- Regardless of which side of the political aisle you fall on (irregardless, even), can we all agree that Alec Baldwin could probably do a great impression of Bruce Allen? I envision the sketch as set in a barn, with Alec wearing overalls and a straw hat, dutifully overseeing preparations for the annual Harvest Feast (which is, in actuality, a great program providing food to area families in need). While arranging bales of hay, Bruce gets a call and is informed that there is a crisis in the Alumni Picnic Planning Situation Room. There was a mixup at the t-shirt printing shop, and instead of 85,000 free giveaway shirts saying “WOTF” (for Winning Off the Field), everyone in attendance that Sunday was going to have a burgundy t-shirt with “WTF” in gold lettering. This is, of course, no match for the quick-witted former Tampa Bay executive who once decided that the best way to cut John Lynch, a Ring of Honor player, was by phone (Lynch offered to take a pay cut to stay with his teammates, but Allen said no thanks and Lynch went on to make a few more Pro Bowls in Denver). Without hesitation, Allen consults his “People to Fire” worksheet and determines that the entire scouting department is going to need to take the blame on this one.
- If you want to pair that first thought up with something slightly more complimentary towards Bruce, how about this: even though I still hate the fact that Scot “McLovin” McCloughan is gone, thank god that debacle went down when it did. If you recall, the word on the street at the time was that the team was going to try and ride that situation out until after the draft. Given what we (think we) know now, the fireworks spectacle we would have been subjected to could have been legendary...even by “Dan Snyder” standards. (I use the team steward’s name in quotes, because it defines an unusually outlandish and asstastic approach to running a business.) Imagine that war room for a second. If you recall, Jim Zorn was placed in a similar scenario, knowing he was out but not being fired. His answer was to run the ol’ Swinging Gate...on back-to-back snaps. It will be forever be called the “Middle Finger Formation” in my house. If that is what Jim Zorn did to Dan Snyder when he knew he was on borrowed time, just think what McLovin could pull off on draft day! What’s the over/under of punters he would try to draft?
- During this quiet period on the NFL calendar, Bruce and Dan are alone with their thoughts on the upcoming draft. As they prepare their board, we are told that McLovin’s influence on this particular selection process remains. This is good news for Redskins fans, but you have to kind of really read into things (luckily for us, it’s all we do). Based on what we know now, it seems as though Bruce Allen has been pulling all the strings this whole time. Even though it seems like McLovin was hung by the team for the lack of immediate contribution from his rookie class, Allen was likely intimately involved in the blessing of those picks. I still believe fully in the top trio of Josh Doctson, Su’a Cravens and Kendall Fuller, and so I have to at least consider that Bruce Allen can unearth talent at the top of one of the deeper draft classes we have seen.
- When we talk about deep draft classes, my mind immediately fast-forwards four years (don’t worry, I won’t tell y’all what happens). That is when the bulk of this year’s picks will hit free agency. It is why the impending search for a new general manager becomes extremely important in my mind. I feel certain Dan Snyder disagrees with me here, but for my money, I don’t want Bruce Allen picking all the talent that comes through our doors next offseason and beyond. If Bruce and Dan are able to exit this offseason by making a few smart pickups in the draft, they need to cut their losses and turn this operation over to someone else as fast as they can.
- I say this because the Redskins window is opening. It sounds ridiculous to some, but I think it is the truth. There is a lot of young talent on the roster, but there is also a core of veteran talent. Guys like Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan, Jordan Reed, Josh Norman and of course Kirk Cousins are all good enough to anchor a playoff-contending team. Adding talent in the spaces where the team needs it most is about to be the difference between 8-8 and 10-6 (in my humble opinion). It also blows because Dallas’ window was supposed to just be closing, as Tony “Mr. Glass” Romo faded off into the sunset. New York remains solid behind Eli Manning and the Eagles are not quite the cellar-dominating squad some make them out to be (Carson Wentz all of a sudden has some weapons to throw to). The NFC East is returning to the kind of division that made it famous in the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s. With six games on the schedule each season against NFC East opponents, the Redskins front office has to view its potential draft picks through the prism of divisional matchups. I don’t know why Mike Mayock would come to Washington (as opposed to another organization that could offer him a job), but he is a guy whose opinion on players I trust. I will save the debate over who our next GM should be—Mayock is high on my list, but there are others—but suffice to say that if the Redskins hope to build on their contender status, it will require the insight and intuition of a talented personnel person. For all of Bruce’s strengths, this has not typically been high on the list. Even despite the shenanigans that have transpired at Redskins Park this offseason, the Washington roster is shaping up to be good enough to make some noise. It is precisely at moments like these when organizations must add the right player, or else it risks doing significant self-inflicted damage.
- I will end on a point I have been hammering home on The Audible, among other places. As Tim, Kevin and I have discussed, regardless of how much power McLovin did or did not have (irregardless, even), a vacuum of some size was created when he left. We know that Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder scooped up heaping portions of power onto their plates, but I believe we are sleeping on Jay Gruden a little here. I do think he inherits some of that power and authority, and I do think he is currently taking a step we have never seen a coach under Dan Snyder take. I think it has to be something we see before we truly believe it, but Jay Gruden could be turning into a coach that leads the franchise from the sidelines. I am pretty sure most commenters here would suggest that any team owned by Dan Snyder is always going to be ultimately run by Dan Snyder, relegating even a powerful head coach to the kids’ table. That is likely true, but Jay Gruden knows what he wants. He has taken on ownership before—and he was right (when he forced Robert Griffin III to the curb in favor of Kirk Cousins). My gut tells me that if he were to decide to feel strongly about something, Dan Snyder would be compelled to listen. I often think of Dan Snyder being a fan of this team during the Joe Gibbs heyday. He no doubt recalls the stories of Joe walking into Jack Kent Cooke’s office and arguing for this player or that player. Cooke knew to listen, and the team won championships (and yes, Bobby Beathard had a huge hand in it as well). Maybe Jay Gruden can learn something from this...maybe the way to work over Dan Snyder is to treat him like Gibbs treated Cooke. Maybe that is what he is already doing. One can only hope!
Looks Like Someone Has a Sixpack of the Mondays
It is during these most quiet times on the NFL calendar that teams begin settling in on their plans for the upcoming season.