On Thursday, the Washington Redskins filled their head coaching vacancy less than two weeks after making it available, hiring Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden to replace Mike Shanahan as the 29th head coach in franchise history and eighth since Dan Snyder purchased the team in 1999.
The 46-year-old first-time NFL head coach -- he led teams in the Arena League and UFL -- has his work cut out for him; he inherits a 3-13 team that crumbled under the weight of expectations one year removed from a division title and infighting that played out through anonymously sourced reports in the media.
But Gruden is eager to restore a proud organization (stop me if you have heard that once or five times before lately) to where it once stood. Here is what we learned about Gruden during his introductory press conference on Thursday in Ashburn:
Gruden would not commit to retaining defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, secondary coach Raheem Morris or tight ends coach Sean McVay, all of whom survived the cleaning out of Shanahan's regime. Reports indicated that McVay could be promoted to offensive coordinator, while Haslett and Morris could continue to play a role in shaping the team's defense.
“I’m gonna wait and see,” Gruden said. “I’m gonna interview a lot of coaches. Like I said, I’m gonna look at each coach that has been retained by Bruce [Allen, the team's general manager] here and interview everybody. I know there’s a lot of coaches here that can coach and there’s a lot of good football people that are here that can coach."
Of course, as a former offensive coordinator, Gruden will call Washington's plays. As for the defense, he believes the Redskins are built for a 3-4 defense and that he does not enjoy planning against a 3-4 defense, but has not decided if that formation will remain.
Here is what he had to say about his new quarterback though.
“I see a ton of talent,” he said. “I see a guy that can run. I see a guy that can maneuver in the pocket. I see accuracy. I see long-ball accuracy. I see toughness. I see a guy that wants to win. I see a strong leader. I see every trait that a quarterback has to have to be successful. I see Robert having all of those. Why wouldn’t you want to coach a guy like that?”
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