10 Days of Bruce-Mas! No. 8 - The Shanahan Era
Yup! Your eyes aren't deceiving you! Instead of the 12 Days of Christmas, we here at Redskins Maven and SI.com are honoring Bruce Allen's ten years of leadership with the Redskins with a countdown to his ten-year anniversary on December 17th.
You've also heard of "Stras-mas" for the Washington Nationals. Welcome to the "10 Days of Bruce-Mas!"
Here's how we're celebrating: Our team of Rick Snider, Bryan Manning, Ivan Lambert and myself along with some help from a secret contributor, ranked the top-ten moments in in the Bruce Allen era as President/General Manager/Executive Vice President of the Washington Redskins.
Only we're not doing it in the nice way. No. This is a list of the ten worst moments and disasters of Bruce's reign. Sorry, in advance. Oh and one more thing: We're extending this baby out over the next week plus, which might catch up to us if Dan Snyder hasn't calmed down yet and pulls the plug.
Away we go!
The 2012 season was perhaps the golden age of the Daniel Snyder ownership era. The Redskins, led by rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, went on a seven-game winning streak to end that season and won the NFC East.
Looking back, it’s the aftermath of what happened in that home playoff loss to Seattle that season that led us here. Griffin severely injured his already banged-up knee after head coach Mike Shanahan left him in the game, creating an off-season of finger-pointing, blame and various anonymous leaks derailing what could have been a special ride.
The theme of the 2013 off-season was “All In For Week One.” That, of course, was Griffin’s way of saying he was crushing his comeback and would be ready for the season opener. While Shanahan preferred Griffin to take a cautious approach, knowing he had Kirk Cousins to start the season, the reigning rookie of the year instead went to management for support.
Not only did Griffin allegedly tell Shanahan what plays he would and would not run, he had full support from Bruce Allen and Snyder. The season, as expected, went off the rails before it truly ever began with the Redskins going 3-13 and losing their last eight games.
Throughout the month of December, anonymous quotes would hit the Sunday morning airwaves and dominate social media. Shanahan, meanwhile, decided to give Cousins a chance to play the final three weeks, in part to stick it to management and also because he realized Griffin just wasn’t very good. Griffin performed well the prior year working within the college-style offense, Mike's son and current San Francisco 49ers head coach, Kyle Shanahan, designed specifically for him.
Once that dreadful season mercifully ended, Shanahan was fired. However, instead of blowing out the entire staff, Allen and Snyder fired the coaches closest to Mike and Kyle Shanahan: Matt LaFleur, Mike McDaniel, Keith Burns, Bob Slowik, etc. It was one of many instances of pettiness that Snyder and Allen have employed for years.
Looking back, the elder Shanahan’s coaching staff featured three current NFL head coaches in the younger Shanahan, LaFleur and, of course, Sean McVay. McVay remained in place due to a prior relationship with Allen and incoming coach Jay Gruden from their time in Tampa Bay.
Shanahan’s record wasn’t good in Washington, despite all of his knowledge of the quarterback position and offense. He could never get the defense right. But it’s impossible not to look back and wonder what could have been if Allen and Snyder had backed their two-time Super Bowl winning coach over the young quarterback.
Instead, they fired Shanahan and continued to leak various reports through the media about father and son. Remember the report about Kyle complaining about everything, including the cafeteria food?
There isn’t much Allen could’ve done to prevent McVay from leaving after the 2016 season. He was always destined to be a head coach at a young age. However, to have that many bright, young and innovative minds on the same coaching staff at the same time and to fire all but one is something Washington fans struggle with to this day.
Allen couldn’t just relieve Shanahan and his staff of their duties, he would have to continuously—and anonymously—destroy Shanahan at every turn. And while Allen and Snyder may have laughed all those years ago, the entire league has been laughing at them ever since that time.
Merry Christmas, Bruce!
Bryan Manning has covered the NFL, MLB, NBA, college football and college basketball for almost 10 years for various outlets such as Bleacher Report, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today SMG, and others. Bryan has covered the Washington Redskins for different outlets and currently co-hosts a podcast on the Virginia Tech Hokies for SB Nation. For his day job, Bryan works in engineering for a major communications company.