NFL

No longer speculation, Washington moves on from McCloughan

PHOTO CREDIT: Nick Wass/AP
No longer speculation, Washington moves on from McCloughan

The week and month’s worth of rumors swirling around General Manager Scot McCloughan has finally come to a head, first reported by the Washington Post. The third year general manager for the Washington Redskins has been relieved of his duties. Since the 2016 season ended, speculation on McCloughan’s well-being started to be questioned by many once the media and fans caught wind of him being unable to publicly speak once the NFL had reached the college all-star games.

The biggest piece of news that was brought to light was the Washington Post D.C. Sports Bog piece by Dan Steinberg transcribing the on-air speculation of McCloughan’s drinking by Chris Cooley, a employee of the team owned radio station ESPN980. The Redskins did not address said speculation.

Since then, several reporters who cover the Redskins have been investigating McCloughan’s ordeal in attempts to solve this incredible mystery and apparent fall of grace that has taken place. More speculation arose when Scot missed the one event that made him the great scout that he is, the NFL Scouting combine. Per Mike Jones of the Washington Post, on the night of March 1st, a Redskins spokesperson confirmed that Scot did not make the trip to the combine due to family matters he was taking care of.  McCloughan lost his grandmother on February 6and 106.7 the Fan stated he had been sent home from Redskins Park on the 20th of February.

There was also speculation of McCloughan’s alleged inability to ween himself off the liquor, which had been an issue in previous stops including San Franciso and Seattle. Couple that with the shots thrown at the Redskins front office, specifically President Bruce Allen via local media in regards to his apparent attempts to shun McCloughan and strip away his power and it wasn’t hard to see that there was indeed issues in Washington. All too often in this organization’s history, the adage “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire” would once again apply and it was just a matter of time before it all came out.

When it comes to Scot’s performance as a general manager, it wasn’t bad, however it wasn’t as good as many expected. McCloughan was  indisputably a key cog in not just the change at the quarterback position in 2015, but the culture change (along with Gruden), that really began in his great introductory press conference.

In terms of drafting 2015 draft was very good, only to be followed up by a 2016 draft that was labeled mediocre after the season played out. So the reviews on Scot the GM were mixed, he had some naysayers but there was no doubt many counted on him to turn the Redskins ship around.

In his first season in Washington, Scot’s impact was felt immediately, his motto of getting “good football players” paid off. He preached taking care of your own guys and when it came to the draft you take the best player available. His philosophy was put to the test immediately as the Redskins were put on the clock with the fifth pick, defensive lineman Leonard Williams was available as he was the premiere guy available at his position group. Scot instead rolled with offensive lineman Brandon Scherff. Needless to say both players have worked out immensely well for their respected teams, and Scherff earned his first Pro-Bowl nod in 2016.

Scherff and fourth round receiver Jamison Crowder have proven capable to be staples of the offense for years to come. However second round outside linebacker Preston Smith has become mind numbingly inconsistent and Matt Jones fumbled away his starting role in 2016. Kyshoen Jarrett had a very good rookie campaign but unfortunately had his career ended in the 2015 season finale. Despite that unfortunate turn of events, it is safe to say Scot had potentially nailed that pick as well.

The 2015 draft class has shown flashes of solidifying a core group of young players to grow under the Gruden-McCloughan led Redskins. Last year’s draft class dividends did not pay off as quickly as needed and this is where the pressure rose from, creating a sense of urgency this offseason as the defense in 2016 was an historically bad. First round receiver Josh Doctson missed his rookie campaign with an achilles injury. Su’a Cravens was the Redskins second round pick, he showed flashes of being the playmaker that he was at USC, but still struggled inside the box at times. Third rounder Kendall Fuller started off well and out of nowhere became the biggest liability of his position group.

A couple players beyond the third round were sent to IR, others like DT Matt Ioannidis were sent to the practice squad. The draft class was deemed ineffective. Obviously time will tell the true worth of this draft class, but it is not off to the best start. The underrated aspect of McCloughan’s scouting came in the undrafted free agent signings, where multiple contributors like running back Robert Kelley, wide out Maurice Harris, and cornerback Quinton Dunbar were found.

Yes, we know McCloughan’s forte was not free agency, but none the less his free agency classes were undoubtedly ineffective. The best free agent additions under McCloughan were defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois in 2015, and star cornerback Josh Norman in last off-season after a surprising release by Carolina. Outside of those two signings, free agency yielded “stop-gap” players, backups from other teams failing in a starting role here, and handsomely paid guys failing to live up to their contracts.

Jeron Johnson was cut a year after being signed along with Terrance Knighton (only a 1-year deal but was a liability on the field), Chris Culliver, and Stephen Paea with both Culliver and Paea being the “impact player” signings under McCloughan prior to Norman. There is another signing that has yet to be determined in Junior Galette, who has been here for what will be his third season, but has yet to see the field due to injuries.

There were some positives that came out of the free agency period though, the first being with Trent Williams. McCloughan preached the importance of keeping your own guys, Trent Williams signed a multiyear extension right before the 2015 season. Following Williams re-signing, tight end Jordan Reed was signed to a 5-year extension in the 2016 off-season after an incredible breakout season in 2015. There was also Dashan Goldson, who wasn’t great per se, but did a solid job for the Redskins in that “stop-gap” role. He was acquired for very little and paid dividends in his first year. He also had a hand in signing Ty Nsekhe who played a big role for the Redskins the past two seasons. Will Blackmon and inside linebacker Mason Foster (both mid-season signings) were extended here after good 2015 seasons as well. In 2016 he signed Vernon Davis, who revitalized his career in the Redskins offense as the complement to Reed at tightend.

Under McCloughan, the Redskins finished with a record of 17-14-1  in the two year span, with back-to-back winning seasons in nearly two decades. The story of how the Redskins and McCloughan relationship ended is nothing short of cloudy, sad, embarrassing, and unfortunate.

The hire in 2015 signaled to fans and media that the front office was done with being the butt of the dysfunction jokes and wanted the perception of the Redskins to change into that of winners “off the field,” but on the field as well. It surprising how quickly things soured in his short tenure here, from starting out with full control over personnel (which we later found out was fake news) when hired to not even being involved with the team’s decision-making (via ESPN’s John Keim).

There’s a risk involved with such a hire, the December prior to Scot coming to Washington, ESPN The Magazine published a story revealing from Scot himself describing his struggles with alcohol. He disappeared from San Francisco and the same happened in Seattle before spending time away from the league, starting his own scouting company. McCloughan’s talent is the elite of the elite, but his flaw has become fatal in his previous stints, and one can only ask the question how his demons if at all played a part in the situation in Washington.

It must be acknowledged that his agent recently completely denied any drinking problems behind the riff between his client and Washington.  I was told a few weeks ago by a well-respected man “They (Redskins) didn’t want more drama so they hired a guy with a drinking problem who has a history of being chatty.” Lo and behold, the Redskins fire McCloughan and their reasoning is alcohol. The most convenient excuse to use, was used in this situation.

Regardless of any issues McCloughan may or may not be dealing with, the Redskins, wait let me be specific here, Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen hold the bulk of the blame.

It starts at the head of the organization and fans and media alike may never fully know the levels of ineptitude and vindictive behavior within the organization. They were unable, at any point in time, to get in front of the ongoing issues leaving fans and media to speculate on the troubles going on in the front office. While many believed the story the Redskins were trying to shape, that McCloughan may be up to his old ways, many also speculated Allen was jealous of Scot. That they were like the Redskins of old, finding ways to ruin good things.  Some got down to the bottom of it, where Allen publicly stated Scot will return when his personal life was in order, while other reports refuted that stating he’s never coming back and Allen is the reason behind it.

Regardless of what the future holds, the perceived dysfunction continues and the team’s true nickname is proving it’s worth. One of the best and well-respected scouts in the NFL couldn’t even last his contract in Washington. The Redskins have taken “The Kings of the Off-season” title to new heights. I still wonder how the owner Dan Synder feels about all of this.

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