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Could Bruce Finally Be In Trouble?

April 4, 2018
There’s a growing feeling inside and outside of Redskins Park that Dan Snyder is fed up with the direction of the franchise and could be inching closer to making a change at the very top.

No, he’s not selling the Redskins.

However, he could, although it’s not expected to happen anytime soon, re-assign Bruce Allen to officially lead the Redskins new stadium development project and manage Snyder’s other business practices, as opposed to running the day-to-day football operations.

As we explained Wednesday morning on the Junkies, Snyder has grown extremely frustrated and one source described it as “furious” with Allen’s leadership of the football operations. It’s not expected that Allen would be out-right released, but instead allowed to concentrate on his strength -- making money and spearheading full-time, the Redskins new home.

So what was the tipping point? There wasn’t just one incident. Instead, it’s been a brewing and growing frustration for Snyder.

The on-field product is not good enough to hide or absorb the mistakes and bad decisions that Allen has made. The view of the franchise -  while considered “stable” by some, is still perceived in very poor light by most that are tapped in and take a big-picture view.

Per sources, the “spit” hit the fan and bubbled over after the annual league meetings held last week in Orlando. Friday of last week was not a very comfortable day at 21300 Redskin Park Drive for Allen and others in the building, as Snyder was said to be visibly angry and hostile.

These kinds of things happen from time to time in that building, as the halls are filled with a lot of feisty, stubborn personalities.

From a football perspective, there’s been a lot that has gone wrong, as many of you know.

The hiring of Scot McCloughan was a disaster for the franchise from top to bottom. As it has been explained to me, Snyder essentially ordered the hiring of a top personnel man to run the football department after a disastrous 2014 season.

Allen, bypassed one of his best friends in the NFL, A.J. Smith, the successful ex-GM of the Chargers and somebody who served as a top executive to Allen for 2013 & 2014, to hire McCloughan from outside. There were plenty of problems with the hire on the inside from the start. McCloughan was far from the saint that he’s been painted out to be by fans and many members of the media.

Sources explained that Snyder wanted to fire McCloughan long before he was, and Allen was trying to help him or solve all the problems. The problems never were fixed, and it led to a humiliating fall-out at the 2017 scouting combine in Indianapolis and subsequent firing on the first night of free agency and the new league year, just a few weeks after that. The Redskins never hired an actual general manager, but shifted around roles and job titles as a fall-out.  The belief at the time in the building was that the Redskins didn't need a true general manager. 

Now, the Redskins could be out millions of dollars if an arbitrator rules in favor of Scot McCloughan in his grievance case, a decision expected at some point before training camp and that could be another tipping point for Snyder.

Snyder is also said to be upset that Bruce Allen and the Redskins bypassed Wade Phillips not once, but twice as a potential defensive coordinator. Washington hired Joe Barry over Phillips before the 2015 season and after Barry was fired, following the 2017 season. Phillips, eventually joined former Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay with the Rams and appears to be building a potential Super Bowl contender, after winning the division in their first year.

Snyder also grew frustrated with Allen’s leadership and handling of the Kirk Cousins’ situation. As we reported in this space last year and as others have mentioned, Snyder became increasingly supportive of signing Cousins long-term last off-season, after a second franchise tag.

Of course, it could have happened, if Snyder one-hundred percent demanded that a deal get done and obviously it did not.

Snyder has also grown increasingly angry over the bad coverage that the Redskins have received from the media. All of which is warranted, for what it’s worth.

Sources mentioned the Doug Williams story on how the Alex Smith trade went down, by the Washington Post and this audio & written beat down of Bruce Allen and the Redskins by my pals, Grant Paulsen & Chris Lingebach. 

I’m fairly sure columns like this on the Redskins recent and long-term draft failures do not help. 

Snyder, sources also mentioned, is upset that drafts and young players have been very spotty for the Redskins organization and he’s not wrong.

Sure, Brandon Scherff and others appear to be key pieces of the foundation but there’s been way too many questionable or shaky picks, especially in the top three-rounds. This includes so-called Scot McCloughan run drafts and drafts credited to Mike Shanahan and/or Bruce Allen.

The truth is this: The organization drafts a player. A number of people deserve credit or blame for every major decision that is made, but Allen is the individual that has controlled the strings ultimately on everyone and every decision.

Has Allen done everything wrong? No. He’s made Snyder a lot of money. The Redskins have won two division titles in eight seasons but no playoff games. His overall record as the top emperor in charge is (52-78-1) if you include the final three games on 2009, which is not technically fair, but football isn’t fair.

Or if you leave out those final three games in 2009 and include the two playoff losses, Allen’s record is (52-77-1). Either way you cut it, it’s not good. It’s not average. It’s not mediocre. It’s not explainable. It’s awful. It sucks.

If that’s not enough reason to justify any decision other than keeping Allen where he is, I give up.

One other element that is pushing Snyder, according to sources, is the desire to make sure that Eric Schaffer does not get tempted to leave the organization after so many years of doing everything right and getting very little credit for it.

Schaffer is the smartest human being by far in the building. Everyone knows he has “brains-smart” and common-sense smart qualities, along with an implicit knowledge of the salary cap and collective bargaining agreement.

What wasn’t known to many is Schaffer’s football acumen. Trust me, he has it. Schaffer has been studying in intense detail the x’s and o’s of personnel and football for as long as I’ve known him. He’s at most, if not all practices. He’s watching film. He’s trusted by pure football people in the building as well.

From what sources have said, Jay Gruden and other football people at Redskins Park prefer to deal with Schaffer and go through him more and more every day.  There’s been some “normal” friction between head-coach Jay Gruden and Allen over personnel, which has been described as no big deal but if Gruden feels he has a better path to what he wants by dealing with Schaffer, that could strengthen Eric’s hold on all things Redskins.

Gruden, as you may recall, has seen his power in football evaluations and operations increase over the last year plus, as we first reported around the time that the McCloughan mess was unfolding. 

Schaffer, has drawn interest, according to sources, from the NFL league office. Could a team or teams be next? Some teams make front-office changes after the draft. Could he once again draw interest from another organization, as he has drawn before?

Snyder is hell-bent on keeping Schaffer from what I’ve been told and a promotion to President of Football Operations could be the way to do that.

Nothing huge is expected to happen right now, but once the Redskins are done with the draft, that could be the prime window or more likely, a move could and possibly would be made after the season.

Either way, it appears for the first time that we know of in over eight years of leadership, that Bruce Allen is fighting for his job and Snyder is officially “woke.”

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, Washington Valor and Baltimore Brigade for Monumental Sports Network (  Listen to Chris on Washington D.C.'s # 1 sports radio station, 106.7 The FAN