Redskins head coach Jay Gruden stated publicly earlier this week that he only expected Jonathan Allen to miss three to four weeks with a Lisfranc injury. Today, Allen was placed on injured reserve after undergoing foot surgery.
Now, Chris Russell worries the Redskins may have set an unfair bar for Allen with their initial 3-to-4-week projection. He fears how fans might perceive the rookie defensive lineman if he’s unable to return before the end of the season.
“I just have a fear that when we come to late December,” Russell told Nick Ashooh on 106.7 The Fan Thursday evening, “people are gonna be labeling Jonathan Allen a softy.”
“They should have said from the go: ‘Indefinite. We don’t know,'” Russell said. “‘We’ll have a better idea once he has surgery.'”
“The thing is, how do we know,” Ashooh rebutted. “And maybe you know and you’re not gonna say, and you’re gonna do the whole, ‘I know, but I’m not gonna really say it on the air’ thing. How do we know where the ‘three-to-four’ weeks actually came from? Do we know for sure that that actually came from the team?”
“Well, of course it did,” Russell said. “Because Jay actually said it on Monday.”
“But if it comes from the coach, he’s not a doctor,” Ashooh said. “So you have to be careful with that.”
“I understand that,” Russell said. “It’s a matter of semantics, but that’s my point, is that they raise false hopes all the time. What I also fear here, and think about it from this respect: What if, by putting this eight-week time mark, and fans buy into this and they’re one win away from getting to the playoffs, and then there’s this encouragement that Jonathan Allen is out there practicing, and there’s video on NBC Sports Washington that Jonathan Allen is out there practicing! And then he can’t play when he’s eligible.”
“What if he doesn’t play,” he added. “Then people are gonna say, ‘Oh, this guy’s soft. Oh, this guy couldn’t suck it up. Oh, this guy couldn’t find a way.'”
Ashooh responded by saying Russell was “overthinking” this, to which Russell replied, “I don’t know… Because this happens all the time! It happened with Doctson! It happened with Cravens! It happens with all these guys!”
“Yeah, but it’s different,” Ashooh said. “Doctson was a mysterious Achilles injury that had this weird achy-ness that they couldn’t figure out. This is a specific: You broke a bone in your foot. You’re a 300-pound guy that’s already had, granted, injuries that don’t have any relation to this foot injury right now. They’re not the same thing. It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.
“And look, if it seems like Jonathan Allen’s back, and he’s practicing, and it’s the last two games of the season, and there’s… Hey. Maybe he’ll play late in the year, and they’re in playoff contention, and they’ve got to win the last two games — whatever it is. If he doesn’t play, I mean are fans not going to show up to the games? Are they gonna not watch?”
“No, I think they’re gonna show up to the games,” Russell said.
“Right. So in the end, it’s ‘oh, I’m disappointed,’ but there are a lot of other players on this roster,” Ashooh said. “And who knows where this team is injury wise? They could be totally healthy by the end of the year, or it could be the total opposite direction, so I wouldn’t overthink the one situation with Jonathan Allen as sort of a make-or-break at the end of the year type of situation.”
Russell bounced into a ‘perception is greater than reality’ argument, saying, “when it comes to this town, the way words are parsed…
“And I’m telling you, because Jay went out and said it on top of the reports, which is a little bit different than the initial report that he does have a chance of coming back, people are gonna buy that hook, line and sinker. And people are gonna think that if Jonathan Allen can’t suit up for Dec. 31 at the Giants, or even possibly Dec. 24 against the Broncos… I worry that people are gonna think he’s soft, or he’s injury prone.”
“You’re way overthinking this,” Ashooh said.
“No, but that’s just the way it is,” Russell insisted. “That’s the way people’s perceptions are! I think the Redskins do a disservice to the player by trying to: A) rush these guys back; and B) trying to set these definitive timelines.”
Ashooh, for what it’s worth, wasn’t the only person thinking Russell was doing too much thinking.
“We’ll bet a big salad on it,” Russel wrapped up his thoughts. “Listen, I hate to be a party pooper, I’m just kind of telling you based on experience what I’m feeling, that the Redskins have kind of set Jonathan Allen to come back and look soft if he doesn’t return by the end of the year. Just my gut feeling. I’m not saying I’m right, wrong, whatever. Just based on experience, how they normally handle this thing.”