Redskins leave poor first impression with new GM
With newly hired General Manager Bruce Allen watching from a heated suite high above the field, the ink on his business card not yet dried, the Redskins collectively struggled in what amounted to their first interview with the new boss.
"These last couple games is an audition. Bruce Allen pretty much got a head start on evaluating talent," cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. "If he looked at what he saw today, he'd scrap this whole thing."
The first game of the Allen era wasn't pretty, as his new team lost, 45-12, to the New York Giants on Monday night. Hired last Thursday to replace Vinny Cerrato in Washington's front office, Allen immediately began evaluating the organization, deciding which changes need to be made. Multiple sources say that secondary coach Jerry Gray has interviewed to be the Redskins' head coach, even though his boss, Jim Zorn, still has two more games remaining in the season and is under contract for 2010 as well.
Following Monday's loss, Gray refused to confirm or deny the reports, saying: "No questions about that. No head coach questions. None. Zero. You want to talk about the Cowboys?"
Gray did acknowledge that everyone on the team is being evaluated in this final stage of the season.
"To me, I think you've got to be professional about it. I think everybody's interviewing -- players and coaches -- everybody's interviewing for Bruce," he said. "We got to make sure if you're going to be here, you've got to do your best. It's up to him to evaluate you."
Gray's comments came on the same night that two other long-rumored potential candidates withdrew from the running. Mike Holmgren, the former coach in Seattle and Green Bay, accepted a front- office position with the Cleveland Browns, and Jon Gruden, formerly head coach in Oakland and Tampa Bay, said during ESPN's pregame coverage that he won't be coaching in the NFL next season.
That leaves former Denver coach Mike Shanahan, long considered to be the preference of Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, and now Gray, who has emerged as the only likely candidate from the current coaching staff.
Over the weekend, as news emerged that Gray had interviewed for the position, friction quickly arose within the team's coaching ranks, according to team officials with knowledge of the situation.
"I'm trying not to even deal with that, because it's right during the season," Zorn said following his team's loss Monday. "So I'm trying to stay really focused. I think I can do a pretty good job of taking a breath and then breathing out and moving on, and that's what I choose to do in those situations. I owe it to our team, our players, our fans, to keep concentrating on what's at hand.
"There's a lot of expectations in an NFL program, on an NFL team, and that's my first responsibility to try to meet those expectations," he continued. "We certainly didn't do it tonight, and that's what I'm most disappointed about. So I'm not thinking about all the other things that have been side issues."
Some players, however, say they're not having as much success ignoring all of the ancillary issues that swirl around their locker room.