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Redskins fans should root for Ravens

Jan 7, 2009, 8:55 AM EDT

If fans of the Washington Redskins are looking for a rooting interest in the NFL playoffs, they should look about 32 miles to the north of FedEx Field to M&T Bank Stadium.

They should think purple.

Yes, Redskins fans should be rooting for the Baltimore Ravens to win the Super Bowl.

I know that the idea is anywhere from repulsive to uncomfortable to most. It’s just not natural to want to root for the team from the neighboring city. It certainly doesn’t feel right to me, although the feeling is more towards uneasy and less towards physically ill.

But Redskins fans should set aside such feelings out of pure self-interest.


Stick with me here. This is about Dan Snyder and the mix of insecurity, jealousy, and competitive fire that drives him.

Should the Ravens win the Super Bowl that will make two titles in the time that Snyder has owned the Redskins. Two titles in a period of time when Snyder’s team has won a grand total of two playoff games. Two titles in a period of time during which anyone associated with Snyder’s team would have to buy a ticket to attend so much as a conference championship game.

The Redskins owner clearly would be the owner of the inferior team in the region. It wouldn’t even be debatable. Actually, it’s not debatable that the Ravens are the superior team and organization right now, even if they were to lose to the Titans this weekend, but another championship would convince even those wearing glasses with lenses of the deepest shades of burgundy and gold of that fact.

It might even convince those with a vested interest in the way the Redskins do business to reconsider the way things work in Ashburn.

The Redskins and the Ravens couldn’t be more different when it comes to football operations. Baltimore owner Steve Bisciotti offers encouragement and signs checks but otherwise stays out of the way. He lets Ozzie Newsome, his fine, talented general manager, draft the players and make the other player personnel decisions.

Snyder also offers encouragement and signs checks but he does not otherwise stay out of the way. While the extent of his involvement in player personnel decisions is unclear, the fact that he’s involved at all is not good. Vinny Cerrato, one of the least talented and respected men in an NFL GM-type role, has some authority and that also is not good.

The Ravens, by and large, build through the draft and they build from the lines out. The Redskins think flashy skill players first and their plan for building consists of whatever seems like a good idea at the time.

The Ravens, in other words, have the traditional NFL setup and build in the traditional NFL way. The methods are traditional because they work.

Should there be a parade in downtown Baltimore in early February, Snyder would look up north with that mix of jealousy and desire to win. Steve Bisciotti holding up the Lombardi Trophy would be a life-altering moment for him. It would force him to take a serious look at the way he does things.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and Snyder would be loathe to flatter the Ravens by immediately restructuring the Redskins organization and revamping its philosophy. But certainly a Ravens title would be a hard nudge in that direction and that would be a positive development.

  1. David Alison - Jan 7, 2009 at 11:22 AM

    Interesting perspective on that Rich; I never would have thought getting behind the Ravens would make sense but anything that shakes up Dan Snyder and makes him realize that his model is not working sounds good to me!

  2. William Warshauer - Jan 7, 2009 at 11:46 AM

    Keep it up Rich. I think this column may be overly optimistic (not sure Snyder changes his approach no matter what) but you remain one of the most interesting and insightful commentators on the Skins.

  3. Joe in Raleigh - Jan 7, 2009 at 1:17 PM

    You really think Cerrato is one of the least talented personnel people? Ouch. I was trying to hold on to some optimism that he was a decent personnel guy who’s been on a short leash.

  4. Redskins in 09 - Jan 7, 2009 at 1:52 PM

    Keep up the good work Rich. Very interesting. I agree with almost all of this except the notion that has gained great currency despite no real data backing it up: that the Ravens like all good teams build from the lines out.

    They have drafted two qbs in the first round in the last five years. They have drafted lbs in the first round. They have drafted safeties. Many of the lineman are actually late-round picks.

    The fact of the matter is that good teams keep their draft picks, draft well, develop young cheap talent, and re-sign some of them only using FA to supplement.

    But this applies to all positions. There is no magic to offensive and defensive lines. Look at Buffalo this year. Look at the Redskins in 2006 when they had one of the best o-lines in the league and one of the worst records (5-11).

    There is some evidence from football outsiders that certain positions (lt, qb, cb) are more pedigreed than others in terms of you need to draft them high. But generally not so guards and centers and d-tackles.

    In short, we must draft and draft well at all positions.

  5. Skudge - Jan 7, 2009 at 2:44 PM

    I thought I was reading Jason La Canfora just now.

    Look, I agree that the Redskins front office has been a mess, and that Daniel Snyder has had enormous downsides as an owner. I’m not even going to defend him.

    But if the Giants win, that’s two wins in a row, in the same division as the Redskins. That’s just as telling.

    If the Chargers win, that’s the combined handiwork of Marty Schottenheimer and Norv Turner. Names that probably blow a blood vessel in Snyder’s head upon their utterance.

    But then again, we’re undefeated against the Cardinals and Eagles. And they both won in the first round. So what does that say?

    The Ravens are good, but they have been very very bad. And they’re not particularly good this year for any reason that damns the Redskins. Would you trade Flacco for Campbell? Would you have preferred Harbaugh over Zorn? Their lines are better, but only marginally, and did bring Jason Taylor aboard, so it’s not like we ignored the lines completely.

    The Ravens exist because of defense. And I submit that one of the major factors in the Ravens success is Ed Reed all by himself. And, even there, the Redskins HAD a budding Ed Reed, once. Would our D have been on par with theirs, with our own superstar and the different personnel moves that would not have been required to fill his void? Maybe.

    I would LOVE to see Vinny dropped in favor of a seasoned hand. And I would LOVE to see Snyder take a backseat. But I would also love for what they are doing to work. I would love for Vinny’s organization to be vindicated, and for Snyder to win on his terms.

    For me, I just want to see the Skins win. And I don’t particularly care for the idea of rooting for another team just because it would bug the hell out of the people who run my team.

    If we want Snyder to make changes, then I think the way to go is to make consistent reasoned observations on where the team has gone wrong and where another decision would have been better. That’s why JLC’s approach burns me so much. If all we’re ever doing is saying that Vinny is bad, without ever saying precisely what the man has done wrong, we’re not making a strong case for anything.

  6. grandweepers - Jan 7, 2009 at 11:47 PM

    Skudge, You lost me at “Their lines are only marginally better.”

  7. allen - Jan 8, 2009 at 1:53 PM

    Thanks Rich and everyone who has posted so far – it’s been very interesting to hear different perspectives. To me, the O-line is the team’s number 1 priority. Our D-line is not good, but at least the secondary makes the overall defense respectable. Our offense is not, however. Yet, we have a good TE and RB, and I still think Moss is good. It is impossible to tell how good Campbell can or will be at this moment because he simply does not get the time to throw, and since every QB looks average at best when playing against a significant pass rush, I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt. Let’s build that line!

  8. Danny Z. - Jan 9, 2009 at 5:10 PM

    Why is it supposedly etched in stone that football owners know nothing about how to run the business they own. What other business is that the case? I’m not saying that Snyder hasn’t made some dumb decisions, but what General Manager hasn’t?

    Let’s also not forget about the draft where Marty ran the show. The 2001 draft was probably the worst draft since Snyder bought the team. Rod Gardner was our first round pick for God’s sake. If Snyder had his choice that year, we probably would have picked Santana Moss. Fred Smoot in the 2nd round? A so-so cornerback, but not worth a 2nd round pick. Sage Rosenfels, Darnerien McCants, and Mario Monds rounded out Marty’s draft.

    I still remember yelling at the TV screen for Marty to pick Steve Hutchinson, who was picked 2 slots later by the Seahawks. Think of the O-Line we could have had.

  9. lagloriacubano - Jan 11, 2009 at 7:03 PM

    while i don’t think danny boy could ever be told anything, i copied this to all my redskins and ravens fans… LOVE the team…HATE the owner! Archives

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