A City Under Construction: Woes of the Washington Redskins

Any D.C. native knows that the city is always under some construction. From the roads to the buildings to the traffic lights, and even the mass transit system known as the metro, there are always ongoing improvements or additions.

D.C.’s football team is no exception. Reminiscent of the outcry for Vinny Cerato to be fired, #FireBruceAllen is the latest hashtag being used by fans across the board. Allen has managed to put together a record of 59-84-1, which is five more wins than Cerrato, but ten more losses. Is it time for him to step down? Fans think so, but Dan Snyder does not, as he recently promoted him to a role that gives him even more responsibilities.

Whether or not Allen should go is up for debate. But if he is Daniel Thomas would be hired as President of Football Operations and has distinct issues that will be discussed.

Football People Do Football Things

If we did this Jeopardy! style, the question would be, “This former Redskins quarterback was hired to the Redskins front office to do who knows what,” and the answer would be, “Who is Doug Williams?” Another one: “Despite a worse record than the former President of Football Operations, this man received a promotion soon after the season ended,” which can be answered by—you guessed it—”Who is Bruce Allen?”

One more for those at home. “Once accused of being too involved with his own team, this current NFL owner is completely detached from the declining state of his team.” The answer? “Who is Dan Snyder?”

Yes, owners are owners –– but over the last decade, the Redskins organization seems to have a convoluted way of handling who makes decisions and who does not. Just recently, the Redskins picked up the rights to Reuben Foster. In the wake of this move, who was trotted out to make the press conference? Here’s a hint: it was not Allen or Snyder. Instead, head coach Jay Gruden was thrust out to face the media and answer questions about it which, all criticism of Gruden aside, was completely incorrect and unfair.

Next, Williams, who is notorious for putting his foot in his mouth, was pushed out, making his “small potatoes” comment. When asked whose idea it was to pick up the rights to Foster, it was stated that it was a collective effort. Supposedly, both players and coaches agreed it was okay to take a chance on Foster. Yet, the players stated no one talked to them, the coaches acted confused, and the front office could only refer to the statement. This is just one example, but the picture is starting to form.

Brian Lefemina and his group were brought in over the summer of 2018 to “improve the fan experience.” They were abruptly fired towards the end of the season despite the positive responses from the fans. Why? Nobody knows for sure. However, what people do know is that to run a successful organization, you keep the assets, and you build up the deficiencies. The organization needs to improve their staff so that everyone knows their jobs and are good at their jobs.

Do It for the Culture

Many current Redskins fans don’t remember the glory days of the organization; the team hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 1992 when they won it for the third time in their history. Something changed almost the instant that happened and now, 27 years later, we’re here.

What changed? Aside from the boom of free agency, the culture of the organization has changed. Having a winning culture is essential to having a winning organization, of course. But what makes up a winning culture? Perhaps there is no better team to examine to answer this question than the New England Patriots. For better or for worse, the Patriots are a winning organization. They hired a coach who knows what he’s doing. Bill Belichick, and the ownership team, also has a zero-tolerance policy for nonsense on or off the field, as seen in many situations, including those of Aaron Hernandez and Josh Gordon. These practices are efficient. There is a clear establishment of roles, and they are expected to fulfill these expectations. There is accountability as well. You don’t make it to the Super Bowl eight times in a span of 18 years without a winning culture and mentality.

Build Around a Good Head Coach and quarterback

Saints, Rams, Chiefs, Patriots. What do they all have in common? Simple: they built around a good head coach and a good quarterback. Yes, each team has its quirks, like the Rams striking gold in Sean McVay, who was able to coach up Jared Goff in just one year. Grouping Goff with a star running back in Todd Gurley and great receivers like Cooper Kupp put the Rams in the position they are in now: playing for the title. For years, the Saints built around Drew Brees and Sean Payton.

Say what you want about Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and his postseason record, but the man is a football genius and a heck of a coach. Patrick Mahomes is a special kid and came up with greatness already around him in receivers Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. However, it means nothing without the brilliance of a competent head coach. Finally, we all know the story of the kid, taken in the sixth round who rose to power and now is the leader of the Evil Empire. If Brady is Darth Vader, Belichick is the Sith Emperor. No matter who is brought on, no matter who is out, Brady finds a way with Belichick backing him.

Enough said on this self-explanatory part.

Communication is Key

Most relationships fail due to a lack of communication. Believe it or not, the fans and the organization have a relationship. The fans can be compared to the disgruntled person who has been wronged by their significant other but stayed around because they are truly in love. The Redskins would be the dumbfounded person constantly repeating, “I’m trying. I can change. Give me time.” They’ve had 27 years—longer than many fans have been on this earth—to get it together, and it’s at an all-time low. Bruce Allen finally talked to the media after more than 500 days—that’s roughly a year and a half. How, as the leader of the team, can you go that long without addressing the fanbase? Even doing it once a year would be more accessible.

As a fan, it would be nice to know what is happening, what needs to be improved, what the plan is to improve, and most importantly, accountability for what is happening for better or worse. It would be nice to know that you genuinely care about this organization, the players on the field, and winning as much as the fans do. Not much is being asked—just an occasional press conference here and there. Let the public know that the team matters, and it’s not all about money.

All in all, the Redskins organization has a plethora of problems. None of which will be solved in a day (unless Sean McVay was hired as head coach). The fact of the matter is that the front office needs to have a real “come to Jesus” moment and be honest with themselves, realize things are not doing great as Bruce Allen would imply you to believe, and come up with a real plan to rebuild, putting an end to impromptu quick fixes.

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