“You know,” Allen said, “the culture is actually damn good.”
Washington started over again Monday when it fired Gruden and replaced him on an interim basis with offensive line coach Bill Callahan, the ninth coach during Snyder’s 20-year stewardship. Allen remains in his position as the franchise’s public face and Snyder’s top football lieutenant. He is in charge of securing a new stadium, which Snyder prefers to build in the District and is the most pressing issue facing a franchise hemorrhaging fans and that routinely sees FedEx Field seats filled with the opposing team’s colors.
Allen spoke for the franchise Monday afternoon and offered optimistic resolve and half-truths. Near the end of his news conference, Allen was asked why nothing had worked to create sustained success during Snyder’s two decades as owner, despite trying so many different kinds of coaching hires.
“You know, I don’t necessarily agree with the premise that it’s never,” Allen said. “Last year at this time, we’re in first place and we’re doing well, so it was working pretty damn good. Unfortunately, our quarterback [Alex Smith] got injured. The pieces are here for a winning team. We have to put them in the right place, believe in each other, and keep fighting for our goal. There’s only one way you win. You have to work. You have to get better, and you have to beat your opponent. And that’s what we have to do. And I believe these players and these coaches will do that.”
Allen has become an object of disdain for Washington’s disgruntled fans, many of whom have circulated a #FireBruceAllen hashtag on social media. When asked specifically about Washington’s culture under his watch, Allen defended it.
“These people care,” Allen said. “We have a very young core of players that we have brought in here who are accustomed to winning. … In free agency we brought in [safety] Landon Collins, a great leader, a great player, wants to win. We haven’t put it together. We’ve made too many mistakes on game day. But the effort — the effort of the players and the rest of this organization is fantastic. [Personnel executive] Doug Williams, his hours, if you want to check his time card, working all the time. Our scouts on the road, working all the time. And they’re trying to find the right formula for success. These players have the ability, and we just have to execute it.”
Last year, Washington fired top marketing executive Brian Lafemina eight months after hiring him. Many around the franchise and close to Lafemina believe Allen’s undermining led to Lafemina’s ouster. After his departure, which led to Allen returning to overseeing both the football and business sides of the franchise, roughly 40 business-side employees left the organization.
Allen faced several questions regarding his accountability and why he should remain in control of the franchise’s direction. Allen said he would not “hide” from Washington’s record.
“All we can do is work,” Allen said. “And do I believe in the group that’s here? Yes. I think Doug and Kyle [Smith] had a great draft. I think they’ve had a few great drafts. I see what the coaches are trying to accomplish. I see what the people do at the stadium. They’re great workers. They care about this team. They care about this franchise. And I’m not saying I care more than anyone, but I absolutely want what’s best for the Washington Redskins, and we’re going to make sure we do it."
Allen’s most important task is securing land for a new stadium by 2027, when Washington’s lease obligating it to play at FedEx Field runs out. Across the league, some believe Allen’s experience will enable him to secure a stadium. Others are skeptical that his connections will be enough.
“I still don’t understand; this guy can’t understand the football side, but he’s going to run a stadium development?” a high-ranking NFL team executive said this summer. “It’s hard enough to run a team on its own. … You need somebody that has real estate expertise. You need somebody that has political expertise. I just don’t see that being Bruce.”
On the football side, Allen has spearheaded Washington’s strategy in dealing with offensive tackle Trent Williams, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection who is holding out because of concerns over how Washington’s training staff diagnosed and treated a growth on his head.
Allen’s strategy has been to wait out Williams as fines and missed paychecks pile up. Williams could fetch a draft pick, likely a second-rounder, in a trade. But Allen said he has had “no dialogue” with other teams and that he is not considering trading Williams.
Snyder made no comments regarding Gruden’s ouster and was not present at Monday afternoon’s news conference. When asked why Snyder wasn’t there, Allen replied, “Because I am.” Allen was asked whether Snyder would address the franchise’s issues.
“Yeah, Dan makes himself available from time to time,” Allen said.
Snyder rarely speaks publicly and has not granted an interview to a non-Redskins-affiliated outlet in years. This summer, through a New York-based public relations firm, Snyder agreed to an interview with The Post if the Q&A ran in place of a story about the 20th anniversary of his purchase of the team, an arrangement The Post declined.
And so it was Allen who on Monday explained the state of a woebegone franchise. He promoted Washington’s culture, and then he was asked how that culture translated into winning games.
“Through winning football games,” Allen said. “We have to win. We didn’t win any of these games.”