Jay Gruden has found good success in Cincinnati as an offensive coordinator, following in the footsteps of his brother. So the Washington Redskins rewarded that success by making him the next head coach, and making a huge mistake.
Hire hints at a need for continuity with Robert Griffin III
Robert Griffin III continues to exert his will over the Redskins organization. The coaching hire of Gruden, who spent the past three seasons helping the Cincinnati Bengals reach the playoffs and developing quarterback Andy Dalton, smells of the team wanting to put an offensive mind in charge who will build the roster around their young quarterback. That is not a problem. Gruden runs a similar system to former coach Mike Shanahan so the continuity is there. The success he had with Dalton obviously played a big part in the contract agreement as well. However, the move also speaks to how not in demand the Redskins job might be. If Washington was truly looking for an offensive-minded coach who could get the most out of RGIII, then Gruden should not have been the first choice. Among the top names on the short list who would be better choices include Ken Whisenhunt in San Diego, Greg Roman in San Francisco and Darrell Bevell in Seattle. Roman has found offensive success with two different quarterbacks for the 49ers, first with Alex Smith and now with Colin Kaepernick. Whisenhunt has resurrected the career of Philip Rivers and turned the San Diego Chargers into an efficient, balanced attack. Bevell has a great reputation with quarterbacks, and deserves credit for the speedy development of Russell Wilson. They also all have something in common that Gruden doesn’t. They’ve won playoff games.
Mike Zimmer of Cincinnati Bengals deserved head job more
As effective as Jay Gruden is during the regular season for Cincinnati, it started to become clear during the 2013 playoffs that he might not be the offensive mastermind originally hinted at. Too offensive he seemed unable to adjust to the Chargers’ blitzes and refused to make a serious commitment to the run. The game marked the third-straight time his offense has failed to score more than one touchdown. Dalton draws a lot of the heat for that but Gruden should not be absent from responsibility. If anything the Redskins hired the wrong Cincinnati coordinator for the job. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer was much more deserving of the head position than Gruden. He has much more coaching experience and a longer track record of success. His mentors include the great Bill Parcells who also groomed Sean Payton, Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin. Wasn’t the Redskins defense the real problem in 2013? They ranked 31st in points allowed and 18th in yards. Zimmer could have cleaned that up and has the experience and knowledge to know how to handle RGIII.
The point is the Washington Redskins let three years of regular season success override the general lack of success Gruden has had in big games as a coordinator. They may soon regret making him their head coach.