Anatomy Of A Rebuild

I always have a blast when I go on BmitchLive with Brian Mitchell. Last night Brian was good enough to bring me on to talk with him about not just the Redskins loss to the 49ers, but the state of the team and if they are in fact “rebuilding”. Apparently rebuild is in the eye of the beholder, especially considering the impatience of NFL owners these days.

Yesterday during Mike Shanahan’s weekly press conference, the question was asked if he felt like he was rebuilding the franchise. In true Mike Shanahan fashion he attempted to completely dodge asking what the definition of rebuild was.

Really? Is Bill Clinton Back in office debating the meaning of the word “is”? 

Mike since it is clear that you are a little frustrated, and seem to be a little fuzzy on what a rebuild is, allow us to help you out. 

Rebuild: 1 a: to make extensive repairs to : reconstruct  b : to restore to a previous state 2 :to make extensive changes in : remodel  

My favorite here has to be “to restore to a previous state”. I know that for a lot of you reading this that are either my age or just younger you may not understand the significance of restoring this team to a previous state.

Sure you most likely know all about the first coming of Joe Gibbs and the three Super Bowl victories (I mean this team trots those trophies around every chance they get) but a lot of you may not have actually experienced it.

The last time the Skins won a Super Bowl I was five years old. I do actually remember watching the game with my dad and some family friends, it was an absolute blast. In fact that memory with friends and family all having so much fun enjoying the Skins become champions probably has a lot to do with how much I enjoy the game now 20 some odd years later.

Since Gibbs retired the first time, this team has been an absolute train wreck. It was bad in the 90’s and got a lot worse when Danny Boy took over leading us into the 2000’s.

At a time where an entire generation of fans has only known the Redskins as a laughing stock, a rebuild is exactly what this team needs. Even if he won’t come right out and admit it, rebuilding is exactly what Mike Shanahan is doing.

In terms of football, rebuilding typically means the following:

Cutting dead-weight aging players with over inflated contracts:

See the 2010 offseason. Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan have done an absolutely brilliant job of cutting the dead weight and free agent mistakes. For the first time in a decade the Redskins are not in Salary Cap trouble. This offseason showed that this is an organization with a focus on making financially responsible deals that are best for building a team not selling merchandise.

Building the team through the draft:

Other than the decision to trade for McNabb, which proved to be a terrible one, we have seen two pretty good drafts; Guys like Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan, Roy Helu, Leonard Hankerson and Niles Paul could make huge impacts on this team for years to come. Not to mention Jarvis Jenkins who looks to be an absolute stud assuming he can stay healthy.

Use Free Agency to supplement the draft and fill the roster:

For years the Skins got this wrong, they went after big name free agents with terribly overloaded contracts while wasting draft picks on who knows what. Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen are great examples of this new philosophy. Both players fit the defensive system perfectly and were less flashy players with guys like Nnamdi Asomugha and Cullen Jenkins available.

Giving those young guys playing time for experience:

On Sunday the Redskins started 4 Rookies; Hankerson, Hurt, Helu and Kerrigan. Jenkins was primed to see a lot of playing time had he not been injured in the preseason. Even guys like Niles Paul have found their way on the field in the last few weeks. The bottom line is this; veterans are not getting it done so it’s time to see what the kids have in them. 

Groom a Franchise Quarterback:

This is the most important, and also the one that this team has failed at for decades. Typically when a new coach comes in for a rebuild the QB is the first priority, so far for Mike Shanahan he has not found his guy. Shanahan has made it clear that he has not been overwhelmed with the QB’s that have been available to him during the last two off season, citing that guys did not fit his system for whatever the reason. Clearly John Beck is not the answer (neither was McNabb or Grossman), so this season it’s time for Mike to get his guy.

The hard part for fans is having patience during this process.  “Any time you have some inexperienced guys at a number of different positions you are going to have some growing pains.” Said Shanahan during his Monday Presser, “I’m pleased with the effort we have had, obviously not pleased with the execution”.

With the season all but over for the Redskins now is definitely the time for this team to see what they have in the young guys as they move forward in this rebuilding process.


About Ray Smith

Ray Smith is the Head Writer and Senior Editor of as well as the Host of the SonOfWashington Podcast. Follow Ray on Twitter @SonOfWashington

Posted on November 8, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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