Tuesday, November 1, 2011
At long last, Chris Cooley makes sense
By Dan Graziano
Perspective is a rare thing to find in the analysis of today's NFL, where fans are week-to-week extremists and former players seem bent on saying the most outrageous things they can think to say about their former teams. So imagine my surprise when I saw this item from Dan Steinberg on the calm wisdom being preached today by injured Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley:
"I've listened to everyone call in, and I've listened to everyone talk about our staff, and this is what I like about it," Cooley said Monday on the LaVar and Dukes show. "Our fan base hates our owner, ok, because he can't ever keep a coach, he'll never keep players, he'll never keep guys around, he changes it, it's like a fantasy football team to him. But then everyone calls in and says we gotta get rid of Kyle Shanahan, we gotta get rid of Mike Shanahan, we gotta get rid of these players, we gotta trade Chris Cooley.
"So you criticize Dan Snyder for trading coaches and players every year and trying to do things every year, and then you call and say this is what we’ve got to do? I hate it. What we've got to do is keep consistency over a period of time, and continue to try to build, trust me, under Mike Shanahan, who knows football and knows players."
Imagine the idea of patience for a change in Washington. In the past few weeks, Cooley has made headlines for saying he enjoyed watching Tony Romo choke away a game and for blaming his season-ending knee injury on the NFL lockout, and it's made me wonder why anybody ever listens to the guy on any topic. But then he goes and says something like this, that makes so much sense amid the noise and panic, and I'm compelled to share it with all of you Redskins fans out there on the ledge.
Look: No one's getting fired. Mike Shanahan is in Year Two of a five-year contract that includes stipulations that Snyder stay out of his way and let him make the football decisions. Kyle Shanahan, the offensive coordinator, is Mike's son. Jim Haslett, the defensive coordinator, was handpicked by Shanahan to come with him and change over the defense from a 4-3 to a 3-4 -- a process that takes a great deal of time. They were all hired, two years ago, to establish a level of continuity and sustainable, year-to-year success for a once-proud franchise that had lost focus and direction. Just because they've lost three games in a row and didn't have enough depth on offense to weather all of the injuries they've had over the past few weeks doesn't mean ownership will or even should consider coaching changes.
The whole point of hiring Shanahan in Washington was to be patient with him and what he was doing. At no point was winning this year's Super Bowl a realistic goal, and to judge these coaches and players on what happened this October would be foolish and rash and counter-productive. This is a long-term rebuilding project, folks, and I expect the Redskins to continue treating it as such. To do otherwise would be a big mistake.