WP: Redskins criticize lack of discipline on the team

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Om

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Good stuff from Boswell ...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/04/AR2010010403085.html?hpid=topnews

With Zorn fired, Redskins criticize lack of discipline on the team

By Thomas Boswell
Tuesday, January 5, 2010; D01


Football players speak in code. But when your year ends 4-12 and your coach is fired the next day before dawn, that code is easy to break. Instead of using lingo to obscure, the Redskins on Monday used it on to clarify some of their core problems under ex-coach Jim Zorn.

According to several players, the Redskins lack discipline. They miss too many practices that tougher players gut out. They skip meetings and break curfew. They don't study as hard as winners and don't force themselves to practice enough. Internal communication, compared to Joe Gibbs II, has eroded. Stars go outside channels, circumventing and undermining their coach, to take controversial issues straight to team executives or the owner.

Maybe you knew or suspected all that. But now it's out there.

"We did lack some discipline on this team," running back Rock Cartwright said. Under Zorn, there were "rule guys and guideline guys." That's a bitter joke, folks. It means you go by the rules, unless you're a pet star, then "you go by your own guidelines."

With Gibbs, there was a lot of individual coach-to-player communication and a committee of players that conferred every week on any topic. "Gibbs was a very loyal guy. And you repaid it," Cartwright said. "You would never go above his head.

"If guys feel like they have that choice, then you've got bad apples," he continued. "Not necessarily go to the owner, could be the GM. Not getting into no names, but I know it."

But everybody knows the main names: Clinton Portis and Albert Haynesworth, the highest-paid players on offense and defense, respectively, who were called out by multiple teammates by describing them without quite naming them.

Now we may even know the moment that Zorn's regime, if it ever had a chance, was doomed. Just as the Redskins reached 6-2 in 2008 with a win in Detroit, Portis and Zorn had a shouting match on the sideline.

Portis was mad that the candid Zorn put too much of his business out in public view. With hindsight, maybe it was Zorn's way to try to keep Portis a "rules guy." Portis went over Zorn's head. And it was Zorn who got the internal hand slap.

"Zorn was made offensive coordinator. Then they asked him to be head coach. He didn't ask for that. He took it in. I felt sorry for Jim that he had to go through this," said veteran defensive end Phillip Daniels, a member of Gibbs's leadership committee. "He started 6-2. Then players got in controversy with the coach and after that it went downhill."

Better "discipline wins us four or five more games," Daniels said. "Study. Get your rest. Don't do crazy stuff. Be on time for meetings. We talked to some players about it."

Daniels added that the "disciplinary action" handed out to Haynesworth on Christmas day for being late was far from the only example of the problem. "If the coaches can't trust you, maybe you are in the wrong sport."

Eventually, Zorn's tenure degenerated into dysfunction. "I think everyone knows what went on with that. But there's nothing I can say that won't get me in trouble," tight end Chris Cooley said.

What about his teammates' comments on exit day about lack of discipline, a broken chain of command and lack of trust?

"It didn't help us," Cooley said.

"Certain things I can't talk about shouldn't even have been an option for players to do. The head coach needs to be the head coach and everybody has to buy into that," defensive lineman Renaldo Wynn said.

Perhaps the most perturbed player was Daniels. "All these missed practices, you can't do that and win," he said. "If I could play, and practice with [injured] ribs and [torn] biceps, I know other guys can suck it up.

"We need [a coach] who is real strict, who says, 'This ain't gonna happen.' It won't be difficult. . . . We've got some guys who need to understand that it's 'big team, little me,' not 'big me, little team.' "

NFL executives also speak in code. But when you're a general manager like Bruce Allen who's just flown coast-to-coast, fired his coach before 5 a.m., then had a morning state-of-the-team meeting with the players, you tend to let the truth slip out between the lines.

The Redskins entered that meeting concerned about the degree to which Allen leans toward breaking up the current team. "Not as much as everybody thinks," cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. "He thinks we have a lot of talent in this room. [But] we don't feel like a team."

Allen made it clear a demolition at Redskins Park is unlikely. "The best way to improve is usually by addition, not subtraction," he told reporters. "So, think refurbishing, not a total house cleaning. We've laid the foundation. We're going to lay the cement soon and hopefully we'll have a beautiful house."

And who's going to be master -- quarterback -- of that house?
CLICK HERE to read more
 

Elephant

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I saw these interviews on CSN. The veteran players are frustrated with the young prima donnas and it shows. I hear a lot about how the stern, discipline oriented coaches can't make it in this league and I think that is rubbish! You can see it in the veterans, they yearn for strong leadership!
 

servumtuum

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I saw these interviews on CSN. The veteran players are frustrated with the young prima donnas and it shows. I hear a lot about how the stern, discipline oriented coaches can't make it in this league and I think that is rubbish! You can see it in the veterans, they yearn for strong leadership!
The "tale of the tape" will, to me, be how the "new and improved" F.O. and coaching staff deal with the fact that most of the complaints were about some of the veterans and their assumption of a "privileged" status.
 

Elephant

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The "tale of the tape" will, to me, be how the "new and improved" F.O. and coaching staff deal with the fact that most of the complaints were about some of the veterans and their assumption of a "privileged" status.

I think Boone said it well when he said, I gotta believe it will get better under the new regime, if I don't believe then there is no reason to root for this team.

The only reason I like the Shanahan is because he is head strong and won't take any **** from the players! Let's hope he will let these prima donnas know that there antics are over!
 

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The only reason I like the Shanahan is because he is head strong and won't take any **** from the players! Let's hope he will let these prima donnas know that there antics are over!
Same goes for Allen in my opinion. I'm sure his meeting with Zorn this morning was very straightforward. I like that.

As for Shanahan, I'm also excited about a real offense.
 

EatSleepRedskin

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We've been excited about a "real" offense here for ... well, since Norv left.

(Norv, by the way, was our most effective coach of the Snyder era. And Snyder didn't even hire him.)

We thought we were getting that under Spurrier. We didn't.
We thought we were getting that under Gibbs. We didn't.
We thought we were getting that under Zorn. We didn't.

So excuse me for not holding my breath while we wait to see if we get a decent offense under Shanahan.

Sad thing would be if we finally got an offense but then lost our defense, somehow.

Throughout the decade, we've had defenses that have carried the team. Almost all of them top-10 defenses, if not top-5 quality.

I think, in the end, I'd be satisfied with a professional offense, though.
 

Yusuf06

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Good stuff from Boswell...
Slight correction. More good stuff from Boswell.

In fact, I finally got around to changing my sig earlier in the day to paraphrase one of his previous comments on the subject...
Nothing can be done now. But when the Redskins house is cleaned, and that enormous process will begin in a matter of days, let the Redskins remember one word -- when they sign a coach, when they draft a player or sign a free agent, when the owner feels tempted to stick his fingers in the pie.

That word is the quality the Redskins had under George Allen and under Joe Gibbs I. It is what every fine team in every era shares and that the Redskins lack. It is discipline, in all its forms.
 

Jimbo

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I was pretty sure Phillip Daniels was a goner after this season. Now, I'm not so sure. Mike may want to keep his veteran leadership around another season as someone who can help right the ship.

Always loved Boswell and I wish he did more articles on the Skins.
 

Lanky Livingston

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I was pretty sure Phillip Daniels was a goner after this season. Now, I'm not so sure. Mike may want to keep his veteran leadership around another season as someone who can help right the ship.

Always loved Boswell and I wish he did more articles on the Skins.
Yeah, his quotes are great in this article. Makes me surprised that some of these people are considered "professional" athletes.
 

Sarge

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Ah, all the dirty laundry come out. Not that we didn't suspect..................
 

riggins44

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This is no surprise. Everyone knew that certain players were considered privileged and a cancer in the locker room. Not going to mention Portis by name.

Think will be a new era with Shanahan and Allen. We also need to players to police themselves. Only problem was certain player(s) had Snyder's ear. Heard Wynne say that he told some younger guys he was sorry that they saw certain players behaving a like that.
 

SabreAce33

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I've been bothered in past years by the disregard for locker room leader type players. People like Antonio Pierce, Khary Campbell, and more recently Rock Cartwright, while not always top performers, bring an intangible asset to the team, one that really does improve a team's chances of winning on game day.

You need people in the locker room who inspire and teach good work habits, you need people who improve morale, you need (whether we like to hear this phrase or not) "core redskins." These guys aren't stat generators, they're not pro-bowlers, but they're an important part of any organization, football teams included.

We're fortunate to have guys like Rock, Daniels, London, and we ought not take them for granted.

An interesting thing to look at is the recent decline of the secondary. Know what's missing? An on-the-field leader. Though I was ready to see Shawn Springs go (due to his health and huge paycheck), I now wonder how much of a role he played in shaping the performance of the younger guys like Landry and Carlos. Just food for thought...
 

Jimbo

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Well said, Sabre. I think Shanahan understands the value of BOTH locker room and field leadership. I'm hoping he follows Gibbs' lead and designates a core group of veteran players as captains/team leaders and consults with them on a regular basis. That should help the players better police themselves. I don't think we'll see anymore of this "going over the coaches head" bit either. Living in Colorado, I've seen and heard several reports of guys getting in Mike's (aka Little Napolean) doghouse and you really have to earn your way out of it.
 

riggins44

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With Shanahan having title of GM the only way to go over his head is to Snyder. Something tells me this ploy won't work going forward.

I have a feeling Shanahan has been studying the players for sometime. Chances are he has a good feeling of who goes and stays. He knows more about this team than anyone realizes, including the players.
 

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