- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 19, 2009

Business already has changed for the man running the Washington Redskins’ football operations.

In his first full day as general manager, Bruce Allen did not have a two-hour Friday morning radio show and did not watch practice, both departures from the custom of former front office chief Vinny Cerrato.

The Redskins continued preparations for Monday night’s game against the New York Giants knowing owner Dan Snyder already is planning for 2010, starting with the hiring of Allen and reported negotiations with former Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan.

Snyder’s stunning decision to part ways with his closest lieutenant should send a message to the organization that anybody is expendable at this point and that the owner finally has acknowledged that his model for winning is broken.

“In this business, nobody is bulletproof,” defensive end Renaldo Wynn said. “Some might have longer tenures than others. It’s about winning, and because of that anybody can be compromised.”

Several veterans view Snyder in the same light but gave him a figurative tip of the cap for being proactive and changing a situation that wasn’t effective.

“I don’t doubt his commitment to winning,” Wynn said. “I’m sure everyone here can vouch for him. Not everybody might agree all the time on how he handles everything, but he wants to win and bring a championship here.”

Said cornerback Fred Smoot: “[Snyder] realized he needed to get somebody in here with more football savvy, and that’s when you bring in a Bruce Allen. I want to be here when [Snyder] gets everything together because he’ll do anything to get it done.”

But to be a consistent winner, Allen will have to avoid the salary cap-crippling blunders that helped define the Cerrato era.

“Vinny did some good things and did some bad things,” defensive end Phillip Daniels said. “The things that hurt him the most were people like Brandon Lloyd and Adam Archuleta - those decisions hurt a lot. He did some good things, just not enough.”

Not counting Lloyd and Archuleta, who were signed in 2006, when Joe Gibbs was team president and had final say on personnel, Cerrato was responsible for acquiring 40 players currently on the roster or injured reserve.

Snyder supported Cerrato through times such as 2008, when the Redskins were quiet in free agency and drafted 10 players, and during the team’s return to its free-spending ways in February, when DeAngelo Hall was re-signed and Albert Haynesworth and Derrick Dockery received big contracts.

Since Snyder bought the Redskins in 1999, their approach has been to win the offseason Super Bowl in pursuit of winning the real thing, even if that meant keeping veterans a year too long, overpaying for star players and trading draft picks.

But what the Redskins’ approach will now be is unclear - Allen spoke of having an urgency to win right away. Former NFL executive and current National Football Post columnist Michael Lombardi said Allen needs to start with the offensive line.

“It’s hard to win on the road, and it’s hard to make up things when you can’t block,” said Lombardi, who worked with Allen for six years. “Football is a basic game, and you’ve got to be able to execute on the offensive line.”

The next piece could include Shanahan.

Published reports Thursday night said the two-time Super Bowl winner already was engaged in talks with the Redskins and that Allen’s appointment was the first part of a package deal. A local television station had to retract a report that Shanahan was at Redskin Park on Friday morning.

For the Redskins, Allen’s arrival and the Shanahan chatter is just the latest bit of upheaval in a year full of them.

“We’ve had a lot of distractions this year. We’re used to it,” said offensive assistant Chris Meidt, who coaches a player - quarterback Jason Campbell - who also has an uncertain future. “It’s just a different topic to talk about at supper. It doesn’t change when we’re meeting. It doesn’t change our studying or how we prepare.”

Said Daniels: “It’s easy [to block it out]. We play football. We can’t really worry about what they’re talking about outside. Our job is to try and win games. I don’t think any of the guys are thinking about who’s the next coach, because Jim [Zorn] is our coach right now.”

As for Zorn, he was asked if he was cognizant of the Shanahan speculation.

“I’m not aware of that, and I wouldn’t even try to go there, because I’m not looking toward what’s going to happen this offseason or next season yet,” he said. “We’re right in the middle of it. I’m kind of excited about where we’re headed, so I wouldn’t address that.”

In three weeks, and maybe sooner, everything will be addressed.

Daniels, who turns 37 in March, knows Allen will want to put his stamp on the roster but hopes he’s in the plans as a part of an old/young mix on the defensive line.

“Always with change, you’re on alert,” Daniels said. “I think Bruce will look at the film, talk to the coaches and see who’s a Redskin and who’s not. They’re going to analyze every angle and see who fits. Some people might not fit because of money. There’s a lot of stuff they have to talk about.

“We have to sit back, let them analyze, make a decision and go from there. Me being an older player, I sit back. A lot of times when you get a new GM, they like to go young sometimes, but they have to keep some leaders around.”

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