Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dear Mr. Snyder

Dan Snyder
OK, Mr. S, this is it for 2010. Good news is we aren’t gonna rant and rave about the 5-9 Redskins, or editorialize on how Coach Kim Jong Ill-ahan has handled the McNabb situation (OK, maybe a little later on), but we will focus on the FUTURE. We say this because no matter what George Allen said, and certainly no matter what George Allen Jr. ever said, the future is NOT now.

(If you don’t believe us, check out this Redskins’ drinking game by clicking here. It's fun and funny. Painful, but funny.)

Instead let’s talk a little about how the past might impact the future. Let’s also talk about T.A.H. Worldwide Media LLC’s maiden voyage into the publishing world with the editor/publisher’s still-unwritten sure-to-be future best seller “The Untimely Death of Conventional Wisdom” and how that has most recently negatively-impacted of our favorite men in burgundy and gold.

You know all about conventional wisdom. We use it every day and it is generally defined as “ideas or explanations that are generally accepted as true by the public or by experts in a field.” Frankly, without it a lot of things would be pretty chaotic.

Dan Snyder
Unfortunately, we now live in a world that seems to be lethal to a substantial portion of the population of conventional wisdom. The primary culprit of this epidemic of unpredictability is information – information provided by the Internet. Sometimes right and sometimes wrong. But it isn’t just the information that has changed our world, it’s the combination of all the information and what the gathering and processing of that glut of bytes has done to the brains of we humans just a few million years from swinging in trees and crapping on ourselves.

As a result of living in a massively- truncated information-saturated fast paced word our society, our culture, our economy and our technology have all changed so much and so quickly it’s hard to keep up. Don’t believe us? Then read this article in yesterday’s N.Y. Times about young people abandoning email because it’s too slow and cumbersome. (Seriously!) Conventional wisdom is losing the race as so many new and faster ideas, solutions, products and people go sprinting by us.

Subsequently, with all of this info (and the changes it creates daily) and our desire to process and utilize all this information, we constantly endeavor to make the perfect decision. In that process, we now often miss – perhaps distracted by the input of even more additional information (relevant or otherwise) flooding our synapses from one technological source or another – the key piece of information that matters most. All the variables that enter into each decision lead to a negative result we call “outsmarting ourselves.”

Donovan McNabb
For example, Donavon McNabb was a Pro-Bowl caliber quarterback for eleven years in Philadelphia and led the Eagles to five NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl. On top of that he’s a first class guy and a damn good soup salesman. Then one day the only coach he ever had in the pros, some big lug named Andy Reid, decides he can no longer EFFECTIVELY play quarterback in the NFL. He is so confident in his decision that he decides to defy CONVENTIONAL WISDOM and trade him to a division rival while banking his team’s season on a not-so-household name (the unproven Kevin Kolb.)

ERRRRR-ERRRRR-ERRRRR-ERRRRR…(If you have an iPhone set the ring tone to “All Hands On Deck.” It’s perfect, isn’t it?)

But here’s where it gets DICEY. You, GM Bruce Allen (Yep, same family) and Coach Kim Jong Ill-ahan utilized the MOST ACCEPTED form of conventional wisdom used in sports (and maybe in life) – you judged McNabb based on his past performance, what he HAD accomplished. That makes perfect sense, but in the NFL maybe is doesn’t. Maybe the judgment criteria needs to defy conventional wisdom which says “if he did it this year, he can do it next year,” and be replaced with “if he did it this year, and we give him a big pile of money, recent experience tells us he won’t be nearly as good next year.”

Hello, new CONVENTIONAL WISDOM.

Randall Cunningham
One could prattle on about McNabb’s accomplishments for thousands of words but it can be condensed down to this: He is the Eagles' all-time leader in career wins, pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns. That would be ALL-TIME as in FOREVER. The roster he sits atop includes some Hall of Famers and a bunch of good QB’s the likes of Van Brocklin, Jurgensen, Jaworski and Cunningham.

So utilizing the old CONVENTIONAL WISDOM, you, Allen (who by all accounts is a top-notch personnel guy) and Coach Shanny (who according to sources close to the Denver Broncos we won’t name here [J. Pieja] has always wanted McNabb running his offense) review his stellar resume, his age (he turned 34 in November) and his physical condition and decide he’s THE guy.

Here’s the point, and you better sit down for this. We aren’t bustin’ on you and Skins’ brain trust, we are simply saying it’s a brave new world out there created by huge salaries and big free agent signings. It works in baseball, but in the violent, massively accelerated world of professional football maybe conventional wisdom NO LONGER applies to personnel decision like it once did.

Andy "The Genius" Reid
That said, there remain certain truisms so entrenched they should not be ignored. Such as NOBODY trades their franchise player to a division RIVAL if he can still play at an All-Pro level. Write that one on the black board. DO NOT erase it. EVER. It’s true.

But, evidently, the traditional way of evaluating non-rookie talent is clearly much more COMPLICATED than it once was. NFL players are amazing athletes and they compete at such a high level that there is a very fine lines between great, really good, competent and no longer competent. Some NFL players are like spring fed creeks, they slowly dry up over the course of a hot summer career. Others are more simply, and rather shockingly, like a light switch – on, then off. One year they have it, the next year they don’t.

Obviously, there are other relevant factors. Using McNabb as our lab rat, you have to take into account the offensive line, the running game, the receivers and, believe it or not, the defense.

Albert Haynesworth
When it comes to veteran players like McNabb (and dare we bring up the “A” word? Albert Hayensworth), years of habits have to be factor as well. Hayensworth clearly has the habit of being a moron and an “it’s-everybody-else’s-fault” prima donna.

McNabb apparently has other HABITS (besides being a good teammate and consummate pro) that didn’t seem to work well within the confines of Kyle Shanahan’s offense. We won’t get into the whole “make the personnel fit the system or tailor the system to the personnel” argument. But Donovan didn’t fit well, and Rex Grossman proved that last Sunday.

But, with all of that said, with the INFO you had about McNabb’s first eleven years, it seems LOGICAL that he would be competent for two or three MORE. Well…No. Now there are folks out there that say he will leave Washington and go somewhere else and be resurrected. Maybe he will, or maybe his physical skills have dwindled and his habits are so ingrained that he may not be able to be a productive NFL QB no matter the system. Only time will tell.

Jeff George
But McNabb and Haynesworth both prove that the big-dollar high-profile free agent or trade is rapidly becoming an unacceptable risk in the NFL. Careers are short, the game is violent and the line between here and gone is impossibly SMALL.

At some point, and were guessing it’s when the check clears, something goes off in the high salaried player’s mind and a little voice says “you’ve made it, you’re rich, enjoy the ride.” Makes sense doesn’t it? There are only so many guys like Ray Lewis, Clay Matthews, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning who either want to run through a wall for the FUN of it or who just want to be good for the sake of being good.

Give any smuck on the street an obcene amount of money for doing his or her job and we wager they coast…Human nature: It is what it is. Of course, these guys are highly competitive and highly motivated – that’s part of the equation that makes them great. But they are also human and something – perhaps, even something subconscious – is causing them to ease back. Net result: LESS productivity.

In the case of McNabb, guys reach a certain point where they cross the razor-thin line from effective to ineffective for whatever COMBINATION of reasons. Somebody tell us why McNabb, who has insisted he’s 100% healthy, hasn’t used one of his best resources – his wheels – as a weapon since October? Is that a physical or a MENTAL thing? Who knows?

Mike Shanahan
Anyway, do we agree that it’s difficult to judge talent and make decisions based on the OLD conventional wisdom which utilized past performance as the primary criteria? Hope so.

So while some areas of conventional wisdom are DEADER than a mackerel, other areas of conventional wisdom seem to HOLD true. For example, perhaps you really do have to build a team and not buy one. Perhaps you do need a dictatorial coach (all kidding aside about Shanny, they do have a bit of hard ass up there in New England who insults folks right and left and then points to his Super Bowl trophies and Tom Brady) and a good general manager.

Finally, all the constant media input has DISTORTED some very important conventional wisdom. The media, and subsequently the fans are obsessed with the skill players – the quarterbacks, the running backs, the receivers on offense and the linebackers and defensive backs on defense. Those guys are the primary newsmakers. Now, the media may say it’s the other way around, and the fans are obsessed and the media is simply giving them what they want. Either way, we’ve lost our FOCUS on what Ol’ Coach Joe knew to be true: It’s a game about LINEMAN.

Dexter Manley
Coach Shanny knows this. You have to be able to RUN the ball and PROTECT your quarterback. Um, Mr. Haslett, you have to also be able to STOP the other guy’s run and RUSH the other guy’s QB.

Alas, armed with that knowledge (and for a while, even armed with the coach who won three Super Bowls riding that train), the Redskins continue to “team build” like an eight-year-old boy with ADHD: “Heeeeyyyy, BRIGHT shiny object, bright SHINY object…ooooh, there’s another one: bright shiny OBJECT.” Spend, spend, spend, bright shiny object. Sound familiar?

So, this off season ignore the bright shiny soup salesmen of the world and focus on those great big galoots with mud on their unis. Get comfy with the concept of rebuilding by BUILDING a team, not buying one. Like your house, start with the foundation. (Note we mentioned your house and didn’t make an analogy utilizing trees and the REMOVAL of same.)

Timmy Smith
Think back to the glory days of Joe Gibbs and remember he did it with guys named Rypien, Jacoby, Grimm, Bostic, May, Mann and Manley. Yeah he had Riggins, Monk and Theisman, but remember is was a rookie named Timmy Smith that set the Super Bowl rushing record of over 200 yards. We not saying just ANYBODY could have done it, but you could have gone for a buck and a quarter behind those HOGS!

We know all those names are familiar to you, and you know which one was a journeyman, which ones were HALL OF FAMERS and which ones were All Pros.

Now go defy the CONVENTIONAL WISDOM that is the Washington Redskins and start collecting LINEMAN and let Coach Shanny and the boys run and pass. If Reid calls you to point out how well the whole Michael Vick thing has worked out and he wants to talk about a trade for Kevin Kolb, DON’T take the call!

Every Redskin defender last Sunday in Dallas
Oh, yeah, and get a few guys that can TACKLE while you’re out shopping.

Merry Christmas

Sincerely,
Your Loyal Fan

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