Washington Redskins: The Bruce Allen Era Begins With Jay Gruden As Head Coach

The Washington Redskins have hired former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden as the 29th Head Football Coach in team history.

Gruden, 46, now has an opportunity to lead a professional football team like his brother Jon Gruden — former Oakland Raiders and Tampa Buccaneers head coach. Jay has already established himself over the years as a Hall of Fame player and coach in the Arena Football League. Not to mention, Gruden’s success the past three years as offensive coordinator with the Bengals propelled him into becoming one of the more coveted coaches this year.

This hire essentially marks the beginning of the Bruce Allen era in Washington. Although he maintains the title  Executive Vice President/General Manager, Allen was really just the in-house account and family reunion coordinator. Former Head Coach Mike Shanahan wrote the grocery list, chose the grocery store and hand selected the groceries. Now, that’s Bruce Allen’s job. However, he’ll have help from the Directors of Player Personnel, Scott Campbell and Morocco Brown. Both of whom, have very specific responsibilities — Campbell will handle college scouting and Brown will handle pro scouting.

“The control will be mine, and it will be working with our personnel department,” Bruce Allen said in his post-Shanahan press conference. The personnel department of [Director of Player Personnel] Scott Campbell and [Director of Pro Personnel] Morocco Brown actually do a very good job at what they do. We are going to redefine some of the characteristics that we’re looking for in players. Obviously when we have a new head coach there will be some schematic adjustments that we will make, but that power will be with me.”

When Bruce Allen described the traits he would look for in the next head, he used phrases such as: fire in his belly and strong leadership skills. Jay Gruden is believed to be that guy.

In our coaching search “big board” (or small board), Gruden was our fourth best candidate for the job. It is believed that Stanford Head Coach David Shaw was the team’s top option, but he expressed his commitment to Stanford through third party over a month ago. Gruden was undoubtedly the main guy Bruce Allen wanted after Shaw, as he already had established relationships with both coaches.

Now Bruce Allen is married to a coach and the honeymoon process begins. In order for the relationship to last, Allen has to do his part as the middle-man between coach and owner. As the final decision maker, Allen has to also make the right choices moving forward. One his best traits, according to people who have worked with Allen, is he listens. He doesn’t dictate things. He’s very prudent and judicious when making decisions.

What will be interesting is how much say Jay Gruden has when it comes to personnel. He apparently also likes to pick his own parts. Gruden’s voice was heard, especially during the draft process, when he was with the Bengals. They actually drafted very well, although his most scrutinized decision was taking QB Andy Dalton over Colin Kaepernick in the 2011 NFL draft. Regardless of anyone’s thoughts on that, Gruden wouldn’t have been offered the Redskins job without totally being sold on Robert Griffin III’s ability and potential. That’s really were the Redskins will succeed or fail — it hinges on Griffin’s development.

Here’s our profile on Jay Gruden (updated Jan. 5):

Jay Gruden, OC, Cincinnati Bengals:

  • Brother of Jon Gruden

  • Runs a West Coast offense with spread elements

  • Outside and inside zone run game

  • Utilizes tight ends

  • Tempo

  • Has helped QB Andy Dalton have success

  • He’s a Gruden, so you know he can motivate and is fiery… although not as brash or emotional as his brother.

  • The Bengals trust his opinion with talent evaluation. Recent reports say that Bengals Owner/assistant GM Mike Brown wanted Colin Kaepernick in the 2011 NFL draft and Gruden felt Andy Dalton was better for his offense. Mike Brown allowed Gruden to have a say, and the team opted to draft Andy Dalton.

  • Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen have some ties with Gruden and his brother

  • 46 years old

Overall Take: Jay Gruden is a good coach and a solid teacher. I think his offense would mesh well in Washington. I also believe he’d be a solid teacher for Qb Robert Griffin III. However, although Gruden is innovative with his scheme, something just seems to be missing when I watch the Bengals offense on film. Two things: I can’t figure out their identity (what do they hang their hat on?), it also appears to be inconsistent. There’s not a play-caller in football that’s perfect. But Gruden can be inconsistent with his calls and game planning. However, he’s done a good job developing QB Andy Dalton. How well has he done with Dalton? I’m not certain. Yes, Dalton’s touchdowns have increased every year since he’s been in the league. But so has his interception total. A lot of that is on Dalton, some of it is on Gruden. For years the Bengals searched for a good offensive coordinator and they found a solid one in Gruden. It’s hard to deny the job he’s done there. Is he right for the Washington Redskins? I’m not sure. Of the remaining assistant coaches in Washington, Gruden has ties to Jim Haslett, Raheem Morris and Sean McVay. I don’t think Gruden would keep Haslett. But I’m sure he’d consider keeping Raheem Morris and Sean McVay. While a guy like McVay is considered an “up and comer” and Morris is respected — a full coaching staff makeover seems to be necessary. Holding over coaches doesn’t scream that change in philosophy and culture that the Redskins need.

I’ve had concerns about Gruden, as mentioned in the coaching profile. None of them are major. But with any coach, he’ll have his positives and negatives. A pro scout told me today, “some are better coordinators, some are born CEOs. It’s in his blood. I think Gruden will be a better HC than OC.”

When the Redskins relieved coach Mike Shanahan of his duties, they also fired majority of the coaches he handpicked for the job. However, several remained on staff — most of whom are guys Bruce Allen either respects or handpicked. Ironically, or not, new Head Coach Jay Gruden has ties to several members currently on the staff as mentioned in our coaching profile on him. According to sources, tight ends coach Sean McVay, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and secondary coach Raheem Morris are all guys Gruden would like to retain. McVay, who is only 27 years old, is expected to become the team’s offensive coordinator. McVay is seen as a up and comer — he’s a respected individual. Jim Haslett will likely be resume his role as defensive coordinator, but it’s uncertain if he’ll be given the title “Assistant Head Coach” and if the team will go back to a 4-3 defense (we’ll update after Gruden’s introductory press conference at 4pm). Raheem Morris is a guy the team would like to retain, but it’s uncertain what capacity that may be. There’s a chance the team could have co-defensive coordinators. But there’s also a chance Morris gets a higher position with another team.

One of the concerns with the Gruden hire is Washington will still have a “buddy system” on the team with connections between the general manger, head coach and staff. It could go really, really well. Or it could fail. But the Redskins are moving in the right direction with a young, first time Head Coach that has “fire in his belly.” The Washington Redskins needed a coach that is hungry and isn’t basing his future on past accomplishments. The egos are out the door and that’s a positive sign. Now, you just have to hope that Robert Griffin III is ready to run some Spider 2 Y Banana.

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