Most important Redskins hire? Not Shanahan

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Mike Shanahan got all the authority and, presumably, all the money he wanted to become the next coach and front man for Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder to sell tickets.

But the most important man with the Redskins is Bruce Allen.

Strange, you might say. How can the guy who doesn't call plays, doesn't pick players and doesn't sign checks be the most important? Because Allen is the middle man between two of the most awesome egos in the NFL. He is the man charged with keeping the peace between the brilliant yet high-strung Shanahan and the maniacal Snyder.

Mike Shanahan has a 146-98 record (.598) during his 16 year head coaching career (Raiders, Broncos).
(Getty Images)

Snyder's bunch

Redskins head coaches during Dan Snyder's ownership.

Head coach


Norv Turner


Terry Robiskie




Steve Spurrier


Joe Gibbs


Jim Zorn


Mike Shanahan


*Turner had coached since 1994.
**3 games

Fortunately, Allen is well-trained in this field. Back when Allen worked for the Oakland Raiders, he kept the peace between Jon Gruden, who is about a fiber-optic wire short of Shanahan's intensity, and Al Davis, who may be the ghost of Snyder's future sans the football success.

Allen kept Gruden and Davis apart just enough for the Raiders to be successful, going to the playoffs twice with a patchwork group of veterans. Even the year after Gruden left, the Raiders leaned heavily on his teachings on the way to their last Super Bowl appearance … against Gruden and Tampa Bay.

From there, Allen joined Gruden in Tampa Bay and kept the Glazer family at bay long enough to get a contract extension for both Gruden and himself after the 2007 season. That was before the Glazers realized that the Buccaneers had become one big hamster-and-treadmill show, firing the pair last January.

Now comes Washington, a place where Shanahan is expected to produce miracles quickly. Why? Because that's what Snyder always expects. In the 11 years that Snyder has been the owner of the Redskins, he has gone through coaches the way most of us dispense of water bottles. And not just any coaches, but some pretty high-profile ones.

Of the six head coaches Snyder has had during his tenure, only Joe Gibbs lasted longer than two years. That's because Snyder couldn't mess with Gibbs, who walks on the Potomac in the eyes of Redskins fans. The only guy with more respect than Gibbs in Washington is whoever resides in the White House at any given time.

But even that's debatable.

Snyder has turned coaches such as Marty Schottenheimer and Steve Spurrier into sock puppets. That's because Snyder craves immediate results. He also loves the backroom dealings that go with the NFL. Unlike many owners, he loves to talk to agents. He gets directly involved in player acquisition.

Redskins owner Dan Snyder, right, introduces the new Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen, left, on December 17, 2009.
(Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo)

At least two agents swear that Snyder has told them he has his own personal "draft board" for evaluating college players, and he even flies around the country to attend workouts for high-profile players (he was at a private workout for quarterback Mark Sanchez(notes) last year). During his tenure, few owners have played the free agent and trade markets as hard as the Redskins. From Deion Sanders to Bruce Smith to Albert Haynesworth(notes) to DeAngelo Hall(notes) to Santana Moss(notes) to Clinton Portis(notes), Snyder has made one splashy move after another.

And gotten nowhere.

Now he brings in Shanahan, who could be the right fit. Sure, Shanahan has his issues. He has only won one playoff game in 10 years. He pays little attention to defense (look for Bob Slowik to be his defensive coordinator, which isn't necessarily a good thing) or special teams, and his personnel management was wildly inconsistent.

That said, Shanahan seemed to have something good going during his last couple years in Denver. He's the guy who drafted quarterback Jay Cutler(notes) and made Cutler productive. Shanahan also picked left tackle Ryan Clady(notes), tight end Tony Scheffler(notes), defensive end Elvis Dumervil(notes), linebacker D.J. Williams(notes) and wide receivers Brandon Marshall(notes) and Eddie Royal(notes). That's a great nucleus. At least it was until new Denver coach Josh McDaniels couldn't get along with Cutler.

But that's another story.

What's important now is that Shanahan is given enough room to remake the Redskins roster and do it without chasing his past glory. Instead of trying to patchwork a contender every year in order to prove his worth, Shanahan needs to be given a little room to install his offense (which is great) and get the team in order.

What can't happen is for Snyder to come stomping down the hallway after every three-game losing streak, freaking out about how it has to be fixed yesterday because he can't stand the fans booing him or holding up signs with nasty messages.

Enter Allen, who was an agent before he was an NFL executive. Allen is as slick as the bottom of a roasting pan on Thanksgiving. Heck, he learned at the knee of his father, former Washington coach George Allen, a guy who once traded a draft pick he didn't even have (that's a true story).

Bruce Allen is not a guy you buy a used car from. He's the guy who sells you the whole lot and makes you think you got a great deal.

On Tuesday, Snyder bought a great used car in Shanahan. He just needs to make sure he doesn't drive Shanahan too hard. What he needs is a really good chauffeur.

Fortunately, he has that guy in Allen.