It didn’t take long for the Washington Redskins to decide who their next head coach would be. And it’s someone who has strong ties to a team he’s never previously been involved with.
Just 10 days after releasing Mike Shanahan from his duties, the Redskins have settled on Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Jay Gruden as their choice to lead Washington for the foreseeable future.
Just how long that future will be is certainly up for debate. No Redskins head coach has lasted more than four seasons since owner Dan Snyder purchased the franchise 15 years ago.
Gruden will be the sixth coach hired by Snyder, and he’ll take over a team that was a massive disappointment in 2013. After going 10-6 and winning the NFC East Division title in 2012, much was expected this past season. But the Redskins stumbled to a 4-12 finish, and many questioned
Shanahan’s ability to lead the team after it was revealed he almost quit back in 2012.
That report revealed a rocky relationship between Shanahan and quarterback Robert Griffin III. Griffin has vocalized his displeasure with the way he’s been used in the Redskins offense, especially after returning from last year’s knee injury. After a stellar rookie season in which he threw for 3,200 yards and ran for another 815, Griffin struggled last season and was benched for the final three games of the year.
That decision could have spelled the end for Shanahan, as many viewed it as him taking a stand against Snyder and turning his nose up at the alleged preferential treatment Snyder was giving to Griffin.
But now, all of that nasty business is in the past, and Gruden must now figure out a way to best utilize Griffin and put a spark back into an offense that fizzled for much of 2013. He’ll also need to upgrade a defense that simply wasn’t good enough to make up for the lack of offense as well.
Gruden didn’t interview for the open Redskins position until Wednesday, and 24 hours later, Washington knew they had their man.
As ESPN noted, part of their decision could be based on the fact that Gruden has strong connections to several key members of personnel within the Redskins organization.
“Gruden has deep ties to numerous members of the Washington organization, which is why he was always considered one of the favorites for the position. He worked as a Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive assistant for five seasons under general manager Bruce Allen, now the Redskins' GM. Secondary coach Raheem Morris worked with Gruden in Tampa, and tight ends coach Sean McVay worked with Gruden for one year in Tampa and one year in the United Football League. Finally, Gruden served as the offensive coordinator for Jim Haslett in the UFL with the Florida Tuskers.
McVay is expected to become Washington's offensive coordinator under Gruden while Morris is a candidate to be defensive coordinator, according to league sources.”
It’s those ties that likely helped make the decision to hire Gruden a bit easier. His brother, Jon, is a former head coach for the Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders. Many thought that he would be the Gruden brother that the Redskins might covet for the position. According to The Washington Post, Jon was not contacted by the Redskins and that he was happy with his current job as an ESPN analyst.
So, the Redskins will hand the reins over to his brother, who will have to get busy in making sense out of a roster that didn’t live up to expectations. He’ll have his hands full in dealing with that as well as appeasing an owner who is quick on the trigger finger when it comes to dealing with his coaches.