The More Things Change...
Sometimes all you can say about the Ashburn Circus is "WOW!" Because while the Ashburn Circus is many things, it is never dull, boring, or fails to entertain.
So the show today kicks off in the morning with the "resignation" of Executive Vice President in Charge of Football Operations and Dan Snyder's Personal Lackey; Vinny Cerrato. Our initial reaction to the news was "so what?" Cerrato was only Snyder's lackey/mouthpiece/fall guy. It was somewhat expected that his job might be in jeopardy when the season ended, so his "resignation" today only comes as a shock because we're not officially in the off season yet. There are still three football games left to play in the Redskins string. But we felt that the bottom line was, it didn't matter who occupied Cerrato's position, unless they were Joe Gibbs, they were going to be forced to do the bidding of Synder.
But as the typical airing of the dirty laundry started coming out, we began to think that maybe, just maybe Cerrato was more in charge of the Redskins than we've been led to believe over the past few years. The (Com)Post had stories of amazing pettiness on the part of Cerrato. While Snyder was wrong to berate Norv Turner in front of the team as he did you could understand the "rookie mistake" from Snyder and by all accounts, he hasn't done it again. But for a "football guy" like Cerrato to pull that stunt is just utterly inexcusable. He knows better.
But the hits didn't stop with the "resignation" of Cerrato or the quick airing of the dirty laundry. Nope, just a mere two hours after "accepting Cerrato's resignation" the Redskins announced that Bruce Allen was taking over a Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager. (Alright, fess up, who had him in the pool???) That's right, be still your beating heart, the Redskins now have a designated General Manager for the first time since Charlie Casserly was "resigned" from the position in 1999. And Allen isn't no greenhorn to the position. He's the son of George Allen, yes that George Allen. He was the General Manager in Oakland so he already knows how to deal and coexist with a maniac owner. And because he was most recently the General Manager in Tampa, the John Gruden rumors are out in full force again. But if you weren't dropping your jaw yet, in giving his seal of approval to the hire, former Redskins General Manager Bobby Beathard said that Snyder had asked him to come back to Washington. Yep, Snyder really is interested in "putting the band back together." But as Beathard also pointed out, Allen's success will depend on how much freedom he has. Snyder has said that Allen is in charge so we'll have to see.
And make no mistake folks, we think this is good move not only because of Cerrato's own toxic behavior but because as we astutely pointed out on Sunday, nobody should be fooled by the recently improved play of the team. While the Redskins are playing hard, at best you can call them 3-3 during that span which is what has passed as the norm around here for some time. Zorn is probably still gone at the end of this season as there is no way you can hire a GM and not let him choose his Head Coach. That is a recipe for disaster but is Snyder finally learning? Has he finally realized that if somebody did a job for him as badly as he was doing it himself, he would have fired them? Go ahead, call us a Snyder Apologist again but the fact that he's willing to hire somebody and publicly state that they are in control is huge. If the Redskins turn things around in a couple of seasons (it won't be anytime soon folks) Allen will get the full credit for engineering it and all Snyder will get is kudos for staying out of the way. That's a huge blow to Snyder's ego.
But what has us the most interested in this whole sordid affair is the utter and complete cluelessness of the media in all of this. While many thought that Cerrato might possibly be let go or "reassigned" within the organization once the season was over, NOBODY had any clue that Bruce Allen would be his successor. As a matter of fact, once Cerrato's "resignation" was announced, all eyes and speculation focused squarely on Mike Holmgren. CW was, since the Cleveland Browns seemed to be moving quickly on hiring Holmgren, Snyder was countering by clearing the deck for Holmgren to come to Washington. That couldn't have been further from the truth since the NFL confirmed that the Redskins were in full compliance with the Rooney Tokenism Rule ten days ago. That's right, one day after Sean Suisham gacked against the Saints and eight days after Cerrato went berserk on the team bus in Philly, the Redskins were going through the required motions of conducting minority interviews to make the NFL feel better about itself. And while all of that was going on, nobody in the media was none the wiser and reported on it. To give you an idea on how today's performance blindsided people, not even the coaching staff knew in advance.
So the question becomes folks, can we really trust the media now when they tell us what their sources say is going on inside of the Redskins Front Office? We're not saying that the media is just making stuff up a la Jason Blair, but the fact that nobody got the drop on this advance is stunning to us. This is the kind of secrecy that Caps General Manager George McPhee is well known for. He should be insanely jealous of what the Redskins pulled off today. And mind you, the Redskins in the past have not been known for doing things in a low-key, under the radar manner. They usually have all the subtletly of a Heavy Armor Division advancing in a jungle.
But moving forward now for the Redskins, we have to take a wait and see attitude. While Snyder may be "hands off" now, will he show the necessary patience for Allen to build him a consistent winner? What scares the dickens out of us is the prospect of an uncapped season next year. Heaven only knows what Snyder may do with that but if he allows Allen to use the opportunity to clean house on the roster and start anew, the hope and optimism that has come out of today will be well placed. However, if Snyder reverts to form and goes nuts signing every free agent he can then it will be more of the same of an 8-8 football team that is teetering on the edge of disaster and semi-respectability all at the same time.