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Spags Says No, and I Defend Snyder


Man, I'm really hitting rock bottom with this post. (AP Photo)

Wow, defending Daniel Snyder and Gary Williams in the same day. Tremendous. Next up: the Lerners, West Virginia fans and Brandon Lloyd. Oh wait....

Anyhow, Spags and his hair-cutting wife have bowed out, just as Sally Jenkins recommended, to blogging delight. Now I don't want to speak to Mr. Snyder's leadership skills, or people skills, or public relations skills, or media manipulation skills, or fan-treatment skills, or parking-lot-pricing skills. Like you, I don't get any great pleasure from reading stories about when Mr. Snyder fired Norv ("It's all about winning," Snyder said at the time. "We assembled the best team we could put together. At this point we just really needed to make a change, driven with what I call some serious leadership.") And I really don't want to read endless comments from Mr. Snyder's fans attacking the Washington City Paper, although Lord knows I can't stop hitting refresh.

All I want to point out is this: In the nine years Snyder has owned this team, his regular season record is 68-76, and his teams have made three playoff appearances. Both are below average; both could be called mediocre at best. However, by my very quick and rough count, over those nine years, 12 NFL teams have a worse record (or, in Houston's case, a worse winning percentage) than Mr. Snyder's Redskins, and 16 NFL teams have the same number or fewer playoff appearances. The closest equivalents to this resume of mild mediocrity would be the Bears (71-73, three playoff appearances), the Dolphins (70-74, three playoff appearances), the Panthers (67-77, two playoff appearances) and the Cowboys (64-80, four playoff appearances).

Does that record really necessitate running away a head coaching job? I mean, we're not talking about the Lions here. We're not talking about the Cardinals. We're talking about a slightly below-average franchise with a meddling and alienating owner whose team has nevertheless made the playoffs in two of the past three years, and came a lot closer to sweeping the Super Bowl champs this season than vice versa. It doesn't exactly seem like working for a Haitian porn site to me.

By Dan Steinberg  |  February 7, 2008; 12:34 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Comments

Sure, Snyder's Redskins are only slightly below average in the win-loss/playoff appearance department, but they must be leading the league in coaching changes. Not counting Robiskie, Fassel (or whomever) will be the fifth head coach since '99. Pretty, pretty bad.

Posted by: Jamie Mottram | February 7, 2008 1:13 PM | Report abuse

You don't mean to be saying that the firing of Norv Turner was an error, do you? Surely no one thinks that we would have been better off keeping Norv Turner because once every ten years he produces a playoff team?

The firing of Schottenheimer can definitely be second-guessed, but let's bear in mind that Schottenheimer had alienated a lot of the team by then. Also, a whole lot of the people criticizing Snyder today thought the hiring of Spurrier was a fantastic idea at the time.

And let's also remember that this "meddling, alienating owner" opens his checkbook for his coaches freely; he's no cheapskate. That doesn't always work out obviously, but that's been as much a fault of the football guys' judgment as it is a failing of Snyder's.

Posted by: Tom T. | February 7, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Just to be clear, by "you" I meant Dan, not Jamie.

Posted by: Tom T. | February 7, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Tom T.: Remember, I'm defending Snyder here! If I were a coach, I'd take his money, that's for sure. I'm not saying he should have kept Norv; just that the quote seems funny, in retrospect, since his search for "serious leadership" eventually led him to Steve Spurrier.

Jamie: Since '99, not counting interims, the Bills, Jets, Cardinals, Falcons, Cowboys, Lions and Redskins have all had four head coaches. The Dolphins and Raiders have had five.

Consistency is fine and all, but look at the longest tenured coaches in the league: Mike Shanahan (since '95), Jeff Fisher since '94). Both have one playoff appearance over the past three years. The Skins have two.

Posted by: Dan Steinberg | February 7, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

@ Tom T.: Yes, Norv was grandfathered in. But Schotty got one year, went 8-8 and wascanned to make way for Spurrier. So, all told, Danny's 1-for-3 on head coaches, with the one being Gibbs, which was a no-brainer.

@ Steinz: End points are fun. They made the playoffs twice in the past three years? So what? They've made it three times since '92. And, the point about other teams having a lot of coaches only solidifies my (and Jenkins') point: the Skins are tied with the dregs of the league -- Miami and Oakland -- when it comes to hiring and firing head coaches.

Posted by: Jamie Mottram | February 7, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Tom T: Firing Norv during the season WAS a mistake. Whatever chance we had of making the playoffs was gone when Snyder fired him.
Marty might have alienated Snyder, but not the players. Snyder regretted giving him so much power to Marty, and he was willing let a winning coach go in order for Danny to get back into the thick of things.

Also, yeah he's willing to drop the cash, but ultimately who is the one footing the bill - the fans.

Letting Marty go was the biggest mistake he made. We started out badly with Marty, but by years end, we had a dominant team, even with Tony Banks at QB. We used to get the ball in the 4th quarter and just beat up teams, and run the clock. Below is a recap of the last five games of Marty's tenure here.

Phila - Get the ball with 9:30 and run it all the way down to 30 seconds and score a TD

Denver - Get the ball with 8:30 run it down to 2:48 and score the game winning TD

Seattle - Just beat them up early and late

Giants - Get the ball with 7, score a TD immediately, then get the ball back with 4 minutes and run out the clock

Carolina - Get the ball with 7 minutes, down 7, one play 85 yards TD. Then we get the ball with 5 minutes left, and drive it all the way down to 0.36 seconds left and Conway misses a 32 yard field goal. IN OT get the ball on the coin flip and drive down and kick field goal.

Posted by: Ted | February 7, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

To follow up Jamie's point, no one would have had a problem if they'd kept Greggggg and pared back Saunders. Yes, they made the playoffs 2 of the last 3 years, so how and why do wholesale changes make any sense at all, unless it's just Snyder flexing his muscles?

The other point that hasn't been mentioned too much is what this does to pursuing free agents. I guess they'll go where the money is, but if given a choice between a similar .500 or so team with a consistent regime and one where they don't know from year to year who the coordinator will be and what the strategy is, I'd go for the former.

Posted by: Larry Bird Flu | February 7, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Jamie, at the risk of sparking a "get a room you two" response, I'll just say it wouldn't make sense to hold anything pre-'99 against Snyder.

And so we come back to three playoff berths in nine years. With 12 of the league's 32 teams making the postseason, you'd expect every team to have 3.375 berths per nine years. I just don't think that missing 0.375th of a berth is that terrible.

Posted by: Dan Steinberg | February 7, 2008 2:50 PM | Report abuse

@ Dan, which is exactly why I said it was their playoff appearance record is "slightly below average" ... which still isn't any f---ing good!

Seriously, I admire the attempt to defend the indefensible. And I'll continue rooting for the Skins, so I'm the schmuck.

Posted by: Jamie Mottram | February 7, 2008 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Also amazing to me is how quickly Snyder forfeited the goodwill he built up after Taylor's death. Took him about nearly 10 years to make people like him and find him charitable, and just like that he blew it.

Posted by: Larry Bird Flu | February 7, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Is membership to a Haitain porn site cheaper than my Redskin season tickets?

Hmmmm, need to ponder this.

Posted by: the_squire | February 7, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Please, what nonsense. The goal isn't to "make the playoffs." The goal is to win the Super Bowl. This is the Washington Redskins we're talking about, not the Arizona Cardinals. And the fact is that Danny Boy has owned the team for almost ten years now and they mired in mediocrity. Not to mention that Danny Boy is a most unlikable human being (to use the team human being loosely) who takes every chance he can to alientate and screw the fans. Defending him isn't really too smart.

Posted by: Jim | February 7, 2008 5:34 PM | Report abuse

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