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  1. #1

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    Default WP: These signs could point to Cerrato making an exit

    These signs could point to Cerrato making an exit

    By Dan Steinberg
    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    It's looking increasingly unlikely the Redskins will qualify for the playoffs this season. In roughly the same way it's looking increasingly unlikely the Democrats will maintain control of the Virginia governor's mansion.

    That being the case, the next eight weeks will be largely about the future of the front office. And sometimes, it's fun to search for clues, especially while sitting in the Atlanta airport amid the sweetly wafting odors of Checkers and Mandarin Express, which, when mixed together, smell exactly like 2-6.

    (Sign of the Times, Part I: Did you hear the newest radio spot for American Service Center and Mercedes-Benz of Alexandria? "Bring in your tickets to a certain pro football team, and we'll give you face value towards any new Mercedes in stock," go the spots, which note that "this football season has been anything but spectacular." Any turned-in tickets will be donated to the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington.)

    Click Link above for more...
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    Well, I for one am keeping my fingers crossed on this. I'm reserving the toes for crossing when Snyder follows up Vinny Me's pink slip with one for himself...at least with regard to putting his mitts on football operations.
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    If Snyder fires Vinnie I hope it's for the right reason.
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    Henry, exactly. My fear would be that Snyder fires Vinny because Snyder believes it'll make the fans happy, not that he believes Vinny has done anything wrong.

    Then if things don't get better, he'll bring Vinny back and say that, "Hey, he obviously wasn't the problem."

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    The thought of Vinny getting the boot scares the hell out of me. The loss of Vinny could me little more then Snyder needing a new piss boy. Danny boy may think that he's been around enough to do the job himself
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    Well one thing that has become clear to me is that if people who are in charge of football organizations (owners) want to surround themselves with toadies it’s very possible to make that happen. Look at Oakland. They have guys who punch reporters who don’t write good stories about the team. They don’t discriminate though, they punch coaches there too. I hope Dan is smarter than that. We’ll see.

    Vinny does need to go, that much is clear, but as everyone is saying there needs to be a fundamental shift in the way the franchise is run. Short of that I think we can’t expect sustained success. Bringing in and paying for high priced talent will be enough to probably keep us near the middle of the pack most years with the right motivation.

    Sometimes, even when you do things the right way you still get fired. Phil Savage was doing a lot of things right in Cleveland IMO. He got whacked because he never found the right head coach and he couldn’t stabilize the QB situation. I’m still convinced he’s a good GM. E-mails aside he tried to do things the right way. It just didn’t work out and that happens.

    Ted Thompson is doing a lot of things right in GB. He has a franchise QB, spending is under control and there are a lot of decent young players on the team. People are calling for his head too because of problems on the O-line and the two painful losses to the Vikes. From where I sit they seem to be in decent shape. My friend in Wisconsin is not as convinced.

    The big difference between either of those situations and ours is Dan’s money. That could be a real plus IF we bring in the right players in the right positions. We just need to be smarter about it than we have been. Real consideration needs to go into how that player will fit the system. Equally as important is how that player will fit in with the other players on the team. When you bring in a guy and give him a 100 million dollar contract, he is going to be expected to be a leader, like it or not. Is that person cut out for that? Should our team leaders come from within? All of these things need to be considered. Right now they aren’t.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Henry View Post
    If Snyder fires Vinnie I hope it's for the right reason.
    What would be the wrong one?

    Firing him simply to stay on good terms with the fan base instead of because it's the right thing to do?
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    The Wrong Reason

    Snyder thinking to himself – “Those idiot fans don’t realize how hard this is. Vinny has done absolutely everything I ask and I know he works hard. I know that Zorn is the problem here and the fact that Campbell just can’t get it done but there is so much pressure to get rid of my boy I guess I will, though I can’t for the life of me see why I should. If this next guy can’t get it done by the end of next year I’ll see about bringing him back”
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    Quote Originally Posted by bird_1972 View Post
    What would be the wrong one?

    Firing him simply to stay on good terms with the fan base instead of because it's the right thing to do?
    Yes. That would be the wrong one. Either of these explanations works.

    Quote Originally Posted by EatSleepRedskin View Post
    My fear would be that Snyder fires Vinny because Snyder believes it'll make the fans happy, not that he believes Vinny has done anything wrong.
    Quote Originally Posted by Miles Monroe View Post
    The loss of Vinny could me little more then Snyder needing a new piss boy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hog Fever View Post
    Well one thing that has become clear to me is that if people who are in charge of football organizations (owners) want to surround themselves with toadies its very possible to make that happen. Look at Oakland. They have guys who punch reporters who dont write good stories about the team. They dont discriminate though, they punch coaches there too. I hope Dan is smarter than that. Well see.

    Vinny does need to go, that much is clear, but as everyone is saying there needs to be a fundamental shift in the way the franchise is run. Short of that I think we cant expect sustained success. Bringing in and paying for high priced talent will be enough to probably keep us near the middle of the pack most years with the right motivation.

    Sometimes, even when you do things the right way you still get fired. Phil Savage was doing a lot of things right in Cleveland IMO. He got whacked because he never found the right head coach and he couldnt stabilize the QB situation. Im still convinced hes a good GM. E-mails aside he tried to do things the right way. It just didnt work out and that happens.

    Ted Thompson is doing a lot of things right in GB. He has a franchise QB, spending is under control and there are a lot of decent young players on the team. People are calling for his head too because of problems on the O-line and the two painful losses to the Vikes. From where I sit they seem to be in decent shape. My friend in Wisconsin is not as convinced.

    The big difference between either of those situations and ours is Dans money. That could be a real plus IF we bring in the right players in the right positions. We just need to be smarter about it than we have been. Real consideration needs to go into how that player will fit the system. Equally as important is how that player will fit in with the other players on the team. When you bring in a guy and give him a 100 million dollar contract, he is going to be expected to be a leader, like it or not. Is that person cut out for that? Should our team leaders come from within? All of these things need to be considered. Right now they arent.
    Spot on. Stamped for BGOD!
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  11. #11
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    "I know what I have been told; I know what is supposed to be the situation, and the situation is that these are Vinny's calls," Jurgensen said. "I'm saying that he is tied to this thing, and it's got to happen. His experiment with Sherm Lewis has got to be successful."
    The impression I get is that although these are Vinny's decisions, he only makes them because of Snyder's influence. Vinny isn't strong enough to say no to Snyder or tell him to be patient. When Danny came to him asking "What's going on? How can we fix this?" Vinny said we're bringing in Sherm Lewis as a consultant so as to appear to Snyder that he's "doing something" to make it better, without considering that by taking that action he was undercutting his coach. He was afraid to say to Snyder, be patient Zorn and the coaching staff are addressing issues, and if they don't get it done they'll be gone at the end of the year. Then, when it didn't get any better, and he got more pressure from Snyder, he again inserted Sherm Lewis to look like he was "doing something" to address the issues. This time he castrated his coach in an attempt to appease his master, rather than realizing the miniscule chance his plan would have of success. Vinny does not have a strong enough personality and say no or keep Snyder in check.

    If Vinny gets fired, it doesn't matter to me why Snyder does it as long as the person he brings in to replace him can manage and stand up to Snyder. Otherwise it won't matter, and will be playing the same broken record over again.
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    I agree with everything said above. Sure we can get rid of Vinny. However if the root cause isn't addressed we're in for some serious Dejavu and IMHO that root cause is Dan Snyder's M.O. and personality.

    Snyder is impatient, brash,and arrogant. My Grandmother (who made do with a grade school education) would have characterized him as "A know it all that don't know nothin' ". To make matters worse, he is by many accounts abrasive and demeaning. Put all that together and you end up with a really lousy atmosphere for success.

    S. Jenkins described Snyder as a "toxic boss", and I think it fits Snyder perfectly. Organizations with people like this at the top sometimes succeed in spite of themselves, but more often than not, end up as also-rans. Though it was lost in the wash of the rest of his comments, this is the core of what Riggo was getting at with the "dark heart" assessment of Snyder and it is in fact a very valid criticism as it addresses the root cause of our problems. Ultimately, this is the reason I don't think we'll ever get beyond the 8 win plateau punctuated with 10 win highs and 5/6 win lows as long as Snyder has literally ANY say in the running of the team-competent GM or not.

    However the latter is certainly the first step so I'm sure as hell not going to complain about it should it happen. I just won't see it as our sole salvation the way many do.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Henry View Post
    Yes. That would be the wrong one. Either of these explanations works.
    I happen to agree with Miles Monroe.

    With all of the fan focus on getting Vinny out of the organization, I worry that Snyder might simply hire another yes man and then we are no better off then we were when Vinny was here.
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    I found an article in the Washington Post from August, 2005 in which Mike Wise talked to Vinny Cerrato about his role in the Redskins organization and his relationship with Dan Snyder. I've put in bold type some of the comments that jumped out at me as referring to some of the statements made in this thread.

    Cerrato's Special Working Relationship


    By Mike Wise
    Thursday, August 11, 2005


    In public gatherings, the coach and the owner usually introduce Vinny Cerrato the same way. Joe Gibbs and Daniel Snyder point to Cerrato, the team's vice president of football operations, and say, "He's responsible for the losses."

    The room always breaks up laughing, whether it's at the owners' meetings in Hawaii or among smaller groups. "Yep, 'He's responsible for the losses.' They both say it all the time now," Cerrato said, half-smiling, chuckling to himself.

    In jest, the fall guy. Always in jest.

    Vinny knows what you are wondering. How did he become a tenured teacher in a win-or-be-terminated league? How can an NFL franchise go 18-30 since Marty Schottenheimer fired Cerrato in 2001 and Dan Snyder hired him back a year later, and Cerrato is still working? How special is his relationship with Dan Snyder? You think by cronyism, boot-licking or worse, Cerrato is somehow still employed.



    "People say I do nothing, that I only keep my job because I'm the owner's friend," Cerrato said. "I do have a national championship ring and a Super Bowl ring, you know." (Cerrato was director of college scouting for the 49ers in 1994, the season San Francisco last won a Super Bowl. He was also recruiting coordinator under Lou Holtz in 1988 during Notre Dame's national championship season.)

    "They say, 'Look at him, he's a lapdog to Dan.' I do have a role. I do have a job to do."

    In spite of the perception that he only indulges Snyder, Vinny does work. He has thick, color-coded binders competing for space and time in his office at the team's Ashburn training facility. He shows you Carlos Rogers, whom the team took with its ninth pick in the April draft, was No. 1 on the Redskins' defensive draft wish list. Cerrato said he wrote 300 "Redskin reports" that were used to form the team's final offensive, defensive and overall rankings for the draft. "Look, I've got binders in here, calendars," he said, pointing to his files.

    On days leading up to the April draft, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Cerrato siphoned every granule of information he could from scouts and videotape. He shows you next year's draft calendar, how his days and hours are already committed.

    Next year might be presumptuous for some team employees, but don't worry: It's Cerrato. Sure as tomorrow, he'll be back.

    Death. Taxes. Vinny.

    He's calamity-proof, able to survive Snyder's impetuousness much better than coaches and players. Cerrato has outlasted Norv Turner, Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier, Deion Sanders and every other high-priced free agent Cerrato brought to Washington in 2000. Schottenheimer did not want any filters to Snyder, so he promptly got rid of Cerrato in January 2001. "He told me at first, 'We gotta live together. We gotta hang out together.' A week later, he said, 'I'm going to terminate you,' " Cerrato said.

    Cerrato's unofficial return to the Redskins came on Christmas Eve 2001. He was working for ESPN as a college analyst and had just finished filming a show when Snyder called.

    "He said, 'I've talked to other owners in the league and they said everybody needs someone to yell at in their box. Can you come back?' "

    Vinny was back, just like that. Snyder's trust in Cerrato should be underscored. Schottenheimer would not be fired for another few weeks, and there was no way Cerrato was coming back to work under him. Essentially, Cerrato knew Schottenheimer was gone before Schottenheimer.

    Because of a strained right knee, he can no longer play racquetball with Snyder, but they still spend time together away from the business. Their sons, both 2 1/2 years old, are playmates. The masses can poke fun at their back-slapping relationship all they want, but Cerrato was almost as torn up as Snyder when the owner's father, Gerald, died in 2003.

    "It was very emotional," Cerrato said. "I got along great with his dad. It was a tough deal. He was at practice all the time. Losin' your dad. I mean, that was his best friend." Snyder's parents were so fond of Cerrato they actually attended his wedding soon after Schottenheimer fired him. He has a picture of Snyder's parents on his desk in a gold-plated frame.



    "People don't really know me," Cerrato said. "Any coach I've worked with I had a good relationship with and I still got a good relationship with." Cerrato lists taking LaVar Arrington and Chris Samuels as the second and third overall picks, respectively, in the 2000 draft as his best moves in Washington. He throws Sean Taylor in the mix, too. His worst?

    "Biggest regret? Probably in 2000, signing all those older guys," Cerrato said. "I learned you can't put a lot of signing bonuses on veteran players 'cause they're not going to play out those years. That was a mistake I made and learned from. Bruce Smith, Deion and Mark Carrier were the big ones.

    "Now, we try to avoid dead money, money that counts against your cap and doesn't go to anybody."

    (The Redskins are among NFL leaders with $16 million of their 2005 salary cap devoted to players no longer on the roster).

    Cerrato had just finished working out and was icing his sore right knee. He does not feel he has to apologize for any of the club's recent moves. "We solidified some of our needs with [David] Patten, Casey Rabach and Santana Moss," he said. "We were the worst in the league in plays over 20 yards and Moss has got an 18-yard-per-catch average."

    "When you're losing, no one wants to talk about getting Shawn Springs, or Cornelius Griffin or Marcus Washington. When you're losing, it becomes 'why did you take Mike Barrow or Mark Brunell?'

    "I don't think I get any respect for doin' the job I do."

    Cerrato said the Redskins' chain of command is a top-down affair, beginning with Joe Gibbs ("I can't imagine working for a better guy," he said). "We all have a say, but he has the final say. We usually come to a decision and he and I take the decision to Dan and talk to him about it.

    "There's a huge misconception about Dan out there," Cerrato added, playing down Snyder's role as a meddlesome owner. "He doesn't sit in on the free agent meetings or the film. He lets his people do their jobs and waits for us to tell him what we're doing."

    Wanting to be a sensitive sort of journalist who gives Cerrato the benefit of the doubt instead of calling for his job, I asked the man, flat-out:

    "Do you have any damaging videotape of Dan Snyder?"

    "Nope," Cerrato said. "None at all."

    "None?"

    "[Laughing] None."

    Good answer. That should buy him another six years.
    "Someone to yell at in their box"? Interesting.

    Some of the other statements, to me, seem to cast doubts on the seriousness, or perhaps permanence of a Cerrato exit-perhaps it may just be a "show the fans we're listening...at least until they shut up their whining."

    Or, perhaps I'm just being too cynical. I don't know.
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    Holy ****. He's got notebooks. And calendars. And stuff.

    That is some scary dialogue right there. You know what my impression of Cerrato is? I think he's just plain dumb. He doesn't even sound like an educated man - forget about football genius - he can't even speak english.

    Nice find serv...
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    I get that Cerrato isn't the sharpest knife in the box. After all, he certainly doesn't sound all that bright on tape and in the self-deprecating comments we see in a lot of his interviews. However, I don't think he's as dumb as I once thought either.

    Obviously I don't think he's a great, or even very good personnel evaluator and team builder. However, I think he's better than the work we've seen attributed to him here. My personal take after seeing him do a decent job of putting together the scouting dept. behind him is that he's been satisfied to be Snyder's puppet and has just been going along with Snyder's program in order to keep a very lucrative job. As I said when Gibbs kept him around, he was/is a useful fool.

    It's hard to know for sure but I think our "sexier" moves like Haynesworth, our early draft picks and the attempts at getting rid of JC all smell of Snyder's input. However, the later picks seem to have worked out at a much higher rate lately than has been the case in the past. I think those are probably picks that Snyder wasn't interested in and left Cerrato, Brown and S. Campbell alone to do their thing.

    Of course that's just speculation on my part. It certainly doesn't mean I want Vinny to stick around. I just think it highlights the need for us to have a F.O. truly independent of Lord Farquaad's input as opposed to one merely devoid of Vinny.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boone View Post
    Holy ****. He's got notebooks. And calendars. And stuff.

    That's what I thought. The quote looks like it came right out of the recent Onion article about the team.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hog Fever View Post
    Ted Thompson is doing a lot of things right in GB. He has a franchise QB, spending is under control and there are a lot of decent young players on the team. People are calling for his head too because of problems on the O-line and the two painful losses to the Vikes. From where I sit they seem to be in decent shape. My friend in Wisconsin is not as convinced.
    HF, a couple of things here-first, if you want to have some fun with your friend in Wisconsin, mention the phrase "anemic pass rush"-that's a hot topic on that Packer board I watch. The Tampa Bay loss was even more traumatic in pure football terms due to lack of the "Favre factor"-that really got the Packnuts wanting heads rolling everywhere!

    And now Packer Prez Mark Murphy just fueled the fire with a rare public statement about the team to the effect that "changes will be made" in an effort to alleviate what is seen as lackluster results so far. This sent the posters into a frenzy of speculation-as it would on any fan board-as to what that might mean in terms of organizational changes. Just to be a smart a** I told the guys on that board that I'd accept an even trade: Ted Thompson for Cerrato, Mike McCarthy for Zorn, and Dom Capers for Blache.

    As yet they have failed to grace me with a reply.
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    I hit him with that first thing I got to work this morning. It sent him off on a 10 minute rant. This Packer fan is one of the nicest guys I know, but get him talking about the Pack and he just gets all wound up. Hey, what are friends for if not to kick you when your down?
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