August 17, 2019

OPINION: McCloughan hire a watershed moment for a beleagured franchise

Yesterday afternoon, I went through a roller coaster of emotions over the course of about five minutes when it was first reported that Scot McCloughan would be the next General Manager of the Washington Redskins.

First, I was very happy to hear that someone with a good track record was coming to Washington, and that owner Dan Snyder had finally made a wise decision.

Then, I remembered how excited I was for Steve Spurrier to come to the District. How intriguing the idea of Albert Haynesworth on the defensive line was. How confident I was that Mike Shanahan could use his leadership skills and championship experience to bring the Redskins back to glory. How all of those moves and more turned out terribly.

Finally, I admitted to myself that this is different from any decision that Snyder and his organization has made in the past decade and a half.

Adam Schefter has confirmed that McCloughan has finalized his deal with the Redskins to become the next GM of the Redskins. He will have four years to turn this franchise into a contender again, after being so terrible for so long. I have been fooled before, but I do believe that this one man will change the fortunes of the preeminent sports team in our nation’s capital more than anyone has in Snyder’s tenure.

Why?

Two reasons. One is that he turned two teams into juggernaut franchises in the past decade in San Francisco and Seattle, as I detailed in yesterday’s piece. His draft philosophy, according to veteran journalist Andrew Brandt, is that you “don’t jump for need, you don’t get desperate, you don’t get emotional.”

This was on display in Seattle, where he drafted Super Bowl MVP linebacker Malcolm Smith in the seventh round of the NFL Draft in 2011. He drafted two-time Pro Bowler Richard Sherman in the fifth round that year. Quarterback Russell Wilson? A third-rounder in 2012. While an executive in San Francisco, he spotted five-time Pro Bowler Frank Gore in the third round. His legacy is one of success and Lombardi Trophies, with ticker-tape parades following him seemingly wherever he goes.

“Okay,” says Joe Q. Redskin Fan. “But how do I know he can be good in Washington? Executives here don’t get to make the decisions. Snyder has the ultimate say in who plays for or coaches the team.”

If this report is to be believed, McCloughan will have the final decision when it comes to who who will wear the burgundy and gold. It would appear that Snyder may have at last learned his lesson. Maybe there is a culture change underway in Ashburn. The results will not be apparent immediately, as the past five years of decision-making have been devastating to the Redskins’ ability to win on the field.

But today is about hope. Hope that Snyder and Allen finally have displayed humility. Hope that there will not be a new embarrassing leak coming out of Redskins Park every other day. Hope that Redskins fans can hear more about the team’s on-field performance than about the name. Hope that fans can be proud of the team again. Hope that they can win.

I do not know what kind of results that McCloughan will bring to DC. I don’t know how long it will take for those results to transpire, whether in the form of a playoff berth here and there or in the form of a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue that will, no matter which team in our area brings it, be the most exciting outdoor event in Washington’s history.

I do know this. Snyder being embarrassed by the past couple of years is a good sign. That Allen is willing to take a step back and be more of a figurehead is a good sign. That the Redskins finally hired a good football mind to oversee personnel operations is a very good sign.

Don’t expect double-digit wins next year, or maybe even the year after. Don’t expect a Super Bowl in two or three or even four years. Do expect, however, a positive culture — one that focuses on winning on the field, that expects a reasonable competition in every game, and one that views ineptitude and failure with disdain.

Smile, Redskins fans. It’s a new day.

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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