December 17, 2009

Cerrato's Departure Raises Questions

We all knew something was going to change this offseason following a disappointing 2009 campaign.

We just didn't think it would be this soon. We also didn't think it would be Vinny Cerrato doing the departing.

With Cerrato tendering his resignation from the VP of football operation position, the 'Skins hired former Bucs' and Raiders' GM Bruce Allen. And most importantly, Allen's title will actually be GM rather than VP of football operations (what the hell does that even mean anyway?).

In all seriousness, Allen is a legitimate hire. He has a good track record with both the Raiders and Bucs and is the son of former Redskins coach, the great George Allen.

However, is this just a continuation of "celebrity football?" as Michael Wilbon so deftly put it. Or has Snyder really learned his lesson?

Should Snyder entrust the team solely to Allen, things could move in the right direction. Allen will see the progression of the Redskins over the past month and will most likely give serious consideration to retaining both Jim Zorn and Jason Campbell.

But that will only happen if Allen is, in fact, in charge. He can't be another yes-man to Snyder.

Snyder has already tipped his hand as to what he wants for the offseason.. He wants a bigtime coach like Jon Gruden or Mike Shanhan and he craves one of the star QBs entering the NFL draft.

It's up to Allen to preach some patience at Redskins Park. The 'Skins have arguably played some of the best football in the NFC East since last month's Denver game. They are only several plays away from being 7-6 rather than 4-9 and with another year under Zorn, Sherm Lewis and Campbell, those close games could end up as victories.

The franchise is in desperate need of continuity and Allen has the football sense to realize this. However, he may see the need to put together his own staff and start from scratch. Zorn's win-loss record is underwhelming, and Campbell, despite his improvements, has yet to take that last step.

That would be all well and good. It normal for a new GM to get his own ides and philosophies in place before establishing continuity.

No matter which approach Allen takes, Cerrato has left him with gaping holes along the offensive line. Cerrato made a litany of errors in both the draft and free agency and it has left Washington shorthanded at several positions.

Snyder acknowledged that "it was time for a change." The question begs: has Snyder learned his lesson? Will he practice moderation and avoid, "celebrity football?" Or has he simply redirected his failures onto Cerrato to throw fans off the scent?

Only time will tell. Snyder could very well be playing us. He does it often. A telling sign will be who the Redskins draft this year with their first round selection. Everyone with a half a brain realizes the need for an offensive tackle, but Snyder has made it clear he would prefer to take a QB. Which side will win out, Snyder the businessman or Snyder the football owner?

And if Allen is here to create a winning franchise rather than serve as a the next yes-man, then he'll make sure he gets a tackle rather than a QB.

We don't know what the Allen hiring entails. It could be the turning point for a franchise mired in mediocrity. Then again, it could be a hire to get an angry fan base off an embattled owner's back.Either way, it just made things that much more interesting.

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