Williams’ vi­sion, pro­mo­tion leads to re­struc­tured front of­fice

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY NORA PRINCIOTTI

ASH­BURN | Through March, April and May, as the Red­skins nav­i­gated free agency, the draft and be­yond with­out a gen­eral man­ager af­ter fir­ing Scot McCloughan, Red­skins Pres­i­dent Bruce Allen would of­ten stroll down the hall­way in the per­son­nel de­part­ment as if noth­ing was amiss.

“Morn­ing fellas,” is all Allen would say.

Even trusted per­son­nel ex­ec­u­tive Doug Williams, who Allen first hired in 2004 while gen­eral man­ager in Tampa Bay, wasn’t sure how in­ter­views were go­ing along. He won­dered when things would get set­tled.

Few within the Red­skins knew it, but Allen was grad­u­ally hear­ing from over a dozen can­di­dates who shared their vi­sions of a re­struc­tured front of­fice in Wash­ing­ton. One day, it was Williams’ turn.

His pitch: he would be se­nior vice pres­i­dent of player per­son­nel, not gen­eral man­ager, and lead a scout­ing de­part­ment strength­ened mostly by pro­mo­tions from within.

“We’ll meet again,” Allen said. Sun­day, Williams was in the Ba­hamas, pack­ing up to head home from va­ca­tion, when he got an email say­ing Allen wanted to meet at 7:30 Mon­day morn­ing be­fore an 8:30 staff meet­ing. His re­turn flight landed around 8 p.m. and Williams went home to get some sleep. Mon­day morn­ing, they met again. “Dougie,” Allen said, “We’re go­ing to go with your plan.”

On Tues­day, Allen an­nounced Williams’ pro­mo­tion in a morn­ing news con­fer­ence.

“I was proud of when Doug pre­sented his plan be­cause his vi­sion was a team,” Allen said. “He was a quar­ter­back again lead­ing a team.”

The anal­ogy is apt, not only be­cause Williams was the man who led Wash­ing­ton to vic­tory in Su­per Bowl XXII but be­cause Allen, and by proxy owner Daniel Sny­der, will con­tinue to call the plays. Though Allen was sure to stress that de­ci­sions will be made as a team ef­fort, Williams and coach Jay Gru­den will re­port to him.

“Let’s be real here: Dan Sny­der con­trols ev­ery­thing. He en­trusted Bruce to be the pres­i­dent. So Bruce makes a lot of de­ci­sions,” Williams said.

Williams said that Gru­den will de­cide which play­ers play, and how much. He will not in­ter­fere with those ar­eas, but is hopeful that he and Gru­den will work well as a team. Though Allen has the abil­ity to over­ride ei­ther, the hope is that he will rarely need to.

“Bruce wants to back away in hopes that Jay and I’s mar­riage is so strong, that

we are so close on mak­ing de­ci­sions on play­ers that he doesn’t have to do that,” Williams said.

Af­ter Allen and Williams met Mon­day morn­ing, the next step was to tell the oth­ers, in­clud­ing hand­ing out pro­mo­tions. Kyle Smith, an area scout who started with the Red­skins as an in­tern in 2010, was el­e­vated to di­rec­tor of col­lege scout­ing.

Smith is the son of A.J. Smith, the for­mer Charg­ers gen­eral man­ager, Red­skins ad­vi­sor and long­time friend of Allen. Smith stood out to Williams in this year’s draft process where he led Wash­ing­ton’s eval­u­a­tions of play­ers from the South­east, in­clud­ing Alabama prod­ucts Jonathan Allen and Ryan An­der­son who be­came the team’s first- and sec­ond-round draft picks.

Tim Grib­ble was pro­moted to as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of col­lege scout­ing and Scott Camp­bell, who had pre­vi­ously held the di­rec­tor of col­lege scout­ing ti­tle, was made se­nior per­son­nel ex­ec­u­tive. With With Camp­bell, Smith and Grib­ble all fo­cus­ing their at­ten­tion na­tion­wide, the Red­skins will aim to get three or four sets of eyes on all top play­ers. What­ever else, Wash­ing­ton let go of a pro­lific eval­u­a­tor in McCloughan and was short on a num­ber of re­ports for the draft in April.

“Be­tween the three of us, this is some­thing we haven’t had here in a long, long time,” Smith said.

Richard Mann, an­other in-house pro­mo­tion, was made as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of pro per­son­nel, serv­ing un­der Alex San­tos, who re­mains di­rec­tor of pro per­son­nel. The Red­skins will add some lower-level scouts, hired by Williams, be­fore all is said and done.

As part of Williams’ plan, Eric Schaf­fer, the team’s chief con­tract ne­go­tia­tor and gen­eral coun­sel, was named vice pres­i­dent of foot­ball op­er­a­tions. The pro­mo­tion gives Schaf­fer more for­mal­ized re­spon­si­bil­ity in per­son­nel mat­ters, where he will an­swer to Williams, while main­tain­ing his for­mer du­ties.

“We keep giv­ing him more,” Allen said of Schaf­fer. “He’s been do­ing this. He’s been the great note-taker and re­mind­ing ev­ery­one what their grades were for the last sev­eral years. We’re just rec­og­niz­ing that.”

At the end of prac­tice Tues­day, Williams was called into the cen­ter of the hud­dle to ad­dress the team. The first African-Amer­i­can quar­ter­back to play in a Su­per Bowl, charisma pours out of Williams like his smooth, Louisiana drawl. From Allen to Gru­den to Williams him­self, ev­ery­one at Red­skins Park calls him a nat­u­ral-born leader. Williams said he doesn’t need a ti­tle to lead and that, per­haps, one could do more harm than good, which is why he did not ask to be­come gen­eral man­ager as part of his plan.

“That wasn’t im­por­tant to me,” Williams said. “This is the hon­est to God truth: We had a gen­eral man­ager. It didn’t work out that well.”

Im­plicit in Williams’ words is the un­der­stand­ing that, while his role has changed, it ex­ists within a struc­ture that is largely the same. Though McCloughan’s fir­ing coated Wash­ing­ton’s off­sea­son with a patina that was fa­mil­iarly dra­matic, those within the Red­skins said all along that they were happy with the group they had and the way things turned out.

In choos­ing Williams’ plan, they cod­i­fied that struc­ture.


Wash­ing­ton Red­skins se­nior vice pres­i­dent of player per­son­nel Doug Williams is greeted by team pres­i­dent Bruce Allen dur­ing an in­tro­duc­tory press con­fer­ence on Tues­day in Ash­burn. “I was proud of when Doug pre­sented his plan be­cause his vi­sion was a team,” Allen said. “He was a quar­ter­back again lead­ing a team.”

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