Redskins hire Gruden as head coach

Redskins hire Gruden as head coach
January 9, 2014, 9:15 am
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Tarik El-Bashir on Redskins' new coach Jay Gruden has confirmed that the Redskins will name Jay Gruden their head coach. 

The 46-year-old former Bengals offensive coordinator—and the younger brother of Super Bowl winning coach Jon Gruden—succeeds Mike Shanahan, who was fired 11 days ago after four seasons in Washington.

Gruden takes over a Redskins’ team that went 24-40 under Shanahan and 3-13 last season—its worst record in 20 years. The Redskins also found themselves mired in dysfunction on and off the field during an unsightly eight-game losing streak to end the season.

Gruden, who does not have any NFL head coaching experience, spent the past three years directing Cincinnati’s offense, helping the Bengals to a combined 30 wins in that span as well as a playoff berth in each of those seasons. This season, the Bengals were tied for sixth in points per game (26.9) and were 10th in yards per game (368.4, one spot behind Washington).

As General Manager Bruce Allen’s ambitious interview process gained momentum in recent days, Gruden was seen by some inside Redskins Park as the favorite. Indeed, he entered the race with a leg up on the competition because of the man doing the hiring and his connections to coaches already in the building. 

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Gruden was an offensive assistant on his brother’s staff from 2002-08 in Tampa Bay, where he overlapped with Allen, who was the Buccaneers’ general manager from 2004-08.

But Gruden’s connections to the Redskins don’t end there. He has also worked alongside Redskins’ coaches Raheem Morris and Sean McVay (in Tampa) and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett (in the UFL). Morris, McVay and Haslett are holdovers from Shanahan’s staff.

Still, Gruden’s challenge in Washington figures to be a difficult one. In addition to putting together a staff in the coming days and weeks, he also must build a strong relationship with an alienated Robert Griffin III and devise a scheme that will maximize the quarterback’s talent. After struggling to return to form following knee surgery, Griffin, a team captain and the face of the franchise, was benched by Shanahan for the final three games of a drama-filled season that spiraled out of control in December.

Griffin has been on vacation and reportedly was not involved in the team’s coaching search.

Gruden was one of six NFL coordinators to interview for the job in recent days. He is expected to sign a contract for five years.