Jay Gruden hired to succeed Shanahan
The face was different, the words familiar. Like Mike Shanahan and nearly every recent Washington Redskins coach, Jay Gruden is anxious to declare an end to franchise’s days of dysfunction.
Seattle Times news services
ASHBURN, Va. — The face was different, the words familiar. Like Mike Shanahan and nearly every recent Washington Redskins coach, Jay Gruden is eager to declare an end to the franchise’s days of dysfunction.
“I don’t know what happened last year,” Gruden said. “I know that interviewing with Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen and everybody here that the passion for excellence is there. All they want to do is win, and they’re going to provide me with every avenue to win.”
Gruden was introduced Thursday as the man charged with ending the perpetual state of turmoil the team has endured under owner Snyder and recently under general manager Allen.
Gruden was a given a five-year contract for his first NFL head-coaching gig, taking over a 3-13 team that has finished last in the NFC East in five of the past six seasons.
“We have to get it right,” said Allen, who led the search and interviewed six candidates. “We need to get the franchise back on track in a winning direction. ... We were looking for a new leader, somebody who can inspire our football team. We knew it was more than just X’s and O’s, it was about finding the right person to build a team chemistry that we needed.”
Gruden is Snyder’s eighth coach in 16 seasons as an NFL owner. Unlike Shanahan, who was fired last week, Gruden will not have final say over all football matters. He will report to Allen, who has taken charge of assembling the roster and other personnel decisions.
Gruden, 46, spent the past three seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals, where his skill in helping to develop Andy Dalton will no doubt be of use when he takes on the task of grooming another young franchise quarterback, Robert Griffin III.
Gruden praised the talents of Griffin and spoke of the need to build a “genuine” trust with the quarterback, who regressed this season after winning the AP’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2012. Griffin returned from major knee surgery to start 13 games, but he publicly disagreed with some of Shanahan’s decisions, struggled as a dropback passer and was benched for the final three weeks.
Asked to confirm that Griffin will be the starter, Gruden chuckled and said: “I don’t see him as a backup.”
• The Cleveland Browns, who interviewed Ken Whisenhunt to become their coach last year, will give him a chance to convince them they were wrong. Whisenhunt, the offensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers, guided the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl after the 2008 season.
• The Tennessee Titans interviewed Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer for their head-coaching job.
• New York Giants top running back David Wilson needs neck surgery, and his future in football is uncertain.
• Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith said his injured left knee isn’t coming along quite as well as he’d hoped. Smith practiced for the second straight day on a limited basis.
• Chicago Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery is headed to his first Pro Bowl. He will replace injured Detroit star Calvin Johnson.
• First-year nominees Derrick Brooks, Tony Dungy and Marvin Harrison were among the 15 modern-era Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists in voting.
• Kellen Winslow Jr. was found in possession of a synthetic form of marijuana by the East Hanover (N.J.) police two months ago, according to the Daily Record (N.J.). The Jets tight end, who is set to be a free agent, was allegedly found with the designer drug Fubinaca on Nov. 19. But a criminal complaint charging him with possession of the drug was not signed until Dec. 30, according to the report.