Redskins owner Dan Snyder concedes the stage to Mike Shanahan
Thursday, January 7, 2010
In 11 seasons as the Washington Redskins' owner, Daniel Snyder has had a storied history of bold moves, and there was nothing subtle about his latest.
Snyder showed off his new prize at a news conference at Redskins Park, and then in a departure from the other four times he had introduced a new head coach, the owner allowed the men charged with running the organization to run the day's show.
By taking a front-row seat in the auditorium rather than on the podium alongside newly-hired Coach Mike Shanahan and General Manager Bruce Allen, Snyder tried to make a statement -- to fans, but mostly to the two men who've been given the keys to the franchise.
"I think he's giving Mike and I the marching orders to 'Please, let's get the Redskins back to a championship level,' " Allen said. "Whatever that takes, he will be supportive of."
Though there was plenty of talk of teamwork Wednesday, Shanahan is expected to have final say on personnel decisions, taking on the title of executive vice president and assuming a level of responsibility similar to what he enjoyed during his time as coach in Denver. That means Shanahan and Allen will have significantly more control over the team's fortunes and decisions than Jim Zorn, who was fired as head coach Monday, and Vinny Cerrato, who was deposed as executive vice president of football operations last month.
"I think by making the commitment to Mike, Dan's realizing he has a guy who's been there, who's done it on his own and who's won that way," said Steve Beuerlein, a close friend of Shanahan who played quarterback for him in Los Angeles and Denver and now serves as an analyst for CBS. "I'm assuming there's an understanding that Dan will do his very best to stay out of it. I know Mike well enough to know that he wouldn't jump into an opportunity where he thought that'd be any type of problem."
When it comes to personnel decisions in Washington, "Do I have the final say?" Shanahan asked. "Maybe you could say that."
But he emphasized that, similar to his time in Denver, he didn't anticipate needing to exercise that power very often.
Both Shanahan and Allen said they would be the ones deciding the structure of the organization, drafting players, developing franchise philosophy and deciding who stays and who goes. Further, some of Snyder's lines of communication across the organization might also be cut -- or at least limited. For most of Zorn's tenure, Snyder had weekly lunches with his head coach, discussing all aspects of the team. Allen ended those last month.
"Bruce thought that the right line of communications was between himself and the head coach," Snyder said in a statement earlier this week.
Shanahan and Allen will immediately begin evaluating every aspect of the organization, from the scouting department to the front office, where longtime executives, such as Scott Campbell, the director of player personnel, Eric Schaffer, who managed the salary cap, and Morocco Brown, the director of pro personnel who interviewed for the general manager position last month, will be studied closely.
Many in league circles expect Shanahan to quickly add long-time friend Jim Goodman to the Redskins' front office. Goodman was with Shanahan in Denver for 11 seasons, serving as the Broncos' vice president of football operations before he was fired in 2008, shortly after Josh McDaniels was hired to replace Shanahan as coach. His son, Jeff Goodman, formerly Denver's assistant general manager, could also find himself in Ashburn soon.