Two words would have made it all better.
Bruce Allen could have stood before the media on Monday and offered a semblance of sincere regret, an ounce of accountability and, more important, a palatable solution.
With one breath, the Washington Redskins president could have signaled the dawn of a new day for this downtrodden franchise. And all it would have taken was a true act of contrition on Allen’s part. And these two words: “I resign.”
Short of such a dramatic announcement, nothing about the Redskins has significantly changed.
Dan Snyder still owns the team.
Allen is still running it how he sees fit.
And another scapegoat has been shown the door.
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A day after the team fell to 0-5 with an embarrassing home loss to New England, the organization fired head coach Jay Gruden. And in the aftermath of another franchise-defining move, Allen stood alone in front of the cameras, offering nothing more than empty assurances and blaming a coach he no longer employs.
“The pieces are here for a winning team,” Allen said, attempting to lay the responsibility of Washington’s winless record at Gruden’s feet alone.
Allen went on to note that under the “discipline and execution” of interim head coach Bill Callahan, “we believe we’re given the best opportunity to beat the Miami Dolphins and for the rest of the year.”
Gruden had drawn the ire of fans over his five-plus seasons, and deservedly so. In truth, his dismissal was 10 months too late. A lame-duck coach in preservation mode is never a good pairing for a rookie quarterback in need of development and patience. And yet somehow, Snyder and Allen were oblivious to the organization’s need to hit the reset button this past offseason, not in Week 5.
Allen tried to convince the masses that they’re now headed in the right direction. But the Redskins are no better off today without Gruden — the longest-tenured coach under Snyder — than they were on Sunday, when they were getting manhandled by Tom Brady’s Patriots.
According to players, Gruden carried himself like a dead man walking in recent days. While his firing was expected, those within the locker room are not wholly convinced that his absence will spur immediate success.
Because it’s the front office that bears the brunt of the blame for what Washington has become: a joke.
Despite having plenty of sharp football minds internally, the Redskins are often guided by Allen’s arrogance and Snyder’s stubbornness. The switch to Callahan, a respected veteran coach, won’t change the fact that this team is 59-92-1 since Allen took over and will eventually look to hire a seventh full-time head coach under Snyder.
Allen preferred not to confront painful truths on Monday.
“The culture is actually damn good,” he said defiantly, refusing to acknowledge the on-field futility and off-field shenanigans that have become synonymous with Snyder’s 20-year reign.
On a day when Redskins fans desperately needed clarity and a sliver of hope to cling to five weeks into the season, Snyder conveniently hid from view and Allen deflected questions aimed at his influence.
Asked specifically about his level of accountability for the team’s struggles, Allen noted “we’re all involved in this,” but quickly shifted the focus to the efforts of vice president of player personnel Doug Williams and director of college scouting Kyle Smith. “I’m not saying I care more than anyone,” he added, for no apparent reason, “but I absolutely want what's best for the Washington Redskins and we're going to make sure we do it.”
The shame of it is, Allen operates as if his fanbase is comprised of simpletons.
The Redskins still aren’t close to declaring Dwayne Haskins, their 15th overall pick, their starter. And, for some unconscionable reason, Allen would rather let veteran left tackle Trent Williams sit out the entire season than attempt to recoup some value for him in an in-season trade.
Yet, Washington’s front office would rather have us believe that Gruden was the real issue all along.
“To make a decision like this is difficult, but it was necessary,” Allen said.
Really, there was nothing “difficult” about finding another scapegoat for more years of mismanagement and mediocrity. And neither Snyder nor Allen appear ready to do what, truly, is in the best interest of the franchise.
Perhaps when Allen is gone — or if Snyder ever sells the team — respectability will finally return Washington.
And, perhaps, “a damn good culture” will return too.
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