PHOENIX — Sitting on a shady veranda at a resort designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Washington Redskins President Bruce Allen explained Tuesday how there is no acrimony between him and Coach Jay Gruden, while Gruden was at that very moment walking behind him, pointing and smiling. And this seemed to be as good an indication as any that Gruden and Allen are in some agreement about the building of their football team.
Earlier in the day, during a media session at the NFL owners meetings, Gruden shook his head about a local radio report that said he was frustrated by the team’s moves in free agency and was not being notified about player signings — most notably safety Landon Collins, who agreed to a deal on the first day teams could talk to free agents.
“I don’t know where they got that from,” Gruden said.
“Frustration may set in from time to time on a move or two,” Gruden continued. “But at the end of the day I know I’m on board, but [Senior Vice President of Player Personnel] Doug [Williams] and Bruce and [Senior Vice President of Football Operations] Eric Schaffer and [owner Daniel Snyder] are trying to better this football team and put us in a position to win, and I’ll coach whoever is on the dang field.”
The suggestions of communication problems between Gruden and Allen have been swirling since the report was aired several days ago on the Sports Junkies show on 106.7 the Fan, leading to questions about whether Allen is trying to freeze out Gruden, perhaps putting Gruden’s job security in jeopardy. The report said that Gruden learned about the Collins signing from a reporter who texted him about it, and that Gruden was “super frustrated” that the team had not done enough to address needs at linebacker and wide receiver.
But Gruden and Allen said they have good dialogue and are generally on the same page when it comes to free agents and draft prospects.
“Whoever will say there’s no communication has never been in our offices,” Allen said. “I see Jay 12 times a day. Doug sees him 12, 15 times a day. Everyone sees Eric Shaffer 12 times a day. I talk to the defensive coaches eight times a day. We have breakfast, lunch together every day. We spend more time together than we do with our families. That’s insane. It’s impossible.”
Gruden said he knew Collins was the team’s priority in free agency and brushed away the idea that he was unaware the team was close to signing him. He said that he might not always know that Schaffer has reached an agreement with a player late at night, not hearing about the move until the next morning.
“I think every coach in here — if you really poll them — they all want total control, but there’s only one of them in here that has it, right?” Gruden said in an apparent reference to New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick.
"Everybody is going to have their opinions, but at the end of the day we give our reports, we give our recommendations, we have our say. Guys we’ve signed, we’re happy with the guys we’ve signed. We’re going to coach whoever is on our football team. In a perfect world, well, sure, I’d love to have total control, but I don’t. It’s not my position. I accept that. . . . We are all on the same team. We will move forward, and I’ll accept it and I’ll work hard to make it work.”
Allen seemed more bothered by the fact the NFL still has not said whether linebacker Reuben Foster will be suspended to start the season. Foster, who was arrested twice last year on domestic violence charges that were later dropped, was suspended for the first two games last season and released by the San Francisco 49ers after the second of the domestic violence arrests last November.
A league spokesman said the NFL is still investigating Foster’s arrests, and any announcement about possible punishment is not imminent. Foster remains on the Commissioner Exempt List.
“I don’t think there is anything else to find,” Allen said. “Law authorities all dismissed all the claims.”
He said he does not expect Foster to be suspended and is planning on having him back for training camp.
“He still has things he has to do for us [for the team to agree to activate him]. We have our own rules, which are probably stricter than the NFL’s,” Allen said.
Gruden also said the Redskins might have to sign another quarterback in the coming weeks, because Colt McCoy recently had another surgery on the leg he broke last season and will miss the first session of organized team activities. Gruden said the operation was small and was done because the leg had not fully healed after his first operation in November. With Alex Smith out for at least this season as he recovers from multiple surgeries on his own broken leg, Washington only has newly acquired Case Keenum for OTAs.
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