Just when I thought I had the Washington Redskins figured out, they buck their own “conventional” wisdom. Their head coaching search has come to an end, as they signed a coach that has a big name in NFL circles. On Thursday, the Redskins hired Gruden to lead their franchise in 2014.
No, the Redskins didn’t hire former NFL head coach and Super Bowl champion Jon Gruden, who appears to be content with his ESPN “Monday Night Football” job. Instead, Washington hired Jay Gruden (above, left), Jon Gruden’s younger brother and former offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals. This move is a total 180 degree turn from the usual big name acquisitions that the Redskins usually make.
The younger Gruden has no prior NFL head coaching experience. That’s a change from big name coaches like Marty Schottenheimer, Joe Gibbs and Mike Shanahan. Each tried to lead the Redskins back to championship glory, and each of them have failed. Now it’s Jay’s turn to guide the Redskins. He’s responsible for grooming current Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton, who’s led his team to the playoffs for three consecutive years. However, the Bengals have suffered three consecutive Wild Card playoff exits, with Jay’s offense averaging only 11 points per game in those contests. At the risk of sounding redundant, that type of production just won’t cut it in the NFL.
The hire of Jay was a step in a positive direction, as the franchise is looking for a fresh start after an awful 3-13 season in 2013. Jay will have quarterback Robert Griffin III, who’s looking for redemption after a lackluster sophomore season in 2013. RG3 is hoping for a fresh start with Jay after a seemingly rocky relationship with Shanahan, which led to Shahanan’s dismissal one day after the 2013 season ended.
However, that fresh start won’t translate to the defense. Redskins’ defensive coordinator Jim Haslett will retain his position under Jay in 2014. Washington’s defense has been hit hard with injuries, and the retirement of stalwart inside linebacker London Fletcher doesn’t make things any easier. Still, the hope is that Jay will infuse a shot of adrenaline into a franchise forever looking for a spark. With that in mind, let the Jay Gruden era in Washington begin.