- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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Louis Riddick endured the chaos in Washington from 2001-07, first as a scout and then as director of pro personnel. He knows the toll it takes and what needs to happen. This is Part 1 of our conversation with the ESPN NFL Insider.
What does Dan Snyder need to do?
Louis Riddick: He can do whatever the hell he wants. He owns the place. He doesn’t have to ignore players. But he has to understand the delicate culture of an NFL locker room. You can’t empower a first-year quarterback to feel he is bigger than everyone else when you have 8-, 9-, 10-, 11-year vets that you’re not doing things for. You can’t do that to a point where a head coach feels as though he has to make a stand against that kind of stuff to this degree – if you believe that’s what’s happening now and why wouldn’t you believe it considering the fact that to different degrees you’ve seen it before with Bruce Smith or Clinton Portis. You’ve seen players say, 'I can do what I want because I’m tight with the main guy.' … You have to respect how the game has to be managed from the ground level, not from the board room and be cognizant of the power and authority the head coach deserves and needs. If it’s just about, ‘I’ll do what I do because I have a right to do it,’ then don’t be mad when the results are what they are. This is a long-winded way of saying you have to make some adjustments, otherwise you’ll face this over and over.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be personable. This is a relationship business. It’s still a people business. I don’t think the upper level of management has to be so cold and impersonal that it lacks the ability to relate to or communicate effectively with the people who work for you. But the dynamic of running an NFL team from a head coach’s perspective is very unique and you can’t in any way undermine it.
Assuming this staff is gone, someone will take this job.
Riddick: Yes. … I know Dan cares about this team dearly, desperately. I know he does. He just has to make some adjustments.
I know from Robert Griffin’s perspective all the talk about his relationship with Snyder is off the mark, that they’re not as close as it’s being leaked.
Riddick: A lot of times it’s funny how when you’re a part of it and part of the problem you don’t realize how much you’re part of the problem. 'How can what I’m doing be so bad? I’m not doing anything. I’m just hanging out.' If you could have him step outside himself and look at himself. … When I used to look at old pictures of myself as opposed to now, I was wearing earrings and had all the chains and I was like, ‘What the hell is that? That can’t be me.’ While I was doing it I thought this is the way it’s supposed to be. You don’t have perspective. Perspective is going to be the key.
What’s the formula for Snyder?
Riddick: The hardest part for him is to be objective. You can’t help from keeping his subjective feelings and preconceived attitudes and biases about this game out of it. He just can’t help it. He is really attracted to the names, the star power, the perceived star power and big names and doesn’t dig deep to see what’s substance and staying power those star power names have, whether or not it really is something and if star power and names have earned all the accolades and attention they get. If you look at Mike [Shanahan], you can ask 50 different people and get all kinds of different opinions, and one thing you’ll constantly hear people say is if it wasn’t for John Elway, now what? They’ll keep saying that. That’s what they’ll keep saying. If you look past that, once he left and started to get total control and was building the organization, what happened then? What do people say about you after that point? Dan needs to stop chasing names and start trying to look for substance and look for real qualifications and then he has to re-examine his information gathering process and let the process lead to the name instead of looking to the name and saying the process took care of itself because I got the name. It’s almost like doing it backwards. He’ll eventually get what he wants if that process is sound, which is to stop getting embarrassed.
The sad part is the process once led them to Jim Zorn.
Riddick: It’s just as important in the head coach hiring process for the people who are doing the interviewing to have prepared and studied and researched what they need to ask and what they need to hear as it is for the person who is being interviewed. If you have taken the time to find out what the answer is I’m looking for, what characteristics I’m looking for that are going to take my organization to the places I want to take it to. If you don’t know what they are, then you have no shot. You’ll hire this guy, try that guy. You need to stop and look at yourself and say, 'Am I respecting the process and respecting the game and how hard it is to build a winner?'