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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