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7 Crucial Waypoints on the Journey to a Redskins Resurgence

Forget '7 Minute Abs’, I mean, I’d recommend you go with the 6 minute version anyway. I believe there are 7 crucial actions the Washington Redskins must take if they are to revisit their former days of glory and return to a winning tradition.

Let Griffin be Griffin. We’ve heard it before and we get it. RG3 is reckless. He plays with wild abandon. He can’t slide. He won’t slide. RG-Knee. The 'Pistol’, 'Read Option’, running threat QB offense is dead. Griffin can only survive by becoming a pocket passer. Balderdash I say! Conventional wisdom isn’t always the wisest course. Griffin is still a special quarterback and his significant speed and athleticism is in large part what makes him so. Geld your prize racehorse, and he’ll never be the same again. To create the kind of magic we saw in 2012, Gruden has to grit his teeth and unleash Griffin. Griffin needs to reject caution. In 'Top Gun’ parlance, he needs to be Maverick, not Goose. 'That’s right – I am dangerous!’. The threat of Robert taking off down the field puts teams in a no-win scenario. Stack the box to cover him and our talented receiving corps breaks open. Drop back in coverage and Griffin scampers downfield in 8-10 yard chunks. Griffin doesn’t need to learn to become a pocket passer, he needs to learn how to become a more effectively dangerous read option QB. I believe Griffin learned his lesson in year 1, and will try to avoid unnecessary contact. Where he needs to advance is in looking to pass while on the run. Get RG3 back to what he’s most comfortable and skilled at doing, improvising and creating mismatches, and you’ll immediately see our running game, offensive production, and ability to keep drives going and the opponent’s defense on the field improve.

Protect your assets. Forget the obligatory coach-speak and niceties. Our OL sucks. Excelling at neither pass protection nor run blocking, our OL is a dog that needs to be put down. We need big uglies on the line and we need them yesterday. Whether we use our top 3 picks on the OL or upgrade via free agency, the progress of this team will continue to be stunted until we build a dominating line. Our mobile quarterback shouldn’t be forced to be mobile on every down. When he does operate as a pocket passer, he needs to have some assurance he’ll have more than 2 seconds to survey the field and get the ball out of his hands. When he leaves the pocket, we need big uglies capable of pancaking defenders. Coupled with unleashing Griffin, a big, strong, hole-opening offensive line will also revitalize our rushing attack and return Alfred Morris to his rightful stature as a top 5 NFL running back.

Safety first! The Skins have committed significant resources towards upgrading their cornerback roster in recent years. David Amerson and Bashaud Breeland aren’t there yet, but they are young and talented, and DeAngelo Hall still has a few good years left in the tank when he returns in 2015. Ryan Clark is a limited stop-gap. Brandon Merriweather has a head for the game, but isn’t a reliable answer. The Redskins can’t stop anyone over the middle, and have frequently found themselves relying on Ryan Kerrigan or Perry Riley to pick up the slack on 3rd down passing situations – hardly an ideal plan. Finding a stud safety or two is arguably our top priority heading into the 2015 season, right up there with revamping our impotent offensive line.

Draft a dominating blocking Tight End. For a slow white guy, Logan Paulsen is a pretty slow white guy. We need a big, dominating, physical Tight End who likes to hit people and is a fearless, effective blocker. We’ve got a Pro Bowl talent with great hands in Jordan Reed who has only begun to make a name for himself. But we need a bookend for him who can keep blitzes off RG3, block on the edge when Griffin does decide to take off, and who can help turn short catches into long ones in the passing game by sealing off lanes after the catch. Niles Paul has done a nice job filling in this year, but he’s still just a pretty good WR pretending to be a TE, and a dominating blocker he will never be.

Special my ass! The Redskins have likely found their long-term kickers (at least until someone better drops into their lap) in reliable 'Cobra Kai’ Forbath and punter Tress Way. While Forbath needs to continue to improve to consistently produce touchbacks, he is the most reliable kicker the Redskins have had in years. Way has over-achieved punting so far, also showing versatility stepping up on kickoffs when Forbath was gimpy earlier in the season. However, the overall performance of the Redskins Special Teams units continues to be unacceptably atrocious, particularly given the Redskins brought in some talent this year with Special Teams upgrading specifically in mind. Good teams have, at a minimum, Special Teams units that don’t cost them games. Meeting even that low bar has continued to be a decade’s long challenge for the woeful Redskins units. One must reach back into the dark recesses of the brain to remember when we weren’t fielding horrible special teams units. It seems clear that our team’s issues on Special Teams are not just about talent. Danny Smith, nicest guy in America or not, couldn’t get the job done. And neither has Ben Kotwica. Kotwica, snatched up from the New York Jets, seemed promising given the Jets have traditionally had strong units. But it isn’t working here in DC. And he needs to go. I don’t care what it takes – we need to court and hire the best Special Teams guru in the country and pay him whatever he wants to coach the Redskins units. It just has to happen.

Must Haz Defense! For the love of God, in the name of all that is Holy, let the Jim Haslett experiment end. Short of claiming our defensive woes are the result of Haslett’s recent Ebola diagnosis, the Redskins are finally plum out of excuses for Haslett’s under-performing squads and schemes. The weight of Mike Shanahan’s jack-booted foot no longer on his neck, Haslett has finally been freed in 2014, resulting in the same crappy defensive efforts we’ve grown accustomed to since his arrival. Haslett’s patented 'bend and still break’ defense just can’t continue to be the norm. Snyder needs to open up that big ol’ man purse one more time (while he’s writing the check for our new Special Teams mastermind) and make it rain in the name of our defense. Let the Rex Ryan era in DC begin! Start printing the 'I’ll give up sex if you get Rex!’ and 'If it ain’t Ryan, you ain’t tryin’!’ t-shirts now. Sometimes, you just have to start over. It’s not personal – it’s bidness Gruden.

Save the drama for your mama. Drama ended the Mike and Kyle Shanahan era. Things may get uglier before they get prettier. Ugly is kibble to DC’s sports media dogs – they eat that shit up. Don’t feed the animals! Gruden’s biggest strength to date has been his no-nonsense style and open honesty about where this team currently is, who’s getting the job done, and who ain’t. It’s refreshing, and it’s the best antidote available for the poisonous, destructive force that is DC Redskins coverage. But eventually, if this team continues to struggle, even Gruden won’t be able to keep the stank off him. Drama sells ads and pays the bills, but it’s distraction of the worst sort when a team is trying to find its way and turn the corner from a losing tradition. For the time being, the Redskins ineptitude on the field, and the NFL’s own fumbling and bumbling with domestic violence and other issues, has taken the Redskins name change 'controversy’ out of the headlines. Snyder and Company need to have only one standard response to all questions about our beloved team name – 'The Redskins name honors, respects, and celebrates the rich history and traditions of Native Americans everywhere. It will never change.’ No other response is necessary. The less said, the better. The Redskins need to create their own unique distraction for those that cover the team. It’s called 'winning’.
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