Redskins owner Dan Snyder concedes the stage to Mike Shanahan

By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 7, 2010; D08

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.

The pairing of Shanahan and Allen in Washington was not one of happenstance. Though Shanahan was hired by Snyder 20 days after Allen came on board, he made it clear to the Redskins' owner months earlier what he thought about Allen, who was fired as Tampa Bay's general manager following the 2008 season.

"I said, 'Hey, this guy, I can't believe he's on the street,' " Shanahan said. "You get a guy like that, hey, let's gobble him up."

The two are expected to work closely, just as Shanahan had in Denver with others who carried the general manager title but not all of the traditional duties.

In Allen, Shanahan has a man who can handle administrative work, juggle the salary cap, talk to team officials in other departments and executives from other teams. In short: Keep Shanahan's plate as clear as possible on a daily basis of operational minutiae. "Mike wants to have a strong GM," said one league source and confidante of Shanahan's. "He just wants ultimate say."

While Allen might have the unlucky task of telling the owner "No" at times, he also must keep Shanahan in check. Many believe Shanahan lost his job in Denver because of questionable personnel decisions.

"One of the reasons I was so excited about Bruce is I know Bruce will not agree with me on a lot of things," Shanahan said.

Though he offered no specifics, Allen says the team's approach to the draft will be a team effort. Shanahan credited Jim Goodman with engineering his final three drafts in Denver, which were largely considered successes, and on draft day, Allen took a backseat to owner Al Davis in Oakland and to head coach Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay, according to former colleagues with those teams.

"What counts is us doing the right things. . . . We're all in this together," Allen said. "From the groundskeeper to the PR staff, to the players and coaches and personnel people."

From Allen to Shanahan.

And from a distance -- at least for now -- Snyder.

Staff writer Les Carpenter contributed to this report.

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