With a 4-10 record and a coaching staff in transition, the Washington Redskins announced last week that there’s a new sheriff with a familiar name in town. That would be Bruce Allen, son of the late George Allen, who coached the Skins to a Super Bowl berth in the 1970s.
Owner Dan Snyder formally named the younger Allen the team’s General Manager Thursday at a news conference that drew a chorus of amens from those with ties to the Allen era.
“He’s a perfect hire,” Richie Petitbon, a Redskins safety in 1970-71, told the Washington Post.
“This is a dream deal, to come back to all the history we had there,” said Tommy McVean, the Redskins’ equipment manager during the George Allen reign.
On Monday night, Allen watched the Redskins’ offensive line, once known as the “Hogs,” crumble like corn flakes as the New Giants battered the Skins 45-12.
Allen surely left FedEx stadium wondering where to start with this motley crew. The most obvious changes needed, most experts say, would be to place coach Jim Zorn and quarterback Jason Campbell on the unemployment list. But the most obvious change desired – most fans and local media say – would be to fire owner Snyder, a wizard in business but a wasteland when it comes to football judgment.
While the Redskins boast an enviable bottom line as a franchise, Snyder’s football acumen – especially when it comes to judging head coaching talent- has kept the D.C. team near the bottom of the NFL. Consider these key decisions:
* Snyder fired Norv Turner in 2000, a year after buying the team. At the time, Snyder said, ” It’s all about winning. We assembled the best team we could put together. At this point we just really needed to make a change, driven with what I call some serious leadership.” While the Snyder-owned Redskins have yet to find that “serious leadership” required, Turner is leading the sizzling San Diego Chargers (11-3, with eight consecutive wins) into the playoffs.
* Snyder overlooks Marvin Lewis, the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens when they won Super Bowl XXXV in 2001. Lewis became the Redskins’ defensive coordinator in 2002 under Steve Spurrier, but stayed only a year. Lewis became the Cincinnati Bengals head coach in Dec. 2003 and is one win away from leading the 9-5 team to a AFC North Division title and playoff berth.
* Snyder sacks Gregg Williams, Redskins’ defensive coordinator under Joe Gibbs, who led the Skins to three Super Bowl victories. When Gibbs ended his second stint as the Redskins head coach two years ago, he recommended Williams to be his successor. Apparently, Snyder again had trouble visualizing a defensive coordinator as his head coach. So he ignored Gibbs’ recommendation and hired Zorn. Meanwhile Williams, now the New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator, is a key contributor to that team’s 13-1 record and status as a top contender for Super Bowl XXXXIV.
Three examples of what we’ll call ‘questionable moves’ by the owner.
Now the question is … was Allen, who held executive positions with the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, brought to Washington because of talent or is Snyder continuing to cling to the ghosts-of- the-Redskins-past that he learned to love as a young Redskins fan,growing up in a nearby Maryland suburb?
One thing is clear: As long as Snyder is steering the boat, the Redskins will just drift along in troubling waters.