How Air Force jocks helped the Giants win the Super Bowl and what it means to the Redskins

Tom Coughlin

When the going gets tough, the tough hire management consultants. When the New York Giants lost four straight games, the franchise turned to Afterburner, a firm run by former U.S. Air Force pilots to impart principles of flawless execution.

Gee, that was a boring opening line. Shouldn’t football problems be fixed by benching players and firing coaches? Well, no. Firing people is not the answer to everything. As we Redskins fans know, it can be counter-productive.

Fans turn to sports entertainment to escape work-a-day problems, but teams use management best practices to put a winning product in front of fans.

Boy, another boring line, but stick with me. This is important. 

Football is the most team oriented of sports. Football franchises that do a better job of turning a bunch of players into a cohesive battle unit just perform better than their rivals.

That’s a constant theme here at Redskins Hog Heaven where we presume that front office management issues are the root of the Washington Redskins poor results since 1993 and especially since the dawn of the Snyder era.

We infer that from Washington’s long-term performance averaging seven wins per season. But, Redskins fans have seen a slew of discarded players and rejected coaches who contribute to playoff teams.

The Redskins attract good talent. Something happens to them when they get here. That’s why the story From 7-7 to Super Bowl Champs... on our blogging colleague, UltimateNYG, caught my eye.

Long-term poor performance points to the way the Redskins are run. Fixing it gets to that old management process improvement stuff that bores us at work.

In the Giants’ case, the Air Force jocks from Afterburner showed the football jocks a superior way to break down game film as a unit. The process made the Giants a more cohesive team that performed better on the field.

What can the Redskins learn? 

So, should the Redskins hire Air force vets to teach better ways to study film? No, and no good consulting firm would open with that approach. Management consultants (should) look at specific problems, map it back to root causes and construct strategic plans to overcome.

Washington’s flaws get in the way when the team constructs the roster, assesses talent and builds teamwork. That’s different than the Giants’ problem. The long-term nature of Washington’s issues points to flawed strategy. Good execution does not cancel flawed strategy.

There may be good news for beleaguered Redskins fans. The team is taking concrete steps to get better.

The most incompetent executive in football is no longer with the team. Gone is the flawed tactic of being clever with the salary cap that locked the team to aging stars from other teams long after their value to the Redskins fall.

The Redskins have the cap room to acquire the talent they need and, with the huge exception of quarterback, Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen have made astute talent decisions. Shanahan is on board for a third season, the only Snyder-era coach other than Joe Gibbs to do so.

That’s not enough. The Redskins have to be run as well as an Air Force fighter wing. There is only one man who can pull that off. I am not sure that Daniel Snyder is up to it.

I have my suspicions on how hands-off Snyder was in 2010 when Shanahan arrived. He seems to have been so in 2011. As the Marines say, that is significant, but not sufficient. “Do no harm” is not executive leadership.

Snyder’s role is to create the management environment where his player and coaching leaders thrive. Maxing production and harvesting talent are management issues. Insisting on decisions that produce results now and five years from now are strategic.

Maybe Snyder can find consultants that help the organization execute better (No comments about Sherm Lewis, please). Snyder has to assess whether it is the flawless execution concepts preached by Afterburner, or Six Sigma principles promoted by other groups. But focusing on the workings of the front office in the spirit of helping them work better, rather than for causes to fire people, is what executives do. It’s boring, but critical.

Results on the field tell us those things happen on the Giants, Patriots, Packers and Steelers. The same tells us that it’s not happening enough on the Redskins.

The Washington Redskins will not become a championship caliber team until Daniel Snyder becomes a championship caliber owner.

Follow the link to the story on www.ultimatenyg.com here.

See also: Recordonline.com – Giants GM really knew what he was doing

Anthony Brown

About Anthony Brown

Lifelong Redskins fan and blogger about football and life since 2004. Joined MVN's Hog Heaven blog in 2005 and then moved Redskins Hog Heaven to Bolguin Network. Believes that the course of a season is pre-ordained by management decisions made during the offseason. Can occasionally be found on the This Given Sunday blog and he does guest posts.

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