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The 5 O’Clock Club: When nobody cares about a Week 17 game in Dallas

George Allen must be turning over in his grave

Washington Redskins v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

It’s meaningless as far as the playoffs are concerned for the Redskins.

In fact, unless the Giants beat the Eagles, it doesn’t mean anything to the Cowboys either, but, with a win today, the Redskins can absolutely slam the door on Dallas’ hopes of winning the division and securing a playoff spot. Still, no Redskins fans seem to care much about today’s game.

There have been times in the past when knocking the Cowboys out of the playoffs with a late-season upset was enough to get us excited, even in a lost season.

Perhaps it matters only if we kill the Cowboys’ chances at a wildcard; after all, this season, either the Cowboys get in or the Eagles do — one outcome sucks as much as the other.

Another part of the reason for the disinterest is that there will be precious few players on the field today that stir the passions of the fans. After all, Trent Williams, Alex Smith, Jordan Reed, Reuben Foster and Josh Norman haven’t played a game for the Redskins all season.

The list of other players who gave us something to cheer for during the season who will be sidelined today is long and fairly distinguished:

  • Dwayne Haskins
  • Derrius Guice
  • Ryan Kerrigan
  • Quinton Dunbar
  • Brandon Scherff
  • Montae Nicholson
  • Fabian Moreau
  • Vernon Davis
  • Jimmy Moreland

There are, of course, many other notable players who will not be on the field today: Deshazor Everett, Greg Stroman, Bryce Love, Trey Quinn, Cassanova McKenzie, Jordan Brailford, Danny Johnson and Paul Richardson should all be familiar to Redskins fans.

When the defensive backfield starters are likely to be Kayvon Webster, Aaron Colvin, Jeremy Reaves and Kenny Ladler, do fans even know who they’re rooting for?

Where does the passion come from to root for players you don’t know, playing in a meaningless game in a lost season?

Of course, part of sports is cheering for them anyway, because fans cheer for the name on the front o the jersey (figuratively speaking), not the name on the back.

Players, even players you don’t know, wearing your team’s colors and playing as hard as they can... that’s the essence of sport, win or lose.

Fans, like husband and wife, stick through better or worse, in sickness and in health.

Fans show up in bad weather and bad seasons.

Fans show up.

But Redskins fans, for the most part have stopped showing up.

The Washington fanbase has been gripped by a malaise and apathy that is unparalleled in my memory.

But, while that malaise and apathy has worsened in recent seasons, it hasn’t completely eliminated all interest from fans.

They do care, but what they care about right now isn’t the Cowboys.

The single point of focus for Redskins fans at the moment isn’t the question of who will win the game in Dallas, but what Dan Snyder will do after the game ends, and how long it will take him to act. What will Dan do with the front office and coaching staff?

There’s no shortage of rumors and reports, but little clarity beyond one certainty — Dan Snyder must do something.

You get the feeling that Dan has arrived at the Rubicon and he must cross it. The expectation feels akin to those tense moments leading up to the shootout at the OK Corral, where we all know that shots will be fired, but no one’s really sure who will walk away from the fight in the end, if anyone does at all.

Redskins fans have spent a season or more locked on a single common enemy — Bruce Allen.

And the moment of truth will arrive at the end of today’s game in Dallas, regardless of the outcome on the field.

I think most fans would like to hear Bruce’s departure announced by Dan Snyder at the post-game press conference, before we hear any game-related stuff from Bill Callahan or Case Keenum.

That’s not gonna happen. The team, the coaches, the executives and the owner will have a long late-night flight back to DC, so the official announcements will probably have to wait until Monday, at the earliest.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that reports, rumors and speculation won’t be rife before, during and after the game. They will, in fact, hold the rapt attention of Redskins fans (and even fans of other NFL teams) until official word finally comes out of Redskins Park.

This is what 20 years of Dan Snyder and 10 years of Bruce Allen have brought us to — a lost season, a meaningless game in Dallas that ignites no passion among fans, and everyone’s greatest hope being that a bunch of people — and Bruce Allen in particular — get fired as soon as humanly possible after the final whistle. It leaves us all parsing the wording of tweets from those ‘in the know’ or those with sources, even though it seems at times as if none of the sources agree. George Allen’s soul must be resting uneasy right now.

I don’t think anyone wants to wait for “Black Monday” to arrive — Redskins fans are crying out for “Bloody Sunday”. Unfortunately, that Sunday passion has nothing to do with the football game that will be played on the field, and everything to do with the front office machinations that will and are taking place off of it.

With all the desire for change — for a “cleansing fire” — there’s always the question of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. When Shanahan was fired at the end of a disastrous 2013 season, most of his coaching staff was fired as well — but not everyone. There were a few defensive coaches who survived, but on the offensive side of the ball, a young position coach named Sean McVay was not only retained, but quickly promoted to offensive coordinator by incoming head coach, Jay Gruden.

In the coming days, there may be people in the Redskins organization who have been doing a good job that don’t deserve to be tainted and discarded just because they happened to work in the same office with Bruce Allen. I certainly don’t know the details of the performance of scouts or even high-level executives, but certain people have pretty good reputations. Perhaps there should be a place for them in a front office or coaching overhaul.

Bill Callahan has been around for several years and seemed to do a pretty solid job as interim head coach. The team didn’t quit, and one might argue that they played much better following his elevation. He has expressed an interest in staying on as head coach, and some others have suggested that he could or should be retained as the offensive line coach.

Kevin O’Connell has been described by many over the past year as a ‘bright young offensive mind’ in the mold of Kyle Shanahan, Matt LeFleur and Sean McVay. His offense certainly has come to life over the past 4 weeks, being outscored only by New Orleans in that time. Many suggest that he was limited, first by Jay Gruden and later by Bill Callahan, in his playcalling and scheme design. O’Connell himself often seemed to be hinting as much — at least during Callahan’s reign. Keeping him on board could provide continuity for a young and developing Dwayne Haskins, who has shown huge progress in the past 12 weeks under the current staff’s tutelage.

Nate Kaczor is in his first year with the Redskins, but the Special Teams Coordinator, after a rough start in the pre-season, seems to have done a pretty good job this year. Should he be made to pay the price for taking a job with the ‘Skins at the wrong time?

Tim Rattay, Randy Jordan and Ike Hilliard are three positional coaches (QB, RB, WR) who seem to have done a pretty good job and seem to have the respect of their players.

Kyshoen Jarrett is a Defensive Quality Control Coach. While the tendency is to say that we need to take a flame-thrower to the entire defensive staff, Jarrett is a reminder that there is a real live person filling each one of those positions. He may have the best background story of anyone on the Redskins that could be adversely affected by the upcoming changes. Jarrett, you will remember, was a late-round draft pick who played surprisingly well late in his rookie season. In the final game against Dallas in his rookie year — one which had no playoff implications — he got hit awkwadly in his shoulder/neck area and suffered significant damage, including partial paralysis. He rehabbed, but ultimately was never able to return to the field as a player. Last year he spent time with the Redskins as an intern, and this year, Jay Gruden hired him as a member of the coaching staff. I can’t imagine any reason why any Redskins fan would wish him ill fortune.

Chad Englehart is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Redskins. I have never heard a bad word about him, and have read or heard many complimentary things about his work. I think “Strength and Conditioning” can be separated from the Training Staff, led by Larry Hess, and the medical staff, neither of which has received any real praise in recent years.

Doug Williams is a Redskins legend, and he seems to often be credited with having a huge influence over the college and free agent player evaluations for the franchise, which seem to have been a strength of the front office in recent seasons. Personally, I think Doug is at the right position — I wouldn’t like to see him promoted to, say, Bruce’s current job — and I wouldn’t be unhappy to seem him retained in any front office reorganization.

Eric Schaffer is in his 17th year with the franchise. Does that make him a part of the problem, or is he a guy who has survived and thrived because he is able to do his job well even in an atmosphere of inherent dysfunction? I know that all the third-party evaluations I have heard of him have been complimentary, and that I like the way he structures player contracts. That said, maybe he’s the worm in the apple; I really can’t say one way or the other.

Alex Santos, the DIrector of Pro Personnel, seems, like Schaffer, to get a lot of praise from those reporting from outside the Redskins organization, which gives me confidence, but, again, like Schaffer, he’s been around Ashburn a long time and has earned promotions. Should he be tainted as a corporate yes-man or praised as a bastion of dedication and good performance despite his surroundings? Again, I dunno the answer to that question.

Kyle Smith is the DIrector of College Scouting and has been credited as the mastermind behind recent Redskins drafts, which have been almost universally praised as being well-executed. Smith has gotten a lot of attention from DC media as a potential GM candidate, but league-wide his name seems to either be ‘under the radar’ or simply not in the mix for jobs in other organizations. I suspect that, if the Redskins replace Bruce with a new President, then Kyle Smith could be one of the beneficiaries of a front office reorganization. Like Kevin O’Connell, we’ve often been told that if Smith isn’t soon rewarded with a promotion, the Redskins will be in danger of losing him.


If just one person in the Redskins organization were to survive a house-cleaning this week, who would you most like it to be?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Doug Williams
    (51 votes)
  • 36%
    Kyle Smith
    (168 votes)
  • 13%
    Eric Schaffer
    (63 votes)
  • 0%
    Alex Santos
    (0 votes)
  • 3%
    Bill Callahan
    (14 votes)
  • 21%
    Kevin O’Connell
    (102 votes)
  • 0%
    Nate Kaczor
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Ike Hilliard
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Randy Jordan
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Chad Grimm
    (2 votes)
  • 5%
    Kyshoen Jarrett
    (24 votes)
  • 0%
    Chad Englehart
    (0 votes)
  • 6%
    Nobody - Get Rid Of Them All!!!
    (30 votes)
  • 1%
    Somebody else
    (7 votes)
464 votes total Vote Now