The Washington Redskins are a team, a team owned by a man who grew up rabidly cheering on the NFL team during its heyday in RFK Stadium. Having bought the team in 1999 after it relocated to Maryland, Dan Snyder has drawn heavy criticism on everything from his refusal to rename the team to his management style that has featured a revolving door of coaches and overpaid, underachieving players.
It was Dan Snyder who brought in team president Bruce Allen, who had a long career as a coach and football executive, one who dealt with owners in Tampa Bay and Oakland before coming to Washington. Recruiting Mr. Allen to the Redskins left fans at first offering high praise to Mr. Snyder. After all, Mr. Allen’s papa was George Allen, a legendary Redskins coach who publicly displayed his enthusiasm when players kicked butt on the field.
Jay Gruden, the latest ex-head coach of the Snyder era as of 5 a.m. Monday morning, is no George Allen.
Sure, he worked hard. But as a head coach, he often seemed a sufferer of Norv Turner Syndrome, named for a particularly hapless predecessor — scrunching down, digging into the playbook or simply looking like a deer caught in the headlights, uncertain what the next move should be, if he was to move at all.
Mr. Gruden didn’t relay his next move, whether he would stay or go, on Sunday after New England’s mighty Patriots beat down the Redskins to reach an 0-5 season start. He knew, however. He knew because he, interim coach Bill Callahan and, most critical of all, Mr. Allen had been there before as fruits of the coaching tree that bloomed from the Jon Gruden Tampa Bay Bucs and Oakland Raiders.
Fast forward to the 2019-20 season. Troubled cornerback Josh Norman is quiet. Holdout offensive lineman Trent Williams is downright mum. Mr. Snyder himself is in self-imposed media silence, something his idol, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, would never do. Mr. Allen, meanwhile, is his usual self, handling the brief press conference confirming Jay Gruden’s dismissal himself.
Fans began a online push for change, #FireBruceAllen, before the 2018-19 season was even over. Make of that as you please.
The bottom line in team sports is each player on the team has to bring their “A game” every day, and in football that means offense, defense and special teams must be simpatico.
The Redskins’ won-loss record and the firing of Jay Gruden don’t serve as divining rods, however. As the old warning goes, Mr. Snyder shouldn’t ink in future results based on immediate past performance.
If he plans to hold on to the Redskins as owner and continue to turn a profit, he must play his hand like a kicker who guides his foot to avoid the left post, the right post and the horizontal bar. Mr. Snyder should look at the franchise as a team and determine which sectors aren’t winning and why.
Mr. Gruden offered some insight recently when he said players weren’t doing what they’re supposed to do, asking who is to blame for that — The players? The coaches? The medical staff? Management? The football gods?
In other words, merely sacking Mr. Gruden won’t itself unify the Washington Redskins.
⦁ Deborah Simmons can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.