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Feelings About Vinny

As I wrote at length after the Zorn hiring, this is the Vinny Cerrato era, not the Jim Zorn era. He is in charge, hiring and firing PR people, devising new media guidelines, overseeing spending, setting a draft strategy. It's all him - he hired Zorn, was the voice behind promoting Blache, even chose the defensive line coach. He put in a West Coast Offense. He altered the front office structure, promoting Scott Campbell over Louis Riddick, firing one of their top pro scouts, moving Don Breaux to advance scouting from coaching.

Everything they have done the last 3 months is covered in his prints.

So, put the credit and blame with him. Personally, I think it's too early to start assigning a grade to him (plenty of time for that ahead, though, for sure), but was wondering if what he's done thus far has made any of you more comfortable with him being at the helm? Less comfortable? No change?

The rest of the league is watching, and it will be very interesting to see how well he does in this position, how long his tenure lasts in this new role and if he is able to improve his reputation around the NFL. As I wrote back in January, he's seen as a true GM by his peers now, and for better or worse the finger will be pointed his way.

By Jason La Canfora  |  April 2, 2008; 8:59 AM ET
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Next: Zorn's Breakfast Club



Greetings from Germany HTTR

Posted by: redskins | April 2, 2008 9:09 AM | Report abuse

If he is truly a GM, why doesn't he have the title?

Posted by: RedDMV | April 2, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Most of us have been waving the finger at Vinny for years -- will pointing it at him be more effective?

Posted by: NateinthePDX | April 2, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I actually do feel better about this off season. There seems to be some direction. even in the Gibbs 2.0 era, I always felt like not everyone was on the same page.

Let's hope for the best.

Posted by: Original_etrod | April 2, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Vinny has been the defacto GM for years. At least now with his new title, he can no longer hide from his decisions. I hope he has success.

Posted by: jimwell | April 2, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

i think it's too early to tell but I have a feeling that not getting at least one WR will hurt the skins down the road. knowing their luck Hackett will have a break out year........

Posted by: dadanimal | April 2, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I like the fact that the skins have a point man now. I think that bodes well for the future.

Also, here are few snippets from the transcript of a conversation Dan Synder had with the other Washington,DC paper.

Q: It seems that you have had a real change of philosophy in two major areas this year: not spending in free agency and hiring an inexperienced head coach. What brought this on?

A: Let me start with the free agency. We're always going to be active.

The unusual aspect of this season is the fact that we felt that the free agent availabilities out there was thin. I think a lot of people felt that way. Having said that, we felt that when we graded our players, we were more comfortable within than ever. Over the past couple of years, we put together some pretty good depth. Vinny (Cerrato) deserves a lot of credit for that along with Joe (Gibbs). We had a lot of injuries last year. We were third or fourth in the league in games missed. We looked at a few free agents, but we feel very comfortable where we are. Having said that, we're never going to change our philosophy of being aggressive whether it's through trades of draft picks or players.

Q: So signing no free agents and having nine draft picks isn't a trend?

A: Not necessarily. It's a point of where we are. We're at a good place from a franchise perspective. We're at a place where the organization has a great deal of stability. The roster is on the younger side of football. Our starting running back is 26. Our quarterback just turned 26. We're by far not the oldest team anymore. We've got good depth coming up.

Q: There were places where you can use depth: outside linebacker, a big receiver, and you didn't do anything. Given your history in free agency, you can understand why people are shocked that you haven't signed anyone and only brought in one free agent for a visit. You haven't even signed a Jason Fabini-type.

A: This year's Jason Fabini was Jason Fabini because we re-signed him.

H.B. Blades is our fourth linebacker, and we thought we'd be better off with adding another linebacker in the draft than in free agency. We made a run at [receiver D.J. Hackett, who signed with Carolina] and tried to do some things. The backups generally come after the draft.

And we're fortunate that we have three compensatory picks in this draft, so we have a pretty solid hand of picks (nine). That's a big number for us.

Q: So what are you going to do with $7 million in salary cap space? You won't spend that all on the rookies.
A: We always use our cap space. We'll use it. We'll see what happens in the availability of trades. Our phones are always open. I think we're going to be active. I always want to get better. We're not complacent. We just feel comfortable in a lot of areas on the field.

Posted by: marlonjohn | April 2, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

* beep beep *

Posted by: NateinthePDX | April 2, 2008 9:29 AM | Report abuse

No complaints regarding the offseason moves, or lack thereof. This team made the playoffs last year, which means we don't need a roster overhaul or a locker room cancer just because we can afford him.

It's amazing to hear people complain that we didn't sign D.J. Hackett. Have you looked at his numbers? He's been a disappointment since entering the league. Always on the cusp of a breakout much potential. Hmmm. Sounds a lot like that ultimate fighter we once had. Michael Westbrook, that's right!

I'm also very glad we got rid of Saunders. His offense is designed for average players and we have too much talent to try to out-scheme other teams. Get the ball in the hands of our playmakers and let them win games. Saunders was Gregg Williams two years ago...all scheme, which negates the obvious talent advantage. I'm excited for a different offense that allows our players to do what they're paid (highly) to do.

Posted by: lawyer231 | April 2, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

I am shocked that I would ever say this, but I actually am happy with the moves (or lack there of) we have made this offseason. I am not sure it has been driven by the fact there have been no good free agents and wonder what might had happened if the Bengals didn't say"no thanks" to a Chad Johnson trade. One thing is for sure, I am glad the owner did not get his guy last draft. Ted Ginn as a number 6? Are you kidding me!?!

Posted by: BT23 | April 2, 2008 9:47 AM | Report abuse

I'm impressed so far. He seems to be doing things right. At least his intentions seem well placed.

I think he learned a lot from Gibbs, good and bad. And he learned a lot from the franchise's past mistakes. Plus, he finally has some power to do things his way.

Posted by: lordtwang | April 2, 2008 9:54 AM | Report abuse

I don't know if you can say this is the "Vinny Cerato Era." It's the off-season, of course the GM is going to be busier than the head coach. I'd much rather have the GM hiring PR people than the head coach. And I like that he's involved in the draft.

As for comfort level, I like that his role is clearly defined now. No more VP of Racquetball. Seems like he's doing a good job but the proof is in the pudding.

Posted by: Joe_in_Raleigh | April 2, 2008 10:18 AM | Report abuse

I know people have loved to bash Cerrato, but I wonder how much input he really had with Gibbs here. If you remember, Gibbs always bashed heads with Bethard, with Bethard winning those battles. I've always felt that Gibbs could coach, but he was no GM. We'll finally get to see what Cerrato can do without interferrence from Gibbs.

Posted by: Ireland2 | April 2, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Excellent point, Ireland. It wouldn't surprise me at all to find out that most of the bad personnel decisions of the past four years were the direct result of Gibbs. This draft should give us some idea of how well Vinny has learned his craft.

Posted by: tafka | April 2, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

It's all unknown. Nothing should be negative, though. They've done what the media has bagged on them about for the past 7 years.

Benefit of the doubt goes to Vinny....

Posted by: 4thFloor | April 2, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure Vinnie will find a way to duck blame if/when things go wrong. He'll blame Zorn, he'll blame Campbell, he'll blame Blache, he'll blame Bush's policies. He's a survivor. Who else could survive the '00 offseason catastrophe? Who else could survive the disastrous personnel decisions of the Spurrer era?

Things will go badly this year. The OL, DL, LB, and CB corps are aging badly, and the QB is unproven at best. No doubt when things do go wrong, Cerrato will find a way to point the finger of blame on someone besides himself.

As Wise wrote 3 years ago: Death, taxes, Vinnie.

Posted by: Dellis2 | April 2, 2008 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Based on the Snyder/Cerrato track record, I expected far worse this offseason... I, for one, am actually pleasantly surprised that he didn't break the bank paying average players superstar money... maybe we are headed in the right direction in the front office... but I wouldn't be surprised if they revert to their old tricks either. Lets draft well, build for the future, and pick up value free agents here and there... GO SKINS!!

Posted by: rengman630 | April 2, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Vinny hasn't impressed me at all. I think he's buddy buddy with Snyder and thats the only way he has kept his job. If Joe Gibbs didn't step in three years ago and take over this team would have continued to be the laughing stock of the league. Joe reinstated some respect, how long before Vinny and Danny destroy that?

We finally have draft picks. How long will it take Vinny to trade them off and sign a high paid overpriced WR?

I will keep an open mind concerning Vinny, but he has an uphill battle based on his past performance. (Jeff George, Deon Sanders, etc) IMO, we should have kept Marty at the helm, eventhough he bad mouthed Darrell Green, until Gibbs decided to come back. Marty is/was a Redskin type guy.

Posted by: Rando | April 2, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I like the direction Cerrato is taking us in, but we won't know its true value until we play a season or two. He's been the 'GM' in all but name before, only the coach had more power than he did. (Some people won't get because he doesn't have the title, but a rose by any other name is still a rose, and a GM by any other name is still a GM.) Now, it's probably more equal, with Cerrato making decisions that the coach shouldn't be making (like the PR decisions). The coaches still have a say in what they're doing. And I can't imagine that Snyder doesn't have a say in what they're doing. But Cerrato had the major voice in choosing the coach, and that will be the biggest decision he makes for the next couple of years. Now it's the coach's turn to prove what he can do. The personnel staff, with Cerrato in charge, make recommendations, but from what I understand, they're not cramming anyone down the coaches' throats. They'll all talk it over, and hopefully they'll collectively get their personnel moves right. I'm glad they didn't overpay for an average wide receiver, especially when we have some draft picks to work with. Haven't we seen enough Brandon Lloyds? I'm excited about the upcoming draft. I hope we get a couple of a good linemen to develop. I'm more worried about our line than anything. In football, the bottom line is usually the question of who has the stronger offensive and defensive lines. If the offensive line can move the pile, then just about any pro-caliber runner (Timmy Smith?) can look great. If it's third and one, and the OL breaks down, it wouldn't matter if you had LT, or whoever. You're not going anywhere.

Posted by: olavsmith | April 2, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I take an (the) Old School approach on this ... I'll judge him by results and reserve my 20/20 hindsight. That said, even though I still have my hands over my eyes, my fingers are spread apart a little wider this year. [If things turn out well, I will miss the opportunity to ridicule the guy, but praise him in due course.] Bottom line: bingo that it is all on him now. Good luck, Vinny, we're pulling for you to do well!

Posted by: dcsween | April 2, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

To early to tell. The skins got what they needed when Gibbs returned. The organization become solid again in 4 short years.
If Vinny can Maintain and even improve then he will be alright.

The skins need to get at minimum 2 quality players out of this draft. This draft will be viewed as one of the better overall drafts to come along in many years. This will be Vinnys first big test.

I dont think we know enough about the skins front office to know if the things that were done are good or bad, But I like both the Zorn and Blache hires. Even if Zorn doesnot have the success I think the skins went in the right direction with the hire. The Blache hire was almost a no brainer. That guy is a football coach. You give the guy some quality cornerbacks and you better watch out cause he will put some nasty deffense on you. In my opinion cornerback and reciever are the 2 keys for this team.

Posted by: apb5919 | April 2, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

It was reported somehwere else that an NFC East executive fell on the floor laughing when he heard the news of Vinny's"promotion". Two coaches who have forgotten more about football than this guy kept him out of the loop; one fired him the other neutralized him. The one guy who trusted him, Steve Spurrier, got burned and left the team in total frustration.

All I can say is I am content, the 'Skins have been in 5 Super Bowls and made the playoffs quite a few times since 1971. They are not going anywhere with Snyder and Vinny in charge.

Deall with it fans.

Posted by: pjente | April 2, 2008 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I don't have any complaints with any of Cerrato's offseason moves this year. I'm really excited about the draft, and that we have numerous picks this year. The hiring of Jim Zorn was a little questionable, but I'll give Cerrato credit for trying something bold and not just going after a big name.

And every day that we haven't traded away our first round pick for Chad Johnson, I'm even happier.

All that said, I think the team is going to struggle this year. The NFC East is just a tough division, and its going to be hard to compete in that group of strong teams.

Posted by: jkorzen | April 2, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

All other things being equal, the measure of Vinny Cerrato's success is inextricably linked to the development of Jason Campbell. If Jason breaks out in 2008, the entire team will benefit, and Vinny's moves will be seen in a positive light; the inverse also holds true.

The Washington Redskins, at a minimum, must be competitive in their division. Most importantly, we need to take care of business AT HOME against the Giants, Eagles, and Cowboys; doing so will have the most value towards rehabilitating Vinny Cerrato's image. If we can win on the road against these same teams, even better.

Redskins pride is at a low point. Not less than three months ago, this blog was filled with Redskins fans disavowing their team forever; calls for a boycott were all over this board. The arguably fickle, undeniably fatigued fan base will not be able to withstand a sub .500 campaign.

Unfortunately, there will be little grace period for Jim Zorn, a guy who'll probably need it...

Posted by: podspeak | April 2, 2008 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I think you are right at saying time will come to judge. What I do like is that he is the one calling the shots, with the exception of the Marty year, I don't think it has ever been clear who was in charge and making final calls. All that being said I do think that Vinny has gotten a unfair share of a beaten over the years and I for one would like to see him succeed not only because any real fan obviously should be, but I would also like to see all these Redskin Contrarians, in the media and fandom proven wrong.

Posted by: 805820155 | April 2, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

Not every team in the league calls their GM a GM, get over it people. The title "Executive Vice President of Football Operations" is common.

Posted by: gfunk827 | April 2, 2008 7:29 PM | Report abuse

So far Im thrilled to death. I love the way he has handled things up to this point. But time will tell.

Posted by: allpropc | April 3, 2008 12:04 AM | Report abuse

I like the offseason as I just didn't feel there were any players out there who could do much for us. I'm looking forward to draft as it's going to be something of a novelty having this many picks - let's hope Vinny can use them wisely.

Way too early to judge the "Vinny-era", if indeed this is it just beginning. I like that we didn't spend just for the sake of it. The transcript of Snyder's interview posted above is interesting though - you just get the feeling that he is itching to make another big splash.

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