After a long period of languishing under the guidance of vice president of football operation Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins this past offseason brought in Bruce Allen, son of long-time former coach George Allen and respected front office figure, to serve as general manager.
The move was hailed by most as a departure from years of the front office being run by owner Dan Snyder's yes men. In the first season since making the change in the front office and on the sidelines, bringing in Mike Shanahan to replace Jim Zorn, the Redskins have showed modest gains, eclipsing their win total over last year in just 10 weeks.
Still, the decision to bring in Donovan McNabb as the team's answer at quarterback is already starting to look like a highly questionable move, as was the contract extension offered to the veteran quarterback just weeks ago. While it's unfair to dismiss the work of a general manager through three quarters of one season, many Redskins fans feel as though the team still isn't heading in the right direction.
The opposite is true for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Redskins' opponent on Sunday and the last place of employment in the NFL for Allen prior to his arrival in Washington. Allen presided over the Buccaneers for five seasons, with mixed results. His track record with high draft picks wasn't especially good. Running back Cadillac Williams showed early promise, but has been dogged by numerous injuries. The last first-round pick by Allen, cornerback Aqib Talib, was likely the best, though Talib was just lost for the season with an injury.
The Bucs are on the ascent this season, propelled by promising young quarterback Josh Freeman, the first Tampa draft pick selected after Allen was fired in early 2009. Tampa might not be able to make the playoffs this season, as the race for Wild Card berths in the NFC will likely require teams not in the NFC West to win at least 10 games. And the Buccaneers have struggled against teams with winning records.
Nevertheless, Tampa fans have reason for hope for future years under the leadership of Freeman. Writers there are gleeful in pointing out that they would happily take the direction the Bucs are headed in lieu of where it appears Bruce Allen is guiding the Redskins.
Allen obviously can't be wholly blamed for the ongoing Albert Haynesworth disaster, nor the failure of Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly to develop into viable receiving options. But few of the moves that Allen has overseen since arriving in Washington have done much to position the team well going forward.
Giving up a second-round pick for Donovan McNabb seems like a costly stopgap move until the team can get a young franchise quarterback. Trent Williams may transform into a quality left tackle, but it's difficult to judge based on a rookie season limited by injuries. And fourth-round pick Perry Riley cost the team a victory over the Vikings with a dumb block in the back penalty on what would have been a game-winning kick return for a touchdown.
Suffice it to say, Allen has a ways to go to get the 'Skins back into a place of respectability.
Meanwhile, his former team in Tampa appears to be on the cusp of being a contender once again.