We interrupt Redskin nation’s joyous celebration over its successful #FireBruceAllen campaign to point out a very key (and depressing) fact: Dan Snyder is still the owner of the Washington Redskins.
It bears mention because he is, after all, the man who brought Bruce Allen to Washington a decade ago, selling the son of the late, great George Allen as a beacon of hope in the wake of Vinny Cerrato’s ouster. Cerrato, may I remind you, was Snyder’s original henchman — a laughingstock general manager who compiled a .430 win percentage over not one, but two separate stints spanning nine largely-mediocre seasons.
Yet somehow, Snyder found something so much worse in Allen — an insidious villain who backstabbed and undermined his way to more and more power and a .351 mark, excluding the two winning seasons Scot McCloughan was the GM.
Once you’re done dancing on Allen’s professional grave, pay attention to what Snyder is doing in the early stages of the long-overdue bloodletting in Ashburn (which also rightfully claimed maligned longtime Redskins trainer Larry Hess and Alex Santos). As is par for the course for the NFL’s most dysfunctional franchise, Snyder is close to having a coach in place before he’s even done clearing out the front office.
Former Panthers’ HC Ron Rivera is expected to be hired as the next head coach of the Washington Redskins barring any unforeseen developments, per sources.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 30, 2019
This is just the latest in a long line of examples that shows that Snyder flat out doesn’t get it. There has to be some level of order to things. The smell of Allen’s cologne hasn’t even cleared the halls of Redskins Park yet; how in the world is Snyder working so diligently to hire a coach when he hasn’t even addressed the front office?
Speaking of which, before we continue, it’s important to make sure to understand exactly what we’re talking about when we reference the front office.
For the uninitiated, Team President & General Manager are often not the same role/person. A Team President often, from an Executive level, leads/vision sets both the football & business sides of a team. While a GM is purely a football role responsible for evaluation/roster mgmt.
— J.I. Halsell (@SalaryCap101) December 29, 2019
Halsell has a front office background, further validating his point. To properly correct the Allen mistake, the Redskins are tasked with finding a team president to ensure that the culture indeed becomes “damn good,” and also a general manager who can build a winning roster. Given the way things have played out in Washington over the last several seasons — including this year’s awful 3-13 eyesore — there’s no reason to believe those spots can be adequately filled internally.
So with an owner working backward to fix his franchise, and a front office in flux, is Rivera even the best man for the job?
Look, I think Rivera is a good coach. By all accounts, he’s a terrific leader of men. He led the Carolina Panthers to a magical 2015 season, a 15-1 Super Bowl campaign that featured MVP Cam Newton running the league’s highest-scoring offense and first-team All-Pro Josh Norman on the league’s sixth-ranked defense. Rivera’s presence would lend immediate credibility to a Redskins franchise desperate for it.
Josh Norman, when asked if Redskins coaching candidate Ron Rivera would change the culture in Washington: “Everything that you see today would be different.”
— Tom Schad (@Tom_Schad) December 30, 2019
But if you take that 15-1 season off Rivera’s ledger, he went 61-62-1 in seven-plus seasons in Carolina, with only two other winning seasons — all with the benefit of working for a stable organization with a franchise quarterback.
Since Super Bowl 50, he’s only 29-32 with no playoff wins in only one appearance. And of course, there’s the irony that Rivera was fired immediately after his Panthers couldn’t find a way to beat the lousy Redskins at home in Week 13.
Nothing about that implies Rivera can thrive in a situation that involves a meddlesome and disorganized owner with a questionable (at best) front office structure. But you know who can?
I know, I know … in 16 seasons in Cincinnati, he went 0-7 in the playoffs. That old criticism misses the point that Lewis got the Bengals — who went 2-14 immediately before his tenure and 2-14 again immediately after — to the postseason seven times, despite working for one of the worst organizations in pro sports.
Lewis has a .518 career win percentage, only slightly below Rivera’s .546 under much better circumstances. And lest we forget, if not for a devastating Carson Palmer knee injury, Cincinnati could have made the Super Bowl XL run the Pittsburgh Steelers ultimately did.
Lewis is far from perfect, but he knows how to win despite bad ownership; and he’s already experienced Snyder firsthand from his one season as Steve Spurrier’s defensive coordinator in 2002. If anyone can navigate and, when necessary, pacify Snyder, it’s Lewis.
While I understand the preoccupation with Rivera, the Redskins should at least sit down with Lewis. Now that talks between Rivera and the ‘Skins have cooled a bit, Snyder needs to have Plan B (which should stand for “better”) lined up in case Rivera comes to his senses and realizes the head coaching gigs in New York, Cleveland and (presumably) Dallas might be better fits.
If we accept the Redskins for who they are — not who we want them to be, not who they think they are, but who they are — Lewis is the only hire that makes sense.
Which can only mean Snyder will mishandle the entire situation and send the franchise into another decade or two of futility.