It comes as regularly as Tuesday follows Monday. ESPN’s Adam Schefter speculated that the Washington Redskins could turn to Peyton Manning to solve all their problems. Someone named Paul Jackiewicz reported it as a real possibility on profootballzone.com. I picked up the thread on my Twitter stream, but only to deride it. (By the way, I’m saying “free agent” because even the Redskins wouldn’t think of trading picks for Peyton.)
If the idea has any credibility, it is because Schefter brought it up. Schefter is thought to be close to team owner Daniel Snyder and, well, the story took on a life of its own.
If the story had any germ of truth, it would suggest bad things about the Redskins’ front office. For one thing, it suggests that the Danny is meddling again to fix a specific problem without taking the strategic long view. It also suggests that the team is not over its failed tactic of signing other team’s aging stars and expecting the performance of the previous season, or in Manning’s case, seven seasons ago. The phrase “Peyton Manning couldn’t win behind that line” is the common thought about the ‘Skins. That doesn’t make it something the team should actually prove.
If anything, the Redskins should focus on finding the next Peyton Manning. That has not been characteristic under Snyder’s ownership. It wasn’t true of Washington’s 2010 season with the brief infatuation with Donovan McNabb. So yes, there is a deep suspicion–stark raving fear actually–that the Redskins may actually pursue this sort of thing. If they do, Redskins Hog Heaven is prepared to lambaste them for it. Just so you know.
What we need from Snyder is that he own the strategy as Robert Kraft and the Rooneys do for their teams. Then he must pick the right people to run the strategy and pick the players. Washington’s approach to the 2011 season is a bright light, maybe the only one left by the end of the season.
Organizational excellence demands that the owner gets the best thinking from every part of enterprise. It is not enough to have the best coaches. The team must have the best scouting, the best catering, the best stadium operations, the best security, the best clean-up crew. It all feeds the whole. You don’t look for the best people, you look for the people who best fit what you are trying to do. Do that everywhere else and it becomes easier to pick the right players. It is a subtle distinction, but the owner must know where it is. That is how the DeBartolo family ran the San Francisco 49ers in the 1980s-’90s. Some of that boring Six Sigma stuff could help Redskins organization.
Snyder has to get the best thinking from his real team, the front office, so that the Redskins become a learning organization. Mike Shanahan as Washington’s final football authority is an improvement over Snyder and Vinny Cerrato, but it is not ideal. Snyder can never become a better owner in that set-up. GM Bruce Allen should report directly to Snyder instead of Shanahan. That is the only off-season change I suggest that the owner make. It will accelerate Daniel Snyder’s development as a football executive with a deep understanding of concepts that work.
Some may see it as reining in Shanahan, but it does not have to be that way. The executive vice president and the general manager would work together every bit as much as they do today. The Redskins are more likely to make better decisions for quarterback with some balanced thought than they have recently. There is little reason to entrust that decision entirely to Shanahan. Peyton Manning rumors suggest that we shouldn’t entrust it entirely to Snyder either.
The Redskins will never be a championship team until they have championship thinking by the owner. Since Snyder will not sell the team, we need him to become a better owner. Here’s hoping that he becomes that. it’s all I want for Christmas.
Meanwhile, lets label those Manning-to-Washington stories as rumors and leave it at that.