The parallels are eerie.
- The Washington Redskins and the Atlanta Falcons have identical 65-77 records in the 21st century (Ever wonder how far down the sports totem pole we've fallen ? -- Atlanta has never in their team history had back-to-back winning seasons).
- Both teams had owners accused of being too involved in the day-to-day operations of the franchise, with Arthur Blank palling around with players down on the sidelines and Dan Snyder's well-documented foray into team management.
- Both faced GM and coaching searches last year, the Falcons after their disastarous 2007 season that featured a dysfunctional organization with a quitter for a coach (Petrino) and sniping players who took public shots at the direction of the team.
- Here the parallels end.
- The Skins hire the owner/Vinny as GM and Zorn as coach.
- The Falcons hire GM Thomas Dimitroff from the personnel department of the Patriots and Mike Smith, Jacksonville defensive coordinator as coach. Blank distances himself from the day-to-day operations of the team.
- Coming off a 9-7 season Skins flounder after a fast start, winding up 8-7 with one game left.
- Coming off a 4-12 season, the Falcons rise to 10-5 with one game left.
- Dimitroff is touted as NFL executive of the year.
- Vinny/Danny are not.
- Mike Smith is discussed as a possible coach of the year.
- Zorn is not.
- The owner becomes detached from day-to-day operations. Hard to take dad seriously if mom is always open for complaints. An owner getting too chummy with players encourages the coach to do the same to curry their favor. Jim Mora was canned by the Falcons for doing too much of this, the same Jim Mora who the Seahawks will likely give the keys to the kingdom to after Mike Holmgren leaves instead of in-house QB coach Jim Zorn.
- Hire an unglamorous, football saavy GM, giving him the power and independence. He hires a similar coach.
- Make football moves that benefit the team, regardless of sentiment or star power: The mercurial bad apple DeAngelo Hall -- gone. All-star tight end Alge Crumpler -- gone. Warrick Dunn, great character guy but done --gone. All ties cut with Vick. The result was a team with less talent but more character. Portis? Campbell?
- Build through the draft. Of course it helps to draft perhaps the best rookie QB ever in Matt Ryan. But all the rookies for the Falcons have contributed. The Skins draft was crap, full of guys who either shouldn't've been drafted, or have claimed they have had trouble adjusting to living on their own.
A reminder of Cowher's resume:
11 winning seasons.
10 trips to the playoffs.