Your GM. Seems really obvious, and thats because it is. Every bad and mediocre team's fans want its head coaches to be fired. The only two teams I believe have a case of poor coaching and great talent are Dallas and San Diego--- otherwise ownership and the front office are squarely to blame for poor performance. Zorn could be a bad coach, but Snyder and Cerrato are the true, long-term issues in Washington which directly cause and sustain mediocrity. Let me give you a five-year history of two teams that took completely different tracks based on ownership and general management:
To end the '03 season, the Giants and Redskins respectively had 4-12 and 5-11 records and we both chased the Eagles for the NFC East title. In the ensuing 5 seasons, the Giants reached the postseason each year, winning 2 NFC east titles, a #1 NFC seeding, and a Super Bowl victory (victory dance.... ok, done). The Redskins, on the other hand, were simply mediocre. Not quite bad, not quite good, with a couple losing records, a couple wild-card berths, and one postseason victory over Tampa Bay. What happened? Lets take a look at the drafts shall we...
New York Giants Drafting. 04-09
And now, while the head coach and QB remained the same, a new GM, a guy by the name of Jerry Reese, takes over the chains in January '07. In April '07, the Giants add these guys to the bunch.
07: Aaron Ross, Round 1 Steve Smith, Round 2 Jay Alford, Round 3 Zak DeOssie, Round 4 (haven't seen his LB skills developed yet, but a pro bowl long snapper nonetheless) Kevin Boss, Round 5 Michael Johnson & Ahmad Bradshaw- Round 7
This draft class propelled us to a Super Bowl title, after which we experienced the loss of Pro Bowl DE and TE Shockey and Strahan. The following draft class contributed to a 12-4 #1 NFC 2008 Campaign.
08: Kenny Phillips, Round 1-- everyone knows how much I love this guy, future Pro-Bowler IMO. Terell Thomas, Round 2, Mario Manningham, Round 3, Bryan Kehl, Round 4 and Jonathan Goff, Round 5- like DeOssie, excellent special teams LBs whos LB skills are not there yet, Lawrence Tynes- Acquired in a trade for 7th round pick
Maybe we wouldn't be a successful team without Tom Coughlin, but without a whiz GM and talented scouts to procure all this talent for us, we would surely be nowhere, much like the Washington Redskins.
Instead, ,we see a trend for supplementing the current teams of the time with talent as well as ensuring success in the future. In these 5 draft classes, the Giants have around 25 notable players spread on both offense and defense:
Starting CBs, Starting FS/SS, Starting DE and DT, Starting WRs and #3 WR, Starting TE, Starting G, K, and obviously QB. Of these players, Corey Webster, Kenny Phillips, Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka (although not a starter), Steve Smith, Chris Snee, and Eli Manning all play at a Pro-Bowl level, with Tuck, Snee and Manning all having been elected to pro bowls.
My main point:
Because of excellent general management and an eye for talent, this team has withstood the losses of Pro Bowl DE Strahan, Pro Bowl RB Tiki Barber, Pro Bowl TE Jeremy Shockey, and its all-time leading receiver Amani Toomer and elite wideout Plaxico Burress and has earned a playoff berth from the 2005 season onwards with 2 division titles, a #1 NFC seeding, and a Super Bowl title to boot. Through these 5 drafts, this team has remained talented and well-rounded at all positions and has thus been transformed from that 4-12 team into a perpetual winner with a winning mentality and culture.
Meanwhile, over in Washington....
Since '04, the Redskins mildly successful to excellent draft picks have been:
Sean Taylor- RIP, Chris Cooley, Carlos Rogers, Jason Campbell, Rocky McIntosh, Reed Doughty, LaRon Landry, and of the '08 draft class Davis, Thomas, and Kelley (Rounds 1-3) have all done virtually nothing while Chad Rinehart, G has played well but Chris Horton (S) has been recently demoted from starter in favor of Reed Doughty, and the best 1st Round Skin pick since Sean Taylor, Brian Orakpo this year.
These draft selections are very telling: These generously 'good' draft choices amount to 12 players, meaning the majority of the Redskins draft choices have been busts or non-factors, while the strengths of their drafts have been on the defensive side of the ball, where they are among the top in the NFL. Sean Taylor (again, RIP), even Carlos Rogers, underrated Rocky McIntosh and Reed Doughty, LaRon Landry, Horton, and Orakpo are all good to excellent defensive players. The defense, even under the poor coaching of DC Greg Blache plays well.
On the offensive side of the ball, with the exception of Rinehart and Cooley, in the past 5 years the Redskins have not added a good or great offensive player. Jason Campbell is decent at the QB position but has suffered from the Redskins' drafting ineptitude at the positions of RB and the entire O-Line. Now they face the issues of an aging and falling apart o-line, an over-the-hill RB who is no longer nearly productive enough to sustain a successful running game, and there are no viable replacements for them on the Redskins roster. At the WR position, they have old trusty ARE and Santana Moss with young receivers in Kelly, Thomas, and Davis (TE) who could possibly be more talented then any of us know yet-- much like we did not know with our own group of WRs. However, any potential that group may have does not change the gravely serious issue of their abysmal running game that has no clear future on the roster and their aged and falling apart O-line which now stands to lose Pro Bowl OT Chris Samuels, now 33 years old, to injury-induced retirement. Washington has no young talent at the position to replace him and are now forced to use Pro Bowl TE Chris Cooley, their best offensive weapon, increasingly as a blocker. This situation perfectly illustrates the bottom line problem of this team, which is that poor general management has failed to fill this team's needs through the draft and have made them into a perpetually mediocre and seemingly worsening team that is incapable of contending in the NFL, while the exact opposite is true for our New York Giants.