Former Redskins approve of head coach hire
As former Washington Redskins center Jeff Bostic weighed who might become his beloved franchise’s next head coach he never considered Jay Gruden.
Bostic wasn’t familiar with the Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator other than knowing his older brother is Super Bowl-winning coach and ESPN analyst Jon Gruden.
But after the 46 year-old Jay Gruden was announced as the Redskins’ replacement for the fired Mike Shanahan on Thursday, Bostic did a bit of research.
He discovered that Jay Gruden was integral to the development of Bengals’ third-year quarterback Andy Dalton, who helped lead the team to three straight AFC playoff appearances.
And the more Bostic pondered Jay Gruden, the more he thought about the unknown assistant from the San Diego Chargers who guided the Redskins to four Super Bowl appearances and three championships from 1981–92.
“It reminds me a lot of my second year when we got Joe Gibbs because I don’t know how many people expected Joe Gibbs, an offensive coordinator that I’d never heard of before,” Bostic said. “And you know the rest of that story.”
The Redskins are hoping Jay Gruden can craft a similar legacy.
Bostic said his No. 1 choice was San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, who was his teammate in Washington from 1989–90.
But now that he’s familiarized himself with Jay Gruden, he’s on board with the decision, even if it’s not as splashy a hire as owner Daniel Snyder has become known for.
“We’ve gone down the path of big names,” Bostic said. “Let’s go down the road of people that can change the game. I think Gruden’s got an offensive mind and a history of working with young quarterbacks and turning offenses around.”
Bostic noted that Jay Gruden helped mold a second-round draft pick in Dalton into a standout quarterback. Dalton passed for 33 touchdowns during the regular season, third most in the NFL.
Bostic also said Bengals ownership is known to be thrifty, so it was remarkable that the coaching staff was able to “do more with less.”
“The Brown family [which owns the Bengals] has been called a lot of things,” Bostic said, “but ‘Open Coffers With Their Wallet’ is not one of them.”
Jay Gruden appeared relaxed as he answered questions from members of the media assembled at Redskins Park for his introductory press conference Thursday.
He said the Redskins are going to forget about the tumultuous 3–13 season that led to Shanahan’s dismissal.
Former Redskins’ Pro Bowl return man Mike Nelms, who was a member of the 1982 Super Bowl winning team, said if Jay Gruden has a positive relationship with the press, it could benefit him in Washington.
Nelms, a Spotsylvania County resident, said Shanahan didn’t appear to adjust well to the Washington spotlight.
“I hope [Jay Gruden] is comfortable with the media and can handle the way the media is in D.C. because it’s far different from a lot of other cities,” Nelms said. “They’re very much in-your-face I can’t say whether [Shanahan] was comfortable with it or not, but he certainly appeared to be uncomfortable with it, and the media didn’t appear very comfortable dealing with him sometimes.”
Former Redskins’ wide receiver Roy Jefferson said if bloodlines are any indication, Jay Gruden will possess more charm than Shanahan.
Jefferson met Jon Gruden on a golfing trip to Florida several years ago when the latter was the head coach of Tampa Bay.
Jefferson, who has been recognized as one of the 80 greatest Redskins of all time, was taken aback by Jon Gruden’s football knowledge and charisma.
“I am comfortable because he’s from a football family,” Jefferson said of Jay Gruden’s hiring. “If he has any of the personality, let alone the coaching ability of his brother, I think we’ve got a great situation.”
Jefferson said Jay Gruden “better jump in with both feet” because the fan base is going to hold his “feet to the fire” as far as expecting a playoff berth next season.
Still, he’s hesitant to raise his hopes too high. He believed the franchise was trending upward after winning the NFC East title for the first time since 1999 in 2012.
But he was left dismayed by this past season, so it will take more than Jay Gruden to elevate his morale.
“As high as I was at the beginning of the season, I am that low now,” Jefferson said. “And just hiring a coach that seems to fit the bill hasn’t raised my hopes up real, real high. But I think we’re starting in the right direction.”
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