December 11, 2019

OPINION: Allen encapsulates Redskins’ woes with disaster press conference

Washington Redskins President and General Manager Bruce Allen took time this morning to speak with the D.C. media after his fifth season at the helm of the franchise.

If his late father, George, were on the Redskins’ Mount Rushmore for his services as head coach in the 1970s, the proverbial Hall of Shame would be too great of an honor for the younger Allen.

Granted, most of those who follow the beleaguered franchise in our nation’s capital know that things are bad — even worse than bad. On balance, things have been bad for the past 15 years since owner Daniel Snyder bought the team from Jack Kent Cooke’s estate in the spring of 1999. The past two years have been arguably the two worst consecutive seasons in franchise history, not only for the myriad on-field issues, but the constant leaks coming out of Redskins Park and other associated dysfunctions.

Ultimately, Snyder is at the helm of the Redskins’ sorry excuse for a culture, but it’s simply not reasonable to expect him to sell the team that he has loved since he was a boy. With that in mind, Bruce Allen is more than just a scapegoat or someone to point fingers at when looking for an excuse for the team’s issues. He is the most significant reason for the Redskins’ horrific position.

Washington was at a similar position in 2009. They helped the Detroit Lions end their 19-game losing streak that dated back to 2007, and looked like an absolute mess. Vinny Cerrato was fired and Allen was hired with three games left, and the Redskins stumbled to a 4-12 finish. 2010 was only barely better, with a win over Dallas on opening night the only real bright spot. A 3-1 start in 2011 gave way to a 2-10 finish, and Allen opted to make a bold move which, at least initially, appeared to have paid dividends.

He dealt the Redskins’ first-round picks in 2012, 2013 and 2014, and their second-rounder in 2012, to the Rams for their first-round pick, the second overall. The front office mortgaged the future for what they hoped would be a franchise quarterback in Robert Griffin III. He was hobbled throughout the season with injuries, but put up eye-popping numbers in his rookie year: 4,015 all-purpose yards, 27 all-purpose touchdowns, five interceptions and a 102.4 passer rating.

Even with the Redskins’ heartbreaking loss to Seattle in the wild-card round that year, a game in which Griffin tore his LCL after they squandered a 14-0 lead and lost 24-14, No. 10 jerseys flew off the shelves at stores around the region and the Offensive Rookie of the Year appeared to be the franchise’s long-awaited savior.

It was not to be.

Since the memorable win over Dallas in Week 17 two years ago, Griffin has been increasingly injured and drastically worsened and the Redskins have a record of 7-26 while being outscored by a staggering 291 points. More importantly, in the Allen Era, they’re 28-52. And it feels a lot worse than that.

In a league where you can make the playoffs with a losing record (2010 Seahawks, 2014 Panthers) and go from a laughingstock to contender in just one year (2013 Chiefs), you have to actually try to be this dysfunctional in the modern NFL. There has to be an organization-wide effort to be this short-sighted, this unaccountable, this bumbling.

Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was fired today after five well and truly sad years of defense in the District. I don’t expect a new face at that position to fix many issues. If I’m a talented coach at any level with rising personal stock and a chance to be a coordinator at the professional level, I wouldn’t want to come be a yes-man for Allen and Snyder and be a part of an organization that is known for drafting poorly all-around and has little talent on that side of the ball. With more coaching changes expected, uncertainty is abound in Washington yet again.

If you will for a moment, take a look at the Dallas Cowboys. A perennial .500 or-worse team, Dallas drafted Travis Frederick and Zack Martin in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Frederick, a center, was on the All-Rookie team last year and will be at the Pro Bowl this year along with Martin, a rookie right guard. Jerry Jones, for all his faults, has gotten the last couple of drafts right by building his team from the inside-out. This, in turn, has changed Tony Romo’s life. Once the butt of many a joke, Romo has shined this year in leading the Cowboys to a 12-4 record and their first NFC East title since 2009.

On the other side of the rivalry, the Redskins used the cap penalty as an excuse for their failures and all but one of the offensive linemen that they have drafted under Bruce Allen reads like a roster of guys that would appear on Football Follies: Morgan Moses, Josh LeRibeus, Tom Compton, Spencer Long and Maurice Hurt. Only Trent Williams, who’s made three straight Pro Bowls, has saved the Redskins’ three quarterbacks from getting sacked every other down.

At Allen’s press conference today, he was grilled by local writers that wanted answers for the Redskins’ inconceivable ability to fail at everything they do. Allen repeatedly said that the team was under serious evaluation, as if he just now realizes how deeply the franchise is in disarray. He mentioned that improving to 2-4 in the division in 2014 is an “improvement.” Yeah, and the University of Virginia “improved” to 3-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference this year after going 0-8 in league play last season.

Allen often said that 4-12 is not acceptable to the team’s loyal-to-a-fault fanbase, as if he thinks 5-11 or 6-10 is. He said that they’re winning off the field (read: the bottom line is on the up-and-up) but have to start winning on the field, as if he didn’t already know that every team in the league starts licking their chops when they know they get to play Washington on Sunday.

Say whatever you want to about Dan Snyder’s tenure as owner. He’s too involved with his players on a personal level and should sell the team to someone that knows football if he’s as big of a fan as he claims to be. However, considering Allen’s track record as an NFL executive in Oakland, Tampa Bay and finally Washington  — as well as the success of the Nationals, Capitals and Wizards — it should come as no surprise that those Griffin jerseys won’t even sell at half-price any more.

About Eric Hobeck

Eric Hobeck is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins and Capitals. Eric contributes to high school sports coverage at InsideNova.com. He served as sports editor of The Rotunda at Longwood University for two years, where he was also the men’s basketball beat writer. He hosted a campus radio show for three years and called basketball and baseball games for the station’s award-winning sports team. You can follow Eric on Twitter @eric_hobeck.

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