a head coaching decision was made, "It was not going to be a good marriage for both sides. We let him go when we started getting requests to interview Gregg for other defensive coordinator opportunities." So the timing of it had a little to do with Williams ability to find his next employer and not just the fall out of the leaking of the potential hiring of Jim Fassel..

The compensation for the Jets will receive for the acquisition of G Pete Kendall last summer will be a 4th round draft pick in 2009, so as of now the Redskins have their full compliment of draft selections..
Cerrato fielded calls from listeners regarding the philosophy of trading away picks and acquiring some many free agents on the roster.. He used the Kendall scenario to explain some of the decisions that are made particularly with lower round picks.. "Last year 52 of the picks from rounds six and seven were cut. Sometimes the draft is not deep." Cerrato explained that it is cheaper or all teams to select undrafted free agents, with less money guaranteed necessary to sign them especially if the beliefe is there are few if any diamonds in the rough that low..
As for drafting, Cerrato said the team firmly believes in the draft but is always willing to move picks for more established players..
He said he accepts all responsibility for moves that did not work out such as Adam Archuletta, Brandon Lloyd and TJ Duckett (not as much for Duckett considering the circumstances that Clinton Portis was hurt in the team's first pre-season game that summer).. He explained that the Archuletta and Lloyd signings were a little different then some of the others, namely, Fred Smoot (who the team already knew), London Fletcher (who played under Gregg Williams and Jerry Gray) in that none of the coaches knew either of those players before the team decided to make moves to get them.. He also wanted to be clear, "No one is going to be perfect, but I am accountable."

As far as free agency goes, the Redskins don't sound as if they plan on being major players. Vinny said, "There are not a lot of free agents out there. We probably won't be a big player."
As far as needs, Cerrato stressed finding a "big" WR, a swing o-lineman who could play center or guard or one who could be guard or tackle.. Back-up ecnter Mike Pucillo likely won't be back with the team and the age of the guards and tackles are at issue.. Also, the team wants a another FB because the offense may call for more out of that position then before.. Mike Sellers is certainly safe as the starter..
On D-- Cerrato will likely be after a CB based partially on the health of Carlos Rogers who may not be ready to go by camp after suffering a major knee injury.. The team wants depth at safety and wants to find a defensive tackle who can help with pass rush..
Cerrato denies the team is in need of a edge pass rusher.. he cited the 10.5 sacks of Andre Carter and the 10+ sacks combined from the other edge as signs that the glaring deficiency comes from the lack of a rush on the interior line.. Expect the Skins to make a play for a Justin Tuck style player whether it be in the draft or via Free agency..
DT Cornelious Griffin has a large cap number, but is safe on the roster..
The Skins will likely use a late draft pick on a young quarterback..
LB Rocky McIntosh is "looking good" as he rehabs a surgically repaired knee, the hope is he'll be back for training camp..
Cerrato says the team and Zorn have both talked to free agent QB Todd Collins, the Redskins are hoping to re-sign him to be the back-up at the very least..
FB/KR Rock Cartwright likely will be allowed to enter free agency to see what his market value is.. The Skins would like to retain him however if a back-up or starting RB spot comes to him, the Skins likely will not match whatever offer comes his way..

The Redskins have no interest in a possible reconciliation and resigning of former LB LaVar Arrington..

With Sherman Smith as the new offensive coordinator signed, the Redskins staff is now complete.. the team will send a contingent to Indianapolis for next week's combine..

OK men..

Thursday, February 14, 2008

February 14-- Zorn on Redskins Radio

Jim Zorn joined Larry and myself for our first of hopefully many segments on Redskins Radio today, he said there is no news on the potential hiring of Sherman Smith as the offensive coordinator saying Smith is weighing his options with his family and hopefully something will happen soon..
Stump Mitchell is in as assistant head coach-Running backs, meaning Earnest Byner is out.. It doesn't appear as if a quarterbacks coach per se will be hired as this is Zorn's speciality..

Zorn said he started preparing his thoughts on being a head coach well before he knew he was going to become one saying basically he was prepared for the eventuality even if he didn't know himself that it was coming so soon.. He admits to not even being able to sleep for a couple of days after he was given the job but it is all sinking in now and he is focussed on rounding out the staff and heading to Indy next week for the annual scouting combine.. Zorn also won't be pulling Gibbs-esque all nighters, he said he can't function that way..

The Bengals say Chad Johnson is not available thus the trade talk can die, but the Skins know most everyone has their price.. Johnson's agent is Drew Rosenhaus and he and owner Dan Snyder have struck numerous deals so I'm fairly certain that even if Marvin Lewis continues to claim there is no deal to be had, should Chad continue to bad mouth Cincy, maybe push will come to shove..

Would the Skins take LaVar back? Probably not, but after seeing some ads for his restaurant in PG county, I started to wonder if Arrington is physically able to go, whether a reconciliation between he and the franchise would be worth pursuing.. The Skins can't be 100% certain that LB Rocky McIntosh will be a full go come training camp, so help in the LB corps will be something of issue in the draft and free agency, Lance Briggs aside of course..
Arrington was one of the speakers at Sean Taylor's funeral and had a mea culpa of sorts taking the opportunity within the context of the proceedings to suggest he may have taken for granted what he had in DC before the contractual fall out with the team.. If Arrington can play, a big if considering chronic knee issues before his motorcycle accident last fall, he indeed would be an interesting choice for a back-up LB/pass rush option.
LaVar still lives here, will always be associated a Redskin and in turn loved being a Redskin. Maybe a victory tour even if in a limited capacity would be best served for both he and the Skins moving forward.. In the end, you hate to see a beloved member leave with such a bad taste in everyone's mouth..
It's too late to have this type of relationship repair with Brian Mitchell, but I'm hoping one day the team could find a spot in the ring of fame for Mitchell, the best special teams performer in the team's history and potential Hall of Fame candidate.. Like LaVar, Brian left on bad terms.. I'd like to see some maturity in the franchise and welcome Brian back, admit a mistake in letting him go for Deion (this was Dan Snyder's first real run at free agency, so lets cut him some slack for making a mistake there) and allow Mitchell to become part of the Skins valued alum family.. Just a thought..

OK men..

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

February 12-- Bring on Ocho Cinco

First off some coaching news, John Palermo is the new defensive line coach.. Chris Meidt is the new offensive assistant coach.. Both are making NFL coaching debuts..
The team is expected to interview Sherman Smith today to be their offensive coordinator.. Earnest Byner could be out as Redskins running backs coach.. Nothing is official, but let me put it this way, at the Park today, it didn't appear as if Byner was staying on..

Now the off-season can finally get going as a coach is in place and it smells like a doozy.. Chad Johnson wants out of Cincinnati.. he wants to play for a more high profile franchise.. The good news is his agent is Drew Rosenhaus.. Rosenhaus and the Skins have done numerous deals in the past (Santana Moss, Clinton Portis, nearly Lance Briggs) and he is a favorite of owner Dan Snyder..
The bad news is Johnson's agent is Drew Rosenhaus. When Drew dangles some fresh shiny new free agent, Dan is apt to pay a steep price to make it happen, not only in guaranteed money, but in future considerations. Thus the Skins could be looking at forking over a first rounder if not more for a 30 year old receiver.

In this case though, Johnson's numbers have not taken a downturn, in fact his 90 catches this past season is about average for him over the last 5 (of course 90 being an exceptional number to be at on an annual level) and his 1400+ yards was among the best in football, also a typical average.. he has not scored less then 7 TD's in any season the last 6, another strong number..

Selfishly, I love talkers and nobody is a talker like Chad these days.. Sign me up for a weekly visit with him. And considering his flare for the dramatic, I'm all for letting Chad do his thing in a big market like DC.. Johnson likes the Skins (why not, they pay) and the Skins probably like him.. There's no better way to re-ignite the hopes following the Joe Gibbs retirement and tumultuous coaching search then adding a prime time player. Plus, Chad, Santana, Randle-El, Cooley and Portis (who despite a big cap number is very safe in this organization) make for one of the more feared groupings of skill position players in the league. Me like what me sees..

Now typically I'm a little more concerned about these types of off-season moves, but I believe another WR is necessitated even if maybe the prominence if this one is a little extreme. The price will be high which is the part of it I don't like. I've been on record that I'd like to see the Skins use a more traditional method of team building using the draft more and paying their own over the quick fix method of gunning after everyone else's players.. But in this case, I'm for it.. He'll get a big contract, but unlike B Lloyd, ARE and even Santana to a certain degree, his past warrants it (at least on the field). The future considerations is disconcerting to me, but this is the way the Skins do business, so on this one, I'm giving out a seal of approval.

Dan and Drew, enjoy your off-season of negotiations.. But please please please, save a few draft picks for spots we need to fill for young players we can groom..

OK men..

Monday, February 11, 2008

February 11-- I'm not freaking out, I'm just saying...

I still can't believe Jim Zorn ended up the prize behind door number 2, and while I am 100% percent the "give Zorn the benefit of the doubt theory," the end result has left me scratching my head.. I'd like to call this entry, "I'm not freaking out, I'm just saying..."

Jim Zorn has been an offensive coordinator for two weeks during his professional coaching career.
"But Bram, Andy Reid was never a coordinator before he took over the Eagles and he was much fatter. Look what he's done."
Point taken. You found the one example of 8432 hirings over the course of NFL history who made the leap successfully..
I'm not freaking out, I'm just saying..

Jim Zorn has never even been interviewed for a head coaching position. In fact he wasn't interviewed here as a head coach until Thursday, 2 weeks after he was hired in a different capacity.
"But Bram, some guys just Wow you when you open the door to them."
Indeed. But how many times have you talked to someone you knew little about and decided they should just be sent to the White House minus an election?
I'm not freaking out, I'm just saying...

Jim Zorn was not interviewed here to be the head coach.
"But Bram, Just because they didn't interview him for that position doesn't mean they didn't think he'd be capable of the job"
I'm not freaking out, I'm just saying..

Jim Zorn thought the colors of the team were maroon, black and yellow.
"But Bram, give him a break. It was his first press conference. And the colors could easily be confused."
And North Carolina wears turquoise.
I'm not freaking out, I'm just saying..

Jim Zorn praised the Redskins for honoring Sean taylor by starting the Bills game with ten men on the field.
"But Bram, that was an emotional tribute that showed the unity of the locker room after the franchise's darkest hour."
Good point. The guy who was behind it was fired by the team.
I'm not freaking out, I'm just saying.

Jim Zorn said he so much on his plate he didn't think he'd have time to got to Dan Snyder's house for lunch where he would be told he was going to be the team's head coach.
"But Bram, that just shows his dedication. He isn't here to kiss the owner's rear, he's here to work."
He didn't know that was what this meeting was about, otherwise he would have beemed himself there. And well, if my boss calls, I don't blow him off, ever.
I'm not freaking out, I'm just saying.

Jim Zorn was announced as Redskins head coach on Saturday night.
"But Bram, what does it matter when they tell you who the coach is? Don't you think the search went on long enough?"
Yes it did which is why I could have waited until Monday for the press conference. Here's how these things work in the media, we are used as the free advertising wing of sports franchises. A new coach equates to a coronation. The media needs time to be mobilized to help the team make the most of any and all announcements. If a press release is filed on a Saturday night, it has the feeling of being buried to avoid a negative reaction.
I'm not freaking out, I'm just saying..

Jim Zorn is on a staff that has four former and current coordinators on it and yet he got the job.
"But Bram, no one was interviewing Joe Bugel or Greg Blache or Jerry Gray to be a head coach either."
I know. What's your point?
I'm Not freaking out, I'm just saying..

Jim Zorn was deemed a perfect for for the Redskins. Steve Spagnuolo was said to "not be ready to be a head coach." And Gregg Williams was "not the right fit."
"But Bram, you weren't in the interviews with these people. How would you know who's right and who's wrong."
Delusion is one of the more endearing aspects of the sports fan.
I'm not freaking out, I'm just saying..

Sunday, February 10, 2008

February 10-- More popular then Bush? I'm feeling Zorny

Jim Zorn was named the 27th head coach in Redskins history. Of the assembled media, coaches, and other gawkers, he appeared the most surprised of all of us. Zorn admitted that he had not discussed the possibility of becoming the head coach until last Thursday when he said he was called to Dan Snyder's house to have lunch. Zorn joked he he felt like he was too busy to take time away from his work but went over anyway and said he was practically speechless when Snyder asked him if he'd be interested in the head coaching vacancy.. Snyder said that throughout the interviewing process, after each candidate was discussed, Vinny Cerrato would almost always say he thought Zorn was the right guy..

Zorn said that he had no apprehension taking the Skins offensive coordinator job prior to a head coaching announcement because he was told by Snyder that during the interviewing process, the other candidates seemingly always had him on their short list of potential offensive coaches.. Zorn said he will hire a new offensive coordinator to replace himself and he is unsure who will call plays until that person is chosen.. It is unclear if there will be a quarterback coach hired as well (his specialty).
The offense will be a west coast style, but Zorn wouldn't go so far as to say that he is going to implement what has become a standard west coast formation.. His eyes lit up at the idea of having Clinton Portis as his back and asked about Jason Campbell and whether he believes he is definitively the quarterback of the future, Zorn succintly said, "for now." He reiterated what Joe Gibbs said at the end of the season, that Todd Collins being resigned is a priority for the Skins come free agency..
In one footnote, Zorn said one of his first impressions in helping Campbell improve was that center Casey Rabach is going to have to get his butt higher so that Campbell doesn't have to get so low to the ground so that he will have an easier time exploding away from the center.. A shotgun formation could help alleviate that as well..

Greg Blache spoke to us on Redskins radio for the first time since his promotion to defensive coordinator.. Zorn by the way said "I'll have nothing to do with the defense." Blache wouldn't go into detail as to how his unit would attack differently from the style Gregg Williams implemented calling this "the Redskins defense. It's been here for 75 years and it will be here for 175 more." Basically, he doesn't want to be attributed to how the team succeeds, he wants that for the players. So gone are the days of the second G = genius and fittingly Blache only has two G's in his first name, not 3.
Blache, Gibbs and Cerrato both spoke vaguely about Gregg Williams only to suggest it wasn't going to work out for Williams to remain solely as the defensive coordinator and that while the Williams was dissapointed to not get the job, both sides understood it was best for both to part ways..

On Vinny's new promotion to executive vice president, he would not go so far as to call himself the GM of the team and hinted that indeed not much has changed in terms of how personnel decisions will be made by the Redskins. While his title says the buck ends with him, Zorn will have a say and Dan Snyder certainly will be intimately involved..

In his one moment of humor, Zorn said he was happy to see a straw poll out on ESPN last night saying he had 41% of the people's support that he was the right choice saying "I've got a better approval rating then the President of the United States."

The Skins will have a five game pre-season taking on the Colts during the Hall of Fame weekend in Canton Ohio, fitting considering Art Monk, Darrell Green and former assistant coach Emmitt Thomas will be inducted that weekend..

On a personal note, I saw Craig Heist who works mainly for WTOP for the first time since he suffered a seizure at a Wizards game a few weeks back and he seemed to be feeling very well.. I won't go into detail about his personal information, but Craig is a friend and one of the hardest working reporters in the area and it was nice to see him back where he belonged..

I suppose I'm supposed to give some form of opinion on the hiring of Zorn, but I feel like I'm still processing it. So check back later in the week.

And finally, my off-season begins!!

More to come as the week progresses..

OK men

Saturday, February 09, 2008

February 9-- Final Answer: Zorn

I think it's too late and I'm in too much of a sarcastic mode (after seeing Chris Rock live) to actually comment on the hiring of Jim Zorn as the successor to Joe Gibbs.. I think I'll reserve my feelings about him until after I actually get to meet him, which will be tomorrow..

The process by which we ended at this decision however is worth a quick once over..

Is there reason to believe his hiring was announced around 7PM on a Saturday night for a reason? Maybe I'm thinking a little too much about this, but that screams of trying to bury the story. Locally, it will always be a big deal, but nationally, there is no way for ESPN and the like to fire the big guns at what at best is an extremely curious decision.. Instead of a cattle call of live shots for the local and national broadcasts had the subsequent press conference been held during a weekday, now the Skins are asking the media to line up on a Sunday afternoon where there is no live programming of note.. It smells a little of trying to make the hiring with as little criticism as possible.. Dan Snyder knows marketing, he made millions on it.. This seems to make little sense in terms of the marketing buzz it would generate..

2) Had the Cowboys just pulled the trigger on Wade (Dead Coach walking) Phillips and given their head coaching position to Jason Garrett, then I suppose the Skins would be playing a little NFC East follow the leader in terms of hiring an assistant, and then just giving him the job a couple of weeks later.. But Jerry was a little gun shy at the notion of firing a 13-3 coach for a first year coordinator. The Redskins apparently were not.. In the end, the series of events that will be described should be interesting to say the least.. I cannot wait to hear the spin on how Jim Zorn went from right guy to run an offense (he'd never done that before) to head coaching material in two weeks.. Let this not come off as a bashing of the choice, Zorn deserves the benefit of the doubt, but there is one part of this that is a little frightening: The Seahawks named their coach in waiting and it wasn't Zorn. Certainly they could be wrong about him, Zorn deserves that, but it's curious.

3) The Redskins quite obviously misjudged the field of candidates following the surprise resignation of Joe Gibbs.. In Snyder's defense, Gibbs owed the owner better then a "I only thought about leaving last night and then decided I'm done," excuse.. He didn't need to make it public that this run would be his last, but he could have told Snyder to allow him time to better assess who'd be the successor before the off-season bullets started flying. Bill Cowher and Pete Carroll couldn't be bought. Jim Fassel didn't fly, and the rest of the candidates lacked the sizzle of "the right choice for this team." So the Redskins settled (again, meant not to disrespect Zorn). Jim Mora appears now as the first real candidate of merit. Fassel certainly green lit the choice of Zorn, but the team was strong armed out of pulling that trigger, and they already ran Gregg Williams out of town. Once Steve Spagnuolo used the Skins for leverage with the Giants, the Skins were left with their pants down. No clear cut favorite, so they might as well take chance, and in Zorn, they may ultimately get a diamond in the rough..

Now, to be fair to Zorn, Snyder and everyone involved, lets hear them out before we make any rash decisions about whether this thing will work as the team moves forward..

OK men..

Friday, February 08, 2008

February 8-- Does Russ Have a Shot?

I think Russ Grimm has a legitimate shot at the head coaching position of the Washington Redskins, not necessarily because I know that he has interviewed for the position (I don't) but because logically it makes sense and there is one little thing that's been eating at me all week..

Dan Snyder spoke to Russ Grimm last week at the Super Bowl.. This I know to be true..

On two separate occasions when I had a chance to speak with Snyder after the Art Monk/Darrell Green presser at Redskins Park, Snyder said he spoke with Grimm following the Hall of Fame announcement.. When asked about the continued slight of the Hogs in the Hall, Snyder said he spoke to Grimm and told him the organization will fight for him and the Hogs as they have for Art Monk for so many years..
Now this shouldn't be taken out of context.. All Snyder said was he spoke to Russ about his desire to see the former Skins guard get in but the mere fact they conversed while Russ is contractually with the Cardinals suggests there might have been something else worth contacting about..

Considering a month of fumbles trying to find Joe Gibbs successor, Grimm certainly would be a welcome surprise if he were to be announced as the next head coach.. He'd be immediately welcomed by the fanbase and considering he was a two time finalist for a head coaching slot, and currently and assistant head coach, not a stretch to suggest he is ready.. Plus they Skins could spin this as a keep it in the family moment..

I think Meeks, Mooch and Fassel would be in place if they were the team's obvious choice to succeed Gibbs.. Now that the Super Bowl dust has settled, what's obvious is the Skins don't have an obvious successor in place.. Their apprehention to hire someone says everything about the field of public candidates remaining.. Does this team need Russ to save face? Probably. Does Russ need this job to prove he shouldn't have been overlooked elsewhere? Not sure. The longer this goes on the less credible any head coach becomes if it is not someone who appears to be an obvious choice.. The longer it goes, the more it becomes clear Gregg Williams should have gotten the job at least in the short term.. But that's water under the bridge now.. If Russ can take the system as set up (can't pick his coordinators, can't pick his players, little to no personnel power) then I think the job is his.. And the Skins need him now more then ever..

OK men

Thursday, February 07, 2008

February 7-- Spagnuolo out of running

League sources have told me after interviews and discussions, Steve Spagnuolo will return to the Giants "to see if they can do it again"..
He will sign a new contract to stay as the Giants defensive coordinator..

So Spagnuolo is out of the running.. More when we hear it..

OK men

February 7-- Where we stand this afternoon

There has been no offer to anyone yet.. League sources have told me that the Steve Spagnuolo talks lasted the same amount of time as all of the other candidates thus “he’s been treated the same as the others.”

The league source told me discussions about the various candidates will continue this afternoon with follow up interviews/conversations possible..

Also, one note.. My sources have told me that no coach has been offered any deals including Jim Fassel.. It has been reported that a contract was prepared and discussed with Fassel nearly two weeks ago when he interviewed, my sources tell that “never occurred.”

It is not to suggest Fassel does not remain a candidate for the job, only to say according to the people I spoke with, his hiring was never imminent nor close to completion..

OK men..

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

February 6-- Here's where you can hear the Snyder Interview

That's the link if you want to hear the one on one interview with Dan Snyder conducted yesterday..

February 6-- Snyder Speaks

I had the opportunity to speak with Skins owner Dan Snyder yesterday during the reception honoring Art Monk and Darrell Green who will enter the Hall of Fame this summer..

I found Dan to be as open as possible, and patient with the media perception of the coaching search which is lasting longer then even he expected.. Snyder preached patience saying he wanted to conduct a full search with their original list of candidates which ultimately included coaches who were taking part in the Super Bowl..

Steve Spagnuolo's interview went into today and is expected to be ending by this evening so the liklihood of a decision is forthcoming.. Spagnuolo could be using the interview as leverage to get a better deal to stay in New York as the defensive coordinator with the Giants.. Or maybe he'll take the Skins job is offered.. Spagnuolo apparently went to New York and accepted a number of his assistants already hand picked when he took over as coordinator, so I suppose there is reason to believe he would be satisifed with the coordinators that have already been chosen here if he were to take over as head coach..

Steve Mariucci is not out of the running, but according to people I spoke with inside the organization, is viewed as behind Jim Fassel for the job.. So it appears there are three possibilities here, Fassel (unpopular among the masses) but was on board with the coordinator hirings and may have been named coach ten days ago had there not been a adverse reaction..
Spagnuolo likely gets it if he impresses Snyder today and wants to bolt New York for what would be his first head coaching gig..
Ron Meeks is still in play and is well liked, but like Fassel hasn't been offered the job, so the wait continues for him..

Snyder said that no candidate seemed overly concerned with having to follow in Joe Gibbs's footsteps but said it has been a topic of discussion.. As for Gregg Williams, Snyder only would say that "he's a good guy, but we felt it was not the right fit for the team and we wish him well." It was his first public comment since Williams was jettisoned out of Washington, and while it was vague, it reads to me that personality clashes were the likely reason..

New Odds: Jim Fassel 50%, Steve Spagnuolo, 30%, Ron Meeks 15%, Steve Mariucci 3%, Rabbitt out of the hat 2%

OK men

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

January 5-- Dan Snyder Interview tomorrow! Art/DG honored

Who knew the Art Monk//Darrell Green press conference would become a roast.. It was a light hearted afternoon where Monk spoke openly about how much the community and the Redskins mean to him and Green taking a more light take on his induction as a first ballot Hall of Famer..

Green and Monk are very close, more close then I ever knew.. He said that Desiree Monk (Art's wife) is indeed his aunt.. And the old jokes started flowing after that.. Monk said when he came to the Redskins he was not given feathers on his helmet because back then you had to earn them.. Green kidded Monk by saying "back when I was playing, we already had feathers on our helmets."
Many Redskin greats were in attendance including Hall of Famers Sam Huff and Charley Taylor.. Brian Mitchell, Joe Jacoby, Ken Harvey, Dexter Manley, Mark Moseley, Brian Mitchell, Roy Jefferson were among the guests..

Monk admitted he had a letter written to the Hall of Fame where he was going to ask to be taken off the list of finalists had he not gotten in because the spoiled expectations of seven years waiting had gotten to him.. I spoke to Dan Snyder who said he had written a letter to the Hall last year and "took a lot of grief for it," chiding the selectors for not inducting a man he believed was one of the best receivers in league history.. I asked the owner about the Hogs and he said he spoke with Russ Grimm and said he will continue to lobby for inclusion of a representative of one of the best offensive lines in league history..

I spoke with Mr. Snyder one on one, an interview about both the Hall and the ongoing head coaching search, that will air today on Redskins Radio from Redskins Park at Noon.. He commented on Gregg Williams leaving the organization and a search that has gone longer then even he expected.. Check it out..

February 5-- I can't believe the Giants are champs

I've got a couple of hours to kill before Art Monk and Darrell Green get their Redskin Park press conference to celebrate their induction into the Hall of Fame, so I found myself checking out the Giants parade in Manhattan and then it dawned on me: This might be the most unlikely champion in the history of the NFL..

I couldn't help but think back to the week 15 game in the Meadowlands where the Insane Todd Collins posse was born as the Skins back-up quarterback was dusted off and led the Skins to a must win against the Giants.. This was the last meaningful loss of the season for New York..

Lets put aside who they beat in the Super Bowl for just a second.. That night, after the Skins won 22-10, I was on the team plane openly talking about the distinct possibility that the Giants would loss out and that would be the Skins best way into the postseason. They had games at Buffalo and versus unbeaten New England left on the schedule.. We all assumed the Pats would win which left the Giants in a must win in what turned out to be a blizzard..

While New England beat them (which now looks like the best loss of all time), New York appeared to have none of the attributes of a Super Bowl champ.. No NFC team had ever reached the championship game after playing 3 road playoff games.. So the team that was out of their division race by week 13, was now only playing for one of the two wild card spots.. The teams they would face in their final three games were teams they went 0-4 against in the regular season, 0-3 at home.
They ended up 3-5 in the Meadowlands. Their quarterback (maybe the most unlikely Super Bowl MVP) had a completion percentage under 60%. Of the top 30 quarterbacks, only five didn't hit the 60% benchmark, among them; Cleo Lemon and Trent Edwards.

The Giants ended up in 23rd in passing offense, their total O ranked 16th, middle of the pack. Their defense while leading the league in sacks and ranked 7th overall in yards allowed (which equates to overall ranking) was giving up over 22 points a game, that ranked them 17th in the league. They were 20th in interceptions and because Eli was among the worst in the league for interceptions thrown, it added up to a horrendous -9 in the turnover margin stat.

So a team that gave the ball away more then they took it away, was mediocre at best on offense and aboved average in certain aspects of D, but below average in scoring defense was the team who beat the best two teams in the NFC on the road and ended the league's best team who was only going for history.

Yet throughout all three of those playoff wins, the Giants certainly outplayed their opponents. This was no fluke, unless you consider a 6 week period a fluke. Eli was far from even being considered a pro bowl quarterback, after the playoffs, he was certainly playing at an MVP calliber. They were easily the more physical team in their wins, their scoring defense and lack of turnovers suggested this was not the case for the bulk of the season.
And they not only beat New England, they beat them on a neutral field when they were incapable of defeating them on their home turf just a month earlier. They held the league's highest scoring team in the history of the game to a season low 14 points. A team also known in recent years for choking leads and seasons for that matter, became the most clutch team in the league for a month..

All of this adds up to one obvious glaring truth about the NFL, parody makes this league the most unpredictable of any of the professional team sports. I would have given 100-1 odds after that December game between the Skins and Giants that New York would WIN the Super Bowl let alone get there.
2 of the last 3 years, a five seed or lower won the championship both of them playing 3 road games en route to the title. The Giants got no breaks on their way facing the highest possible seeds each subsequent round and yet they never reverted to the more unpredictable team they were earlier this season. It makes me wonder, had the Giants lost the Bills game and snuck into the playoffs as the 6 seed, would they have beaten Seattle with all the crowd noise? Would the Skins have beaten those same teams the Giants did. Certainly, you could have made more of a case for Washington wunning that table having beaten Dallas and having had true near misses with Green Bay, Tampa Bay and the Cowboys earlier in the season.

In the end, maybe they aren't the most unlikely champion. Maybe there just is no such thing as a favorite anymore. Or maybe the Giants are great, they just decided not to show it until it mattered most..

OK men..

February 5-- One interview to go!

Steve Spagnuolo, defensive coordinator of the Super Bowl champion Giants will meet with owner Dan Snyder today (or at least that is expected).. Snyder is supposed to be at Redskin Park today for a 5PM news conference to honor the newly inducted Hall of Famers Art Monk and Darrell Green, so the interview process figures to go into Wednesday..
Patriots cherubic offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will not interview for the job..

So assuming Snyder does the same due dilligence with Spags then I expect no decision to come before Thursday, but I'm expecting a decision to be made and possibly, if contractual negotiations go well, a new coach by the weekend..

So lets give some odds again: Steve Mariucci 30%, he just fits, west coast O, knows Vinny, knows Blatche, has a "Redskin Candidate" resume and name and won't be roundly criticized if he gets the job.. Spgas 30%, after shutting down the best offense ever to win an unlikely championship, it's hard not to think he's the right guy for the job.. He also has intimate knowledge of both the Eagles and Giants which makes him attractive, no one says a bad word about him, yet..
Jim Fassel 20%, the guy who was in line but then everyone in Washington acted as if Snyder about the give the keys to the car to OJ..
Ron Meeks 19%, Snyder went out of his way to say how much he likes Meeks to my man Paul Woody over the weekend so to dismiss him would be foolish.. He has coached here before, he has had success in Indy helping an undersized D become relevent, and well two interviews has to mean something..
1%, Bill Cowher/Pete Carroll/The Ghost of Paul Halas/or just someone we haven't heard about..

OK men