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How Can Washington Redskins Owner Daniel Snyder Not Get It?

The Washington Redskins appear to have all but let another offseason go by without addressing the offensive line. While the NFL draft is still ahead, the Redskins have already given up their second-round choice and with the first-round pick going to select Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III that means any offensive line help will have to come off the scrap heap. This is a consistent pattern of behavior under Daniel Snyder’s ownership of the franchise and it leaves me baffled as to why he, of all owners, doesn’t seem to get it.

There are two things no one can doubt about Daniel Snyder (or least two positive things no one can doubt—there’s more on the other side of the ledge). He genuinely loves the Washington Redskins in a way that transcends his financial investment and he genuinely wants to win. I respect that. I don’t understand how someone how grew up loving the Redskins, as Snyder apparently did can be so oblivious to the offensive line.

From Joe Jacoby to Mark May to Russ Grimm to Jim Lachey, the names of great offensive lineman fill the recent past of the Washington Redskins. The “Hogs” were the anchor of Super Bowl winners in 1982 and 1987 and an upgraded version was the key to the 1991 Redskins season, one of the most dominant seen in NFL history. So how is that Snyder can be comfortable putting an offensive line on the field with legends like Tyler Polumbus, Willie Smith and Chris Chester?

Furthermore, a Redskins fan above all, should know not to place too much weight on the skill positions at the expense of the line. Those three Super Bowl rings were won with four different quarterbacks. Yes, four. Joe Theisman in ’82, a Jay Schroeder/Doug Williams combo in ’87—Schroeder started much of the regular season before Williams finally took over the job down the stretch—and Mark Rypien in ’91. In the backfield, John Riggins was a great runner, but he gave way to George Rogers, who gave way to Timmy Smith’s record Super Bowl game in ’87, who gave way to an Earnest Byner/Ricky Ervins tag-team in ’91.  There was one constant at the skill spots and it was receiver Art Monk—the Hall of Famer whose quiet demeanor and play emphasized consistency over flash and is ironically another case of an old-time ‘Skin being the antithesis of what Snyder has tried to inflict on a loyal fan base.

I like Robert Griffin III, both as a player and the kind of person he seems to be. If he were being dropped into the system the Redskins had in their heyday, I think he could be the best of any of the four quarterbacks listed above. But he’s instead being dropped into a system that tries to just make do with the offensive line rather than seek to dominate.

There’s much truth in the notion that the advent of NFL free agency make the kind of stable line the Redskins had impossible to replicate. I’m not looking for a line that good. I’m just looking for an ownership team who understands why and how this franchise reached its greatest heights and models itself on that. It doesn’t seem too much to ask. And given Daniel Snyder’s background he seems the right man to ask it of.