WASHINGTON — “I picked the wrong week for ‘Ask Riggo.'”
Redskin Hall of Famer John Riggins was initially reluctant to take on his regular on-air analysis Wednesday, just two days after his former team’s embarrassing 59-28 home loss against Michael Vick and the Eagles, QB Donovan McNabb’s former team.
But the former running back mustered his usual candor on his breakdown of a strained relationship between the ownership and coaching staff, the future of McNabb and that “infection” Albert Haynesworth and what lies in ahead in the final seven games for this worst-ranked defensive team.
Here’s what he had to say:
Who’s calling the shots?
There are basically two schools of thought: Head Coach Mike Shanahan came in to take over and take charge. The second is Shanahan was brought in to take care of football, but owner Dan Snyder is making all of the major decisions, such as the choice to bring in veteran quarterback McNabb from Philadelphia.
“I believe the latter is true, and don’t think Shanahan knew what he was getting in to.”
What does the coach-owner relationship mean for the future of the team?
“As long as ownership stays as is, won’t be any change (to the roster). If Shanahan had autonomy, would Haynesworth still be on roster? I don’t take Shanahan as the kind of guy who takes that kind of insubordination.”
“He gets heavyhanded, and I don’t know if Shanahan’s a good fit. There’s a reason why he was fired in Denver and it’s not because they won so many football games at the end.”
What is the relationship between Shanahan and McNabb?
“You really don’t know until Tennessee this Sunday. You don’t know how McNabb and Shanahan are getting along. The offense is anemic, and now the defense looks like they’re having a collapse.”
“(Shanahan is) a proud man who doesn’t want to say he’s sorry and doesn’t want to say he made a mistake,” particularly in reference to benching McNabb in the last few minutes against Detroit two weeks ago and replacing him with second-string Rex Grossman.
What is Shanahan’s reaction to Monday’s loss, and what is McNabb’s future?
“It’s clear to me, and I think to most people, that there is not sympatico between him (Shanahan) and his quarterback. I should say, him, his son (Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan) and his quarterback.”
“I don’t believe McNabb is coming from a position of strength at all,” and should be released after this season.
What’s going on with Albert Haynesworth?
“He’s an infection.”
He quit on the play against the Eagles where he lay on the ground while Vick found Jason Avant in the back of the end zone for a touchdown.
“Haynesworth is a quitter and you just need to recognize the fact and cut him loose.”
“That’s what that word ‘disgust’ was meant for.”
Who is really to blame?
The ownership can’t continually promise the fans every year that the team is going to win a superbowl, and they can’t rely on big names like McNabb. Instead, they should focus on drafting young guys, particularly in the offensive line, to train up.
“The NFL has become a passing league; you have to throw the ball to have success.”
The offensive line needs to give the quarterback the time to look downfield and pass the ball.
“You have to start with young guys, like Trent Williams, but next year we have no (first round) draft picks so there’s no potential to pick up some young guys.”
Look at Baltimore, Detroit and Cleveland where they’re successfully building up young guys. That takes time, and patience doesn’t seem to be a lot of what they have at Ashburn.
“It’s like a pyramid scheme — each year you have to fix something else.”
How can the mess be fixed?
“Clearly Haynesworth has to go, and they can’t get rid of him too soon.”
“Play the season out, and tell everyone it’s going to take a while. Start with youth and acknowledge it’s going to be painful.”
“There’s no quick fix. I don’t see a quick fix for this team. That’s not how it works in the NFL these games.”
“This is not a playoff team…and I don’t think they’re even going to be close to that.”
WTOP’s Paul D. Shinkman contributed to this report.