First featured in Hail Republic
Stop me if you've heard this story before.
Disastrous season. Locker room turmoil. Head coach and staff blown out the day after the last game. And then begins the search for the next leader of the franchise.
Sound familiar? It should. The whole 'punch the reset button and find a new coach' had already happened five times already since Daniel Snyder bought the team in 1999. FIVE FREAKING TIMES
So when the Redskins hired former Bengals' offensive coordinator Jay Gruden yesterday, I expected turn on the introductory press conference and get spoon fed the same company line shit that I've had to swallow and digest for the sixth time in 15 years.
But this press conference was different than in the past. Subtle but different nonetheless.
The passionate yet meddlesome team owner wasn’t sitting next to Gruden. He wasn’t sitting next to general manager Bruce Allen. He wasn’t on stage at all. Instead grinning ear to ear from the front row of the auditorium rather than posted up with a microphone in his face next to his prized new conquest.
Also missing were the franchises' three Lombardi Trophies. Like Snyder, those bad boys get buffed up to make an appearance when a big name coach or high priced free agent comes to town. I get so sick of those damned trophies. A pathetic distraction so you temporarily remember the glory days before you snap back to reality and realize what this franchise has been for the past two decades..
The most glaring omissions from yesterday's presser was Robert Griffin III. The embattled and sometimes outspoken franchise quarterback has come under fire in recent weeks due to his alleged relationship with Snyder and his role in the head coach search. I don't think it was a coincidence that this hiring went down while Griffin was 4,500 miles away on a Hawaiian getaway. Out of sight, out of mind (for the most part).
No glitz. no glamor. No drama or controversy. No unnecessary filler of any kind. Just a an eager new head coach, a general manager confident in his selection and a brand new philosophy on how to run the franchise. And dammit, I think they mean it this time.
It isn't hard finding a good head coach in the NFL. Its the most desired job in the NFL, but also one of the hardest jobs to maintain. 14 of the 32 head coaches have been turned over in the past two off seasons including Mike Shanahan. Everyone is trying to find THE guy to lead them to the promised land.
So with that being said, the questions still remains: is Jay Gruden THE guy we've been waiting for? The guy like the five guys before him that will fix the dysfunction that has been festering for 20 + agonizing years? It certainly is the question that is going to asking countless times between now and next September.
The answer? There is no answer, at least not yet anyway. It is impossible to already have an answer and irresponsible to try and say that you do. Sure, its okay to have an opinion about the hire but the fact of the matter is no one will know whether this was the right hire for several years when Gruden has built the team to his liking
We know that we have brought in a head coach with the franchise’s most prized asset, Robert Griffin III, in mind. By all accounts, RGIII is a self motivated player. Having a high-energy coach that actually has his back should improve the young quarterback's confidence after a down season.
We know that with Gruden, the Bengals improved in total offense in each of Gruden’s three seasons in Cincinnati, finishing 6th in that category in 2013. And you can say what you want about Andy Dalton, but the quarterback threw for over 4,000 yards and 33 touchdowns last season in Gruden’s offense, third most in the NFL. And at 46 years old, Jay Gruden is the youngest head coach the Redskins have had since they hired Norv Turner at the age of 40 back in 1993.
We know that offensive coordinator Sean McVay, widely considered one of the better up-and-coming football minds in the NFL, is not only the youngest coach on the Redskins, he is now the youngest coordinator in the entire league. The next youngest coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett in Buffalo, is six years his senior.
And we know that with executive point men AJ Smith, Morocco Brown and Scott Campbell reporting to general manager Bruce Allen, the Redskins have the closest thing they’ve had to a NFL-quality front office is some time.
If it comes to be that Washington does swing and miss with this new regime, at least Redskins’ faithful can take solace in knowing that their team swung and missed with the correct philosophy in mind.
No more retreads. No more coaches trying to rekindle past success. No more hiring coaches that have seen their best days past them by. We went young, hungry and ambitious most good organizations should.
And sweet Bobby for a REAL LIFE power structure.
The owner writes the checks. The GM works with the front office to find the best personnel. Coaches coach. Players play. No more owners and coaches trying to be GMs. No more players trying to be coaches. Everyone knows their roles and does it to the best of their ability. The way it should be.
The hire doesn't excite me as much as the positive new direction the team seems to be headed. Normally, the Redskins will introduce the new guy and as Redskins fans, we try and justify in barber shops and at water coolers to why this guy is THE guy. This time, the guy we hired comes secondary to what the new guy represents. A fresh start and a new way of running business. Well done, Redskins.