It’s pretty refreshing to see all the rumors and conjecture put to rest -- someone finally stopped talking about it and hired Gruden to be a head coach somewhere.
Of course, the Redskins aren’t hiring Jon Gruden – that guy will still be saying “that guy” on Monday Night Football, as far as I know. But his little brother, Jay Gruden, agreed to become the 28th coach of the Washington Redskins on Thursday morning.
Gruden has earned league-notoriety as the offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals in recent seasons. He got there in 2011, the same year the Bengals drafted A.J. Green and Andy Dalton.
Now, say what you will about Dalton. Better yet, let the tape of last weekend’s playoff loss to San Diego say it for you. You can’t deny Gruden helped get the young quarterback and the Bengals’ offense humming, though.
Cincinnati jumped from 20th in overall offense and 20th in passing offense in Gruden’s first season to 10th overall and eighth in passing this past season. The Bengals passed for roughly 260 yards per game this season, and Dalton finished with 33 touchdowns – third in the league.
It’s also worth pointing out that Gruden oversaw the development of one of the league’s top young talents at receiver in Green, which I wrote about yesterday.
It makes sense the Redskins would go with an offensive guy in the wake of the 3-13 cliff they fell off of in 2013. It’s not that Washington struggled offensively, as their No. 5 ground game helped them finish ninth in the league in total offense.
But given the soap opera that surrounded that team, most notably the injury and benching of Robert Griffin III, the Redskins need to find a firm direction for their offense and their franchise quarterback. Gruden’s specialty is quarterback – he played the position and won an Arena League MVP.
The easy and funny argument is that Dalton was also among the league leaders in interceptions in his third year with Gruden. And again, you can mention his three-turnover day that sparked the 17-point playoff loss to San Diego.
However you feel about the hire, it seems obvious the Redskins are trying to give their franchise quarterback a definite direction and gameplan going forward.
You could argue about whether Gruden has the credentials for the turnaround. The Redskins lost eight straight to end the season, which compounded the quarterback drama. As much as Griffin might have regressed, the Washington defense also finished a middling No. 18.
Washington is also without the No. 2 overall draft pick it would typically receive for its abysmal finish, as the Redskins traded that to St. Louis in their 2012 trade to nab Griffin.
All of that seems pretty daunting for a coach who has been an NFL coordinator just three seasons. Gruden’s only other NFL experience came as an assistant on his brother’s staff in Tampa Bay.
But again, this is about Griffin. If Gruden can smooth over the ills of the past year in Washington and re-discover Griffin’s abilities – particularly as a passer – then the Redskins should have chance to compete.
Gruden has shown he can get production out of one young quarterback. He might not have been able to get him over the hump in the playoffs. But that’s a problem the Redskins would be happy to tackle, as it means they’d be winning again.