There won’t be a lot of people saying anything bad about the Washington Redskins hiring Jay Gruden, up until now the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals, but there’s a chance that it doesn’t really matter who is the head coach for this team as long as Dan Snyder is the owner.
It’s hard to say if Snyder is actually that impossible to work with. The only thing to go by besides the rumors and leaks happens to be the record of the team since he took on the role of owner, and the number of head coaches who have worked under him. Norv Turner, Marty Schottenheimer, Steve Spurrier, Joe Gibbs, Jim Zorn and now Mike Shanahan. The team has made the playoffs four times in this time (since 1999), but never two years in a row.
So does it matter who the head coach is if the franchise itself isn’t built for success? That’s only a matter of who you believe.
Because the records also speak about the head coaches at the job, and Mike Shanahan finished with a 24-40 record during his four seasons with the team. Some might say it’s not his fault, but others suggest that Shanahan himself quit on this team when they fell to 3-6 in the 2012 season, and the Redskins made the playoffs despite of him and thanks to Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris. Shanahan keeping Griffin in the playoff game against the Seahawks might not have just cost him that game, but the 2013 season, in which Griffin was lacking a lot of the things that made him such a phenomenon in 2012.
But this is a new page in that book, with Gruden in charge. The Bengals were 10th in total offense this season with him calling the shots, 22nd in 2012 and 20th in 2011. Not exactly numbers that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, but the improvement this season is certainly something to build on. The Bengals making the playoffs three consecutive seasons speaks for itself, and people tend to blame Andy Dalton more than anyone else for the Bengals failing to win a single one of those games, including last week at home against the Chargers.
Gruden doesn’t have the star-power of previous hiring by Snyder, but something had to change. He also didn’t come out of nowhere (and disappear into nowhere) like Jim Zorn. Gruden was an AFL star before slowly moving up the food chain before getting the Bengals OC job in 2011. There hasn’t been much negative coming out about him every since, and it was good enough, along with his personalty and X’s and O’s knowledge for the Redskins to give him a surprisingly long contract for 5 years.
One of the first things Gruden went out and did was declare Robert Griffin III his starting quarterback. He knows what a mess the situation and triangle of Snyder-Griffin-Shanahan became at the end of last season, and wants to avoid any drama, focusing just on football, on his new job. It’s interesting to see if he’ll be able to avoid whatever it was that has prevented Redskins coach from achieving consistent success with the franchise over the last 15 years.