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Rich Tandler is the author of Gut Check, The Complete History of Coach Joe Gibbs' Washington Redskins. Get details and order at http://GutCheckBook.com
November 18, 2004
A Sight to Get Used To
You had better get used to the sight of Patrick Ramsey as the Redskins quarterback. Good, bad, or indifferent, the team just might well be stuck with him.
This isn't a seven-game audition, folks, it's the beginning of an era. For the foreseeable future, the Redskins' fortunes at the quarterback position rest with number 11.
The reason is simple—economics or, more precisely, the allocation of scarce resources. A team has two main assets it can use to acquire players, draft picks and cap dollars. You get six of the former and about 70 million of the former a year. It's a zero sum game; what you spend on one player you don't have to spend on another one.
In the past three years, the Redskins have allocated a lot of resources to the quarterback position. They gave up their first-round draft pick for one in 2002 and eight million cap dollars for another earlier this year. Quarterback is an expensive position to fill in the NFL and you can't keep on flinging draft picks and money at it and expect to have resources left to retain quality players to protect whoever's in there, give him someone to throw to, have someone to prevent the other team from scoring, and so on.
This team has needs on both sides of the line as well as some quality depth in other spots. Drafting a quarterback first or third (the second-rounder has been traded away) could be done, but at the expense of ignoring those needs. In addition, drafting a quarterback is always a crap shoot. I'm sure I don't need to go any further than the names Heath Shuler and Ryan Leaf to make that point.
Barring some sort of miracle turnaround, Mark Brunell is a bust of Shuler proportions only more expensive. It will cost over $7 million in dead cap money to cut him before June 1. Waiting until afterwards puts about $2 million of dead money in '05 and the remaining $5 million in 2006. That's about what it cost to shed Deion Sanders after one season. Such a cap hit virtually precludes the team from going after a free agent quarterback.
There is one alternative, but, like anything else, it would involve some risk. Perhaps the Redskins could trade for a young backup who is stuck behind a young star. Matt Schaub of the Falcons comes to mind here. He's a rookie who played well in the preseason and has almost no chance of ever holding the regular starting job as he's stuck behind Mike Vick. Perhaps he could be pried away for a third-rounder. It's a move that carries somewhat less risk than just taking a third-round quarterback because he has shown something on the NFL level.
This is the route that the Packers took to acquire Bret Favre from the Falcons and that the Jaguars used to get the Brunell that started two AFC title games from Green Bay.
Still, the best option remains the guy who's on your roster already, the one whose cap hits are less than $2 million per season through 2006, the one who has won some NFL games, the one who has shown guts and toughness under pressure, the one who is smart and willing and eager to learn.
There are teams who are in playoff contention this year that are quarterbacked by Craig Krenzel, Kyle Boller, Josh McCown, and other assorted nonentities. It's hard to believe that Joe Gibbs couldn't mold Patrick Ramsey into a quarterback who was capable of doing the same.
November 17, 2004
Dumb and Smarter
In an SI.com article Don Banks is an idiot and makes perfect sense in the same sentence.
If Gibbs comes back for another fun-filled year in Washington -- and after the mini-drama that was the Spurrier denouement, I don't think anything's a lock -- I'd be willing to bet that he requires further assistance on the personnel side of the front office in 2005.For the first part, there is no "if" about Gibbs coming back. If you go back to the press conference when he came back as coach, one of the themes he kept on coming back to was that he took the job because it was a challenge, because building a winning NFL team was such a hard thing to do. There's absolutely no way he's going to walk away--Banks says that he might cite "health reasons" as an excuse for bailing out--after one season. He knew what he was getting in to and he's going to stick it out. Any speculation to the contrary is just plain wrong and misinformed.
Banks, however, is dead on spot with the second part there. He goes on to say:
With the leveling effects of the salary cap, coaching in the NFL is much tougher in 2004 than it was in 1992, and Gibbs needs help. First-rate help. Since you can't fire the owner, that spells trouble for (Vinny) Cerrato's tenure, or at least his assignment near the top of the Redskins management flow chart.This team needs an in-charge GM, plain and simple. If Snyder wants to negotiate the contracts of the big-money guys, fine. Certainly, Joe Gibbs needs to have input into who the team drafts and goes after in free agency.
As one veteran front office executive in the league told me last week: "Vinny's a disaster, and Joe needs somebody in personnel who can help him get quality players."
Yesterday, there was an article here about the massive changes that have taken place around Redskins Park since 1999. One change that hasn't taken place is the installation of an experienced personnel man who has the final call. That is one change that needs to take place. On January 3, the day after the Redskins' season ends, Gibbs needs to walk into Snyder's office and demand it.
A Slap in the Face
I didn't have a chance to do any quick hits on this game, but I was thinking that exact same thing that Michael Wilbon was during this moment that he talked about in his Monday column.:
Here's all you need to know about the Redskins quarterback situation: With six minutes to play in the third quarter and Cincinnati leading 17-0, Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis elected to go for it on fourth and one from just inside the Redskins 40 rather than punt the ball. You know why Lewis didn't punt? Because he knew good and well there was no chance the Redskins quarterback, whichever one of took the field, could do enough to rally the Redskins -- not even on a short field, not even playing at home, not even against another 3-5 team with no recent history of winning anything. Lewis's assessment was completely justified when on the ensuing series the Bengals sacked Ramsey, forcing him to fumble, and nearly intercepted him twice.I was hoping that Ramsey would take it as the slap in the face that it was and come out on fire, but the sequence Wilbon related is what followed.
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