By: Eric Thomas
“He sounds so much like John Gruden!”
Let’s be clear: it’s ALWAYS bad when the most remarkable thing from an introductory press conference is who the coach sounded like.
The Redskins pulled the trigger and hired a new head coach yesterday when they selected Cincinnati Bengals play-caller Jay Gruden to fill the gaping void at head coach which has been there for a little over a week. Seems like longer, doesn’t it?
Everybody wins but the fans. In hiring Gruden, Dan Snyder adds yet another pelt to his head coach pouch, which has to be the reason the Redskins coaching carousel has been spinning like a Lazy Susan since he bought the team. Bruce Allen is getting the Tampa Bay band back together. No, not the 2002 Buccaneers, who won the Super Bowl. The 2005 Bucs who slowly circled the drain for four years before Allen and the only coach who ever won a Super Bowl in Buccaneer history were unceremoniously heaved out of Raymond James Stadium.
This hire stinks. It reeks of the past: hiring a coach with a name when more qualified candidates are available. It also smells like cronyism: Bruce Allen surrounds himself with familiar faces in an attempt to put his indelible mark on the team.
They’re also keeping Jim Haslett, which I’m sure Skins fans are happy to hear. What’s the first meeting? “Guys, we may have not cared about tackling before, but we sure do now.” Wouldn’t it be a better idea to get a different coach as DC just for continuity’s sake? Is Haslett staying because he hired Gruden as the offensive coordinator of the Florida Tuskers in 2008?! If that’s not the case, maybe someone can tell us the rationale behind the decision? The Redskins gave up the SECOND MOST points in 2013. Are they mad at Haslett and feel he should clean up his own mess?
Skins fans might want to avoid any blog or newspaper section dedicated to the Bengals for the next couple of days. Let’s just say they’re not exactly sad to see the back of Jay Gruden. You could also say they’re celebrating with a level of enthusiasm normally associated with Minnesota Vikings boat parties. “THANK YOU REDSKINS,” said one. “I’ll help him move!” said another. Part of the acrimony is due to the recent report that appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer that says Jay Gruden lobbied team officials hard for Andy Dalton, when other team officials wanted to select Colin Kaepernick in the draft.
Bengals fans were also a little steamed with Gruden’s play calling. Third and one? Throw the ball. Fourth and one? Throw the ball deep. Many fans wondered why, in the recent Wild Card game against the Chargers, Gruden elected to throw the ball 31 times in the fourth quarter when the team was trailing by 7, and not hand the ball off to their stud running backs Giovani Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. When asked about the decision on a Cincinnati radio show on Monday night, Gruden explained he has a tendency to over think games.
“Sometimes,” said Gruden, “maybe I give coordinators too much credit like, ‘OK, this play worked a couple times, no way it’s going to work again.’ You outthink yourself, and that’s the whole thing you go through as a coordinator is how to attack.”
That’s good because he’s not a coordinator anymore. He said that on Monday. On Thursday he’s the head coach of one of the most valuable sports franchises in America. I suppose its strength to be able to recognize your own weaknesses. He’s calling plays for the Redskins, by the way. He announced that at the press conference.
Maybe the Redskins weren’t impressed with the selection of coordinators currently coaching playoff teams. Maybe the Super Bowl resumé of Ken Wisenhunt or Jim Caldwell wasn’t interesting to them. Maybe 49ers OC Greg Roman should have lost in Green Bay if he wanted the chance to coach RG3 instead of Colin Kaepernick. Maybe Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell did too good of a job coaching up Russell Wilson, a player with a similar profile as RG3, and calling plays for the option, and maybe he disqualified himself when his team remained in the playoffs during their first round bye.
The Redskins only gave up their first round picks to the Rams last year and this year to acquire Griffin in the 2012 draft, betting the proverbial farm and future on the young and talented quarterback, so WHY would they do something silly like bringing in a coach that would be suited to coach him? Why bring someone who coached Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick when you can hire Bruce Allen’s friend and retain Jay Gruden’s former UFL head coach so he can make good on a solid back from in 2008?
Griffen stumbled badly in 2013. He needs guidance from an experienced coach with some success under his belt, so hurry up and hire the guy whose brother is on Monday Night Football. Maybe Jay will ask John for advice. Maybe John was just withholding information from his brother while Jay was with the Bengals.
Same Snyder Redskins. They hired Jay Gruden because his brother. Jay Gruden might be a fine coach, but this was a giant gamble when a gamble wasn’t necessary. Gruden hasn’t proven himself adept at developing quarterbacks, and has had some head scratching play calls less than A WEEK AGO.
Hey, at least Dan Snyder made Bengals fans happy.