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A mid-season firing of a coach is usually an odd time for a franchise. It is normally a time of regret combined with hope.
Think back to the early season dismissal, for example, of Hue Jackson from the Cleveland Browns last season. There was a sense that — finally — the team could start to move forward and prepare for the future.
With a sluggish start to the 2019 season for Cleveland — and, especially with the turgid performance on this week’s Monday Night Football — the Browns may not seem a solid example of a franchise moving boldly into a new future, but at the time Hue Jackson was fired, and for the many games that followed for the Browns last year, there was a new energy, and a new level of excitement. The fan base pretty much exhaled as one with a single exclamation: “Finally!”
Dan Snyder fired Jay Gruden on Monday, reportedly contacting him via text message after the loss to the Patriots on Sunday, summoning him to Redskins Park at 5:00 a.m. for the short meeting with Dan and Bruce Allen at which Jay was formally relieved of his duties. There have been no reports on whether or not Jay was asked to “bring his playbook”.
It really doesn’t matter
There is not sense of overwhelming relief that Jay is gone, though clearly things weren’t working for him or his team this season.
There is no sense of excitement. No anticipation or excited chatter about who the next head coach will be.
The fan base doesn’t really care.
Fans are apathetic because they’ve seen this movie before. Many times.
The phrase that is being tossed around by Redskins fans at the moment is one that has been used with increasing frequency over the years — the franchise is simply shuffling deck chairs while the Titanic is sinking (or, in this case, throwing one chair overboard).
What many critics have whispered or shouted for years has finally become dogma among Redskins fans: the problem is Dan Snyder. We’ve always known that he was a bad owner who dragged the franchise lurching from crisis to crisis, but it has now become accepted by even the most fervent Redskins fans that Dan goes beyond merely being a bad owner — he is the worm at the center of the rotten apple.
In the first decade of his ownership of the ‘Skins, perhaps the loudest and sharpest criticism of Dan Snyder was that he was a meddling owner. He was a fanboy who had bought the team he had cheered for growing up, and he was treating it like his own personal fantasy team, using free agency or trades, spending big dollars and lots of draft capital to acquire big-name players who had marquee appeal, but who mostly had passed their use-by dates.
What had to happen, people said, was that Dan needed to put “football people” in charge and then get out of the way. Dan should sign the checks and let the experts he hired run the show.
About a decade ago, Dan dumped the underperforming and seemingly inept Vinny Cerrato, hiring Bruce Allen — son of the legendary former Redskins coach George Allen — to take over football operations. It was widely praised as a smart move when it happened. Dan was a fanboy; Bruce Allen had grown up on the Redskins practice field, had won an NFL Executive of the Year award with Tampa Bay, and would return the Redskins not only to respectability, but to dominance in the division and the league.
I can't believe I'm doing this.....— Paul Conner (@P_ConnerJr) October 9, 2019
Vinny Cerrato: .431 #Redskins winning %
Bruce Allen: .359 #Redskins winning %
If #Redskins win all of their last 11 games, Bruce Allen will STILL have a lower win percentage than Vinny Cerrato. Let that sink in.
The past decade has shattered the myth of Bruce Allen being a competent “football guy”. His win-loss percentage of 59-89-1 speaks for itself. Very few people in professional sports can maintain a position on a coaching staff or front office with a sustained record of on field failure like Bruce Allen’s.
Unable to develop a culture of winning on the field, Bruce Allen famously talked about “winning off the field” in the last press conference he gave prior to announcing Jay Gruden’s termination on Monday.
That “winning off the field” press conference was given five years ago! It was such an embarrassment that Bruce Allen, the Redskins’ top decision-maker, has avoided taking questions at a press conference for half a decade, preferring instead to put Jay Gruden (and occassionally Doug Williams) in front of the microphones to speak for the franchise.
Can you imagine? Five years without taking questions from reporters at a press conference?! And for Dan Snyder, it’s been even longer. The owner is kept shut up, away from the spotlight, where he can’t open his mouth and remind people why they don’t like him.
Related: Editorial: A sense of inevitability
Still, five years wasn’t long enough. Bruce Allen stood in behind the microphone and in front of the cameras on Monday to announce Jay Gruden’s termination and take questions from reporters. The occasion lasted just 14 minutes, but it wasn’t short enough for Bruce Allen to avoid making himself look foolish again.
The occasion was instantly forgettable in terms of providing any positive hope for a Redskins fan base thirsting for someone to step up, take responsibility and provide clear direction for the franchise, but it will be forever remembered for Bruce’s parody of a Stepford Wives-type front office executive spouting platitudes and gibberish about “positive culture” and “having the pieces” to construct a winning organization.
"The pieces are here for a winning team...there's only one way to win and that's to work...I believe this coaching staff and these players can do it."— Craig Hoffman (@CraigHoffman) October 7, 2019
-Bruce Allen, whose press conference ends after 14 minutes.
Bruce Allen used the question avoidance tricks of a second rate politician or a first-rate con man on Monday, answering questions that weren’t asked while completely ignoring most of those that were. It was a pathetic show.
Bruce, despite insisting that he didn’t “ever want to hide from [his] record”, completely walked away from the opportunity to accept responsibility for the franchise’s failures or to lay out a detailed vision of the future. Instead of offering a vision of a brave new world to Redskins followers that one might expect from a team President, Bruce did his best Bill Belichick imitation, insisting that “all we can do right now is work toward the Dolphin game”.
Really?! After just firing the coach after an 0-5 start, all Bruce has to offer is that the organization is completely focused on the Dolphins game this week?!
I mean, I get that coaches and players live 6 days at a time during the season, but I expect a lot more from a Team President.
Though, in truth, I no longer expect more from Bruce Allen (or Dan Snyder). And it seems, neither does anyone else.
This take on the Redskins from ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt is absolutely spot on and brilliant! I suggest you spend 4 minutes to watch it.
Everywhere you look this week in Washington DC, people are talking about the Redskins — not about how great it is that they finally fired Jay Gruden, but about how hopeless it is to expect that anything will change.
Whether it’s national reporters, beat writers, bloggers, radio call in shows or the casual fan talking over a beer, the universal opinion now is that nothing the Redskins do to replace Jay Gruden will matter, either in the short term or the long term.
It won’t matter because the problem is Dan Snyder himself, and his chief enabler, Bruce Allen.
Former Redskins LB @LavarArrington breaks down the real problem with the team— Speak For Yourself (@SFY) October 7, 2019
"The root of the issue is ownership… You had to address him as Mr. Snyder, even as an adult, and if you weren’t of a certain level or stature you were told not to look at the owner." pic.twitter.com/wdhcXKnvsK
Fans know that they can’t get Dan to sell the team, and he’s a relatively young 54, having bought the team when he was in his 30’s. The best they can hope for is that Dan Snyder can recognize that his reliance on Bruce Allen as a friend, advisor and team executive is destructive.
Bruce is a yes-man to Snyder, and in every way he is the opposite of the cohesive, disciplined, talented and forward-thinking leader that the franchise needs.
Consider these two excerpts from Monday’s press conference as an example of who Bruce Allen is, and his complete inability to set a new direction for the Redskins suffering franchise:
Reporter: Yesterday, your stadium was pretty much taken over by Patriots fans. The players heard it, the opposing players heard it, the opposing coach mentioned it yesterday. Where we’re at right now, can you apologize to the Washington Redskins fans who have been so loyal for so long? And what are you gonna do, starting today, in your capacity, to make things better?
This is a double barrelled question:
- Can you apologize to fans?
- What are you going to do, starting today, to make things better?
Two excellent questions.
Bruce immediately deflects by talking about the Patriots fans instead of himself:
“I appreciate that the Patriots have a great fan base. And, they’ve had tremendous success, and Bill Belichick’s probably the best coach in NFL history, so I’m sure many of the fans put their tickets on the secondary market and made some money on it selling it to people from the Northeast.”
This is an astonishing answer — not only did Bruce avoid answering either of the questions put to him, but he somehow shifted blame for the terrible erosion of the fan base onto the fans themselves.
He’s absolutely clueless.
Watch Bruce Allen as he proclaims that the Redskins culture is “actually damned good!”
But Bruce Allen had barely scratched the surface with respect to his lack of self-awareness and Pollyanna-like presentation of where the franchise is at the moment.
Reporter: After two decades without much success, “How would you describe the culture surrounding this football team?”
Bruce, incredibly, lit up with a huge smile.
“You know, the culture is actually damned good!”
Compared to this piece of tone deafness, the “winning off the field” gaffe from 5 years ago seems like inspired genius!
The Redskins are winless in five games, their best player, Trent Williams, is holding out, not for more money, but because he doesn’t want to play for the organization that drafted him and made him the highest paid lineman in the NFL, the head coach was just fired, and Bruce Allen, the Team President, thinks the culture is “damned good”!!
Color me flabbergasted.
Related: Soup answers
Read about Bruce Allen’s press conference in greater detail
See the full Bruce Allen Monday press conference and read instant Twitter reactions
Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen have turned into a clown show — not just in the eyes of rival fans, but in the estimation of lifelong Redskins fans who now find themselves unsure how to react to anything they do or say.
In fact, things have gotten a bit odd with rival fans of late. The comments section of Hogs Haven, the SB Nation fan blog devoted to the Redskins, is punctuated by visits from fans of the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys, along with the occasional non-division team fan. They drop by and add to our comments section, saying how bad they feel for us, and that, although they will always hate the Redskins themselves, they hope that, for our sake and the sake of the NFL, some miracle will save us from another two or three decades of Dan Snyder.
.@DeAngeloHall23 pod: "Coach Callahahan and Jay Gruden really didn't get along, to the point that Jay went in there and said, 'It's either me or Coach Callahan,' last year."— Burgundy Blog (@BurgundyBlog) October 8, 2019
What a strange and horrible world it is when rival fans stop by, not to talk trash about an upcoming game, but to commiserate and wish for better times for the Redskins franchise, if only to provide the kind of rivalries that make the NFL compelling!
People in the know already know how toxic #Redskins building is structured. I know there's only 32 Head Coach in the NFL jobs available. But a coordinator spot anywhere else looks so much safer to me.— Paul Conner (@P_ConnerJr) October 8, 2019
Snyder made no comments regarding Gruden’s ouster and was not present at Monday afternoon’s news conference. When asked why Snyder wasn’t there, Allen replied, “Because I am.” Allen was asked whether Snyder would address the franchise’s issues.
“Yeah, Dan makes himself available from time to time,” Allen said.
Snyder rarely speaks publicly and has not granted an interview to a non-Redskins-affiliated outlet in years. This summer, through a New York-based public relations firm, Snyder agreed to an interview with The Post if the Q&A ran in place of a story about the 20th anniversary of his purchase of the team, an arrangement The Post declined.
And so it was Allen who on Monday explained the state of a woebegone franchise. He promoted Washington’s culture, and then he was asked how that culture translated into winning games.
“Through winning football games,” Allen said. “We have to win. We didn’t win any of these games.”
Should we root for the team to win or lose on Sundays?
Redskins fans suddenly don’t know what to think about upcoming games. This Sunday sees Washington traveling to MIami to take on the hapless Dolphins. Suddenly, it’s not obvious if this is a “get well” game for Washington or Miami. It’s also not clear whether fans should root for the Redskins to win or lose.
Losing will enhance the team’s 2020 draft position, and we need all the roster help we can get, but there is a sense of inevitability that, no matter how good a draft the personnel department puts together, it won’t matter; Dan and Bruce will waste the effort because they don’t know how to empower capable people to do their jobs.
On the other hand, a win may offer evidence to Dan Snyder, no matter how scant, that Jay Gruden actually was the problem, and that firing him was a step in the right direction. I don’t think many Redskins fans will be losing sleep over Jay losing his job, but a new head coach is not going to fix what’s wrong with the Redskins. That’s like taking an Advil to stop the headache caused by a brain tumor. What’s required isn’t a pain pill and a quiet nap; what’s required is radical surgery to remove the cancer.
In 2015, the Redskins drafted Brandon Scherff with the #5 overall pick. He is now playing on his 5th year option and has been an outstanding offensive lineman for the Redskins. He has not signed a long-term contract with the team, and there’s a growing uneasy feeling that it may not be because he’s dissatisfied with the contract offer — he may simply want to escape the atmosphere of disorganization and dysfunction that emanate from Dan and Bruce, permeating the entire organization. If you can’t keep good players like Brandon Scherff and Trent Williams on the team, what good is it to execute a successful draft?
Dwayne Haskins was drafted 15th overall this past April, but the young quarterback looked lost and not NFL-ready in the half-game of regular season action he saw two weeks ago against the Giants. Jay Gruden might be an easy target for Haskins’ lack of preparation, but the interim coach, Bill Callahan has already stated that Haskins will not even be considered for the start this week in MIami, and said repeatedly in his own Monday press conference that the former Ohio State Buckeye might not appear again in a game for the Redskins until next season.
It’s actually admirable that the coaching staff has mostly protected Haskins and set expectations that the young man should be given time to learn and mature. What’s troubling are reports that the selection of Haskins in this year’s draft was pushed by Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen, in opposition to the preferences of the coaching staff.
A similar scenario played out with really poor results in 2012 with the selection of Robert Griffin, and the 2019 parallels are troubling. Drafting a young quarterback into an environment where the head coach didn’t really want him and where that head coach was fighting to keep his job seems questionable. Now, the organization is faced with putting a new head coach in place in 2020 who will have to work with Dwayne Haskins or risk putting the Redskins into the same sort of ugly predicament the Cardinals were this past off-season, in which they traded away their 2018 top ten quarterback pick in order to draft the guy (Kyler Murray) that the new coach, Kliff Kingsbury, wanted to work with.
The Redskins front office is a clown show, Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen being the two guys wearing the funny red noses. The problem is that, after 20 years of the Dan Snyder show and 10 years of the Bruce Allen sidekick routine, it’s all worn thin. It’s no longer funny. We’ve seen it all before. Redskins fans know all the plots and all the punchlines. It’s like being trapped in an endless series of Gilligan’s Island re-runs, and it has finally dawned on the entire fanbase that we’re NEVER getting off the island. We’re stuck here forever, with the laugh track playing in the background.
It’s understood that Dan, as the owner of the team, isn’t going anywhere, much as that is the most desirable outcome, but hope still exists that Dan will come out of his thrall, dump Bruce Allen, and finally find a strong, competent, independent “football guy” to take control of the franchise and get it back on course.
If that doesn’t happen, the clown show will continue.
I’ve never been as hopeless as a #Redskins fan as I am right now. That press conference yesterday just crushed me. There’s no hope.— Skinsweekly (@Skinsweekly) October 8, 2019
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