- The Washington Times - Friday, December 18, 2009

The timing of Vinny Cerrato’s exit and Bruce Allen’s entrance at Redskin Park couldn’t be more obvious. Dan Snyder wants to change the course of the franchise, sure, but first he wants to change the storyline going into the “Monday Night Football” game against the Giants. Nobody ever said Dan wasn’t clever.

Now, instead of dwelling on the team’s recent woes - the 6-15 record since last November, the ushering in of an Emergency Offensive Playcaller, the brief banning of signs at FedEx Field and all the rest - the “MNF” crew can focus on Thursday’s hiring of George Allen’s son as executive vice president/general manager and what a fairy tale it is.

Forget about the past. The future is now. Again.

And make no mistake. Bruce is one of those get-it-done-yesterday types, just like his finger-licking dad… as well as his new boss. “I like urgency,” he said. Of course, urgency has gotten a lot of clubs - including this one - in plenty of trouble in the Free Agent Era. More often, “steady as she goes” is the saner approach.

But we’ll leave that discussion for another time. Instead, let’s talk about how, for once, Snyder handled a major announcement in just the right way. By that I mean he left the three Super Bowl trophies - trophies he had nothing to do with winning - in their case in the lobby rather than using them to decorate the dais like he usually does. The symbolism was clear: No more basking in the triumphs of others; it’s time to make our own history here.

It certainly is - long past time. Eleven seasons of Snyder rule have produced one division winner (the one he inherited from John Kent Cooke and Charley Casserly), two playoff victories (both in the first round), six head coaches or interim coaches, countless disillusioned fans and absolutely no sense the franchise was making any progress.

Whether the Allen hire represents a turning point or merely a continuation of the Same Old Stuff remains to be seen. No one, though, will miss Cerrato, a Peter Principle poster boy whose “planning” involved way too much finger crossing. Casserly, after all, left behind three first-round draft picks in 2000, including the second selection overall - plus a healthy salary cap situation - and Vinny and Dan managed to turn it into the Lost Decade.

“Obviously, Bruce has got the authority [now],” Snyder said. Besides, he later added, stand-up guy that he is, “In the past, I haven’t been as involved as people may have thought.”

Granted, it was always hard to tell where Dan ended and Vinny began. But Snyder is unquestionably a hands-on owner, and that doesn’t figure to change now that Allen has come aboard. (If it does change, strike up the Redskins’ band. This is a happy day.)

Some might argue that giving Allen the GM title, something Cerrato never had, is a signal Snyder intends to distance himself from the personnel side. To which I reply: If we’ve learned nothing about Dan, we’ve learned that if he wants to do something - sign Deion Sanders, trade for Clinton Portis, draft a defensive back with a top-10 pick three times in four years - he’ll do it.

The inclination is to say, “Anybody would be better than Cerrato.” And Snyder was quick to call Allen “a proven winner who, over the last decade, has been with teams that won five division championships.”

Yeah, but… the first three of those division championships were in Oakland, where he was nebulously identified as a “senior assistant” to Al Davis. Davis, as everyone knows, runs the show for the Raiders, so the extent of Allen’s contributions is a bit uncertain. The club did go to the Super Bowl while he was there, though.

As for Allen’s time in Tampa, the Buccaneers never won a playoff game while he was there. (Indeed, they lost one to Joe Gibbs’ Redskins.) This year, with a roster he largely assembled, the Bucs are 1-12 (and counting the four-game nosedive at the end of last season, which cost him and coach Jon Gruden their jobs, have dropped 16 of their last 17).

Since his firing, he’s been making the rounds in the NFL, visiting teams, chatting up coaches and front office people and trying to keep abreast of what’s going on in the league. “It’s been educational,” he said. “I’ve been given access… that I wouldn’t have had if I were still in the league. I’ve come across some good ideas.”

Being the son of George Allen, the coach who never slept, “I’m not real big on relaxing,” he said. Then, too - and this might also be genetic - there was a “determination” during his sabbatical “to get better” so that if he got another chance to be a GM, things might end differently than they did in Tampa.

Much will depend on the owner’s willingness to give him a free hand - and on Allen learning from his mistakes with the Bucs. Much will also hinge on who Bruce decides will coach the club after this season. Will he lure his old buddy Gruden, who was also with him in Oakland, out of the “Monday Night” broadcast booth, or does he have someone else in mind?

He knows the territory, that’s for sure. He went to high school in McLean while his famous father was resuscitating the Redskins in the ‘70s and was always around the team. The burgundy-and-gold tie he wore to his introductory news conference has probably been hanging on his closet since he was a teenager.

You get the impression that, like his dad, he’ll stop at nothing to make the Redskins winners. Well, maybe not nothing. He’ll no doubt try his darnedest to avoid trading the same draft pick twice.

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