Redskins changes hint at future success

Will Cohen

More stories from Will Cohen


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Redskins fans were thrilled to see Bruce Allen finally out of Washington, but many question why it took so long. Owner Dan Snyder must be sure not to make the same mistake he did with Allen again, and hire a more football-minded general manager.

“The culture is actually damn good”. These were the famous last words of recently outed Redskins president Bruce Allen, who oversaw 10 of the most miserable years in human existence of any sports franchise, the 10 years I grew up as a fan of the Washington Redskins.

Allen exits with a 62-94-1 record, the fifth worst in the NFL from 2009-2019, only besting the lowly Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, it wasn’t just the meager amount of wins, it was the constant dysfunction and obvious lack of direction that made this team soul-crushingly uninspiring. Now, with Allen out the door, and two time coach of the year Ron Rivera in, there’s finally some excitement surrounding the Washington football team.

“He’s an obvious step up from Mr. .500 (Jay Gruden), I’m excited to see what Ron Rivera brings to the table in the upcoming years,” senior Simon Weiderkher said.

Owner Dan Snyder may have felt mounting pressure to make meaningful changes in the organization after recent title runs by the Nationals and Capitals which invigorated millions of D.C. sports fans. These teams were perfect models of positive culture and chemistry fueling success, and once D.C. fans witnessed this level of achievement, the Redskins’ situation appeared even more untenable.

“The pressure is definitely on the Skins to step out to the Nats and Caps level because we are in desperate need of good football around here,” junior Patrick Kemp said.

With Rivera in place, the rest of the coaching staff and front office filling out and the number two pick in the draft secured, all signs are pointing up for possibly the first time under Synder. The presumptive number two pick, likely coming after the Bengals select LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, is Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young, who has been described as a “generational talent” and “a game-wrecker” by scouts. Young will continue the evolution of the Redskins’ defensive line into one of, if not the best, defensive fronts in the NFL. He’s flanked on the opposite edge by athletic freak Montez Sweat, while pro bowl caliber talents Johnathan Allen, Da’ron Payne and Matt Ioannidis cement the interior.

“I absolutely can’t wait to see him line up in the burgundy and gold,” Weiderkher said of Young. “The kid is a premier pass rusher and has the potential to be one of the best to ever do it.”

The Redskins had recently developed a reputation for being an Alabama-to-NFL pipeline, with nine players on the roster hailing from the most prestigious football school in the U.S. Ohio State appears to be emerging as the next path from the NCAA to the Redskins, with Buckeye alumnus quarterback Dwayne Haskins and wide receiver Terry McLaurin heading the offense, and Chase Young projected to join the Skins in this draft, potentially the team’s three most talented players going forward. McLaurin displayed superstar level talent this year despite inconsistent quarterback play and a lack of playmakers around him, while Haskins made huge improvements as the season progressed, defying some of the doubt that followed his atrocious start to the season.

“He can become a franchise-style quarterback. It’s a process, though,” Rivera said of Haskins. “I’m not going to say it’s going to happen overnight.”

Nothing is going to happen overnight for the Redskins, who have spent 20 years trying to get back on track, but the attitude around the team this time is distinct. The playoffs are still a pipe dream next season, and the fan base needs to recognize this. However, Rivera must take steps build on the development of young players, demand more effort from his players and generate buzz around the team.

“This isn’t going to be a one year process, it’s going to be a whole rebuilding process and we have to be patient and make sure we make good decisions in the offseason to benefit us in the regular season,” Kemp said.

The Skins once held an NFL record for longest consecutive streak of sold out games, claiming that for fifty years, the stadium was at full capacity. The elimination of the season ticket waitlist, along with horrible play over the past decade, has gradually sapped fan enthusiasm, to the point where opposing fans are consistently as loud, or louder than Skins fans. Of one Snyder and Rivera’s main goals has to be to restore the raucous atmosphere that fans could expect at FedEx Field for years. My feeling is that this will happen in the coming years, as the recent excitement around the team has been palpable, and will surge after Chase Young is selected. All we can do is hope that Snyder hires a football-minded general manager, lets Rivera have more autonomy than previous coaches and that the young core reaches the potential they displayed in the last three seasons. However, these are still the same Snyder-controlled Redskins that have let down fans over and over again, so maybe we have no reason for optimism after all.