Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

09 Jan 2014

Redskins Hire Jay Gruden

Bruce Allen gets his man. The Bengals need a new offensive coordinator, who will reportedly be Hue Jackson.

Posted by: Tom Gower on 09 Jan 2014

42 comments, Last at 11 Jan 2014, 9:18pm by LionInAZ


by MilkmanDanimal :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 11:22am

Well, after the hugely inconsistent year RGIII just had, it makes sense to bring in someone who was able to make Andy Dalton play at such a consistent level this year, right? Pierre Garcon is totally A.J. Green II, this will work!

Raheem Morris as DC means the Redskins are totally going to lead the league in sideline high-fives next year, and you just can't overestimate the importance of that.

To be fair, I'm going to be inherently dubious about any single move Snyder does until he is eaten by an animal of some sort. I assume the over-under for "Gruden Fired" is set at a solid 32 games, and I'm going to push on this one.

by Chappy (not verified) :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 12:45pm

I agree, but I think the main problem is that, by hiring this week, Snyder is tacitly admitting his team has no chance at the 4-5 coaches (Whisenhunt, McDaniels, Bevell, Roman, etc.) that are in highest demand. As a Lions fan that lives in DC, I fully endorse this move because it means that the Redskins don't outbid the Lions for one of the more sought after guys.

by Michael LaRocca (not verified) :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 11:42am

Nobody who has ever been a head coach under Dan Snyder is currently a head coach. Jay Gruden needs to score the biggest paycheck he can, because it'll be his last head coaching job.

by jklps :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 11:48am

Well, if you want to get technical, Steve Spurrier is a head coach right now. And I'm pretty sure Marty Schottenheimer and Joe Gibbs are retired.

by Chappy :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 1:00pm

Agreed. And technically Jay Gruden is under the Marty Schottenheimer tree by way of Mavin Lewis. (Though I suppose Lewis really made his name with the Ravens under Billick).

by apk3000 :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 11:49am

Spurrier is a head coach, just not in the NFL. Gibbs was brought out of retirement in the first place. Marty and Norv both did get jobs later and Shanahan's only been unemployed for a few weeks. Zorn is the only one you could really say got his coaching rep ruined.

by RickD :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 12:43pm

Zorn hadn't even had a coordinator job before he was hired as the Redskins' HC. Well, technically that's wrong, because he was first hired as the OC and then was promoted shortly thereafter.

by BigWoody (not verified) :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 11:53am

The money must be large. Jay Gruden should have been able to land a better, Snyder-free HC opportunity.

by DantesWitness (not verified) :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 12:26pm

Perhaps, but what is Jay Gruden's resume? He insisted on the drafting of a QB who has shown minimal growth in his three seasons in the league. He leads an offense filled with talent and high draft picks that ranks middle-of-the-pack. He has a famous older brother. I'm not even positive the Bengals will be particularly sorry to see him go.

by jklps :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 12:44pm

He insisted on drafting Andy Dalton? Do you have proof?

I don't think Andy Dalton is very good, but he still is 4th or so all time in TDs thrown by a QB in first three years...

by Jimmy :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 1:39pm

I read something lately that Mike Brown wanted Kaepernick but Gruden told him that 'Dalton is a better fit for what we want to do'. Could all be pure horse apples of course as I don't know either man but it is the story.

How many TDs would Dalton have thrown without AJ Green beasting defensive backs on a regular basis? Or the two first round TEs? The stable of RBs? The young and talented complementary receivers? One of the best and most stable offensive lines over the last few years?

Part of the problem with Dalton is that he is basically still the same player he was in college. He was very ready to play for a young NFL QB but he was already pretty much maxed out with little scope for improvement.

by tuluse :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 1:43pm

TDs thrown is a really bad statistical measure of anything.

by CBPodge :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 4:41pm

It's a good statistical measure of how many TDs a guy has thrown.

by bubqr :: Fri, 01/10/2014 - 12:54am

That made me laugh quite hard for some reason

by jklps :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 5:49pm

I agree that TDs themselves aren't an indicator of how good a guy is, but just saying Dalton hasn't been terrible...

by Mr Shush :: Sat, 01/11/2014 - 6:47pm

No, not terrible, just kinda fairly bad. Which is actually a lot worse for a team's health in the medium term.

by dryheat :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 1:05pm

More relevant is that Gruden had interviewed/was scheduled to be interviewed by several other teams. Why indeed would someone with options take this job on January 9th? You are setting yourself up to fail with the current owner and lapdog/GM in place, a lapdog/GM that absolutely will never support you when questioned by said owner.

by jds :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 1:32pm

If he wants to go HC, this is the year to do it (another year with a possible Dalton regression, he won't be a hot candidate next year). He is no guarantee for the other positions (Whisehunt and Bevell apparently are "hotter" candidates right now), and really, which of those other positions is really attractive. I think he takes this position, all the $$$ Snyder has to commit to him, and gets experience for his next HC role.

by tuluse :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 1:39pm

It's still one of only NFL 32 head coaching jobs in the entire world. It comes with a paycheck of more than 3 million dollars per year.

Much better to take a bad one than hold out for a better one and they decide to go with someone else.

by dryheat :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 1:55pm

I would disagree with your conclusion. I would rather take a job with a stable organization, or a less unstable one -- let's say Detroit, than one with a well-documented history of owner interference. I don't think there was any need for Gruden to make his decision until he had a chance to interview with all teams. If the R-words "brain" trust gave him a now-or-never ultimatum for the job, I'd have liked to see Gruden bet on himself and wait for a more desirable job -- even if it took another hiring cycle. Coaches who crash and burn on their first job oft times never get a second chance, or at minimum start down at the bottom of the mountain with all the young whippersnappers.

Now if it was someone like Jim Zorn or Barry Switzer, sure, might as well take Snyder's money, since nobody else is considering you.

by James-London :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 3:30pm

Don't discount Ego here.Every man who has, and wants a HC job in the NFL must have towering self-assurance, and Gruden is almost certain to believe he's the man who can fix what ails Washington, while helping RG3 be the best QB in recorded history.
The man who turns Washington around is going to be a hero, and which HC candidate doesn't want to be a hero?

The truck full of $$$s won't hurt either...

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 6:43pm

I'm reminded that Jon took on the job as Raiders HC in an organisation with a meddling owner. Perhaps there's a family enjoyment of taking on authority!

by QCIC (not verified) :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 6:05pm

That is really easy for you to say, but incredibly foolish in practice. In this case a bird in hand is worth quite a few in the bush. On top of that you have little idea what his subjective evaluation of his chances of getting the other jobs are, which matters hugely to this calculus.

by Roch Bear :: Fri, 01/10/2014 - 3:05pm

Why indeed take this job? Perhaps expectations (around the NFL, not just at FO) have caught up with and even exceeded reality. Failure will be attributed to Snyder and success to Jay Gruden. Since WAS was awful this year and currently have reasonable cap money (with a dynamic running QB returning to health?) the possibilities of success are not too bad.

And, as others have chimed in, it is one of just a few such jobs open and many of those have major drawbacks too.

by Ryan G (not verified) :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 12:46pm

ESPN talks about the Bengals having improved in points per game from 18th to 12th to 6th during Gruden's tenure. However, their offensive DVOA has been ranked 17 each year. On the other hand, their defensive DVOA has improved from 17th to 10th to 5th during the same time. It seems as if the defense has just created better opportunities for the offense.

by jklps :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 12:51pm

Don't look at Haslett's record - he might be retained. It's even worse!

by jds :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 1:33pm

I have never figured out how Haslett has kept his job over the past few years with the results he is able to (not) produce.

by Jimmy :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 1:40pm

Bears fans are already calling for Haslett to replace Mel Tucker.

by tuluse :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 1:45pm

Bring back Rod Marinelli!

I've been keeping myself out of the fan loop, but I'd like for the Bears to go with a positional coach and see what he can do. Maybe the Panther's LB coach, or the Seattle DB coach.

by LionInAZ :: Fri, 01/10/2014 - 12:02am

How much of that improvement is a result of the Steelers and Ravens regressing?

by In_Belichick_We... :: Thu, 01/09/2014 - 4:34pm

Are they hiring Gruden as OC and then promoting him to HC next week?

by LionInAZ :: Fri, 01/10/2014 - 12:04am

This is one of those amazing moves that could make both the Bengals and the Red Delicious worse.

by Joe T. :: Fri, 01/10/2014 - 7:40am

I don't get all the hate for this hire. The coordinator buzz for the last couple years has been about Zimmer, Gruden, and Bevell for the most part, and the Redskins (Redskins Redskins Redskins dammit) hired one of those three. Personally, I would have preferred Zimmer, but I don't think Haslett is a bad coordinator, just one who has been hamstrung by poor personnel and potentially a domineering HC. I appreciate the notion of continuation at least on one side of the ball, whether its scheme or coaching staff, so you don't go into camp next year with new everything.

Gruden seems to be very adaptable, and while he had a beastly receiver in Green, I think he did a fine job of maximizing Dalton. He has respectable personnel on offense, with the exception of the line, and he will need to put some effort into the secondary and special teams.

I think the biggest problem going forward is the Washington media - its comprised of hack sportswriters with Woodward complexes, and I picked up on seething hostility in their very first presser with Gruden. Its a football team, they're not funneling money to the Contras.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 01/10/2014 - 8:35am

The Washington press has a weird love/hate relationship with the Skins. They definitely don't like Snyder and are happy to catalog the team's missteps and failures (especially those of the front office more than on the field), but ultimately most of them want the team to be good and they tend to react positively to new hires. Remember how Washington seemingly "wins the offseason" every year? They definitely do in Washington. Part of that is due to the Washington media's core optimism that things can't stay this bad and have to get better.

by jklps :: Fri, 01/10/2014 - 1:52pm

The only way for the team to win the offseason is for Dan to sell the team.

Talking about the written media in DC having opinions on the team doesn't really mean anything. Three of the four Washington Post columnists shouldn't even have jobs, as what they write is continually obvious(Jason Reid, Mike Wise, and Sally "NYC" Jenkins).

The team didn't "win the offseason" this year - but how are people supposed to react to a new coach, with disappointment? I'm more indifferent, but at least the new coach is on the younger side.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Fri, 01/10/2014 - 4:26pm

The offseason hasn't happened yet. Wait to see how the Redskins handle free agency with cap space.

by jklps :: Fri, 01/10/2014 - 4:52pm

Pretty sure there is a cap minimum they have to hit, and will have 16 million opening up.

That is, until Mara makes another call to the league office about his two NFC East buddies...

by Deelron :: Fri, 01/10/2014 - 5:53pm

Maybe he should have said something about the Eagles too!

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 01/10/2014 - 4:34pm

Philly's like this, too.

I think it's in the water. Writers still bitch about the Phillies, who won a Series recently. It's like they should apologize for a title, another Series appearance, and 5 straight division titles.

I don't think winning will help, honestly. It's almost a personality thing. They liked Buddy because he hated 'em right back and hated 'em better, and they couldn't figure out what to do w/ Manuel, who just aw-shucked 'em and ignored them when that didn't work.

by LionInAZ :: Sat, 01/11/2014 - 9:18pm

I don't see any problem. The Red Delicious' problems are mainly on defense. They hire a Bengals OC who produced zero improvement in either the Bengals offense or their QB over the past three years. He says "Who wouldn't want to work with RG III?"

Count on Griffen being with another team or OOF in 2 years.

by The Ninjalectual :: Sat, 01/11/2014 - 5:56am

Can Gruden run a zone blocking scheme? The 'Skins o-line is undersized (except for that beast Trent Williams) but excels at run blocking. Look at the success Alfred Morris has had. As a 'Skins fan I really don't want to see them trying and failing to run a scheme they don't have the personnel for. For this reason I was hoping for Kyle S. or Kubiak, who already run the same system.

by Joe T. :: Sat, 01/11/2014 - 9:35am


From what i've read, he runs a hybrid between zone blocking and power. If he intends to replicate what he did in Cincy, he'll need bigger linemen. Its still a one-cut system from the running back's perspective, but the running lanes might be different.