The Washington Football Team has been one of the longest running jokes in professional football. Often, the team has made some serious personnel blunders, and in other times, the team has stacked sufficient talent to be competitive on paper — yet always ends in the same competition for Top 10 draft selections (unless they, of course, sold that pick off).
There is something different in Washington today, and it can be attributed to the adage “addition by subtraction.”
The Snyder Blues
Ask any fan of the team (or of football in general) what the biggest problem is — the answer is usually the same – Daniel Snyder. If you are unfamiliar with this man’s resume, he should be enshrined by the National Football League Players Association for helping so many players cash in one more ridiculous contract before they retire.
In most cases, these contracts are so inflated that they accomplish little more than to set both the team and player up for failure To the average fan, the team just acquired a $75M cornerback, and an expectation is set.
Unfortunately in the NFL, many players at free agency have surpassed their prime and are no longer able to physically perform as they once did. What it seems Mr. Snyder has never fully understood, in a league with a salary cap, teams cannot spend yourself into a Lombardi Trophy. If that was possible, he would have a trophy case to make New England jealous.
In fact, most teams who are perennial contenders have done so through savvy drafting, internal player development, and shrewd contracting.
Don’t Forget Infamous Coaching Departures
Unfortunately, personnel mismanagement is not limited to players in this organization. Snyder has dubiously watched Sean McVay and Kyle Shannahan depart the Washington’s coaching staff to take their respective teams deep into the playoffs — while Snyder stubbrornly endorsed coaches such as Jay Gruden.
It is only the recent acquisition of Ron Rivera that seems to be different, and perhaps the catalyst to this subtraction the team has so desperately needed.
Dawn of the Red
Despite this past — which plays like a highlight reel of “what not to do” — there is something different in Washington today, an addition by subtraction. There is a new strategy that Washington fans are not accustomed to, an absence if you will. – a new hope. It feels as though Daniel Snyder has completely separated himself from making of critical personnel decisions.
In 2019, aside from acquisition of Landon Collins, the free agency activity was significantly slower than their normal loud and excessive approach. Those lavish purchases usually set impossible expectations and depleted resources for any other talent retention.
This absence has shown itself more recently with the silent and necessary departure of Dwayne Haskins. Let it be clear — Haskins was the result of an overly involved owner who wanted to see a local high school star play for his team. Despite his investment both financially and emotionally in Haskins, he sat idle while his new head coach did what he had to do — exit that mess.
If these are the signs of what Ron Rivera can do in Washington, the rest of the division should be concerned. They may actually have two more games a year where the team hasn’t self-inflicted wounds like so many years before.
Some fans may want to wish and hope for the next wave of talent, and pray for success like they’ve have seen in other winning organizations.
But satisfaction is derived from watching a team that is willing to set themselves up for future success — and just as importantly — eager to cut ties with players that are not contributing to that growth and evolution.
When a team has actionized dysfunction for so long, it is refreshing to see logic and reason return to a front office. Perhaps that approach can be coincidentally rewarded by falling backward into the playoffs with a losing record.