Snyder needs patience, not changes

The Redskins are making a mistake. One they'll pay for over the next several years. A season ago owner Dan Snyder appeared to have turned the corner on his reign. He fired the right guy (Norv Turner) and hired a strong football man (Marty Schottenheimer).

Now it appears he's leaning toward canning Schottenheimer, perhaps as early as Tuesday. From what we hear, Redskins corner Darrell Green is telling people that Tuesday will be a big day at Redskin Park. Maybe that's why he agreed to return: he knew Schottenheimer likely would be forced out.

But what will this solve, aside from pacifying a couple of 40-year-old players--neither of whom acted with grace this season, either?

Snyder has a coach, yet he leaks that he wants Steve Spurrier. What would that solve? Spurrier was, and is, a great college coach. But he's 56, strongly set in his ways and has never coached in the NFL. This isn't Bill Parcells.

Not that Spurrier is a lock to come. Most likely, he'll head to Carolina. Snyder has told people he regrets not getting Spurrier last year. He thinks a much better offer (more money) will do the trick. If that's the case, wouldn't Spurrier had let him know that a year ago? What would make this job attractive to Spurrier now?

Besides, if he goes to Carolina, then Spurrier has a chance for the No. 2 draft pick and can select a young quarterback to groom. What does he have in Washington?

But back to Schottenheimer. Snyder is dead set, it appears, on hiring a general manager--and Bobby Beathard does sound interested, especially if he gets a percentage (likely one percent) of the franchise. He should have done it last season, before hiring a coach. His impatience and insistence on a big name fouled this up. Now that he's hired his man--his stamp on the franchise he called it--then give him time.

What Snyder wants more than anything is to be involved. This is his $800 million toy. And this is at the heart of the matter. Schottenheimer still talks with Snyder, but he doesn't involve him. This could be salvageable if Schottenheimer would just sit down with him once a week or so and go over the game plan, etc. Make the man feel important. It's not that hard and, if you want to wear the GM hat, too, that's part of the job. Beathard and Charley Casserly both had to do that with Jack Kent Cooke. Lapdog Vinny Cerrato filled that role last year. Too bad he was so dumb.

Snyder has helped Marty: when the coach asks for something, Snyder delivers--look at the weight room, the number of extra scouts, etc. He was willing to mortgage more of the future last year to find a quarterback, but Schottenheimer wanted to clean the cap up immediately, rather than by a year at a time. In essence, that's a major difference between the two: Snyder is a gung-ho, get it now type; Schottenheimer is a take-your-time-and-get-it-done-right guy. Just fill Snyder in on what's going on. The relationship, sources close to both say, can be saved. The other day, this employee said, they walked in on Schottenheimer as he was talking, and laughing, with Snyder.

And he'll have to fire offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye. He's among a handful of coaches already talking to folks around the league about a new job. Was it all Raye's fault? Absolutely not. Marty sets the offensive tone with his input and Raye didn't have much to work with at quarterback. But he's the fall guy.

Another thing that's bugged people at Redskin Park: some coaches walk around with Kansas City bags. Ditch the bags, guys. You're in Washington now. Then again, someone should give them Redskins bags.

The fear at Redskin Park is that Schottenheimer would promote his son, Brian, to that role. That would not go over well at all. Again, that can be resolved.

But what this team needs is stability. When was the last time an unstable franchise won anything? The Yankees didn't become consistent winners until George Steinbrenner stepped back, let the farm system develop, hired Joe Torre and let him coach. By the way, Torre had never won anything before New York.

Football, more than any other sport, requires stability. It's what the players crave. But if a new guy comes in, that sets the process back a few years. And it's not as if Beathard had a golden touch in San Diego. He didn't.

The Redskins' defense grew this season because the players found a comfort level with one another and the coaches. Kurt Schottenheimer had an outstanding year as a coordinator. They have an excellent young nucleus--and three young playmakers--and, with some tinkering on the line, could be excellent. The special teams grew, too. That leaves the offense, but as they understood the schemes better, they became much improved.

And the offense can get better with two players: a consistent quarterback and a top receiver. Those can be hard to find, but the QB doesn't need to be a big name. Just a solid one. And the receiver can be found in the draft or free agency. Also, if Stephen Alexander re-signs, that's like adding a new player because he was hurt almost the entire season. A tight end threat inside the 20 will boost this attack.

The Redskins aren't that far away. Don't forget, they could finish the season 8-3--something Joe Gibbs did back in 1981. Then they won a Super Bowl. The Redskins might not do that next year, but they will be better. Schottenheimer's track record suggest that.

But Snyder's track record doesn't. It's Snyder's team and he can do what he wants. Right now, it appears he wants to screw it up.

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