As the Redskins close in on hiring their first true General Manager since Charley Casserly, I can’t help but feel cautiously pessimistic about the move. Yes. ‘Cautiously pessimistic.’ And it has nothing to do with Scot McCloughan. The Redskins’ personnel department has been in need of an overhaul for over a decade, and McCloughan seems like he’s more than qualified for the job.
McCloughan helped build the foundation for the San Francisco 49ers before stepping down from his post due to issues with alcohol in 2010. He then joined the Seattle Seahawks to help put together a Super Bowl Champion roster. He seems to be universally respected around the NFL. He would run the Redskins personnel department, which would allow Bruce Allen to step away from a department he should have never been running. The hire would be a good save for Allen after his awful New Year’s Eve press conference.
So you may ask, why the pessimism about what seems to be a slam dunk hire?
Where should I start?
Under owner Dan Snyder, the Redskins fired Charley Casserly, who had built a division champion in 1999 and stocked them with 3 first round picks in the 2000 draft (they traded one of them to take Lavar Arrington and Chris Samuels back-to-back). After the debacle of the 2000 season they rallied nicely by hiring Marty Schottenheimer, who coached the team to an 8-8 record after an 0-5 start, with Tony Banks and Kent Graham at Quarterback. He was fired after just one year.
Then they hired the hot College Coach Steve Spurrier whose two-year tenure resulted in plenty of funny sound bites and very few wins. That was followed by Hall of Fame Coach Joe Gibbs return, which resulted in two wild card seasons in four years, but no real change to the way business was conducted in roster building. Gibbs’ sudden second retirement led to Jim Zorn, which led to four years of Mike Shanahan.
Shanahan made some bad moves and was perhaps persuaded to make others trading for Donovan McNabb and giving up the King’s Ransom for Robert Griffin III. He had the final say and clearly did not draft well enough in his four years, which begs the question – was it him, or the information that he was given by the guys in personnel?
Anyway, my point is many of the hires over the years seemed to be the right thing to do. Yet, none of them worked out for the long term. There have been too many people involved in the ‘football’ decisions that don’t have a clue. There were too many moves in the past that were pushed or suggested because of splash factor and not for the success of the football team.
I think McCloughan is a good hire and hope it goes through. However, I hope for his sake and the sake of the franchise’s long term success that he’s given room to work and make decisions. They won’t all be the right choices, and patience will be needed. Picking players and building a team is not an exact science.
One of McCloughan’s first orders of business as he gets the franchise ready for the draft and free agency will be deciding who should stay in the department and who should go. Hopefully, he’ll bring in some other fresh eyes from the outside to help out.
Let’s be clear – this move had to be made. It was the one move Snyder has never truly made, hiring a respected personnel man to have full autonomy to make football decisions. Now he needs to let him do his job. Allen also needs to go back to his best role and be the buffer between the owner and GM. This is the structure that media and fans have been screaming for over a decade, and it appears it is about to finally be delivered.
The Redskins fans deserve better and this is a step in the right direction. However, before we lose our collective minds praising it, let’s pause and remember there have been moments of off-season euphoria many times before that have not led to any real stability or winning. Let’s hope this one bucks that trend.