TINSMAN: When most NFL teams zig, the Redskins zag

Brian Tinsman
December 29, 2019 - 10:00 pm
When most NFL teams zig, the Redskins zag

Grant Halverson/Getty Images

On Sunday, the Washington Redskins closed out another 3-13 season, falling short of even the most modest expectations.

This is the 12th season in which the Redskins finished sub-.500 since the new millennium began. It is also the second 3-13 season that leads to regime change, as owner Dan Snyder goes back to the drawing board on team leadership.

Just don't be surprised if he does it his own way.

With interim coach Bill Callahan out, Snyder needs a new head coach and coaching staff (with the possible exception of offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell). That much will happen, with rumors flying of a quick announcement.

In an era where innovative offensive minds are trendy head coaching candidates, Snyder seems committed to veteran, defensive candidates.

Months ago, rumors swirled about prying Mike Tomlin away from the Steelers. In recent weeks, that focus has shifted to former Redskins defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis or Carolina coach Ron Rivera. 

Armed with a rookie quarterback leading an anemic offense, it's a curious time for the team's first defensive head coach since Marty Schottenheimer. 

Reports also suggest that Snyder bypassed the team's brain trust and used outside consultants to identify coaching candidates. Without knowing who was consulted, it's hard to say if this is good news. 

Hopefully, the team's next general manager was part of the group, or that person could get saddled with a coaching staff they don't want. This isn't the first time that Snyder put the cart before the horse on hiring decisions. 

In January 2008, Snyder hired Jim Zorn as the team's offensive coordinator, forgetting that head coaches pick their assistants. When no candidate wanted Zorn, he promoted the previous Seahawks' quarterback coach directly to head coach.

We all remember how that went. Now, without a general manager in place, he's at risk of handcuffing his options again.

Other owners would start in the front office, firing team president Bruce Allen weeks (or years) ago. Instead, Allen is rumored to be retained and reassigned out of football operations.

Is a simple reassignment enough for fans, who turned against the team in 2019 after decades of support? Is a simple reassignment enough for GM candidates, who see how Allen's friendship with Snyder works against them?

If years of internal leaks are to be believed, Allen scapegoated the Shanahans, Scot McCloughan and Jay Gruden over the last decade, always having Snyder's ear and building his power. As long as Allen is in the building and friends with Snyder, can he be trusted to stay out of football ops?

Answers to these questions will define the next chapter of Redskins football.

Black Monday happened months ago in D.C., but it seems like the process for finding a coach has only just begun. The Redskins now have to compete with every other team seeking a new head coach, but maybe another unconventional search will yield better results.

Brian Tinsman has covered D.C. sports since 2011, both from the team marketing and skeptical fan perspectives. Tweet your criticisms @Brian_Tinsman.