“Has he taken a step back? He’s still one of the great fans.” Redskins GM Bruce Allen, on owner Daniel Snyder.
Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen met with reporters Monday afternoon after dismissing Mike Shanahan as head coach and releasing most of the coaching staff. Below is a transcript of his entire comments (courtesy Redskins Media Relations).
List of coaches not retained: Keith Burns (special teams), Larry Coyer (advance scout), Richmond Flowers (offensive quality control), Matt LaFleur (quarterbacks), Mike McDaniel (wide recievers), Kyle Shanahan (offensive coordinator), Bob Slowik (linebackers), Bobby Slowik (defensive assistant), Bobby Turner (associate head coach/running backs coach ), Aubrey Pleasant (offensive assistant), Richard Hightower (special teams assistant).
Executive Vice President/General Manager Bruce Allen
“Good afternoon. Obviously this is a painful day for me and the organization. It is fitting though, after a painful season, that these type of press conferences and events happen.
“Four years ago we thought we did the right thing. We went out and met with Mike [Shanahan]. We wanted a proven coach who had a good record and we felt could lead our football team, and in discussions with Mike, he was always honest with us. He said he wanted to make sure he had the same type of control and staffing that he had in Denver and we agreed to that. Unfortunately today our results aren’t what we had hoped on that day, and that’s why we’re here.
“Today [Owner] Dan [Snyder], Mike and I met at 9:00 and we relieved Mike of his duties. It was a cordial, professional meeting. We talked about the future of the team and the direction that we both want it to go. After that I’ve been meeting with all the assistant coaches individually and telling them of their status. Later today [Senior Vice President] Tony [Wyllie] will give you a list of coaches who have also been relieved of their duties. The other coaches will depend on the next head coach – if they fit into the schemes and the system that the new head coach wants to implement. Later today I’m going to meet with a couple more of our staff members and we’re going to start to formalize the coaching search.
“I know there’s been speculation throughout the last weeks and maybe even months about what is going to happen and the reason we waited until now versus all of the previous comments of if we were going to make a change during the season was because we wanted Mike to have the ability to right the ship. We wanted to end that losing streak. For every play on this team and for everybody in the organization, for every fan out there, we wanted to get a win. We came close in the last few weeks, but as is the frustration over the last four years, we played some good quarters, some good halves, but we didn’t play complete games.
“As I said a moment ago, our head coaching search will start tonight. Because of league rules, we’re not going to try and publicize who we’re going to try and talk to. I know there’s going to be rumors out there as we meet people, and we’re going to try and keep you updated on a regular basis. We’re going to try and do this as quickly as possible, but more importantly we want to do it correctly. We want to pick the right coach, the right leader for this franchise that can inspire this football team, that can lead this team and teach them the fundamentals that are so critical in the game, who understands the value of time, because in the NFL right now time is really, really critical to manage. You don’t have much time in the offseason with the players. You don’t have much time during training camp with players. So to understand the value of that time is going to be important, and to have someone with some urgency to accomplish the goals that we’re looking for for this franchise.
“To sit here and talk about Mike Shanahan leaving us is difficult because we’re all 3-13. We accept that. We understand it. The Washington Redskins will win and lose as a football team. Period. That’s who we are, and we understand some of the mistakes that were made and we are going to take the next several months and figure out all the mistakes that were made in order to learn from them. [Cornerback] Josh Wilson gave me a great Christmas present, pretty telling, it was a book and it said ‘Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.’ We learned too much this year, maybe, but we’ve got to learn to go in the right direction and that’s what we’re going to do.”
On who will have control over player personnel moving forward:
“The control will be mine, and it will be working with our personnel department. The personnel department of [Director of Player Personnel] Scott Campbell and [Director of Pro Personnel] Morocco Brown actually do a very good job at what they do. We are going to redefine some of the characteristics that we’re looking for in players. Obviously when we have a new head coach there will be some schematic adjustments that we will make, but that power will be with me.”
On the reports and rumors around the franchise late in the season:
“Part of that was – let me use the right word – distasteful to hear. Within in the Redskins — and I do like that the players say it’s on us, it is on us, it’s on all of us from people in the front office to people on the football field to people in the locker room, it is on us — and to see those anonymous sources and the back-biting and different comments, I think it’s very important to know that a lot of it was untrue, but at the same time it was distasteful. Any coach, any organization knows in pro sports you need to eliminate distractions. Instead we created our own distractions and it distracted from our play on the field and we will do our best to alleviate any of those issues in the future.”
On if they will redefine front office roles:
“No, we’re going to keep everybody in their role and we’re going to make sure they can focus on their job that they have to do. They’ll be involved in the interview process. They will be involved as they have been in talking to some of the coaches today. We feel comfortable with them. It doesn’t mean we might not add somebody to the personnel department, but we feel we have a good personnel department that has been interviewed for other positions and we’re comfortable with it now.”
On if the next head coach has to be someone that has won as a head coach before:
“It really is an open list. It will have NFL coaches, it will have college coaches on it. Some have head coaching experience, some don’t, and I’m really looking forward to meeting some of the people who I haven’t met yet. I’ve seen them from afar and I want to hear what their dreams are, what they can do, the fire in their belly to coach the Washington Redskins, to inspire the kids on this football team.”
On reports of fractured relationships within the organization:
“That’s part of the rumors that are out there. Mike has always been professional and we always had an easy dialogue when discussing issues. I don’t think there was a fractured relationship. I think that the intensity of trying to do the right thing all the time maybe was too much for everyone at times, but I think the relationship was good, as it was in our meeting this morning. Mike and Dan have a very good relationship as people, and I think that’s going to continue in the future.”
On if he is concerned about instability after another coaching change:
“In the NFL right now, stability is a strange word. I think we need to put that up at a league meeting, ‘What is stability?’ There’s eight head coaching changes last year, eight the year before, no reason to believe there might not be eight again. Last year half the offensive coordinators in the NFL changed teams, so I think we’ve had a pretty good run with four years. Unfortunately, three of the years were losing records and those are the results. The great thing about sports is we play with a scoreboard. We don’t have to wait for a quarterly report to tell us how we did in sales or any of that. We know immediately, and the distasteful and the painful part was we were 3-13. We lost 13 times.”
On if continuity not breeding success is a problem that goes deeper than the head coaching position:
“No, not at all. You can look at teams that turn around in one year — I think the greatest example is Philadelphia and Kansas City — [Kansas City] Coach [Andy] Reid did a great job with the Chiefs. He just left Philly and they didn’t perform well but the new coach came in and led them to the division title. If we find the right person, we will have the stability that we all want in the NFL.”
On if the team is better off now than it was before hiring Shanahan:
“In ways, yes. The frustration of the season is there is a nucleus for success. We saw it. We saw it just a year ago. And the nucleus is here, and we have some of the right foundational principles to win. We just have to learn to take advantage of all 60 minutes in a game and close the deal. We had way too many giveaways this year. I don’t think there’s anything that speaks to our season as much as our first-quarter record. We had the worst in the league net point differential, minus-79 points, in the first quarter, so obviously that made the games even more painful when you’re trying to come from behind at times. I feel we have an opportunity because of the nucleus of the team, the spirit of the team. I think through all of the different issues that came up this year – some true, some untrue – the team did stick together. The core of this team believes in each other.”
On when the decision to relieve Shanahan was made:
“I would say probably after the Dallas game it was near 99 percent, but the most important thing after the Dallas game was to try and beat the Giants, and we felt that Mike and his staff gave us the best chance to beat the Giants the next week. Unfortunately that didn’t happen and that’s why we’re here today.”
On why fans should believe the next head coach will succeed after previous coaches have not:
“I can’t speak for the prior years. I can speak for Mike’s years, and Dan was very supportive of all of Mike’s wishes and ideas, as he has with the different thoughts that I’ve had from time to time. This is the Washington Redskins. This is a very high-profile team. When the Dallas Cowboys or the Washington Redskins are in first place it’s a lot of news, and when they’re in last place it’s a lot of news. I think coming into this environment, knowing that there is a nucleus, I think it will be a very attractive position to coaches.”
On if he learned anything specific from mistakes made in his time here:
“We met this morning in the personnel department to make sure that we documented every pick that we’ve made and we’ve documented every free agent that we’ve discussed or gave a bad grade to that is performing well right now in the NFL. So we’re studying the personnel at this point.”
On how responsible he feels for this season and the record over the last four years:
“I feel very responsible. I think I said that at the beginning that everyone here feels responsible, and in my position it’s what creates the pain because I can see where we want to go, I can feel where we want to go, and I know that the players have that same drive. So I feel responsible for it. We’re all accountable for our record. That’s the great thing, once again, about sports. I’m 3-13 as is Tony Wyllie over here.”
On what the head coaching job has to offer to candidates:
“As I just said a little bit earlier, the attractiveness of coming to one of the flagship franchises in the NFL is exciting to coaches. The coaching profession is one that I have tremendous respect for and I think it has some of the highest highs and some of the lowest lows of any profession out there, and sometimes you find coaches who can’t wait to have a tough situation of taking over a last-place team. I think if you would ask coaches a lot of times would you want to take over a first-place team or a last-place team, in football, they’d say last place. Unfortunately we’re there, but I do think it’s going to be a great opportunity for a coach.”
On his role in the organization moving forward:
“My job is to put the Washington Redskins organization on the right track and to continue to build the foundation for this team to win and it is my job to find the next head coach for the Washington Redskins.”
On if his role will include control over personnel decisions:
“That’s all part of it.”
On if he will be looking for specific offensive or defensive schemes in the new coach:
“I think I’m going to look for the person who can describe what they want to do the best. It could be a 4-3, it could be a 3-4. It’s the person who has the understanding and the knowledge of what he wants to teach the players. As I said at the beginning, we’re going to look for someone who is a leader first and it could be on the offensive side of the ball, defense or special team. There have been a couple special teams coaches who have made great head coaches. We’re going to keep an open mind and look forward to them telling us how they’re going to make the Washington Redskins successful – have that fire in the belly that I discussed about being excited and what they can do to make the Redskins win.”
On how much Snyder’s involvement has changed in recent years:
“Once again, it’s tough for me to discuss what he did before I came here, because I wasn’t here. He’s been very supportive of everything we’ve wanted to do. Has he taken a step back? He’s still one of the great fans. I think – and I’ve seen some of the reports, if you knew how much Dan Snyder wants to win – I mean, he wants to win more than life itself – and he has given us the support and the resources to do what we think is necessary to help us win. It showed a year ago and this year it didn’t, but it’s our job to do the execution. It’s not Dan calling the plays. It’s not Dan picking the players. It’s the people he’s hired, it’s our job to actually turn this team into a winner.”
On his reasoning for not restructuring the front office:
“I see some people who have to be given an opportunity to succeed. I think Scott Campbell running a college draft will be as capable as any personnel director in the NFL. I know what Morocco Brown can do in free agency. I’ve seen the grades of the players he’s given in free agency. To blame them, I think, would be unfair to not giving them an opportunity to succeed. Our front office will win and lose as the team does. We believe that we have the right people in place. You saw it last year. This year, you saw – not the complete opposite, because we lost eight versus winning seven in a row. We’re very confident where we’re going to go with them.”
On if something is inherently wrong after finishing in last place in five out of the last six seasons:
“Not in the NFL. Not in sports. I can’t change history. You’d like to, but you can’t change history. It’s all about today and where we’re going in the future. I think when we provide the right type of leadership, the right type of foundation for a new coach and a new team, that’s what’s going to matter. I can’t change what happened yesterday. We are going to have the chance to change the future and that’s what our task is and we look forward to it.”
“It is a difficult day. In talking to the coaches, it’s very painful, and I respect all the work that they put into it, but the results weren’t there. It’s now our job today with the nucleus that we have to change our fortunes in the future and we think we can do that. I want to thank you, and as I said, we’re going to try and keep you updated during this process so the fans know what we’re doing with the coaching search. Thank you.”