While we wait for rising smoke at Redskins Park indicating the head honcho conclave is over, there’s nothing but time for pondering. About the season that went from promising to cataclysmic. About what changes should be made. About how we got here. About whether a fix is possible.
Darker clouds existed over the last two decades. This time stories of rampant fan apathy join the fray as TV ratings and home attendance figures are down. Criticism from all corners is on the rise. The record over the last four seasons, flat. List of true roster needs entering 2019, long. Business executives added to help change hearts and minds while opening wallets were short timers.
As for fixes, there’s a clear solution that touches all those concerns. One that history notes isn't prudent, but Vegas would consider a high odds favorite as the potential path by the organization. The plan provides on-field splash to a lackluster canvas. It shifts the focus from “what on earth is happening” to “Hey, this is interesting.” It's been tried before.
It’s time for the Washington Redskins to reclaim their title as off-season champions.
Trade for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Trade up for Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
Sign free agent safety Earl Thomas.
Swipe pass rushers Jadeveon Clowney or DeMarcus Lawrence away from their respective Texas teams.
Hire Todd Bowles as the new defensive coordinator. Add a proven executive to the front office.
Are they the right moves? That’s a different article. This approach when used previously included several missteps.
The Redskins can’t solve all their issues in one offseason. With their future stadium talks ongoing, they can change the storyline . That’s starts by winning the off-season.
The current scene requires more than one big move. A single flashy transaction, like signing DeSean Jackson in 2014 or Josh Norman in 2016, both of which were fluky endevors, isn't enough.
The downturn with TV ratings and home attendance started long before unwanted headlines and curious choices dominated the closing weeks of the 2018 season,
According to the Washington Post, local ratings for Redskins’ games are down six successive years and a whopping 46 percent since quarterback Robert Griffin III’s 2012 rookie season.
Washington’s home attendance woes, noticeable in recent seasons and unavoidably obvious when Eagles fans took over Sunday, fell by a league-worst 19 percent in 2018.
There are the usual gripes about management and no Super Bowl wins since 1991. Those aren’t new.
The 31-32-1 record with one division title since 2015, while pedestrian, is arguably the steadiest four-year period on the field over the last 20 years.
Here’s what changed: The Redskins became boring.
They annually avoided obvious win-loss downside, but never turned true contender.
The roster headliners went from spicy showmen like Deion Sanders, Steve Spurrier, Clinton Portis, and Griffin to vanilla standards with Kirk Cousins, Ryan Kerrigan, and Alex Smith. Intriguing rookie runner Derrius Guice never played a regular season game after suffering a knee injury in the preseason opener yet was perhaps the most popular player on the 2018 squad.
Concentrating less on free agency and more on the draft is textbook roster building. Without the wins, the excitement fades.
The Redskins need some now.
The fixes, ideal or not, are out there.
Brown just completed a sixth consecutive year with at least 100 receptions and 1,250 receiving yards while scoring a league-high 15 touchdowns. The 30-year-old also isn’t exactly getting along with his team.
No trade can occur officially until the league calendar changes in March. The acquisition cost would be steep should Pittsburgh make Brown available, though his base salaries of $12.6 million, $11.3 million and $12.5 million thru 2021 are reasonable. As for a trade package, Dallas traded a first-round pick to Oakland for Amari Cooper. That would seem like the minimum offer for the league’s top receiver.
For a team in desperate need of receivers, playmaking from any position, help for whomever they start at QB and a change of topic, cost schmost.
Who is throwing Brown the ball next season remains uncertain. Want the most hype? Don’t go with Colt McCoy or sign Joe Flacco. Instead, trade up from 15 and ahead of the New York Giants at six for Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, who is expected to enter the 2019 draft. He threw for 50 touchdowns in his first full season as a starter. Oh, he’s a local kid. Marketing gold, Jerry, gold!
As for free agents, Thomas co-headlined Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” secondary with Richard Sherman. Buzz!
Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick in 2014, is a three-time Pro Bowler. Hype!
Lawrence totaled 25 sacks over the past two seasons. Take that Dallas!
Can the Redskins afford a combination of these moves? Not easily since they are 25th in salary cap space for 2019. Such details don't stand in the way of dreamers.
Fans want someone on the coaching staff gone namely defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. If we’re talking publicity, the timing works. Several former head coaches like ex-Redskin player Bowles are now available. Adding a front office type with player personnel experience
Whether head coach Jay Gruden loves these types of maneuvers, he might be fine with the different risks after missing the playoffs for a third consecutive year. Others in the building likely agree especially with the ratings and ticket sale boost that comes with exciting moves.
Folks are tuning in to see a future Hall of Fame receiver at the peak of his powers, showing up for a potential franchise rookie QB, imagining a turnaround with a moves en masse. Radio show topics and article angles change from "can you believe this organization" to "are you starting to believe this team can contend."
Good bet the internal discussions are pondering such strategies right now. We just haven't seen the smoke rising above Ashburn yet.
MORE REDSKINS NEWS: