Why Dan Snyder's so furious with Bruce Allen

Chris Lingebach
April 04, 2018 - 6:14 pm

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

"I started hearing about this Friday night. The way it was described to me is late Thursday, and continuing through Friday, the building was on fire, as one source described it.

"Smoke was billowing out."

That was the scene at Redskins Park last weekend, as reported by Redskins Insider Chris Russell, a scene which, amid fiery imagery, depicts Redskins owner Daniel Snyder as being "furious" with team president Bruce Allen.

Snyder is so enraged, Allen remains but one "major episode" away from being relocated, out of football operations altogether, over to the stadium development department.

If that day comes, then Eric Schaffer, Senior VP of Football Operations/General Counsel, is expected to take over the front office.

Two specific instances especially led Snyder to this angered state.

According to Russell, the first was Kimberly A. Martin's account of Doug Williams' involvement, or lack thereof, in the Alex Smith trade.

The cryptic text message popped up on Doug Williams’s iPhone without warning that late January night, but the Washington Redskins senior vice president of player personnel still remembers the exact words displayed on the screen.

"'Don’t answer your phone. See you in the morning.'"

Bruce Allen's instructions were simple, but Williams knew that clarity would have to wait until the next day.

"I couldn't wait to get up in the morning ’cause I wanted to know," Williams said Thursday evening, as he stood in the hallway leading to his office at Redskins Park.

By 7 a.m. the morning after Allen's text, Williams was in the team president's office and had learned the news. Washington had agreed to a trade for the quarterback at the top of its wishlist: Kansas City's Alex Smith.

Williams, who through pomp and circumstance last June was promoted to Senior VP of Player Personnel, had been reduced to a bystander in the team's most important roster move of the offseason, one which could shape the direction of the franchise for years to come. And worse, everyone now knows it.

"Ultimately, the Redskins were parading him as the guy in charge," Russell told Chad Dukes. "When he really -- I mean, I love Doug -- he's not in charge."

The second incident, Russell describes, involved Allen setting the tee for 106.7 The Fan's Grant Paulsen, who publicly ridiculed the team president by turning his own words against him.

"Wins and losses is the most important statistic when it comes to equipment manager, a team president, a quarterback, a running back, a guard or a coach," Allen informed JP Finlay of NBCSN.

"Wins and losses is the most important statistic to a coach or a team manager. Apparently this is high school basketball now," Paulsen said in reaction to Allen's remarks. "How about team president? How about general manager? The roles that you've had here. Now, luckily for you, Bruce Allen, I'm not dumb, and I'm not simple-minded, so I know better than to just evaluate an individual based on wins and losses in a team sport. So I'm not going to hold you to the standard of your horrific, and absolutely embarrassing 35-61 mark here in Washington, because I don't do that."

As Russell explained: "Grant's comments about Bruce not living up to his statement, about how everybody is held accountable for wins and losses, including the water boy and the team chaplain, and the trainers and the team president. Well, wait a second, Bruce. If everybody is held accountable -- and this was about the quarterback being held accountable for not winning enough, meaning Kirk Cousins -- everybody is held accountable, and he listed 'president' in that statement, well then, dude, what the hell are you doing with your job?"

"Chad, they hate that stuff," Russell said.

 "So they're paying attention, is what you're saying," said Dukes.

"I mean, forever. I remember when I was at the evil empire they would log every interview that Grant did, every interview that I would do on 980," Russell said. "Because they wanted to be able to intimidate and control the message, and they wanted to be able to stay on top of things and make sure that all this negative publicity wasn't causing a kerfuffle."

While these events pushed Snyder to implosive levels of anger, the cumulative effect of negative PR is also at play here.

"A lot of the anger is from the McCloughan hiring," Russell said. "A lot of it is from bypassing Wade Phillips, not once, but twice. Letting other competent executives out the door. Not winning enough, of course, is the biggest thing."

Russell reminds that an independent arbitrator has yet to rule on former Redskins GM Scot McCloughan's grievance against the organization. That decision, he says, should arrive sometime before training camp.

"Now, a lot of people in that building think the Redskins are gonna win, because they've got quite the file on Mr. McCloughan. Quite the file, from what I've been told," he said. "But if they don't win, it's gonna cost them, I mean, one person mentioned $5-7 million."

"And, publicly, it's a big, fat L also," Dukes offered. "It's the money and on top of the fact that it'll look like he rode out of town and got one over on Snyder and the organization."

"Absolutely," Russell said. "Also what I was told was Snyder never said, 'Go and hire McCloughan.' Snyder said, 'Go and get yourself a football man.' McCloughan was hired by Bruce because Snyder and A.J. Smith, who was there at the time, didn't see eye to eye over Griffin. As a matter of fact, A.J. hated Griffin. Snyder of course beloved Griffin. And, basically that meant A.J. was not staying.

"So they bypassed A.J. Smith, the former Charger general manager, went to McCloughan -- a guy who Bruce admitted, 'I've never worked with him. I don't know the guy. I know his dad, I know his brother, but I don't know the guy.' We all know the backstory to that. And then, from what I understand, it was a disaster from four or five months in, if it even took that long. Ultimately, Dan wanted to get him fired long before he ultimately did. Bruce tried to repair it, hold on, fix it, couldn't, and then that's what led to the hasty firing."

If Allen is to be relocated within the organization, Russell believes the decision would have to be made within a certain window -- within approximately a month after the upcoming draft -- or it will otherwise have to wait until after the 2018 season.

"If it doesn't happen (before June)," said Russell, "it's almost assuredly not going to happen until after the season, or late in the season if it's a lost season and there's 50,000 people at FedEx Field in December for the last two home games."

"Bruce isn't going to get fired outright," Russell clarified. "He's going to get reassigned to head the stadium authority, from what it was described to me, or the stadium development team and Dan's other businesses."

"Eric Schaffer is a guy who Dan implicitly trusts, and trusts even more now than he did five years ago, four years ago," he added. "And everybody in that building from a football operations standpoint believes, loves and trusts in Eric Schaffer, goes to him and believes that's the guy that can overall lead the entire football operations. I would expect he would be the President of Football Operations. Maybe they bring in somebody from the outside."

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