There seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel for Redskins fans in late 2009 when then-Redskins general manager Vinny Cerrato resigned. Near the conclusion of that season, Washington hired Bruce Allen, son of former Redskins great George Allen, to take over and help turn the tide. Directly after the season ended, the team hired two-time Super Bowl winner Mike Shanahan as head coach.
The way that Allen and Shanahan work together is slightly different than most other teams’ GM-HC duo. In D.C., Allen makes the football decisions, but Shanahan gives input and has the final say (he is also the vice president of football operations). This design helps the team make decisions in the best interest of the team.
With the new front office in place, Washington would play well for many seasons to come, right? Wrong. They needed a quarterback, and the coach and general manager thought they found theirs when the tandem traded for Donovan McNabb. We all know how that worked out: McNabb was benched for the final three games in 2010 in favor of Rex Grossman and was traded to the Minnesota Vikings after the season.
In 2011, Shanahan and Allen did not draft a quarterback, although there was a plethora of talent (i.e. Andy Dalton, Jake Locker). This led to a quarterback competition between Grossman and John Beck. The latter ended up starting 3 games (0-3) while the former started 13 (5-8).
Despite their rocky first two seasons, there were some positives during that time. The duo had drafted well in 2010 and 2011.
2010 produced products such as Trent Williams in the first round, who is evolving into the best offensive tackle in the game, and Perry Riley in the fourth round, who is now a solid starter at inside linebacker.
Washington’s 2011 draft was also solid. First-round pick Ryan Kerrigan has evolved into a Pro-Bowl outside linebacker. Jarvis Jenkins, Leonard Hankerson, Roy Helu, Jr., Niles Paul, and Evan Royster have all contributed to the team in some way over the last two seasons, all products of this draft class.
The 2012 draft was a different story, and not in a bad way. Allen and Shanahan made the difficult decision to mortgage the future to the rights to draft Baylor QB Robert Griffin III. I’d say that decision has already worked out. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall mentioned that he’d give up first-rounders for the next five years to keep Griffin if the team had to. Alfred Morris was a gem in the sixth round, rushing for a franchise-record 1,613 yards.
Of course, RGIII put up perhaps the greatest seasons ever for a rookie quarterback. However, the lasting impression of his coach after the season was the question as to why he did not pull his quarterback from a game despite being hobbled. People tend to forget that Shanahan is probably one of the 20 best coaches of all-time and he does know what he’s doing. That decision should not stick with Shanahan. He and Bruce Allen expect Griffin back for the start of 2013.
The duo turned its attention to free agency and the upcoming draft after the playoff loss to Seattle. After horrendous secondary play in 2012, the team was looking for defensive backs. Shanahan and Allen found three bright prospects in David Amerson (2nd round), Phillip Thomas (4th round), and Baccari Rambo (6th round).
Shanahan and Allen have done an excellent job growing and developing the team through the draft. Core players such as Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Trent Williams, and Ryan Kerrigan were drafted by the tandem. This is where great teams start – at the core, with an excellent front office, and homegrown talent.
Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan have been tremendous during their three seasons with the team, despite a shaky start. I’m just glad that Dan Snyder has been sitting back and letting Allen and Shanahan do the dirty work.
Topics: Andy Dalton, Baccari Rambo, Bruce Allen, David Amerson, Donovan McNabb, Evan Royster, Jake Locker, Jarvis Jenkins, Leonard Hankerson, Mike Shanahan, NFL Draft, Niles Paul, Phillip Thomas, Redskins, RG3, RGIII, Robert Griffin III, Roy Helu, Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Williams, Vinny Cerrato, Washington Redskins