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Trouble in "Paradise?"

February 10, 2017
We’ve been hearing rumblings of unrest at Redskins Park since before the season ended. When the season concluded with a loud thud, heads were going to roll.

Maybe they would have been chopped either way, but the worst-case scenario for the Redskins was to lose out on a playoff spot, with total control of their own destiny, at home against a division rival playing for absolutely nothing but pride.

 I mentioned all that week leading up to the game in this space that I was very concerned with how the Redskins handled prosperity and control of their own destiny.

They were dominated from the start, before recovering and losing a close game. While it was just one loss, it was a defeat that cost the Redskins millions and millions of revenue, that was not fully guaranteed, but would have absolutely rolled through over the off-season in various ways.

If you are asking what revenue – I’m talking about season ticket renewals, new season ticket purchases, new club and luxury box contracts, premium seating renewals, corporate sponsorships, team licensed merchandise and a lot more.

Everybody wants to support a winner. Nobody wants to buy-in to a disappointment. That’s the way business in the NFL works.

Never, ever, underestimate how much money was lost because the team failed when it mattered most.

When millions and millions are lost – heads are going to roll. Especially when you have highly volatile personalities and the bitterness rules the roost.

It’s a good thing it doesn’t rule the “Rooster” (my radio nickname on 106.7 The FAN, for those unaware) because it allows me to tell you truth.

Here’s what I mean: The Redskins “executive branch” are pissed off. They are steaming mad, because they lost a lot of money and now they must recover. This is not to say that they don’t want to win. Of course, they do. That’s part of the anger, but the money lost is first and foremost.

When anger engulfs you – it takes control of you and then you bring the thunder down on those around you.

That’s exactly what is happening at Redskins Park.

The head coach feels it and knows it. He has been very aware of what kind of dynamic he joined back in 2014. That’s why he coached that year like he was desperate.

The defensive coordinator was blamed for every problem under the sun and was shown the door.

Then you have the general manager. The golden boy. The apple of everyone’s eyes. Scot McCloughan.

The savior. The man charged with bringing the Redskins back to respectability. And he has.

He’s been far from perfect and he’s made plenty of mistakes. He’s also hit a few homeruns and a couple of well stroked extra-base hits.

I am not here to defend or advocate for Scot McCloughan. I’ve been complimentary and I’ve been critical. Many Redskins fans were irate with me last year when I wrote this column the night that Stephen Paea was released.

It should not surprise anybody that the shine is wearing off. Not with what happened at the end of the year and not with what happened over the last two years in terms of the whiffs on several free agents and the significant questions about some of McCloughan’s draft picks.

Mike Jones of the Washington Post wrote a column Thursday suggesting that Bruce Allen is breathing fire down the neck of McCloughan and wants the general manager to only focus on personnel and the draft.

That sounds reasonable and prudent to me. However, Allen barred McCloughan from speaking to the media on the record and even “off-the-record.”

A muzzle is not going to help. It’s not going to fix any problems. It’s only going to lead to drama, which it has.

It makes you look bad, Bruce. It makes the Redskins look controlling and dominating, which they are. It makes the Redskins look dysfunctional. They always have been and honestly, they always will be.

A good friend of mine, that used to work for the team, created a slogan “Embrace the Dysfunction” and the Redskins do this to no end.

I have absolutely ZERO issue with a sense of urgency that the Redskins are feeling. They lacked it in every way down the stretch. Remember the ping-pong story that everybody laughed at me about? That’s the point that I was trying to make and ping-pong became symbolic of the message that I was trying to convey.

I have absolutely no problem with extra-pressure being put on McCloughan, Gruden or anybody.

It’s how you do it: You don’t tighten the rope around McCloughan’s neck with a silly ban.  You give him extra help. You give him more resources. You hire an extra set of eyes to help him and cover as many bases as possible.

You bring in somebody from the outside or hire somebody secretly to provide a different or fresh perspective. You know, the way the Redskins contracted McCloughan in 2014 before he became their general manager?

Morocco Brown is out of a job. He worked for the Redskins for a long-time before getting a promotion to another terribly dysfunctional organization and getting caught up in a toilet bowl of wreckage.

What could it hurt? Maybe it’s just too much for one person to handle?

That’s how you get better without making a public spectacle of your general manager. You don’t put a noose around his neck and make him look bad!

Many Redskins fans simply do not care about whether a general manager, coach or executive can talk to the media. I get it. They view it as inconsequential and perhaps they have a point.

Trust me on this: Talking to the media does not affect your job performance. It can alter the culture and harmony of the building and if that was what Bruce Allen was getting at, I understand.

The problem with that is this: Bruce created exactly what he was trying to prevent, which is how the Redskins have done bad business for so long. It’s why they are in a complete unmitigated disaster at quarterback, because they created this mess.

Image result for scot mccloughan bruce allen


It’s funny because Bruce knew exactly who he was hiring in both major hires he’s made as the ultimate “Grand-Brucey”, and he hired two people that liked to talk.

Two guys, Jay Gruden and Scot McCloughan, who are not tight-lipped and afraid to have another sounding board or the ability to shape or control the message.

Allen did absolutely nothing to help Gruden in his rookie year and the young head coach couldn’t help himself. He was too honest, too blunt and too real. Until Bruce got to him.

The same thing for McCloughan. Everyone knew it and true to form, Scot’s a good person who likes to talk football and grew up in a different culture.

Allen is a control freak and always has been. It’s funny. Mike Shanahan was viewed as a controlling, divisive force when he was here in Washington, but almost nobody (except me) batted an eyelash at the notion that Shanahan didn’t have the control and power everybody thought he did.  

Everyone laughed and thought Allen oversaw pants, picnics, barbeques and beer choices. They dismissed the ruthless businessman that he was and still is. They discounted the ego-maniac that he is and has been.

The problem is this: Allen has gained more power, more leverage, more control and therefore more ego because the Redskins have seen their franchise value go through the roof over his administration.

Allen has every right to do whatever he wants: He’s in control.

However, a smart executive would  not make his top lieutenant look like a fool and that essentially is what Bruce Allen has done to Scot McCloughan.

Now, the question is this: How long does McCloughan put up with this absurdity? Don’t be surprised if at some point soon, he says he’s had enough. 

Chris Russell has covered the Washington Redskins for six seasons for multiple media outlets and was a part of the Redskins Radio Network broadcast team for the last five. He covers the Redskins for Monumental Network (www.DCHotRead.com), WashingtonTimes.com, BreakingBurgundy.com & Warpath Magazine. Listen to Chris on Washington D.C.'s # 1 sports radio station, 106.7 The FAN    


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