ASHBURN, Va. --- The Washington Redskins brought back a familiar name and dusted off a long-unused title Thursday in a major front office shake-up, the first of many anticipated changes resulting from a losing season.
Bruce Allen, son of late Redskins Hall of Fame coach George Allen, is the team's new general manager. He is the first person hired by owner Dan Snyder to hold the GM title, a notable milestone after a decade of various front office arrangements that usually centered around Snyder and good friend Vinny Cerrato.
"It's exciting because of the history, the tradition, the comfort about coming home," said Allen, whose father coached the Redskins from 1971-77 and whose brother has served Virginia as both governor and U.S. Senator.
Out the door goes Cerrato, Snyder's right-hand confidante for most of the past decade and the executive vice president of football operations for the past two seasons. The team announced that Cerrato had resigned, but Snyder made it clear it was not a unilateral decision.
"I think the best way to put it," Snyder said, "is it was time for a change."
And probably not just one. Allen barely had time to get used to wearing his burgundy and gold tie before he was asked about the team's coaching situation. The names of Jon Gruden and Mike Shanahan were raised during his introductory news conference.
Allen responded that he had only just had his first meeting with the current coach, Jim Zorn. Zorn's job status is tenuous with the record at 4-9 and three games to play. The Redskins play host to the rival Giants on Monday night.
"Jim Zorn is our coach," Allen said. "Give us some time to see how our relationship develops."
It's uncertain how much leeway Allen will have to make the final call about the coach or the roster. Neither he nor Snyder would give details of their working agreement, but Snyder indicated that Allen will have more autonomy than some of the owner's previous front office hires.
"Obviously, Bruce has got the authority," Snyder said. "And when he makes a decision, the club makes a decision, it's a Redskins decision. ... I've not been as involved as people may have thought."
There's a chance a decision on a coach has already been made. Allen worked nine years in the Raiders' front office and five years in Tampa Bay, overseeing Gruden's teams at both places. Allen and Gruden were fired by the Buccaneers on the same day in January, and Gruden is now an analyst on Monday Night Football . Former Broncos coach Shanahan has also been linked to the Redskins job.
"He's a big reason why I had any success in coaching," Gruden said in a statement released by ESPN. "I'm really happy for him and I wish him the best."
As for Cerrato, even his close relationship with Snyder couldn't save him amid the team's ongoing struggles. He was one of the first major hires after Snyder bought the Redskins in 1999, but the team has won only one playoff game since 2000.
"We agreed that the franchise needs someone different in this position," Cerrato said in a statement released by the team.