One of the first questions Jay Gruden fielded during Friday’s media session at the scouting combine was about the construction of his staff and, specifically, his decision to retain defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.
Gruden has defended the choice before. And he did it again.
“He’s done a lot of good things as a defensive coordinator in the National Football League,” Gruden told reporters at Lucas Oil Stadium. “[He] knows football. Knows the heartbeat of this team. Knows what we need to improve on.”
Gruden worked alongside Haslett in the UFL in 2009, serving as Haslett's offensive coordinator with the Florida Tuskers. But Gruden didn’t reference their existing comfort level with one another. Instead, he pointed to his confidence in Haslett’s 3-4 scheme and a desire keep some continuity on the defensive side of the ball.
The Redskins had the 18th ranked defense in terms of yards allowed in 2013, and improvement of 10 spots over 2012. But the unit, which endured two early-season suspensions and a lack of depth and experience in the secondary, still yielded more points (29.9) than all but one team.
Gruden, though, said he remains steadfast in his belief that Haslett is the man to get things turned around.
“Has good solid scheme in place already,” Gruden said. “And without having to start over from scratch, I think it was important to bring him back because I have a lot of respect for what he does as a coach and as a person.”