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No GM Needed?

May 5, 2017
The Redskins are apparently not going to hire a general manager to replace Scot McCloughan, who they fired in early March.

This, according to the Fritz Pollard Alliance via Jason Cole of Bleacher Report and Mark Maske of the Washington Post. 

This is mildly surprising but more amusing than anything, if we’re dealing the truth.

I thought the Redskins would name a general manager at some point after the draft, largely in name only. Whoever it was (apparently it will be nobody) was simply going to have a title with responsibility but no power on the significant decisions of the Redskins.

Maybe that’s the way it ultimately is everywhere, with different organizations not exactly handing out trump cards like they’re candy?

Clearly, in New England, Bill Belichick is the top decision maker after Bob Kraft. That’s a position that he grew into very quickly because Kraft had a vision to hire a head coach who was a debacle in terms of public relations when he came back to Foxboro, but Belichick knew what he was doing. Five Super Bowl wins later and you see the results.

Organizations are all structured differently. The traditional set-up of an owner, CEO/President, general manager and head coach are usually all in place but the person with ultimate power over the football operations is variable.

With the Redskins, Dan Snyder has always had final say and that has left the Redskins in a messy bind far too often. Bruce Allen runs the day-to-day football operations and business operations of the franchise and he always has. I can't say he always will, but for those that think he's in some sort of trouble of losing his job, please! He's not going anywhere. 

The Redskins have jumped from $1.55 billion in franchise value, per Forbes,  when Allen was hired in late 2009 to around $3 BILLION in seven seasons. That's two division titles, no playoff wins, a brutal amount of dysfunction (that Allen has supervised and been complicit with) and the most important element, no new stadium, along with that jump of nearly double in franchise value. 

Somehow, someway, despite many efforts to tell the public the real deal, Allen was always dismissed and looked upon as a joke, as a guy who cared more about pants, picnics and politics.

Don’t get me wrong, that joke (Steve Czaban created the first two elements) was funny! Allen does care about that. He just cares about being the final say on anything significant even more.

Does Allen worry about the 90 th roster spot in May? Probably not. He might, but I assume he’ll leave that for somebody else to deal with.

Does he care about who the Redskins draft or who they sign in free agency? Hell yeah, he does. He always has. He’s always been the voice that mattered the most, because Dan Snyder simply told Bruce what he wanted done and Allen carried out that plan.

Along with his own plan. Oh and that was when Mike Shanahan was here, too. Everyone scoffed, but they didn't know what I saw on an every day basis.

This off-season was never, ever about getting control back from Scot McCloughan. McCloughan was given a very short rope of trust and basically hung himself early on in his tenure. He essentially had limited or controlled power from the start.

Sources that are very familiar with the inner-workings of the front office have consistently described for months that McCloughan had no power, no authority and no juice for a very long time.

They say anything else you've heard is a public relations ploy to make McCloughan look good,

I don’t know exactly what happened or how it happened. I just know what I’ve been told from someone that has never led me wrong. That account has been largely backed up by more than one source.

Did McCloughan  have some influence? Sure. Did he have some input? Yes. Did his evaluations of players count? Of course. Did he make any picks or final decisions on any of the medium or large issues? No.

Recommendations and evaluations are very different than making decisions that matter, and we all need to remember that.

So essentially the Redskins have not had a true general manager for a long time. One could even make the argument that their last general manager with any real juice is the same guy that green-lights everything and puts a big boot stomp on whatever he wants. You know who that is!

The Redskins and more specifically Bruce Allen were never interested in yielding any kind of power or control of the day-to-day football operations when they hired McCloughan.

That was done to appease the fan base, which was beyond disgusted and to bring in a sharp eye for talent that could help but not usurp the power of the two top dogs.

That’s why I was adamant time and time again about Bruce Allen controlling everything, but even I got sucked into some of the things I was told or heard.

It doesn’t really matter at this point.

The bottom-line is this: The Redskins were never and are not currently interested in turning over any power or control to somebody from outside the organization and circle of trust.

They only want somebody that they know and trust, because they’ve seen him work every day. They’ve seen how he responds every day. They want somebody that understands the politics of the building and what you can do and can't do. 

They don’t want a number of highly qualified candidates, because that would be yielding some control and opening the door again to an outsider that might not be there type of guy.

An outsider who might be very talented at his job, but likes the spotlight. A guy who enjoys talking to the media. A guy who might have a vice that makes him impossible to control and censor.

These things matter just as much, if not more, than the football knowledge and insight an outsider might bring.

So why not somebody in-house? Doug Williams? The legendary Super Bowl winning quarterback wants the job and title but he’s not going anywhere in reality. So the thought is this – why give what you don’t have to give?

Williams, a good man, was a guest at 106.7 The FAN "Fan-Fest" on Saturday and told Brian McNally that there's no definitive plan in place (at least for now) and everyone is moving forward on a daily basis. 

Eric Schaffer, Scott Campbell and Alex Santos are extremely loyal men and are compensated well to perform their jobs. They know the politics, they know what they can and cannot do and what they can get away with.

They, like many Redskins officials, live in fear of Allen’s wrath, especially if they violate the circle of trust and help the media, which in turn, informs the customer base.

One of those gentlemen might get an offer from somewhere else and if so, depending on the offer, the Redskins could match/elevate or pass and let them go, so why promote now?

And that’s exactly the problem. Great companies promote from within. They reward from within. They don’t install fear and tension or frustration from within.

You might wonder why they stay if it so bad? Well, that’s easy. It’s not that bad. They’re paid handsomely, but not egregiously. Families are involved. The fear of the unknown is also something that resonates.

They all saw what happened to Morocco Brown, who got so frustrated with the lack of promotions with the Redskins, he took a major promotion with an even worse franchise (Cleveland) and was out in two years. He’s still out of football (as of now) and has spent the year-plus raising his family, which football does not allow you to do.

So they stay. Bruce Allen likes and respects their work enough that they are relatively comfortable despite having almost no upward mobility. A shame, but that’s the way many companies are these days.

And then there’s Jay Gruden. There’s really no upward mobility for a head coach within  a franchise with the exception of gaining more power and more control in decision making and perhaps a fancy title like Mike Shanahan used to have (Executive Vice President/Head Coach).

If I was a betting man – Jay Gruden’s rise in power (which we reported on long before his extension) will continue to expand. I wouldn’t be surprised if Gruden gets an extra title and more importantly, title or not, Gruden is the guy that has the most juice in the building besides Allen.

Make no mistake about it, Gruden hasn’t been just a head coach over the last two years. After an awful rookie year, full of disastrous mistakes in every way, he’s become an on-field general and behind the scenes, he’s a heavy-hitter who gets what he wants often.

Which brings us to this: With Jay Gruden’s rise in authority and Allen’s loyal soldiers still in the fold, the Redskins don’t need a general manager that wouldn’t have true authority anyway. The extra bonus? They don’t have to pay a million dollars in salary for somebody that could cause friction.

They can add another consultant or personnel executive (AJ Smith or Michael Lombardi?) and they don’t have to really open their circle of trust to an outsider that’s going to challenge anyone’s authority or take any control or influence away from the men the P.O.T.W.R. has already stamped in place. 

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


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