Tuesday, December 24, 2019


It’s Christmas, and that coal in your stocking, Washington Redskins fans? I’ll bet it looks a lot like a sculpture of Bruce Allen.

That wasn’t on your Christmas list, I’ll bet. You’ve been reading reports that the end is near for the Prince of Darkness, that he was “in exile,” like Moses, and would be walking in the desert by now.

But it’s Dec. 25, and Allen is celebrating this holiday like he did the last 10 Christmases, as the Redskins’ top football executive.

You likely would have been a lot happier if your stocking was empty.

We are to believe that he will be gone soon. I mean, common sense dictates that you don’t keep a team president in charge with his results — 62-94-1. Or, if not gone, moved into a closet somewhere at Redskins Park where he can do no more harm — “reassigned,” as the kids like to say.

If the Prince of Darkness is in the building, he will reign over any savior brought in to change that “damn good culture” we heard about earlier this year, no matter what job Allen is handed. Remember, it was around this time a year ago that Allen waved goodbye to chief operating officer Brian Lafemina and his group of suits, eight months after they arrived to turn around the franchise.

So if Allen is to be dethroned, he will have to be exiled by his buddy, owner Dan Snyder. That may happen.

But if you pay close attention, you might notice the narrative of this team, after starting the season 0-5, has changed. You’re hearing less and less about rock bottom, and more and more about the so-called “young talent” that supposedly fills this roster. You’re hearing more about the promise shown by rookie Dwayne Haskins of late at quarterback. You’re hearing words like “tough” and “competitive,” words — you didn’t hear often during the tenure of fired coach Jay Gruden.

And you’re hearing a familiar word, only this time with the arrow pointing up, after three wins followed by close losses against division-leading teams (at least before Sunday’s 41-35 overtime loss to the bottom-feeding Giants) — not down.

Yes, they are talking Allen’s favorite language — “close.”

“It’s unfortunate that we’ve lost these games,” Redskins interim coach Bill Callahan told reporters after the Giants loss. “And we’ve been so close. I feel like I’ve gotten up here several times and said the same thing — ‘We’re close, we’re close.’ But we haven’t closed out, and you have to win these types of games and these types of situations. I think we’re growing, improving and learning. We’re a young football team. I think the team will only get better.”

So if the roster has a nucleus of good young talent, and the team is clearly more “competitive” and “tougher” under Callahan — Allen’s close ally — then why would either of them be leaving? To make room for the big name that’s going to take this great Redskins head coaching job?

This is a joke to those in the business like ESPN’s Todd McShay, who told Dan Patrick recently, in reference to the Urban Meyer sighting in Snyder’s suite at the game two weeks ago, “I’ve been holding back from calling Urban this week, wondering what he was doing in the box … I couldn’t allow a friend to take the job without saying something.”

Anyone who tries to paint this Redskins’ coaching job as “attractive” should have to undergo a procedure by the Redskins medical staff.

You know who it’s “attractive” to? Bill Callahan.

Asked Monday if he would like to continue coaching this team, Callahan — who took the Oakland Raiders to the Super Bowl in 2003 — responded, “Absolutely, absolutely would.”

Callahan also gave a sample of what Allen’s pitch has likely been to Snyder to keep the status quo. The franchise’s problem, this reasoning goes, was Gruden, not Allen. Now, Gruden is gone.

“I tried to bring back a work ethic into the program that I thought was lacking,” Callahan said at his Monday press conference.

“I thought our players could have been better fundamentally. Still not there yet. I saw our players get better and compete for four quarters … I thought long and hard about improving the team and what aspects I would really focus on and a lot of that was the second half finish,” he said.

“We didn’t finish the way we wanted to, we didn’t win the games we needed to win,” he said, but the Callahan-led Redskins, he said, are “close.”

There’s that word.

Close is not good enough, the NFL veteran acknowledged.

“You either win or you don’t and I get that, I understand that. I’ve been in this business for a long time, so I understand dynamics that are out there every Sunday.

“But I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in the sense of accountability, in the sense of our responsibility day-in and day-out on the practice field,” Callahan said. “I’m proud of that aspect from our team. I’m also proud of our coaches staying together for a long period of time. A lot of guys in a lot of different situations and it’s been tough. It’s been really, really hard on a lot of coaches and their families and I get that too and try to keep the staff together, try to keep the team together and not allow it to split or fracture or fall apart. I’m proud of that, I’m proud of that aspect.”

Allen couldn’t have said it better. But he’s probably delivered the same message to Snyder, over and over again.

Exile? Sounds like a coronation speech to me.

⦁ Hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings and on the Kevin Sheehan podcast Tuesdays and Thursdays.

• Thom Loverro can be reached at tloverro@washingtontimes.com.

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