Even with coach Mike Shanahan finally out, the overall atmosphere with the Redskins remains a bit on the bizarre side.
From the media availability (non-availability) of quarterback Robert Griffin III (who initially wasn’t going to speak at all until conducting a conference call in which he read from a prepared statement and took no questions) and owner Daniel Snyder (who was nowhere to be seen on day critical to the franchise’s present and future) to P.R. chief Tony Wyllie’s reported game of microphone tug-of-war with WUSA-TV’s David Owens during G.M. Bruce Allen’s press conference, it was yet another strange day for a strange team at a strange time.
Meanwhile, the guy who was hired to set the table for the fired head coach has emerged with more power than ever. Allen, a former agent and cap specialist with no specific scouting background or expertise, told reporters he now holds the authority that Shanahan previously possessed.
“The control will be mine,” Allen said, channeling the late Al Haig, “and it will be working with our personnel department. The personnel department of [director of player personnel] Scott Campbell and [director of pro personnel] Morocco Brown actually do a very good job at what they do. We are going to redefine some of the characteristics that we’re looking for in players. Obviously when we have a new head coach there will be some schematic adjustments that we will make, but that power will be with me.”
The placement of the power with Allen removes from the list of potential head coaches anyone who would want the power that Allen has now inherited from Shanahan. For example, Bill Cowher’s name already has been mentioned in some circles, but he’d want final say. Ditto for other big-name, big-brand coaches who would immediately restore some of the credibility the franchise has squandered in recent years.
Then again, Snyder may prefer to hire a lower-profile (and in turn lower priced) coach who will be happy to defer to Allen and even happier to be the head coach of an NFL team. While the pendulum likely won’t fully swing to the Jim Zorn end of the spectrum, the Redskins have created an environment in which they’ll necessarily be searching for a head coach in a specific band of lesser-known options who are willing to submit to the authority of Allen and, perhaps more importantly, to fully embrace the team’s franchise quarterback, Robert Griffin III.
Whether that’s Baylor coach Art Briles, who wouldn’t be considered for any NFL job other than the one with the team quarterbacked by his former pupil, or an up-and-coming assistant whose ambition will cloud his judgment or a recycled head coach who can’t otherwise get a sniff, the Redskins seem to have realized that, while the demand “A” list coaches far outweighs the supply, the supply of second-tier options dramatically exceeds the demand.
Even if they don’t get the guy they want, they’ll eventually get a guy who desperately wants the job — and then Allen, whose primary skills arguably flow more from politics than from pigskins, can act like the man they hire was the first choice.
It may not work, but for a team that just went 3-13 with a $7 million-per-year head coach who commanded full control, hiring a cheaper and less powerful option can’t create much worse results.