Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Dec 30, 2013

Washington Post Sports Columnist Tom Boswell answered your questions about the Redskins, the Capitals, the Nationals, the rest of D.C. sports and more.

Past Ask Boswell chats

Please give us your take on how bad an owner Danny Boy is. If you look at the NFL and also the MLB, maybe he has not been that bad. After all, he does spend money, and is not looking to move the franchise. Ok, is he at least average to below average if you could rate all of them?

My column in the total mess of the last 48 hours, and the last 15 years, is up on the Post site now.

http://wapo.st/1chb6X3

I guess it takes 52 years to be that disgusted. The last 15 years under Snyder have established him as the worst owner in sports who also spent all the money in the world and actually loved his team. It's an incredibly tough combination to pull off. He's done it.

Most of the worst owners are cheap or poor or want to move the franchise or have some other core flaw. Snyder is just abysmal at every aspect of running an NFL team.

And now he gets to make another set of crucial decisions.

A fool and his money are soon parted. Do you think he has finally learned his lesson?

Which of many lessons?

Don't be friends with your star player?

Don't hire a veteran coach who's a tough street fighter with a lifetime of NFL contacts who'll defend him, and attack you, if things go wrong?

This, as I've written before, is a sad but symbolic they-deserve-each-other moment.

It's not every day that you see an owner -- who has a 224-foot $70-million yacht with a crew of 18 -- fire a coach who, in Denver, put his 17,000-square-foot home on the market and built a 35,0o00-square-foot house. Google "Shanahan's House" and "Snyder's yacht" if you want a hint of the egos involved here.

The worst is probably over for Shanahan now. He got what he wanted -- get out of town, shift blame,  collect his money for '14. No amount of expert PR work could burnish Snyder to a high shine, but he is so out-gunned in the public opinion wars that are coming -- especially outside Washington where fans and the rest of the league don't follow every twist of the story in real time and are more likely to accept whatever version of events they hear.

Just invert everything Shanahan said as he left if you want to know the message he is really sending: "Great organization" menas "run for the hills if they ask you to coach here."

Editor's note:

For your convenience, here are links to Dan Snyder's yacht and Mike Shanahan's house.

Snyder's yacht: http://wapo.st/KfrLS6

Shanahan's house: http://bit.ly/Kfs0fP

Even Shanahan's attempt at creating a quarterback controversy as he leaves fails. Sums up his tenure in Washington.

"Make me and Kyle look good, kid" sure didn't work out the way it was planned.

Cousins ended up with the lowest QB rating this season of anybody in the entire NFL who had 100 pass attempts. (He had 155.)

There was nothing wrong with starting a different QB the last three weeks. But anybody who thinks Shanahan did it for the the reasons he said -- and no other reasons --would believe anything.

Got to say that Shanahan's exodus is the shabbiest I have ever seen from a pro coach in Washington, certainly in the last 35 years. Whatever his problems with Snyder and whatever his resentments toward Griffin, how do you accept $35-million of anybody's money then try to undermine his business as you leave?

I feel bad for Cousins. But all you can ask for in the NFL is a chance and he got one. He started in a dome against one of the worst defenses in the league (Atlanta), then at home against THE worst defense in the league (Dallas). To balance out those easy games, he had tough conditions on the road on Sunday in the cold rain against a medicore Giants defense (15th in yards allowed).

The results, please.

Cousins finished the year with the lowest quaterback rating of anybody in the NFL who attempted 100 passes -- a 58.4 rating. The next lowest wasn't even close -- Geno Smith 66.3.

Cousins had the worst completion percentage of any NFL QB (min 100 passes) at 52.3 below Brandon Weedon at 52.8. And Cousins had the lowest yards-per-attempt of any QB in the NFL at 5.5 yards-per-pass, almost a full yard behind Mike Glennon.

That doesn't include his lost fumbles or all the passes that were nearly intercepted or should have been intercepted that were dropped. Cousins was in a bad situation. BUT he had a 1,200-yard running back and a 1,300-yard wide receiver. Plenty of Skins QB's over the years never had either to take pressure off them. The offense was as healthy as anybody is in Weeks 15-16-17 of an NFL season.

Cousins came into the league as the 101st pick, a 4th-rounder. That's probably about what you could get for him now. IOW, the Skins probably wasted that useful draft pick, too, since Cousins now seems like a decent but run-of-the-mill backup quarterback. And he may need time to become that. He's had some very good moments -- like the 381-yards in Atlanta. But the worst thing a QB can do is turn the ball over. And he appears to be an absolute turnover machine. He's young, but that was also one of his traits in college.

'Skins considering hiring RGIII's college coach? What a spoiled brat. What a stupid owner! Aaaarrrgh!

Anything you hear, like the Art Briles (Baylor) rumors, that makes Snyder, RGIII or the Skins look like the most toxic franchise in human history has an EXCELLENT chance of coming from Shanny's lifetime of connections throughout football. Minutes after he was fired, ESPN lay down heavy covering fire as he ran for the last chopper. The best coordinated play of the year. The guy commenting on the blame game in D.C. -- and knocking Shaanahan and blaming the meddling owner -- was the reporter who co-wrote Shanahan's hagiography with him when he was riding high in Denver. Oh, boy. You can't tell the players without a program.

He's the only one who has acted like a consummate prorfessional throughout this whole sorry mess. I hope he finds himself in a better situation next year, i.e., behind an offensive line that won't get him killed.

Cousins handled himself perfectly. His best hope is a trade and a fresh start, I'd think. But maybe RGIII is a big enough man to overlook the way Shanahan used Cousins to put Griffin out of uniform on the bench in the rain. It wasn't Cousins fault. If he comes back plenty of people will root for him because he came out of such a franchise-wide debacle with his dignity. Sorry his last two passes were a near-INT and an INT. Deserved better. 

Did Snyder buy the Cleveland Browns and not tell anyone? They have had seven coaches in 14 years, and fired their coach after one year. Their front office makes the Redskins and Cowboys look like a model of stability.

Nothing makes the Skins and Boys look like a model of anything -- except bad management practices and trashy taste. At least Jerry Jones turned his back to the camera before he started screaming after the last Orton interception to kill the Dallas season.

Sunday had a lot of fun stuff. Just not involving the Skins. LOVED the Packer comeback against the Bears. The overall quality of that game and the clutch play -- contrasted with the hideous Skins-Giants game -- was depressing.

Other than the Rams games this year, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the few ups and many downs of the Skins season. I'd like to thank Dan Snyder, Mike Shanahan, and RGIII for allowing us to get a top Left Tackle this year.

I know I speak for all Skins fans when I say that the Rams and their followers are welcome.

No? That isn't the majority opinion?

Think of it this way -- the Skins were improving their drafting poisition in the SECOND round. Yeah, that was the plan.

I have a theory that Les Miles, Head Coach of LSU, may want to jump ship from Baton Rouge, because he could be a couple of more three-loss seasons from being the next Mack Brown. I think Snyder would like a big name, and Miles is one of the bigger names in college. What do you think?

I think that the guy who's in my house cleaning a rug just said to his assistant: "That's going to be a hard job to fill." Honest.

This has a chance to be Zorn Search II.

Watch out if they hire a special teams coach first. He may gradually find his position upgraded to defensive coordinator, then head coach, then GM-and-head-coach.

In your years of covering so many different sports have you detected any near-universal do's and don'ts for franchises considering new coaches or is the process essentially always too sport or franchise specific? Sure seems like the local major sports franchises have had more than their share of don'ts over the past few decades.

I've talked to good GMs for decades. In baseball, for ecxample, the best, like Pat Gillick who's in the Hall of Fame, seem to know the name, life history and every detail of the thinking of countless people who might be their next manager. Or their next bullpen coach for that matter.

Who is at the top of the Skins decision-making chain? Ultimately, Dan Snyder. He knows what every average fan knows -- because that's all he wants to know -- what can I SELL to my "fan base."

In other words, the least-qualified person in the building has the final authority. This is not even a Bruce Allen area of genuine expertise.  

Unless Griffin comes back to something every close to 100 percent of '12 and adapts quickly to being a pocket passer -- since he and his family have made it clear that's the direct they want his future to go -- the Skins will probably continue to be a bad-to-mediocre team for the next few years. But that is not what you will be told.

New regimes usually get off to rough starts. Schottenheimer was 0-5. Spurrier took the team from 8-8 when he got it to 7-9, then 5-11. Gibbs first year back was 6-10 despite getting all the bright new toys Snyder could buy him. Zorn inherited an 8-8 team and fell to 7-9, then 4-12. Shanahan started 6-10.

That's NFL reality. Sorry.

But, I promise, the next Skins coach will be touted as the best in the history of oblong spheroids.

Why would any coach come to the Redskins? With a meddlesome owner who has a history of clashing with his coaches, a lack of draft picks and a pretty bare cupboard, is it really worth the headache to have two mediocre, stressful seasons before getting canned?

This is the team that hired a coach -- Spurrier -- who told his team that they would not have a weekly game plan because "our offense works against anybody."

Due diligence, indeed.

I asked one prominent person in sport what he'd tell the next Skins coach or GM. He said, "Rent."

Everyone is now talking about who the next coach will be for the Skins. The Post even has a poll about it! But how about focusing on a GM that will be in charge of player personnel and not just the finances of the team. Then, the GM can go and hire a Head Coach. The Head Coach will then hire Coordinators. The Coordinators would then hire position coaches. Instead, for the Skins, it seems like the head bone is connected to the thigh bone! Is there someone you would like to see be a real GM? How about Scott Pioli?

A new GM isn't sexy enough. It doesn't fed the buzz of "We're a Bad Team, But Pay No Attention to That Because We Just Got the Great Coach X."

Everybody says, "Start with the GM." But do you trust Snyder to pick one? What would he use as his standard? Ability to lose gracefully at handball? This is the guy who had his opinions shaped for TEN YEARS by the "Kindergarten Ninja." (Vinny Cerrato.)

http://bit.ly/1dkCJjj

You can't make this stuff up. Only the Skins can generate it.

Shanahan's logic implies that he got fired because of the salary cap penalty affected roster depth. But the penalty doesn't explain why none of his character lineman draft picks started over, say, Tyler Polumbus or Will Montgomery. Give me a break.

Break? Who says you deserve a break? You're a Skins Fan! You'll take it and you'll like it. If you don't shape up, you'll have to go to the back of the 150-year-long season ticket list. 

I've been a season ticket holder for many years, and I'm worried. At the 2012 Orioles Fanfest, Dan Duquette said he had improved the roster at 25 of its 40 positions. Most of us were politely dubious -- and they went to the playoffs. Last year he said they had made no changes because they liked he roster the way it was. No playoffs, but a very competive season. This year, they have made few addition to cover a slew of losses. I'm not sure what they'll say at this year's Fanfest, but they look to have a lot of holes to fill with not many decent priospects. And it would sure be nice to have a true No.  1 pitcher for the fisrt time since Mike Mussina.

The Grant Balfour disaster was a replay of Aaron Sele and others in the past when the Baltimore baseball people made decisions -- some of them very good --then if the owner didn't like them, the physicals suddenly killed the deal.That's a great way to hurt your rep in your industry. There may have been real problems with Balfour's physical. (No veteran pitcher's shoulder and elbow look clean.) The O's might be right. But it started all the Bad Rep vibrations again. Now the O's REALLY need to sign at least one of the remaining free agent starting pitchers. After Balfour, if you have 30 other teams to choose from, do you reach terms with a club that may throw you back on the market with a damaged-goods tag?

Ugh.  

If I had my guess, I'd say that any more moves the Nats make this off-season will be at the margins -- slight upgrades to the 24th or 25th men and adding some additional piece parts for the Syracuse emergency-relief squad -- rather than anything splashy. But then again, I thought the same thing around this time last year before Rizzo & Co. picked up Rafael Soriano. So, which is it going to be this January?

The Nats have done what they are going to do. BUT Rizzo will sit back, as he always does, and see what falls into his lap. Edwin Jackson needed a "soft pillow" on which to land when Boras couldn't get him the long-term deal he wanted as a free agent. Rizzo grabbed him and, though he wasn't great, he was a key part that durable hard-throwing rotation that gave the Nats much of their identity in their 98-win season.

Soriano wasn't part of their plans. He became available. Ted Lerner paid up. Did that help or hurt the Nats last year? If you think Drew Storen would have had exactly the same problems if Soriano hadn't been aboard, then having a decent 43-save 3.11 ERA closer was one of the reasons that they won 86 games (instead of less). If you think getting Soriano messed with Storen's head, then maybe it wasn't good.

But Rizzo always has "a plan A, B and C." They didn't get the Plan A lefty reliever or backup catcher that they wanted. They wanted Blevins. But they also wanted another quality lefty, too, especially after they got rid of Abad and Krol. Will one become available? They seem to be comfortable with Solano as a backup catcher. They were cool toward Suzuki returning as a backup catcher because their internal analysis concluded that he was one of the worst at framing pitches and "stealing strikes." In fact, he tended to push pitches out of the strike zone. That was one of the subtle reasons, perhaps, that Ramos always had a much better "Catcher's ERA" than Suzuki with the same pitchers. Ramos frames very well and that's a key in a sport that has dozens of borderline pitches in every game.

PitchFX, which plots every pitch that's thrown, has allowed teams to figure out which catchers "get the most strikes" out of the same sample of pitches.

BTW, many in baseball assume that the Yankees pitching is so bad, and they could go downhill so badly this year (especially w CC in career decline), that they are -- or should -- be completely desperate to sign Masahiro Tanaka. Kuroda has saved them for two years. They'll go one dollar, or one million, higher than anybody. How high does that take the bidding? To a degree, the Yankees could actually KILL the market for Tanaka, not create it, because every other team knows how motivated -- desperate -- they are to have him as, potentially, the perfect pitching and PR fix.     

In your view, who would be the best candidate to be the new Redskins coach?

Penn & Teller.

Penn's a big guy. Let him coach.

Make Teller the GM. He'd be PERFECT. Maybe my old college friend (Ray) Teller, who still talked when we were freshmen and didn't go silent until sophomore year, could suddenly make Snyder disappear.

It's going to take a magician to turn this franchise around, that's for sure. 

Art Briles has led Baylor to a couple of good seasons, will he make a good fit? He was a great coach for RGIII. Will this make a better relationship with the QB than Mike Shanahan?

Art Briles is in his right mind and isn't leaving his beloved Texas. Jon Gruden is in his right mind and isn't leaving MNF.

Bill Cowher may or may not be in his right mind (he's in a Queen V video!?), but he ain't crazy enough to work for Dan Snyder. ("Cry your Eyes out," indeed.)

Being a baseball fan in the Washington, DC market for my 44 years has been tough, with the Redskins owning the media headlines in this town, regardless of how competitive they were on the field. You, Boz, have been an oasis of joy, in this otherwise depressing onslaught of Skins-mania. With the off-season for the Danny being his time to shine, we can only expect the ratcheting up of the spotlight on the Coaching/GM search, trades, signings, and drafts. What a relief it is to start turning our minds to the thoughts of splendidly manicured fields with baseball players in clean white uniforms jogging around in the bright Florida sun. What is the biggest question you are looking to see answered in the Nationals' 2014 Spring Training?

What impact will Matt Williams have? In what areas? This team has a lot of talent, but played very tightly last year -- until it was too late and any team could have relaxed. Can he get them to blow out of the gate, knock the Braves back on their heels early and change the perception of power in the N.L. East. The Braves subtracted two important leaders in Brian McCann and Tim Hudson. Did the Nats add a leader in their new manager? They certainly saw that as one of the job requirements.

Doug Fister is important for the next two years. But Matt Williams could be important for the next 10 years. Or not. Rizzo will do few more important things than make his first get-any-manager-you-want hire. 

Happy Holidays Boz, I was at a family gathering on Christmas Eve when my cousin - a 63 year old woman who loves the caps - told me she was at the game against the Ducks the night before and came away distraught. I agreed, assuming she was referring to the deplorable defense of the Caps, who had give up their second straight two goal lead. "It's not that" she curtly replied, "It was Bruce. The first time he had been back in building in two years, and they didn't even acknowledge his existence." While some critics may say point to Bruce's playoff record, I'm pretty disappointed that there was 0 acknowledgement. The Caps, after all, were pathetic for several years with Glen Hanlon leading up to his tenure. Aside from Ovi, I don't think there's many people who people can say made hockey relevant in hockey town than Bruce Boudreau.

Others have pointed this out to me.

I suspect the Caps have a bit of a problem with the reality that Bruce now coaches a team that is clearly better than they are.

Hometown fans see everything through the prism of "their" team. It's hard for them to see the other team that on the ice or field -- REALLY see them. I thought the Caps played out of their minds in terms of energy, crisp passing, hard checking and general playoff intensity throughout that entire game. Then the Caps version of events was "we didn't get any shots on goal. We played badly."

Uh, sorry, the other team, to me, looked like it was a clear level better and, when it got behind, said, "Okay, two goals down to the caps. Manageable problem. Lets win one for Bruce." So they did. The Caps are having a fairly nice season, but they aren't the Mighty Ducks or Blackhawks (both .744). And I suspect it sticks in their craw, especially when they see Bruce.

IOW, seems like they could have given him a tip of the hat. It wouldn't have undermined Oates in any way and everybody would have felt better. When in doubt, reach for the Good Karma.

Can we make it official, that Shanahan is the most overrated head coach in NFL History. Failure with the Raiders, before the Raiders were a joke. Wins in Denver on the back of Elway, Terrell Davis, and Shannon Sharpe, struggles when they left, and did next to nothing in Washington. He does not deserve to get another job, anywhere.

It took him four years to prove it to me -- and I was patient -- but of all the coaches in all the Washington sports since the mid-'70's I'd rank him last for basic character. A total egoist. "Jealosy is in some sort just and reasonable, since it has only for its object the preservation of a good which belongs, or which we fancy, belongs to ourselves, while envy, on the contrary, is a madness which cannot endure the good of others." My two cents, you'll seldom see anyone as envious as Shanahan was of Griffin. The way Shanahan rearranged the furniture to trip Griffin reminded me of the way Billy Martin tried, and often succeeded, in turning key Yankees against Reggie Jackson, whom Martin envied.  

You only saw the real Shanahan once in four years -- for 28 minutes in that press conference where he said, "I'm trying to be as honest as I can and I don't normally do that."

Did somebody give him sodium pentathol? Loved the way, this a.m., he called the Skins "a great organization," then for his last words, thanks the media and walked off. He looks down on everyone.

I've told my wife, not a sports fan but a good judge of people, about the rough lay of the land with Shanahan-Griffin-Snyder and especially the way Shanahan seems irritated and even infuriated by the dynamic between an accomplished athlete who was constantly praised as a kind of perfect person and his grinder son who was in RGIII's shadow. It's blood-is-thicker-than-water gone exponential. She said, "Isn't he supposed to be protecting and developing Griffin, because he's the team's top asset? But it sounds like he's trying to tear him down so he and his son won't look as bad. That sounds like a pretty bad person. Are you going to let people know that?"

I promised her, "Yes, I will."

Do you think that Mike Rizzo looks at the mess with the football team and tells himself that maybe getting the Lerners to commit on a particular transaction isn't so tough.

The constrast in "organizational styles" is certainly interesting. Talking to Rizzo recently, the names of Robbie Ray and Wilson Ramos came up. He immediately talked about how "(scouting director) Kris Kline deserves more credit. Our scouts spotted Matt Capps. We didn't get him for free. We paid $3.5-million. But they had him analyzed correctly and we turned Capps into Ramos (in trade) which may help us for 10 years." Then he went off riffing on how "Doug Harris and Bob Boone" and people in player development were turning marginal prospects, or players who were not even considered prospects at all "into REAL prospects" that eventually help the big club or, in Ray's case, are a key to the Fisterer trade. From '12 to '13, the Nats player development people helped cut Ray's ERA from 6.56 to 3.34. Then, when his value was high, they had a win-win situation -- Ray really is a prosppect now that the Tigers will probably enjoy and Fister really is a key to '14 and '15 for the Nats.

Shawn Springs said yesterday; "the Redskins are a marketing company that owns a professional football team." Therein lies the problem. There is no football organization. Danny's every move is predicating on revenue not wins and losses. You agree?

I agree that Snyder is a marketer, sees the world as a marketer. And I say that as someone whose wife was a marketing director. The problem with Snyder is that he is ONLY a marketer, a profit maximizer, a spinner, a crude controller of message (and terrible at it), not a natural builder or nurturer of an instituiton; he's not a person with any gift for motivating, inspiring or evaluating others. He's got a franchise that might as well exist in a bunker. He has his good points. But none of them bare on running an NFL team as far as I can see. But I've only been looking for those qualities in him for 15 years. Next year he's 50. Maybe they'll show up late. Seriously, I keep having hopes. Shanahan is so good at managing his own message and Snyder is so awful at it that Dan's just going to get killed over this firing. I wonder what he can learn from it?

Can the Nationals really rest on their laurels with Sandy Leon and Jhonatan Solano as the backup catchers for 2014? If Ramos goes down for any length of time, given Rizzo's history of delay in the '13 season with finding replacements for injured players, should we be worried going into the season with only Leon/Solano?

I'd be worried. They don't seem to be. So, we disagree on that. At least at first base if LaRochce doesn't bounce back they have an in-house option that makes sense in Tyler Moore, either in a platoon with LaRoche or just as the next first baseman. And, of course, LaRoche may have a good year. But I wouldn't feel easy about catcher. Mighty important and stabalizing position. A rookie is going to guide a staff, and a team, through a pennant race? Suzuki had done it in Oakland.

Have you ever considered political commentary. Your perceptive insight, passion, and pointed way of skewering those that deserve to be skewerd could certainly be applied a few miles west of FedEx on Capitol Hill. (And there are plenty of villians on both sides of the aisle.)

All sportswriters, when they are young and if they are considered promising at all, are assumed to want to do something else -- especially cover politics with an eye to doing political commentary if they are "lucky."  I never felt that way, said "Thanks, but no thanks" to possible polical coverage decades ago. And I'm glad. It would have been a mistake -- for me, not for others who are excellent at it.

After about three years on the Orioles beat, Earl Weaver looked at me one day and said, flatly, "You're still here." I took it that he assumed I was a young guy with a high opinion of himself who was "slumming" in sports for a while and would move on to "important" things. I just said, "Yes," like and-you're-stuck-with-me. We got along great after that. Well, as great as you could get along with a crab.   

Much of political commentary is so partisan these days -- such predictable special pleading for "your side" -- that a lot of it actually wouldn't pass muster in the sports world. It wouldn't be up to the minimum standard. How did THAT happen?

Sorry, waaay off topic. Must be time to stop. (Or past time.) Thanks for all the great questions. I'll keep reading 'em and stealing your good ideas as my own. Happy New Year! (In 2014, Washington sports will be better, honest.)

Two points: 1) As Peter King pointed out today, "The Rams have made five trades involving the original pick or the tentacles of that pick, and have six players from the trade under contract today." They now have the number two pick in the next draft and already talking about trading that pick to get several picks. They could end up with nine picks in the end, in exchange for Griffin. Unless Griffin turns into a Manning/Brady/Montana HOF'er who wins multiple Super Bowls, how is that not a terrible trade? 2) IMHO, you can't simply evaluate the trade based on whom the Rams pick with those picks. Even if the Rams blow it and don't get any really good players from those picks, it's the OPPORTUNITY that the Redskins gave away that's so damning. Just keeping the picks would have given the Skins, a team desperately in need of depth of talent, a chance to add four players. If they did something similar to what the Rams did, they would have ended up with a chance to add NINE players. How much better would they have been then? Bottom line: there is no way for that trade to work out for the Skins. None.

Great points.

But it STILL would have worked out, jmho, if Shanahan had had the common sense to take RGIII out early in the Seattle game. A real franchise QB -- and RGIII's blinding speed, fastest man on the whole field, was part of why he could become that -- is worth a LOT of picks.

Rocca tried to make it interesting, but I was disappointed that Shanahan did not have more of a Zorn-like flourish to his Zorn-like tenure.

A missed opportunity.

TU playing for their first national Championship this week! You had a chance to check out their RB Terrance West? 2,468 rushing yards and 40 TD's and counting this year!! Go Towson

Go Towson!

To me, the ex-coach's bad behavior the last month somehow makes Snyder seem less hate-able. What do you say?

Yes, sort of.

Memo for Danny: I've been a fan since I was a kid, to. I'm out now and I blame you, Fan Dan. No more money from my pocket to your pocket.

You won't be the last to reach that decision. See my column online now.

http://wapo.st/1chb6X3

So I looked at the standings yesterday and worked out that if the season ended Saturday, the Wizards would be seeded fifth, set up to oppose Toronto, which almost looks like a winnable series. Dare we hope that the Wiz have graduated to "also appearing in these playoffs" status?

The more in the playoffs the much-much-much merrier.

....is that at least the Capitals, Nationals and even the Wizards have good enough ownership and talent to be reasonably decent for the foreseeable future. Three out of four good sports franchises in one city isn't all that bad.

Amen. A proper thought for the New Year.

A non-football related question? Is this blasphemy? :) I enjoy watching the Capitals and am pleased to see them sitting in second place in the division. However, it seems to me that unless something changes, they are destined to repeat the same playoff experience as in recent past. Yes, they are sitting in second place, but how many of those points are coming in shootouts and overtime losses? The answer? Too many. They still look rough and seem to have problems scoring in regulation. That is, unless they have fallen behind and need to play their rear ends off. Are they a team that needs to be an underdog to succeed? They are good, but something still seems to be missing.

I've got a replay of the shootout against Buffalo last night on my TV screen right now. I don't think it's going to turn out well.

Thank you! Funniest thing I've heard in a long time!

You're welcome.

When Cowher's name came out as a "leading" choice I just sighed and thought "not again." Can't we just grab an up and coming coordinator who wants an opportunity?

Skins rule of thumb: If you've heard of him, he'll fail.

(But then not many had heard of Zorn.)

Enough Skins! Best news this past week was the signing of Emmanuel Burriss to a minor league contract by the Nationals. Gives us depth and some options in case Espinosa doesn't change his batting approach.

Welcome home, Emmanuel.

(Backstrom took too long to shoot.)

You pointed out that only people with whole egos, Bobby Beathard and Joe Gibbs, have been successful here. Are any of the current candidates so possessed? Lovey Smith and Tony Dungy come to mind, but would such maturity recoil at having to work with Snyder?

Yes, except for Gibbs return, maturity has recoiled.

(AMAZING stops in the Caps-Buffalo shootout!)

So the diabolical, plotting, strings-pulling franchise quarterback pulled off his most impressive, ego-driven move yet this season: getting himself benched for the final three games. If that doesn't prove RGIII is really calling the shots, what will? It's pure genius. What megalomaniac wouldn't want to relegate himself to riding the pine?

Stop thinking logically. These are the Skins. It will only confuse you.

Boz, do Cousins' struggles in any way validate RGIII's performance, after the fact? As you point out, he turned in the WORST performance, statistically, of any QB this season, behind the same line and throwing to the same receivers. Maybe RG wasn't so terrible, after all. Sure, his mechanics were off and he made many mistakes, but somehow he put up numbers that were an order of magnitude better than the other guy's. And when Jordan Reed was in there, suddenly the passing yards were piling up. Maybe there's really something to the argument that what RG lacked, more than a functioning knee, was talent around him. What do you think?

It's a thought. And you're the first I've seen to express it. Thanks.

Okay, gone. See you next year.

Let's forget Mike Shanahan for a minute. I've got a problem: I'm quite fond of the 13-14 Wizards. I grew up during the Fat Lady era, and I've seen plenty of bad basketball in the post-Elvin years, and yes, I realize the current team is one Nene injury away from disaster, but I really like how they're jelling. Do you think this team can make a Caps-like jump in local popularity? Also, fwiw, I've grown up in this area, and was once a die-hard Redskins fan, but I probably watched at most three games this year: not because the Skins are perennial losers, but because I hate how the team is run. They lost me once they started suing season ticket holders and when Snyder sued the City Paper. When it comes to local pro sports teams, the Redskins, for me, fall well behind the Nats, Wiz, and Caps. Seems to me that Danny should be worried about people like me who've gone from die-hard to indifferent.

That's the subject of my column. You can only invest so much energy and affection in a franchise that doesn't represent -- and in many cases completely repudiates --your own values.

Boz, I think your column ends with the best advice: laugh. Laugh at the Redskins. Laugh at The Danny. Laugh at any coach or GM fool enough to work for The Danny. Most of all, laugh at the gullible fans who will continue to waste their time and money on tickets and regalia. Gene Weingarten recently told the story of the Giants fans who contracted a plane to tow a banner over the stadium during a game. The banner read "We deserve better." Until The Danny offers something better, people who want a change should vote with their feet....and most importantly, their wallets.

Then we can give out stickers that say, "I voted."

How refreshing it is to have the prior Nat's discussion on a depressing day like today. One wonders what Rizzo could have (assuming he had a similar football accumen as he does in baseball) if he were Redskins' GM since 2009 & had the same autonomy the the Lerner's have given him - your thoughts?

The last two people in the Skins organization (with authority) that were beat-the-bushes work-your-brains-out grass-level scouts of actual football players were Bobby Beathard and Charley Casserly. They could talk the game for hours -- beacuse they actually KNEW their game, like Rizzo. How did that work out? Oh, that's right, they both helped lift Lombardi Trophies.

What is this "player development" of which you speak? As a Skins fan, I am utterly unfamiliar with it. Is it a concept unique to baseball?

Unfortunately, no.

Hi Boz, Please rank these coaches in order of most likely to be hired by Snyder: Bill Parcells Mike Ditka Joe Gibbs John Madden Jimmy Johnson

That's the list!!! Did you sneak into Dan's office to get it? Shhhh, don't tell anybody. (I'm pulling for Ditka.)

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Thomas Boswell
A Washington Post columnist since 1984, Thomas Boswell is known for the many books he has written on baseball, including "How Life Imitates the World Series" and "Why Time Begins on Opening Day."
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