Lombardi: Dan Snyder's failure to build a culture killing Redskins

Ben Krimmel
September 17, 2019 - 10:55 am

The Washington Redskins' record in the new millennium is bleak: Only two seasons with double-digit wins, just four trips to the postseason, just one playoff win, countless starting quarterbacks, and eight head coaches.  

With the NFL celebrating its 100th season, why is one of the league's historic franchises so stuck in the mud?

Michael Lombardi, former football executive and Radio.com NFL Insider, told The Sports Junkies Tuesday the struggles of the past two decades starts at the top.

"People hope their team wins," but Lombardi warns "don't ever confuse hope for a plan."

Since Dan Snyder bought the team 20 years ago and Bruce Allen became the top executive 10 years ago, there have been periods defined by hope, but Lombardi says there's no plan under Dan. 

"They're hoping they hit with a quarterback, they're hoping they hit with a coach, they're hoping," Lombardi told The Junks. "There has never been a plan under Dan Snyder reign."

Why has the franchise been a disappointment since Snyder bought the team? It comes down one thing: Culture.

"(Snyder) doesn't understand that culture and player development win. I mean he just has no idea that culture matters," Lombardi said on 106.7 The Fan. "He thinks if I sign Albert Haynesworth, I draft Dwayne Haskins, he thinks it's always about a move. He thinks it's watching TV on Saturday night, watching a college game, 'If I get that player, I'll be a better team.' That is the most critical error you could ever make."

In Lombardi's mind, the Snyder is not properly doing his job as an owner.

"The owner's job is to establish the culture, is to say to the head coach, 'Look, here's the kind of football team I want to have. And it's your job to make me get there and in five years if we're not there I'm gonna have to make a change.' But the culture's never changing. The culture is never changing."

"Snyder is never gonna grasp it. He thinks 'If I hire Steve Spurrier,' 'If I bring Joe Gibbs back' or 'If I do this or do that,'" Lombardi added. "But what he needs to do is stop having the front office control everything."

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An organization's culture doesn't come from the general manager, in Lombardi's opinion, but the head coach.

"The real issue is (Allen) is running the program. A GM can't control the team," Lombardi said. "The head coach has to be the most important person in the organization. And he's gotta be able to control what he tells the players. And so what Bruce does, I mean, look at his record. There's been no general manager that's been in his job as long as Bruce has, that has that below a .500 winning percentage."

What does that mean for current Washington head coach Jay Gruden?

"I feel bad for Jay Gruden. Jay Gruden's trying to get fired," Lombardi said on 106.7 The Fan. "The day they come and tell Jay Gruden he can't coach the team anymore he may be running around the parking lot like George Costanza.

"He can't wait. At least Jay understands it's incompetence. You can... hear it in his voice, he knows that it's not gonna work. He's really content with it, I think," Lombardi said.

And part of the problem, according to Lombardi, is the Redskins president doesn't have the right experience to be in charge of player personnel. This is not the first time Lombardi has made that argument about Allen.

"Bruce has been the general manager under the disguise as a football guy," Lombardi told Grant & Danny in January. "Bruce never did any football with the Raiders when I worked there. He wasn't even in the draft meetings when we were there. He never was involved in player personnel." 

Lombardi said he had good "working relationship" with Allen while the two worked together in Oakland, but added, "Bruce is wonderful when you are face-to-face, but you only know what happens after that."

All the Redskins problem go back to culture.

"Why do you think they have trouble with their training room? They have no culture," Lombardi told 106.7 The Fan. "You think any player believes what the front office tells them? You really think that any player believes it? Of course, they don't."

"I would tell Dan, look we need to rebuild this organization from top to bottom," he said. "Bruce has gotta go. It's like when they were talking about Vito in 'The Sopranoes.' He's gotta go."

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