MOBILE, Ala. – As the NFL prepares for Super Bowl LIII next Sunday in Atlanta, Redskins nation was treated to an event even more rare than a yearly Super Bowl.
At the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, Redskins team president Bruce Allen held a press conference for the first time since June 2017.
Allen, who has overseen a 59-84-and-1 record in his nine seasons as the highest-ranking member of the Redskins front office, admitted the team has come up short.
“Our season was a bit of a roller coaster,” Allen said Tuesday. “We had a great hopes early in the season. Halfway through, we were in good shape – but we didn’t finish strong. I’m not going to use injuries as an excuse because we had opportunities to win some games we didn’t. It’s that determination we need and that desire we need to get into the playoffs this year. We will have some new players, obviously some new coaches will be on the staff.”
One coach who will return? Bench boss Jay Gruden. Despite zero postseason victories, Gruden will return in 2019 – his sixth season as head coach.
“We looked at the program, and we felt the direction of the team is good,” Allen said when deciding to retain Gruden, who has a career record of 35-45-and-1 including the playoffs. “We didn’t get over that hurdle this year. We’re giving him the opportunity to build a staff and hopefully have a healthy team for the 2019 season.”
It’s yet to be determined if Alex Smith will be the team’s quarterback in 2019. Spotted Monday at the NBA’s Washington Wizards basketball game, Smith was seen wearing an external fixator on his surgically-repaired right leg.
“We’ll see where it goes,” Allen said on Smith’s prognosis. “We’re optimistic. If anyone can come back, it’s Alex. We’ll see.”
When asked if the plan for 2019 includes Smith being a contributing member of the team, Allen said, “We don’t have to make that decision right now. We have some time before free agency and the draft.”
In light of unsuccessful seasons and personnel decisions that haven’t worked out, Allen has been a lightning rod for criticism, especially from fans via social media.
“Our fans are passionate,” Allen said in response to the backlash. “We were 7-and-9. It wasn’t the players, it wasn’t the coaches. Doug and his staff have to find some better players, some healthy better players to come in and the coaches have to put them in the right position to win. We’re in the middle of the pack and we’ve been in the middle of the pack the last three seasons. It means you’re close to being better. We have to find the right chemistry and the right ingredients to do that. No matter how you look at the season, we were two games out of the playoffs. We have to find the right ingredients to get over that hump.”