By Michael Donovan

As the Redskins begin their search for a new head coach after Monday’s firing of Jay Gruden, one NFL executive summed up the Redskins devastatingly:

“As an owner, you have to know what you have. Dan never should have let McVay get out of the building and he probably never should have let Bruce stay.”

The Sean McVay vacuum crystalizes the Skins’ dilemma perfectly.

It may be revisionist history, but no way could owner Dan Snyder fire Gruden in 2016, after three seasons of 21-26-1 football and one playoff loss.

The then-30-year-old McVay who was unproven as an NFL head coach? Who could have taken that kind of risk?

However, Snyder fired Marty Schottenheimer after one season of 8-8 football so he could hire a superstar college coach in Steve Spurrier and reinvent the wheel on offense in Washington. Yet he let McVay go despite the fact that McVay was already reinventing the wheel on offense inside Snyder’s own franchise, and with Kirk Cousins at quarterback, no less. Of course, Snyder never knew what he had because he didn’t understand how good McVay was, didn’t see him as a star, and was never going to be able to make that kind of decision unless someone with football brains explained it to him. And even then, Snyder probably wouldn’t have listened unless Allen told him to.

This is the epitome of the Snyder football empire. It’s a place where an ownership flack jacket like Bruce Allen can endure for a decade, while the brightest minds like McVay gladly depart to find meaningful success. Through 20 years, that’s the legacy of Snyder: periodically grooming football winners for someone else and retaining the losers to do his dirtiest bidding and then stand up in front of the cameras.

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