The deal isn’t done, but it certainly appears headed that way. A.J. Smith and the Redskins will meet on Jan. 11 to discuss a larger role in the football operations. For the Redskins, it’s a start. And it would give them another executive in a full-time role, one who has a history of success – and failure – in that job.
It’s not as if Smith was a glorified consultant before now; he had input on last year’s draft. There’s also no guarantee this will work because, well, not a whole lot has worked for the Redskins lately. At the least, he’s a legitimate general manager.
Here are some quick thoughts:
John Clayton reported that Jon Gruden would have wanted Smith as his general manager had he returned to coaching. Got a hunch that this means it would be OK with Jay Gruden as well. Not that they always have to be in lockstep, but if his brother endorses such a move, then it makes sense Jay Gruden would respect his opinion.
This is important because Smith had a bad relationship with Marty Schottenheimer; at times the coach heard about personnel moves on TV. I haven’t heard that same level of discord with Schottenheimer’s successor, Norv Turner. But the fact that he replaced Schottenheimer with Turner is concerning. Turner was not a good head coach. But, again, given the ties to Jon Gruden, I don’t think the relationship with the head coach would be an issue in Washington.
Yes, it does sound as if Smith is interested and would relocate to Washington.
In 10 seasons as San Diego’s general manager, the Chargers had two losing seasons – Smith’s first and last years.
Talked to one scout who said he liked what Smith did in drafts, for the most part. The book on Smith, in part, was that he did a good job helping build a good team in San Diego, but struggled to maintain it and started reaching for more players in the draft. Here it’s a rebuild, so if he repeats that, then it will be a success. I’ll have more on this aspect later after I’ve talked to more people who know Smith and have dealt with him. But this is an early impression from a few and as I talk to more, you’ll hear more.
In his first six seasons with San Diego, the Chargers won 10 or more games four times. They were 24-24 in his last three years. The Chargers have gone 9-7 in each of the two years since Smith was fired.
Don’t be surprised if Smith pushes hard for Wade Phillips as the defensive coordinator. Phillips was the San Diego Chargers’ defensive coordinator for three seasons when Smith was the general manager. Smith was a scout and then pro personnel director in Buffalo during Phillips' six seasons as defensive coordinator and then head coach. In San Diego, Phillips' defense ranked 11th, 13th and then seventh in points allowed per game. They were 18th, 13th and 10th in total yards. Doesn’t sound like there’s any doubt Phillips would want to return to coaching. Phillips' son, Wes, also serves as the Redskins’ tight ends coach.
My guess is that people in the organization already know Smith’s thoughts on who he’d recommend as the defensive coordinator. So even though interviews will take place before his meeting with the Redskins, I’d imagine those thoughts would be taken into serious consideration
Smith is also tight with Rex Ryan, but the fired New York Jets coach will either be a head coach this season or a TV analyst. He's told way too many people that he does not want to be a defensive coordinator. No, he would not change his mind because he gets along with Smith.
I don't get the sense that Smith is a big fan of any of the quarterbacks on the roster. Or, at the least, that none can reach a certain level. But that's in line with what a lot of others in the organization think.
The Redskins need a stronger voice in the football operations. Let Bruce Allen be the ambassador of the franchise, the guy who is out front on various off-field issues and who negotiates deals, etc. He’s a good buffer between owner Dan Snyder and the head coach. That’s an important role. But it sidetracks him from duties that pertain to the football side. It sounds as if Allen would keep his general manager title, but I can’t imagine Smith would come here full-time, and move to the area, without some level of assurance that he had control over football matters.