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Need to Know: What else do the Redskins need to do to become successful?

Jan 11, 2015, 6:47 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, January 11, 58 days before free agency starts for the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL.

Question of the day

We’re changing up the format of Need to Know for the offseason. Every day I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

So the Redskins now have a sharp, talented GM in charge of player personnel. So do most other teams. How does this give them any sort of edge over the teams in their division and in the rest of the NFL?

The short answer is, it doesn’t. Scot McCloughan may be “the NFL’s best talent scout” as he was dubbed in the ESPN magazine article but that can only take you so far. It’s what they do from here on out that will determine if the Redskins become a successful franchise or if they continue to flounder.

What do they need to do? They need to have a plan (the easy part) and stick to it (the hard part). Building through the draft is not an option. It’s the one and only one way to build a proven winner. The Redskins need to avoid the temptation to think that they’re close if they get to, say, 8-8. It’s OK to pick up a key free agent here and there, especially late in the process. You have to know when to pull the trigger on a cheap free agent like Michael Bennett to the Seahawks and it’s fine to spend big on a Darrelle Revis, but not until that player is the guy you need to push you to the top, not when you are trying to climb out of the division cellar year after year.

When it comes to the actual draft, again, the good teams have a plan and stick to it. The Seahawks know what a Seahawk looks like, what he acts like. Ditto for the Patriots and Packers. The Redskins don’t really have an identity on either side of the ball so they try to get good football players. It’s a sometimes subtle but important difference.

There has to be some luck involved as well. The famed “Patriot Way” would not work as well had Tom Brady not been available in the sixth round of the draft. The Seahawks gambled that Russell Wilson would still be there in the third round of the 2012 draft. He was. The Packers had to wait until 23 other teams passed on Aaron Rodgers before they could take him in the 2005 draft.

But those quarterbacks came in to systems that were build for success already because the organizations had stuck to the plan and because the continue to do so. My high school coach used to like to say that luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. The more a team sticks to its plan and its core philosophy, the luckier it is.


—It’s been 14 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 245 days until they play another one

Days until: NFL free agency starts 58; 2015 NFL Draft 109

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

  1. Mr Hart - Jan 11, 2015 at 7:45 AM

    Well said. 20 years of losing is a long time to over come. Look at the Raiders. They have a real GM now and still show very little signs of becoming good. We are..of course..closer to being the Raiders than San Francisco. Patience is needed. Gullible Redskins fan bet me $300 we would win the division next year after we hired Scot. Reality sucks.

    • charley42 - Jan 11, 2015 at 11:29 AM

      Sounds like easy money….how many bets did you do?

      • Mr Hart - Jan 11, 2015 at 4:46 PM

        It was just him. Im a redskins fan. But im realistic.

    • Joe Greene - Jan 11, 2015 at 6:22 PM

      The Raiders have a real GM now? McKenzie has gotten a few picks right, but he’s fortunate to not be out of a job.

  2. jb - Jan 11, 2015 at 8:17 AM

    good artical rich.. really like what you said about your high school coach, that really times it all together.. keep up the good work.. #HTTR# Do you think orakpo gets another shot with the redskins? think he still has alot in the tank but at the right price.

  3. geekymba - Jan 11, 2015 at 9:33 AM

    What else should the Redskins do? Well, three things come to mind:

    1. Most importantly: hire a trainer / conditioning coach with a proven technique for limiting injuries. Year-over-year the Redskins have far too many players on IR. Can’t be all bad luck. Conditioning plays a critical role.

    2. Fix that horrible field at FexEd. I know the grounds team worked to improve the field after the 2012 season, but its still awful, and players consistently vote it among the worst playing surfaces in the NFL.

    3. Ban any reporter, broadcaster, media rep who makes an issue of the Redskins name. If Phil Simms refuses to say “Redskins,” then CBS will need a different color commentator for games at FedEx field. The Redskins need to take back control of this issue by putting down their foot and saying the discussion is over, and ignoring / banning anyone who brings up the subject. Enough of this absurd distraction.

    • ezg1 - Jan 11, 2015 at 10:09 PM

      geekymba, You’re Hired!

    • ezg1 - Jan 11, 2015 at 10:09 PM

      geekymba, You’re Hired!

    • skinsgame - Jan 13, 2015 at 5:19 AM

      I quit going to the Washington Post site after their editors began declining to use the team name in op-eds. That is when I started coming to this site. Not a single click from me now. Too bad more folks don’t do it.

  4. recoveringparalegal - Jan 11, 2015 at 9:41 AM

    Great analysis, Rich. The problem is that we know what Redskins look like. Me-guys with a desire to take it easy, even if it means mediocrity, who would rather have money than success, and who will always make the fatal mistake when it counts most.

  5. goback2rfk - Jan 11, 2015 at 10:03 AM

    1) Lower the beer price at FedEx Field Mr. Dan Snyder.

    2) Serve fresh beer not past its expiration date.

    3) If you are going to have practices, meetings, etc. during the offseason and such, do not charge for parking Mr. Snyder. Do not make the event free but then charge $20 for parking, that is ridiculous.

    4) And be more vocal Mr. Snyder, you talk every now and then but since you have called a lot of the shots in the past why not come out and tell everyone why we suck so much in your opinion. Jerry Jones runs off at the mouth all the time. He even said, “Tony Romo deserves a SuperBowl win cause he is that good.” Romo deserves no such thing.

    5) Give the crowds more free stuff in a way to apologize for sucking so bad. I should get a gift bag every-time I walk into FedEx field. Free Redskins shirt, a pen, a brew mug, something… Time to pony up Snyder.

    6) Quit all the locker room drama and the stupid anonymous reports from anonymous players thing. If the players cant get along, get rid of the trouble makers.

  6. mr.moneylover - Jan 11, 2015 at 10:09 AM

    Hire a aggressive DC like jim schwartz he fix Detroit defense he fix the bills defense why not the redskins ??? Hes one the reason why the redskins wanted to wait to name a new DC cause they wanted to interview him and rex ryan reporting that hes bringing in his guy to be his new DC he dont want jim schwartz

    • Joe Greene - Jan 11, 2015 at 6:26 PM

      Does anyone have any idea what this says?

      Schwartz is a dirty coach who encourages dirty play. He “improved” the Bills D from #10 to #4. They were already a good, young D before he showed up.

  7. bigkev7176 - Jan 11, 2015 at 10:20 AM

    What do you think of Dick LeBeau leaving Pittsburgh and of course whats on everyones mind. Is he now the front runner for the DC job in Washington?
    I wasnt very keen on getting an older person for the job i.e. wade philllips but now that LeBeau is available and he says he is not retiring maybe we can take a chance. I know the last couple years in pittsburgh the defense wasnt as strong as it is known for but maybe he was tired of being there and with a new team it could rejuvenate him.I believe bringing him in with a young assistant to teach would be a great asset to the Redskins. What do you think?

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 12, 2015 at 9:39 AM

      Good topic. Unless someone hires LeBeau in the next couple of days will hit on it one morning this week.

  8. jscx3 - Jan 11, 2015 at 12:12 PM

    I like the idea of Lebeau, but his age worries me. On the other side him saying resigning not retiring is intriguing . Maybe he feels like he wants a new challenge . I would love his imput for two seasons, and have a predecessor in place. All in all who ever they get needs to be able to inspire and lead. Haz just didn’t seem to have that, be able to get everything out of everybody. Gruden needs to hire someone he can gel with, be on the same page. If that can happen my feeling is that the new team being drafted will buy. One of the things that I loved what the new GM said was that we are going to train them to be Redskins. Have them buy in from day 1 make winning a priority not money. Bring back the tradition and pride that we remember.

  9. Steven Morrow - Jan 11, 2015 at 1:01 PM

    Washington needs new ownership.

    • c m - Jan 11, 2015 at 1:52 PM

      New ownership alone won’t fix it. Sometimes one needs to clean out the fridge and take out the trash.

      Other times, the fridge itself is the problem and it’s quicker, easier and cheaper in the long run to replace it and the food in it.

      We are at the latter’s point with regard to the Redskins. Even if they got a new owner and management /coaching staff, the mess and disarray of players and other issues are too far gone to reverse now.

      The Redskins need disbanding. All the players traded, retired or cut. The management and coaching staff gone as well as the owner. The stadium sold, logos, colors, etc, retired.

      After all that, Washington should then start a new team. New name, new players, new colors, new stadium in the district proper along WMATA’s Metrorail system so public transportation can make it more accessible, and finally new staff and a new owner.

      Will that shatter the fan base and polarize them? Yes. Will they root for other teams? Some of them, most certainly. Will it be better for the NFL and the fans in the long run? Very much yes.

      If a boss of a company had underperforming employees and couldn’t fix them or cheaper to hire mew ones and start over, he’d fire the underperformers.

      If one had a car that always broke down despite attempts to fix it, or catastrophic failure of a vital, expensive component, one would replace the car with a better car and start over.

      If one lived in a house that always had structural issues or other expensive issues with its habitabilty, and couldn’t afford to fix it or more trouble than its worth to fix, one would move to better housing.

      Why would Redskins fans continue to put up with a sub part team and all attempts to make better have failed?

      Sometimes it’s best in the long run throw out the fridge bad food and all and start over with new.

      • Rich Tandler - Jan 11, 2015 at 2:18 PM

        A rather ambitious plan, c m. I’ve never heard an NFL team compare to a refrigerator.

  10. Jeffre M Beland - Jan 11, 2015 at 1:50 PM

    Rich, can you please explain in some detail of the daily operations that Snyder controls or has input on with player personal? I for one thinks he gets a bad rap for his early mistakes. Fans an media portray him as a villain which cares nothing more than being an evil entity power hungry. Thanks

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 11, 2015 at 2:19 PM

      Sure can’t. Nobody else can either. Everyone who say Snyder meddles is guessing. Everyone who says he doesn’t is guessing.

  11. shermanp79 - Jan 11, 2015 at 2:51 PM

    This last hiring was a big thing. The rest is staying consistent from this point forward. No more friendships ruling the way. Let everyone perform what they do best. That includes the players. Hold everyone accountable for their performance, things are earned. I would run a tighter ship with stuff getting out. If they have to, ban all social media. In fact I would do it when offseason workouts start. That mess has created chaos over the past few years. Let everyone speak to start TC then once at the end. Then demand silence week 1 of the season. Keep them focused on the field. It works in NE, some may not like it but it is needed.

  12. James Bridges - Jan 12, 2015 at 8:29 AM

    What if Marvin Lewis becomes available, hey he use to be a DC here any way I think Dick Lebeau would be a good choice to or where is Mike Singletary, or Greg Williams to more good choices for DC.

  13. polofourme - Jan 12, 2015 at 1:48 PM

    Five things need to be done in no particular order, 1. find a competent DC to switch the D back to run a 4-3, 2. fire McVay as OC he has outlived his utility and Gruden needs not only to be able to hire his own DC, what a novel thought but to also hire his own OC. 3. Snyder has to stay out of the way of his new GM and HC and I mean ALL THE WAY OUT OF THE PICTURE. 4. We absolutely have to have as priority number 1!, bring in a qualified NFL caliber QB who can run Grudens entire playbook, period. And finally, 5. and to me the critical decision of the off season, Griffin has to go. We can not have another season with all the drama around Griffin eroding the team and the locker room. SM might be saying all the right things about Griffin but if he is on the roster by the time OTAs begin and we do not bring in a qualified QB, and I would take a journey man QB who can run the O in the short term, then this team will back to square one. Griffin simply has to go to clear the dead wood out of the roster and he is the biggest piece of dead wood on this team. Now is anyone going to listen to me..not a chance but IMO if I don’t see these kinds of things being done, then IMO this team isn’t headed anywhere but down next season.

    • murphsman - Jan 13, 2015 at 4:40 PM

      Who is a qualified QB in your opinion? We know you never liked RGIII. You want Grossman back? Lol Archives

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