The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Bruce Allen calls NFC East ‘the SEC of the NFL’

(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The NFC East still boasts connotations that few divisions in sports can muster: Summerall and Madden, Gibbs and Landry, NFC title games and Super Bowl dynasties, prime-time showdowns and mega TV ratings.

A cynic might point out that many of those connotations are dated, and that the division has produced just two Super Bowl winners in the past 17 years, following a remarkable run of domination in the ’80s and early ’90s.

Bruce Allen would not take the cynic’s view. During a recent interview with Chris Russell and Rich Campbell on ESPN 980, Allen was asked how his franchise can transition from a surprise 10-win playoff team to a perennial 12-win power. (Audio here.)

“There’s so many changes in the playoff teams each year — I think half of them change each year anyway,” the GM noted. “And in our division, you know, we’re in the SEC of the NFL. This is the big leagues. I think when the Giants last won the Super Bowl, they won it with a 9-7 record. So we have to keep competing in our division, and that’s what our focus is.

“And if we can hold our ground in the division, we’re going to be ok, because they are elite teams in our division,” Allen continue. “That’s where our focus has to remain. We were successful [last year] — 5-1 in the division — and that leads to good things. I think once again the young talent that we have on the team, they tasted success. As long as they’re not spoiled by that little bit of success, then it bodes well for our future.”

Allen was also asked about Dan Snyder’s role in football operations. Here’s the exchange.

Russell: One thing that I think fans are very interested in…Dan had this reputation of being a guy who’s very involved, hands-on, sometimes too involved. It seems from my perspective that that’s very far removed, and I think most people would agree with that. How would you describe Dan’s involvement with football operations, how he’s interacted and worked with both you and Mike, and how he’s also allowed you guys I think to do your job?

Allen: I obviously can’t talk about before I came here, because I wasn’t here.

Russell: But you know the stories.

Allen: And I find them hard to believe, because of the Dan Snyder that we’ve gotten to know since we’ve been here. He’s been 100 percent supportive. He does want to know what we’re doing. He’s one of our greatest supporters and eager to do things. What he’s done for us, improving the stadium, making the video board, putting up the bubble when we asked for it. No one ever asked him for a bubble before that. So when we asked for the bubble, when we said we wanted to go away for training camp – obviously most people stay at home because it’s less expensive. [He said], ‘Whatever you can do to help this team win, I’m for.’ The way he gives the players his encouragement and humor is fantastic. And I can’t imagine he didn’t do that before, but the guys love his sense of humor.