Washington NFL Franchise Desperately Needs a President
A name change that has dominated national headlines for years and unexpectedly came roaring back in this summer of chaos.
A political drama that will not stop and that has tentacles everywhere. A name, a location, a new stadium and all sorts of logistical and financial issues.
Three silent partners that have been frustrated for years and are now fed up including 'FedExFred', who happens to hold the naming rights to the dump of a stadium the team plays in and nobody likes or wants to go to.
How about a worldwide pandemic that has completely changed the way we live and seems to be getting worse by the day. Mostly because part of society refuses to wear protective masks and some consider it a hoax.
All four of those extremely complicated situations have been presented to head coach Ron Rivera in the last few months.
An owner that is more interested in being on his yacht off the shores of France instead of making sure his organization has the proper infrastructure to survive when things are normal, nevermind what they are now.
When Dan Snyder announced a coach-centric approach in early January, nobody thought it was an awful idea. It's worked in the NFL, but only when the proper surrounding help is installed.
That did not happen in Washington, because as usual the thought process was rushed and common sense was not completely applied. A problem that's repeated over and over again.
What Dan Snyder needed to do was what he completely dropped the ball on. He needed to hire a new president to replace Bruce Allen while also securing Rivera and the new culture change.
Obviously Allen needed to go. That was clear. You know who didn't need to be allowed to linger and then leave? Eric Schaffer.
Lafemina would have been an upgrade from Allen but he didn't know the organization like Schaffer did.
There's a lot of skeletons in the closets in Ashburn. A lot of landmines and Schaffer knew most and probably all of them over his 18 years as a top executive in the organization.
Schaffer also had a lot of respect around the NFL. Coaches, scouts and especially agents, whom he regularly dealt with. The list goes on.
Snyder should have known and should have made sure that Rivera was properly surrounded and supported.
This isn't about not giving power to Rivera. Or not having a coach-centered approach.
It's about doing things the right way and the common sense way.
His franchise doesn't have a president, an executive vice president, a general manager or an assistant general manager.
All four are enormously important positions and while some teams don't have all of those filled, I can guarantee that you won't find another NFL team that has none of those positions filled.
Go ahead. List the teams. San Francisco, Kansas City, Seattle and even New England are the best examples and organizations specifically that Snyder mentioned.
The Patriots have Bill Belichick, yes, and he runs the football show. However he doesn't have to deal with the business operations and complicated layers of an NFL front office by himself.
Who does Rivera have to lean on? Kyle Smith, a 35-year old talented football evaluator cannot possibly help Rivera with all of the complicated business issues that any normal franchise has and this one is far, far from normal.
Never has been. Never will be.
He's dealing with contracts and the salary cap, which is his area of expertise. But he does not know this organization fully and certainly doesn't know how chaotic the franchise and building always has been.
You could argue that Rogers fits one of those four positions mentioned above but that's it. You still don't have the other three to take pressure off of Rivera.
NFL sources have described a building that is filled with a different type of chaos that existed under Allen.
Everyone knew who was in charge with Allen at the top of the organization. Now, according to multiple people, nobody really does.
Sure, Rivera is the face of the franchise. But he's never run an NFL show completely. Not even close. In Carolina, he had a controversial owner in Jerry Richardson but had a general manager that he trusted (from what I've heard) in Marty Hurney and one that he had friction with, per sources, in Dave Gettleman.
He also had Brandon Beane for a while. Beane, currently the Buffalo Bills General Manager was in Carolina before Rivera and grew in power and influence, becoming the Assistant GM before leaving for the Bills, where he and Sean McDermott have completely turned around that franchise.
From what I've been told, Rivera is leaning on Beane in this time of chaos as more than just a friend.
Assuming that's true (and perhaps it will be denied), that screams out one thing. Rivera needs help and he needs a president of football operations to handle the nonsense that a football coach should not have to deal with.
Of course there's plenty of options available. Joe Schoen, who is Beane's top assistant in Buffalo, could still be brought in and elevated to a general manager role or a vice president/president of football operations role.
The bottom line is this: The organization needs to hire (yesterday) a smart, savvy business-based executive that doesn't necessarily want a lot of fingerprints on the football operation. Or at the very minimum, if Rivera is going to be expected to handle the head coach's role and part of what the fired Allen and Schaffer used to do, Snyder needs to hire another football executive to take some of the workload off of Rivera's plate.
This is not hard. This is common sense.
Please understand that Rivera is one human being. He can't do this all by himself.
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Chris Russell is the Publisher of this site, a part of SI.com. He can be heard on 106.7 The FAN in the Washington D.C. area and world-wide on Radio.com. Chris also hosts the "Locked on Redskins" Podcast and can be read via subscription to Warpath Magazine. You can e-mail Chris at russellmania09@Gmail.com or follow him on Twitter at @Russellmania621.