- - Sunday, March 12, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION

There has been much that has come out of Redskins Park in the midst of the disinformation campaign following the public execution of general manager Scot McCloughan that has been distasteful, despicable and likely deceitful.

If there is any truth hidden in any of it, that truth has been buried in a pile of garbage.There may not be enough soap in the state of Virginia to wash the stink away in Ashburn.

Part of that campaign has been to diminish the influence of McCloughan on the franchise since he was hired in January 2015 — and since the Redskins had had two winning seasons.

We hear things — anonymously, of course — that “it’s all Jay and Bruce,” referring to coach Jay Gruden and team president, Bruce Allen, the prince of darkness. All this so-called “success” — the measure for success for this franchise covered by the aura of self destruction is simply a season greater than .500 — can be attributed to the power and influence of Allen and Gruden.

We know that’s not true.

We may have forgotten the fact that Scot McCloughan was responsible for the most important decision at Redskins Park over the past two years, the decision that led to the limited success the team has enjoyed.

The story goes that Scot McCloughan, during Redskins training camp in 2015, met privately for five hours with owner Dan Snyder and convinced the meddlesome owner that Cousins — and not the owner’s buddy, Robert Griffin III — should be the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins.

No other decision was greater at Redskins Park. No more act of influence was more important.

All Jay and Bruce, indeed.

We heard the story from Bleacher Report’s and veteran NFL reporter Jason Cole, who has a close relationship with McCloughan, about how the general manager was the one who convinced the owner to abandon his fixation with Griffin and support Gruden’s desire to start Cousins instead.

In an April 2016 interview on ESPN 980, Cole spoke of the meeting that took place between McCloughan and Snyder.

“He (McCloughan) basically stood on a table by going to Snyder and having that 5-hour conversation that they ended up having until the wee hours of the morning one time,” said Cole.

“And basically said, ‘Look Cousins is the guy’. And he ended up being right. Cousins ended up being that guy, and being better than RGIII. And the team rallied around Cousins and ended up making the playoffs.”

That was the difference maker. If Bruce Allen had been a Cousins backer, there would have been no need for such a meeting.

No, Gruden’s only ally in benching Griffin was McCloughan. And it is likely that the biggest roadblock to getting a long-term deal done with Cousins has been Allen.

Before McCloughan, Gruden was the lone voice fighting against playing Griffin.

Remember when, following the 2014 season, Gruden declared there would be an “open” competition for quarterback, only to reverse himself at the 2015 combine and, in the famous hostage video, announced that Griffin would go into the season as the team’s No. 1 quarterback — answering no questions following that statement.

It was McCloughan who changed that with his meeting with Snyder — an account that has never been disputed by anyone in the organization.

Among all the recent furor was a CSN Mid Atlantic report that Cousins, now under contract with the Redskins for a second season under the franchise tag with a $24 million payday, refuses to negotiate any long-term deal with Allen.

It’s not likely Cousins felt the same animosity toward McCloughan.

In an April 2016 interview with Cole, McCloughan described his meeting with Cousins after he signed the first franchise tag for $20 million.

“I told Kirk when he came in — and his wife must have hugged me for 10 minutes because he just went from making $600,000 to $19.9 million — I told him, “You take care of me and this organization, we’re going to take care of you,’” McCloughan said. “‘I promise. And we’re going to build this roster to where you can be average and still be good. I promise you.’

“Let me overpay him if he’s good,” McCloughan said. “If you have a productive guy, it helps everything, and it proves out. You look around this league and see the teams that are in the playoffs every year and look who the quarterbacks are. Look at the ones who win. It proves out. Don’t get me wrong, the O-line is huge. The running game is huge, which we had in Seattle. But when it’s all said and done and the quarterback can get the guys rallied around him, you have a chance.”

It turns out that Scot McCloughan never had a chance, though — not in the landfill that is Redskins Park.

It doesn’t appear as if anyone stood on a table for him. Instead, they hid under it.

Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast “Cigars & Curveballs” Wednesdays available on iTunes and Google Play.

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