By Shane Tidrick
A potential problem is brewing in Washington D.C. right now and it has nothing to do with beer or politics. The acquisition of DeSean Jackson was huge for the Redskins offense, but the way in which he was brought on board seems a little suspicious.
The Power of Player Influence
Robert Griffin III made personal visits to Jackson’s home in Los Angeles to talk to him about signing with Washington. DeAngelo Hall made phone calls, as did NBA star Kevin Durant and rapper Wale. Jackson has since talked about how heavily he was pursued by the Redskins players and how it ultimately helped him make his decision to sign with them. But oddly he never mentioned having a talk with GM Bruce Allen or head coach Jay Gruden.
The reason this is a forecast for a potential storm in D.C. is because it’s a clear sign that apparently the players may have more influence than the coaching staff does as far as personnel changes go. If you need any further proof, take a look back to the previous year when RG3 was clearly unhappy with the way Mike Shannahan was coaching the team. Report after report came out about problems between the two behind the scenes, then news about Griffin making multiple visits to the home of Redskins owner Dan Snyder began to surface. Next thing you know, coach Shanahan finds himself wearing the title of “former” coach Shanahan.
Keep in mind that Griffin is only a third year QB and he had enough leverage to see his former boss with the Redskins lose his job. As an owner, how can you expect your team to be successful if you allow the perception (or reality) that one of your players has more pull in your organization than the head coach or general manager?
Finding A Balance
The reason why teams like the New England Patriots are so successful each year is because everyone, from the head of the organization down, understands what their overall role with the team is. Tom Brady is one of the best QB’s in the history of professional football, but at no point will he ever be given the power to go above Bill Belichick in the decision making process of which direction the team needs to head. Brady had essentially no receiving core last season, but he didn’t publicly complain about it. He did his job and made it into the playoffs, ending the season with a lot of success (AFC Championship game vs Denver). The front office staff of the Patriots, recognizing the problems they had both offensively and defensively in 2013, have been making the necessary moves during the offseason to improve the team heading into 2014. Thus coaches and players alike appear very happy and on board with the moves being made.
Knowing Your Role
A team simply cannot win without a clear cut chain of command. The Dallas Cowboys have suffered from it, as have the Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Successful teams are ones where the players know their role, and the head coach has a working relationship with the GM. Seattle, New England, and Green Bay are all examples of teams with good chemistry in the front office. The head coach and GM don’t always necessarily need to see eye to eye to be successful, we have seen that over the last few seasons in San Francisco. Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke often have different ideas on how to run the team, but they are able to find a way to swallow their pride for the greater good and as a result have found the recipe for a dynamic franchise.
Bottom line is players play, coaches coach, and GM’s manage. When lines get crossed and toes get stepped on, expect the L’s to start piling up, and an end result leading to a very disappointing season for the fans of a dysfunctional franchise. Take heed Redskins, that storm may be brewing yet again.
Follow Shane on Twitter @shane_tidrick