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In the words of Dave Chappelle, what can I say about Renaldo Wynn that hasn’t already been said about Afghanistan? He looks bombed out and depleted. I questioned why the Redskins brought him back for a second stint with the team last season, when he was clearly finished as a player the first time he was let go. Then he went to the Giants and did nothing, and then was brought back to again do nothing with the Redskins for another year.

My prediction for Wynn last season was that he would not accrue a single stat the entire year. I was barely off. Here are his end of year statistics: two games played, one tackle. He did not see action until week 15, when the team was 4-9 and losing to the Giants by double figures. He did not do anything of consequence the entire season. In fact, he was cut twice during the season to make roster space for a spare punter when Hunter Smith repeatedly went down with a groin injury. Why he was brought back after both cuts is beyond me. The Redskins fared no different, got no better, got no younger, and built nothing for the future.

After all that, Wynn is still around. He will turn 36 in September and doesn’t have much left. The Redskins are switching from a base 4-3 defense to a 3-4 hybrid and have no place for him. I don’t understand how he could be in the plans of this organization. I don’t get where this loyalty to him comes from, but I just have a bad feeling it will take just one injury on the defensive line and you will see Wynn brought back for a few weeks in the middle of the season to not even play a down.

Skins scalp 10

Randle El was one of 10 players released before free agency.

As it has become clear there will be no salary cap ramifications in 2010, the Redskins began cutting dead weight, releasing 10 players, most of them veterans, on the eve of free agency.

All told, 72 years of playing experience and $17 million in salaries were purged from the roster. Notable names of those cut include: Fred Smoot, Randy Thomas, Antwaan Randle El, Ladell Betts, Rock Cartwright and Cornelius Griffin. Reserves Todd Collins, Marcus Mason, Eddie Williams and J.D. Skolnitsky were also released.

The Redskins, who had the oldest roster in the NFL last year, needed to free themselves of old regime holdovers, unjustifiable contracts, and older players with career-decimating injuries. The double-digit release of players gives Washington breathing room for free agency moves and multiple draft picks. Most notably, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett would like to bring in new personnel that better fits the hybrid 3-4 scheme he plans on installing this offseason. While the front office has been calculated in its approach to free agency thus far, expect several more moves, even if it’s just reserves to provide depth and utility.

Several cuts were expected just looking at bonuses due and base salaries for the coming year. Most of those released are over 30, a stigma that results in many players looking for new places of employment and not getting contract offers of more than one or two years.

Fred Smoot, who will turn 31 in less than a month, was due $3.9 million this coming year. After drafting J.T. Tryon and Kevin Barnes in back-to-back years and acquiring free agent DeAngelo Hall, Smoot appeared to be an odd man out. Although he did see decent playing time last year, he didn’t have any interceptions and his role could be viewed as replaceable by someone younger and cheaper, i.e. Tryon or Barnes.

Randy Thomas spent the better part of the last two seasons on injured reserve with torn triceps in both arms. He was due $3.7 million this upcoming season. An elder statesman on the offensive line, Thomas’ career could very well be over. Unless a team needs a stop gap for an in-season injury, do not expect another team to pick him up. While he is a great run blocker, and an excellent pulling guard, his age and rash of injuries have taken much away from his skillset.

Antwaan Randle El was a splashy free agent signing after he was named MVP of the Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Originally brought in to be a “gadget” player in Al Saunders’ timing-route offense, Randle El never lived up to the contract and hype surrounding his arrival. Always solid, but never spectacular, he put up respectable numbers year after year, but never broke the 1,000-yard or 100-reception mark in a season. Last year was the first time he did not score a touchdown in a season. His lack of big plays last year, coupled with his dismal performance returning punts on special teams, was the catalyst for his departure.

Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright made up the running back depth chart for the better part of the last decade in Washington. Betts was a quality backup, who took full advantage of his opportunity to start when Clinton Portis went down in 2006. This time it is Betts who went down, tearing his ACL and MCL, creating a long road to recovery. The uncertainty of his devastating knee injury made matters worse as he has eclipsed the dreaded age of 30, usually a death sentence for running backs. Cartwright, who saw more playing time at running back last year with injuries to both Portis and Betts, was special teams captain and kickoff returner. His special teams abilities fended off competition from other reserve backs, and kept him on the roster for years. However, it appears management is ready to move on from both backs and start fresh in Mike Shanahan’s zone blocking system.

Cornelius Griffin was one of the more productive free agent signings of the last five years for the Redskins. When healthy, he was a terrific run stuffer and reliable defensive tackle. The beating his body has taken over the years has caught up with him and a scheme change from a 4-3 base defense to a 3-4 system are contributing factors to his dismissal. Reports of interest in free agents on the market point to Washington looking for a better fit on the defensive line.

The Redskins needed to jettison as many old players as possible. A new regime is starting in Washington and new blood who will buy into the program are essential. As a whole, the Redskins need to get younger and overhaul both lines. Neither of those could happen if the roster remained the same. While fans will be upset to see some crowd favorites go, it is the nature of the league and many of those players are not the same as they once were. The bottom line is this is the first step in the right direction, and a smart precursor to the draft, and what will hopefully be a subdued free agency period.

New faces of the franchise Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan have a clear vision for what direction they want to take this team in, and this is only the beginning of that vision. This process could take years, but it all starts with having the right people on your team. The oldest roster in the league with multi-million dollar injured 30-somethings is not the right fit. The dead weight has been cut, now the focus is on bringing in younger talent.

Zorn reborn?

Zorn caught on quickly in Baltimore after his firing in DC.

By the fourth game of the season, we all knew it was coming: Jim Zorn was going to be fired as head coach of the Washington Redskins. What remained to be seen was where and what his next coaching job would be. It didn’t take long, and it wasn’t far either. Zorn simply took a cruise around the Beltway from DC to Baltimore to become the new quarterbacks coach of the Baltimore Ravens.

From the outset, it looked like Zorn would reconnect with mentor Mike Holmgren, by becoming the quarterbacks coach in Cleveland where Holmgren had moved into the front office. However, sometimes the obvious is not always the outcome, and the rumors never really materialized. Shortly after, Zorn was announced as the newest member of the Ravens coaching staff.

This could be good for Zorn, who will be taking a serious step back from his duties with the Redskins. He will be solely in charge of developing Joe Flacco, who has matured quickly, but without much responsibility in a run-first offense. He will not need to worry about any head coaching duties, play-calling responsibilities, media requests or in-game decisions. He can go back to what he did best, pass down his quarterbacking expertise to those under his tutelage.

I wish Zorn the best. He truly was a nice guy, which is rare in professional sports, but it also showed why there are so few around. He was chewed up and spit out, without much fighting back on his part. In reality, he will never be a head coach again, at least in the professional ranks, and his one shot at the big time came and went with little more than a whimper. While he was not a good fit in Washington, both with the demands of ownership and the media fishbowl, he will be a quality asset to another team’s coaching staff, and Baltimore should expect a much improved Flacco next season.

Thank you for your time here, Jim Zorn. Best of luck in the future, I’ll see ya when I see ya.

Carroll's departure from USC is one of several high-profile coaching changes in college football this offseason.

Whew, and you thought Mike Shanahan was the biggest coaching news of this offseason? With an impending NCAA investigation, Pete Carroll has bolted the USC Trojans’ program to become the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, setting off a chain of events causing a huge coaching shake-up among the college ranks. As if this offseason wasn’t crazy enough, one of college football’s most successful coaches over the last decade is now gone to try his hand at the professional level.

So far this offseason, we have seen three coaches, Mark Mangino (Kansas), Mike Leach (Texas Tech) and Jim Leavitt (South Florida), fired for allegedly physically abusing their players. Now we are seeing a highly successful college coach take a huge risk by moving to the next level in hopes of being just as successful. History has shown that no matter how many national championships you have won, iconic college coaches do not usually have an easy time in the NFL, just ask Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban. Honestly, Carroll doesn’t need to ask anyone, he’s already been down this road…and failed. This will be Carroll’s third stint as a professional head coach, with losing efforts already recorded with the New York Jets and New England Patriots.

No matter what Carroll’s outcome is in Seattle, his departure left a huge wake felt across the country that has shuffled the deck in several conferences. With Carroll going pro, USC turned to the pro ranks for its next coach. After being rebuffed by Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, rumors began circulating that an offer was on the table for Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio to return to his alma mater to lead the Trojans. After he adamantly denied the reports, more rumors surfaced that USC had shifted its focus to University of Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian. Sarkisian was the USC offensive coordinator¬† just two years ago with Carroll, and hey, if Carroll can go from Los Angeles to Seattle, why not try to get Sarkisian to go from Seattle back to Los Angeles? While Sarkisian did not deny having communication about the coaching vacancy, he did deny any sort of offer that came his way and is remaining with the Huskies.

After going down the pecking order of desirable candidates, USC found a familiar face who has been eager to get ahead in the business. Former Oakland Raiders head coach, and now former University of Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin agreed to a deal with the Trojans, leaving the Volunteers after just one season. Kiffin brings with him his father, Monte, one of the greatest defensive minds in history and recruiting extraordinaire Ed Orgeron. However, the offensive coordinator spot remains open, and reports are already linking former USC offensive coordinator, and current UCLA offensive coordinator, Norm Chow to possibly fill the vacancy. If not, expect to hear plenty more rumors and speculation about coaches switching allegiances and moving to new programs.

With Kiffin gone in Knoxville, Tennessee began its own search for a new coach, quickly landing on Louisiana Tech coach Derek Dooley. Dooley only had one winning season in three years at Louisiana Tech, but has served as an athletic director, and has come from the Nick Saban coaching tree with previous stops at LSU and the Miami Dolphins. Louisiana Tech turned around and hired University of Arizona offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes to take over their program.

It won’t be the last time we see offseason turmoil, but this year seems to be especially heated. It seems like the more the merrier on this merry-go-round.

Notable coaching changes:

USC

Out: Pete Carroll

In: Lane Kiffin

Notre Dame

Out: Charlie Weis

In: Brian Kelly

Florida State

Out: Bobby Bowden

In: Jimbo Fisher

Tennessee

Out: Lane Kiffin

In: Derek Dooley

Kansas

Out: Mark Mangino

In: Turner Gill

Texas Tech

Out: Mike Leach

In: Tommy Tuberville

South Florida

Out: Jim Leavitt

In: Skip Holtz

Kentucky

Out: Rich Brooks

In: Joker Phillips

Louisville

Out: Steve Kragthorpe

In: Charlie Strong

Virginia

Out: Al Groh

In: Mike London

$100 million signing Albert Haynesworth did not bring the Redskins the season they imagined.

After back-to-back losses to divisional rivals by a combined four points, the Redskins season hit a new low by blowing a 23-yard field goal to put away the undefeated New Orleans Saints. While there were other plays that could have altered the outcome, specifically Kareem Moore getting stripped of his interception and returned for a touchdown, the missed field goal is a microcosm of how the team performs. Washington cannot put a team away, play well down the stretch and has absolutely no leadership on the roster or coaching staff.

While the team could possibly be commended for playing tough opponents close with a decimated roster and no depth to speak of, that sentiment never comes to fruition because of the terrible decision making, unaccountability, and overall inability to make plays when necessary that occurs week in and week out.

To be fair, let’s call a spade, a spade. This team has a massive amount of injuries to deal with. Future Hall of Fame left tackle Chris Samuels, right guard Randy Thomas, backup right guard Chad Rinehart, backup right tackle and guard Mike Williams, starting running back Clinton Portis, backup running back Ladell Betts, tight end Chris Cooley, strong safety Chris Horton, strong safety Reed Doughty, and backup defensive end Jeremy Jarmon were all placed on season-ending injured reserve. In addition, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, right tackle Stephon Heyer and cornerback DeAngelo Hall missed significant time due to ankle and knee injuries.

Normally, a list like that would equal a death sentence for a team’s season, and it has for Washington. However, those injuries are not the reason this team plays so poorly. There is talent on both sides of the ball, sans the offensive line, and the defense plays well on a regular basis. The reason the Redskins are the way they are is because no one steps up and leads the team. No one is outspoken on the field, and Lord knows coach Jim Zorn will never get above “medium.” There are rumors that some players get preferential treatment and are excused from activities while others are not. If true, there is a lack of institutional control and respect for how an organization should be run. Quite honestly, it shows on the field.

The level of apathy in this season spread from the team to the fans, and the hatred that showered the front office and owner Daniel Snyder subsided in favor of people finding other things to do with their Sundays. Injuries or not, this season was doomed with a poorly run offensive system, a bad overall attitude, a lack of respect and a failure of any coach or executive to do anything about it. The new regime will have to address these issues before there can be any turnaround in the nation’s capital.

Tennessee freshman Nu'Keese Richardson was kicked off the team following an arrest on charges of attempted armed robbery.

The University of Florida may have avoided a major issue this week, after it was reported a former recruit was kicked off the University of Tennessee’s squad. Freshman Nu’Keese Richardson, as well as another teammate, were removed from Tennessee’s football program after they were arrested on charges of attempted armed robbery.

According to a police report, Richardson and teammate Mike Edwards approached a parked car at 2 a.m. and brandished a weapon, demanding everyone in the car “Give us everything you’ve got.” When the victims opened their wallets to show they had no money, a third teammate police say was present, urged his teammates to make an escape. They were later found with the other teammate, who has been suspended, and a woman, whom the victims say drove the getaway car. In that car, police found hooded jackets and a pellet gun.

Richardson was the center of an offseason controversy involving an erroneous recruiting violation accusation by Tennessee’s head coach Lane Kiffin against Florida head coach Urban Meyer. At a breakfast with boosters, Kiffin said Meyer repeatedly called Richardson during his official recruiting visit to Tennessee, which Kiffin claimed to be a recruiting violation. Richardson, originally a verbal commit to Florida, eventually signed with Tennessee, prompting Kiffin to say, “I love the fact that the Urban [Meyer] had to cheat, and still didn’t get him.” Unfortunately for Kiffin, calling a recruit during an official visit is not a violation, but falsely accusing a coach of a violation is. Kiffin committed a violation for incorrectly saying another coach committed a violation.

If Richardson had kept his commitment to Florida, the Gators might be the ones dealing with this mess right now. There’s no clear reason why a freshman college football player, on full scholarship at a major program felt the need to allegedly commit an armed robbery, but that is something the Gators do not have to be concerned with while trying to stay on track for its third national championship in four years.

While no program is perfect, and Florida has had problems of its own, Richardson became someone else’s problem when he signed with Tennessee. In this instance, Florida dodged a bullet, or pellet, by the name of Nu’Keese Richardson.

Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp (left) has been named as Texas' next head coach, although Mack Brown has no plans to retire

I thought of writing about this some time ago, but rather than making the story a rant about an annoying trend, I decided to let some situations progress so more of a conclusion could be made.

Seven Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) ((formerly known as Division I-A)) (((I hate having to say all that))) programs have turned to the head-coach-in-waiting method to beget success through continuity. Some programs already have their successors as the head coach, while other successors are still waiting for their current head coaches to retire. The seven teams who have a head-coach-in-waiting or have already utilized a head-coach-in-waiting, are Texas, Oregon, Florida State, Wisconsin, Maryland, Purdue and Kentucky.

I have a serious problem with this method because it does not allow a fair interviewing process for head coaching vacancies. With so many qualified candidates available, and a push being made for minority candidates, it flies in the face of the system to announce who your next head coach will be before you even need a new head coach. Moreover, I have an even bigger problem with programs and coaches who have not achieved anything to have the audacity to name a successor. In all seriousness, in what other profession do you know where someone could do a mediocre job, not bringing you any tangible progress or success, then turn around and not only tell you when they feel like leaving, but tell you who will be replacing them? It’s laughable.

Maryland has announced offensive coordinator James Franklin will replace head coach Ralph Friedgen when he retires. Friedgen’s big shining moment was finishing first in the ACC in 2001 and then promptly getting blown out by Florida, 56-23, a month later in the 2002 Orange Bowl. Since 2004, the Terps have posted only two winning seasons and this year they are off to a 2-6 start.¬† Franklin is in just his second season as offensive coordinator, his seventh total season with the program. I’m trying to see where exactly the credentials are for a head-coach-in-waiting. This resume looks more like something you would get fired for rather than having a job saved for you in the future.

Purdue is in its first season with head coach Danny Hope, who was predetermined to be the successor to long-time head coach Joe Tiller. Tiller was a good coach, but never took the team past nine wins in his 12 seasons there. His greatest accomplishment was finishing the 2000 season tied for first place in the Big Ten, with Drew Brees leading the way. Hope got off to a rough start, beginning the season 1-5, but pulled off an upset against then-seventh ranked Ohio State, Purdue’s first victory over a ranked opponent since 2003. Purdue is currently 3-5. Again, a program with moderate success, but nothing gaudy has a head-coach-in-waiting, despite not beating any ranked team in six years. That doesn’t quite qualify as a resume so good that you need to save a head coaching job. Its program is certainly not good enough that you have to have someone in place before your coach retires to prevent any turmoil. So far it doesn’t look like the move has paid off.

Kentucky has been known far more for its basketball team than its football team. However, head coach Rich Brooks has decided his offensive coordinator, Joker Phillips, will take the reigns of the program when he leaves, although he has made no retirement plans. Brooks is in his seventh season as head coach, and named his successor in 1994 when he was coach at Oregon. Kentucky is currently 4-3 and looking for its fourth straight winning season. While Brooks has found success afer three abismal years to start his tenure, he has never gotten past eight wins in a season, and Kentucky has never contended for the SEC title. Naming Phillips as your successor despite never winning a conference championship seems a little pretentious considering half the teams in your division have gone to BCS bowl games in the past few years. Kentucky might be on the uptick, but it’s nowhere near a powerhouse and naming a head-coach-in-waiting seems like something they should be doing for basketball rather than football.

Oregon is the program that did this method before anyone else. When Rich Brooks was named coach of the St. Louis Rams in 1994, he made sure his offensive coordinator, Mike Bellotti, took over as head coach of the Ducks. Bellotti made the same move when he left his position with the football team to become Oregon’s athletic director last year. He also picked his offensive coordinator, Chip Kelly, to be the next head coach. Kelly is in his first season and dodged an awful start to get his team to 6-1. Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount punched a Boise State player after the team’s first-game loss and was suspended for the season. Kelly turned the situation around and now has the Ducks on a six-game winning streak.

Wisconsin is a program that did this method a couple years ago when long-time head coach Barry Alvarez became athletic director of the university and named Brett Bielema his successor. It has paid off as Bielema went 12-1 in his first year. Now in his fourth year, he is on pace for his fourth winning season. The Badgers are currently 5-2.

Texas has had tremendous success under head coach Mack Brown, but decided to name first-year defensive coordinator Will Muschamp its head-coach-in-waiting last year. While Texas is a powerhouse program that is successful enough to name head-coaches-in-waiting, it is strange that they would name a first-year coordinator, especially when Brown has absolutley no plans to retire anytime soon. It has been reported that the Longhorns did it as a way of keeping Muschamp with the program, but it is not fair to the hiring process to name a successor when the current person in place has no plans of going anywhere. Texas is a program that is big time enough to do this sort of thing, but the timing of this is absurd.

Florida State is known for its coach Bobby Bowden. But as we all know, all things must come to an end, and Bowden’s career is beginning to wind down. The Seminoles plucked LSU offensive coordinator, Jimbo Fisher, putting him in the same position at Florida State, but promising to name him the next head coach. I didn’t have a problem when this happened because this was the type of situation that head-coaches-in-waiting was really invented for. You have a coach who has built an upper echelon program over the past three or four decades and it is finally time for him to step away. Therefore, you name someone in advance so the program has little turnover when the coach retires. However, due to Bowden’s love for what he does, Fisher is now in his third year as offensive coordinator and his wait could continue. Bowden has talked about coming back for another year or two, putting Fisher in an awkward position. Hindsight being 20/20, it seems a little odd to have a successor wait for what looks like four or more years to take over.

While the concept of naming a successor has good intentions behind it, it doesn’t always work out the way it was planned. With the turnover and uncertainty in college football today, it seems ridiculous to name someone to a position five or six years into the future (maybe even more) just so you don’t have to deal with searching for a new coach and maintaining recruits. Having a head-coach-in-waiting does not allow a fair hiring or interviewing process in a country where equal employment opportunity (EEO) is mandated by law. This concept has become trendy, but should not continue.

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