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When one thinks of similar NFL teams, one rarely thinks of the Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks. One is East Coast smash-mouth, the other is West Coast, well, West Coast. For most of the past 30 years Seattle was AFC indoors on turf in the slick, new Kingdome, Washington was NFC, outside on grass and mud in ancient and rickety RFK Stadium.
In the past five years, however, the teams have grown more and more similar. Seattle moved to the NFC. They both now play on grass in new stadiums that are named for companies (Qwest and FedEx) that did not exist when the Seahawks were formed in 1976. They both have deep-pockets owners who seem to be willing to do anything to win. And they both, by vastly different methods, are stuck on stupid.
Since 2000 the Seahawks have had one coach, Mike Holmgren. The following year, Homgren inserted quarterback Mike Hasselbeck, running back Shaun Alexander and wide receiver Darrell Jackson into the regular lineup and since then that trio as started the lion’s share of games at their respective positions. They have built their roster largely thorough the draft. The result of such stability at key positions has been staggering mediocrity. Since 2000 they are 43-40 with an 0-2 playoff record.
At least they have a winning record. The Redskins have been worse by about a game and a half a year, going 36-46 with nary a whiff of the playoffs. Since 2000 they have been through four head coaches (no, Robiskie doesn’t count), seven different starting quarterbacks (with numerous shuffles among them), three primary running backs and four primary wide receivers. They have gone after free agents and they have made some major trades
To be sure, the Seahawks have taken a flyer in free agency from time to time with players such as defensive end Grant Wistrom. Hasselbeck came in a trade, albeit one that wasn’t noticed much at the time. And Washington has had some draftees such as Jon Jansen and Chris Samuels around since the turn of the century.
Two different paths, one result where most NFL teams measure success—not a single playoff win. What we have is one extreme, excessive stability and another, excessive instability. Neither has worked out very well.
Looking at the coaches, perhaps Seattle should have taken a closer look at Holmgrem’s Super Bowl ring and seen Bret Favre smiling back at them in one of the stones and let the coach go. A change of direction at the top might have gotten this talented team deep into the playoffs. Had the Redskins stuck with Marty Schottenheimer, they may have a few playoff appearances under their belts. Maybe Spurrier would have figured the pro game out by now. Maybe Norv would have. . .uh, nope, forget it, and the one about the Ballcoach as well. But Marty may have gotten it done.
At the running back spot, Washington had a choice to make a few years ago—either take a huge cap hit to keep Stephen Davis, one of the best running backs in the game, or let him go. They chose to let him go figuring, perhaps, what’s one more change in a sea of them. This year, Seattle chose to take a big cap hit to keep Alexander, one of the best backs in the game, rather than let him go. Their knee jerk reaction towards stability dictated that they keep him. Through three games it seems like that was a good move. We’ll see in another 13 games and next offseason, when Alexander will be an unrestricted free agent, how such a commitment to stability works out in the long term.
The turmoil has continued for the Redskins even after the hiring of Joe Gibbs, who will coach this team for as long as he wants to, with the team firing both of its 2004 starting wide receivers and making a quarterback change 18 minutes into the season.
On Sunday, this clash of the wannabe titans will take place. Continuity vs. chaos, order vs. turmoil.
Dumb vs. dumber. We’ll see which is which