After fumbling through the firing of former general manager Scot McCloughan in March, Washington announced a restructured front office that very much resembles the one it already had.
No general manager was named, but former senior personnel executive Doug Williams was promoted to senior vice president of player personnel.
What does that mean? Not a lot.
Williams’ promotion appears to be more of a PR move than an actual strategical adjustment. The 61-year-old led the franchise to its second Super Bowl championship as the big game’s MVP in 1987, and is more or less the most likable member of Washington’s front office.
The former quarterback’s new position may only be a new position in name as he will not gain roster control. Instead, he will merely have an input on decisions made, which he already had for the last three years in his former role.
Williams is playing the good soldier answering “overrated” when asked about who has final roster control, according to CSN’s JP Finlay. Though team president Bruce Allen, insinuated that he will have control.
“The last few years (head coach) Jay (Gruden) and (ex-GM) Scot (McCloughan) have reported to me and that’s no different that Doug and Jay will report to me,” Allen said.
While Allen seemed to have placed Williams at the GM role in that quote, the former quarterback re-established his position as a company man by claiming he did not want to take McCloughan’s position. Williams, however, took the opportunity to try further justify McCloughan’s firing.
“We had a general manager,” Williams said, according to ESPN’s John Keim. “That didn’t work out that well.”
That line is perhaps the most discouraging for Redskins fans hoping the club could get on the right track, especially considering McCloughan was doing a bang-up job.
In his two seasons as GM, the Redskins made a return to the playoffs following consecutive double-digit-loss seasons and finished with a winning record in both years, even amassing the NFL’s third-best offense in 2016. McCloughan’s background is in scouting, which clarifies how the Redskins have drafted so well the past three seasons.
With his departure coming on the first day of the official 2017 NFL year, McCloughan’s draft board would have been mostly built before his firing, so even the success of Washington’s 2017 class can be linked to him.
It’s a good thing for the Redskins that McCloughan did draft so well, as they have plenty of contractual obstacles to hurdle in coming years that the front office may not have the experience to properly deal with.
Potential franchise quarterback Kirk Cousins‘ relationship with the front office has been shaky and he’s currently on his second straight franchise tag with rumors swirling he wants out after 2017. Terrelle Pryor, the receiver signed to replace DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, is only on a one-year contract.
In 2018, the Redskins will be faced with signing McCloughan’s first wave of draft picks, which could equal trouble.
If any current players are listening to the advice of former Redskins, they may opt for greener pastures with a new club. Last season, former Washington linebacker Keenan Robinson gave a glimpse into life as a Redskin.
“Once they get down, they start pointing fingers,” said Robinson, now with the New York Giants, in September. “And that is true. That is what happens. And for the Redskins – I’ve only been on one team before I came here, and that was them – and all I saw was not the right way to handle it …
“When I was there, they started pointing fingers, people started talking. That’s how you get dissension in the locker room.”
The Redskins have been defined by the dysfunction owner Dan Snyder has brought on since taking over the team in 1999. Allen has been happy to join in the trend of constant employee turnover as the team spirals from laughing stock to mediocrity to borderline playoff contender and back.
With the fan-friendly face of Super Bowl XXII MVP Williams representing the newest version of Washington’s management, don’t be surprised when the exact same questions pop up about the team’s future in the coming seasons.
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)
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