Commentary: Change is Needed

Commentary: It's not too late, but if the Redskins are going to challenge for the playoffs adjustments need to be made and soon.

I was around to watch boxing legend Muhammad Ali's rise and fall. I remember how great this man was to the sport, he talked the talk and walked the walk and people came to see this great fighter whether it was to root for him or against him. I remember his last few fights and it was obvious that this once great fighter wasn't up to par anymore. It was tough to watch because you knew his skills had deteriorated and that he was fighting on heart alone and the sport had sadly passed him by.

Sunday afternoon after watching the Redskins blow an 11-point lead and lose to the winless Titans, at home, at the FedEx, I started feeling same for coach Joe Gibbs.

It's not an easy feeling and a lot of folks have high and even blind faith in the once great coach, after all he extended upon what George Allen did for the Redskins faithful, he brought us championships.

But the Joe Gibbs phase two isn't the same. The game has changed and the way to win isn't quite what it used to be. Gibbs has assembled a decent staff as he has done all though his past with coast offs.

But the disappointing reality is that he has let players go that are performing well, and brought in players that have done quite well in the NFL and not gotten much out of them, exception being Santana Moss.

I know some folks don't like to credit the quarterback with too much credit, but in reality, the quarterback gets the ball to those around him, being via handoff or a pass or perhaps a pitch, he also calls the play or modifies the one called down from the box to fit the given defense. The quarterback is key to a lot of success or lack of it.

Joe Gibbs has stubbornly placed all his marbles in Mark Brunell's pocket and Brunell is the type of quarterback after 14 years, which can only perform when certain conditions are met. It's like owning a car that you can only drive when it is eighty degrees and sunny, sometimes it's ninety and sometimes it rains and sometimes it snows. It's a bad decision no matter how you slice it and one only has to change channels and watch some highlight film on any newscast to see quarterbacks getting the ball to key players to see how bad this decision really is.

There is one number that Mark Brunell looks at when it come to the pass, that being the 89 of Santana Moss despite all the key players brought in to supposedly make a threat every receiver position. Mark Brunell has managed to single handily limit the passing game to a single threat, Santana Moss.

But even if the troubles start at quarterback they don't end there. The Redskins defense just hasn't been able to stop anyone and the secondary in particular just seems give up pass after pass. Signing 15 year veteran Troy Vincent looks like a pathetic move at best in an attempt to shore up that porous pass defense, at best Vincent might be able to dispense some of his tales of Super Bowl glory among the younger Redskins pass defenders.

The frustrating part is that the players added to this squad made plenty of plays for their former teams, that is how they became sought after, aren't making plays and the only evaluation has to be coaching.

One can call upon one's ghosts of the glory days and try to relive them and cry the battle cry of ‘loyalty' and that all true fans should ‘never question the leadership,' and perhaps that works for that type of fan. For me, it's time to evaluate what we have in place because what's in place isn't working and it's only getting the Redskins deeper into the hole.

At some point I have to wonder what it would be like to be the proverbial fly on the wall in the Redskins film room after the game. Joe: "that was a good pass Mark" Staff: "sure was Joe, if the ground had been just a little lower Lloyd might have caught it"

You see, I'm the type that couldn't do that. Me: "that idiot you are trying to sell me as a QB just missed a wide open Lloyd and threw a one hopper in triple coverage to Moss!" Joe: "Well it was a smart throw cause he threw in so low" Me: "Good Lord, Joe, Lloyd was wide open, we pay him a lot of money to make catches" You see, I just couldn't sit there.

And that's only the offense; the defense has a lot of problems too.

I don't know if Joe can turn the magic on again as he did last year but the current trend as I see it, well, I don't see it as a ringing endorsement and in fact, it's something I make some red letter notes about for my year end evaluation and what to improve upon if I am Dan Snyder. You have to have people in place that utilize the talents I provide as the check writer, I want to see Randle El throw a touchdown, I want to see Brandon Lloyd make one of those pretty catches down the sidelines, I want to see Chris Cooley running the medium routes and I want to see Santana Moss making huge plays…

Joe, if these coaches aren't doing it, maybe you need to take more charge. The formula is simple if you ask me, dump the QB and put either of the two options in there because they will put the ball in the open receiver's hands, as long as someone is not saying something like "only throw it to Santana" do you think you can do that?

It's not time to fire the coach yet but there are some harsh realities that need to be realized and they need to be adjusted so that they are not negatives while there is time to get back in this thing. Mark Brunell is not the person this team fires well with on offense. On defense, Williams needs to find that spark, that thing that works… but here's a basic formula for winning when your defense isn't firing quite right, outscore your opponent.

So… I'm all about making some adjustments. The status quo is not working and it's time to quite trying to make what isn't working work. Washington is still in this division race and they can still win it.

Karl Engelhardt covered the Redskins from 1997-2000 and has been following them for decades.

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