Fassel is the Wise Hire

The Redskins can be a good team next season. And their chances for success improved Tuesday when Steve Spurrier resigned. It wasn't all his fault, but with him in place the Redskins had little chance to become a good team.

There's one guy who can make sure they become one, and maybe stay one: Jim Fassel.

First, let's consider the other coaches. Dennis Green has a proven track record, much like Marty Schottenheimer. And, like Schottenheimer, he knows that he'll need some control over the situation. Plus Green has a personality that would clash mightily with the front office and ownership.

Yes, Green worked with Vinny Cerrato in San Francisco. But Green also didn't hire him when he went to Minnesota. Think there's a reason? If they do hire Green I'd applaud them bringing in a quality coach, just like I did when Schottenheimer arrived. I'd also wonder how long this marriage would last. If they let it develop, it would work out great. If not, it would be highly combustible.

And Ray Rhodes? Please. Here's what I remember about Rhodes when he was in Washington. He didn't like talking to the media -- no sin, but not appreciated. And he was unhappy here during the 2000 season. One time I was walking through the lobby at Redskins Park and Rhodes was at the front desk talking to someone.

``I wish someone had told me what a f-ing zoo this place was,'' Rhodes said.

Don't blame Schottenheimer for his departure. It was well-known that he wanted out after Norv Turner was fired. Turner is the reason he wanted to coach in Washington and by the time Schottenheimer interviewed him and they had their big fallout, Rhodes' mind already had been made up. Now we hear that Rhodes has stayed in touch with owner Dan Snyder. Maybe they did end on good terms. But ask yourself this: Do you think Rhodes would be on anyone's long list, let alone their short one? That's an easy answer.

Here's the other thing: I don't think he'd be a good fit here. He steadily got worse in Philadelphia and had one mediocre season in Green Bay before he was fired. Coaches don't get fired after one season unless there's a reason. In this case, it was Rhodes' personal behavior that irked Green Bay officials. Also, the word out of Green Bay centered around how undisciplined the team was under Rhodes, a surprise given his grouchy exterior. That's not needed in Washington.

But Fassel would be a good fit. Not that he would accept less power. Why should he? If the Redskins want to run things that way, they'll lose him to another team. If the only concern is holding onto all personnel decisions, then Fassel will be in Buffalo or Arizona. Not Washington.

Don't be fooled by the Giants' fade this season. Injuries were major contributers to that and, yes, in the end they appeared to have quit. Maybe it was time for him to leave. But how many coaches who get fired are presented with a 20-minute highlight video of his tenure? That's what the players did for him in New York. Tells you how much they thought of him.

Fassel worked for a much classier organization in New York and that could make him unlikely to coach here, where the owner is working on his fifth coach since 1999. There's a clear connection.

However, we've heard that Fassel doesn't think he could win in Arizona. And we've also heard that Bills owner Ralph Wilson has never paid his head coaches more than $1 million. That alone gives Washington a clear edge.

Besides, it's not like this job is without hope. Certain problems are inherent to this organization and always will be. Snyder should never, ever be involved in making football decisions. He's too clueless in that regard.

And the Redskins weren't as talented as they thought last season, but they had enough talent to win a few more games. And, with a tweak here or there and with a true NFL coach in charge, this team could win eight or nine games in 2004. With the right bounces, maybe they could win one more and make the playoffs.

Fassel or Green would provide instant respect. But I wonder if Green's desire for more power would get in the way of this being a long-term relationship and if his tenure would end like Schottenheimer's -- there are similarities between them. I get the feeling that wouldn't be the same with Fassel, or that he wouldn't be as forceful about it. That's why he'd be such a good choice.

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