Michael Lombardi Discusses Bruce Allen

Posted by Matt Terl on December 17, 2009 – 4:23 pm

New executive vice president and general manager Bruce Allen had his first press conference today, and it was a well-attended affair. Pretty much all the Redskins Park staffers were in attendance, of course, along with a substantial contingent of media folks — a large Washington Post crew, a large Washington Times crew, radio people, talking heads from the local TV affiliates, and, representing the NFL Network, Mike Lombardi.

This was an interesting little quirk of fate, because Lombardi’s claim to fame as a broadcaster is that he’s a former personnel man. One of the teams he worked with was the Oakland Raiders, and one of the guys he worked under was one Bruce Allen. So he actually could offer some insight on today’s moves that went beyond his role as a TV guy, and he was generous enough to give me a little bit of his time.

Brian Murphy of Homer McFanboy and ExtremeSkins had had the same idea — and first, I should add — so we elected to do the interview together following the Allen press conference.

Redskins Blog: “I want to start by asking you: you’ve worked with Bruce Allen.”

Mike Lombardi: “Yeah.”

RB: “What are some of his strengths? What does he bring to the Redskins?”

ML: “He brings an element of the ability to communicate to the fanbase. The ability to give confidence to the people in the building. And his leadership is such that he’s able to take a lot of the information in and disseminate it around. And certainly working with the coaches and the head coach, I think he can reach a good decision.”

RB: “What do you think are the most important traits for a good general manager?”

ML: “Well, I think there’s all different style of general managers. I think certainly there are some that are just focused specifically on football and make football decisions, and then there are some strictly that focus on other aspects. But I think that Bruce, bein’ the son of a coach, he understands the game, he sees the big picture of the game, and I think he understand that the head coach has to be involved in a lot of the decisions. So I think it’ll be more of a democratic base than a dictatorship.”

Homer McFanboy: “Are there certain tendencies of a Bruce Allen team? If you look at the teams that he’s put together, are there things that stand out?”

ML: “Obviously the coach has a lot of say in what he runs. Y’know, Bruce doesn’t bring the offense or the defense to the team. It just becomes a situation where the coach — say, with Jon [Gruden], it was a West Coast Offense — and Bruce has great respect for coaches, and he values their opinions and he values their input.”

RB: “How much of a jump does this three weeks really give him?”

ML: “Any time you can come into a job where you can kinda get your feet on the ground and get yourself organized and then try to make decisions before having to actually move into your desk has a lot of benefits. And I think the timing in the NFl this year is gonna be critical, because there’s ultimately a lot of decisions that have to be made, and a lot of teams are gonna make those same decisions.”

HM: “You have the perspective of an outsider. From where you’re looking, how do you judge this move for the Redskins, to bring in Bruce Allen.”

ML: “Obviously they had to do something. I mean, they had to help their fanbase. They had to send a message to their fanbase, to the alumni, the Redskins players, and I think this is a great move to do that. The players all, you know, from the era of Bruce, he’s familiar with every player. He has relationships with them, he’s very well liked by all the players. So therefore, it’s very comfortable for them to bring him back. So that answers the alumni, the fans certainly recognize Bruce: his brother’s a former Senator in the state of Virginia, so … you know, there’s a comfortablity with him. And then the heritage of the name, so I think that this is a great move for them.

“And then Bruce comes with a winning background, so those are things that just kinda echo into the whole program and I think it’s the first step.

“I mean, they had to do something this year to kinda help themselves politically, PR-wise, and ultimately get back to the win column.”

RB: “You’ve been a critic of Jason Campbell at points over the year. I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you what you think of him at this point.”

ML: “Oh, I think he’s done a much better job. I think ultimately, I think the last three weeks — wow, the last five weeks — he’s played really well. He’s played better. And I think he’s certainly shown signs that he’s really developin’ and finding his rhythm a little bit, and being able to throw the ball in much better timing. And I think ultimately, not having to — you know, everybody thinks the running game is critical to make the quarterback successful, [but] I think that the burden of not having to feed the running game, and having ultimately a lot of different players at the running back position and not having to get so many touches to one player has made it alive and the offense more vibrant.”

HM: “Let’s say you were the guy sittin’ up there answering the questions today. What pieces would you be comfortable building off of that are already in place?”

ML: “My philosophy have always been that the game’s won with the offensive and defensive lines. I think that ultimately you’ve gotta have a great quarterback, and then the next place you go is offensive and defensive line. And I think that the Redskins going into the season, in spite of Vinny Cerrato proclaiming it as a playoff team, the offensive line was below caliber. They had too many injuries, too many guys that really were on the edge in terms of being able to be durable. And I think that you have to repair that before you can really compete. To win on the road in the NFL, you have to be really good in the offensive line.”

RB: “In your experience, do you think that’s something that Bruce Allen would also realize?”

ML: “I think he would. Having been with him at Oakland, we always had good offensive lines. And if you’re gonna play in the NFC East, you’ve gotta have a really good line, because the defensive lines are fairly significant to block. So you gotta match up to the competition, and you’ve gotta be able to beat the people that you’re playing.”

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