Call it 20-20 hindsight, call it the new conventional wisdom, or call it a potentially disturbing truth, but two ex-Redskins — Chris Cooley and London Fletcher — both said Thursday morning that the head coaching job was always Jay Gruden’s to lose.
“Bruce worked with him for six years,” Cooley told Andy Pollin and Kevin Sheehan on ESPN 980. “Bruce was the general manager in Tampa for six years while Gruden coached there. So he knew everything about him. There was no interview process; he had a six-year interview process. So I think it was Gruden’s job to turn down; ultimately they could say that we searched high and low and we finally found the right guy, when in reality they were hiring Gruden if he wanted the job. Bruce knew it. If Bruce didn’t love him, then he wouldn’t have brought him in for an interview. I think it was really simple. I think it was Jay the whole way.”
Fletcher said essentially the same thing, in 140 characters:
Job was Gruden’s to lose from the start, keeping some of staff saves Skins $, Allen always knew who he wanted!
— London Fletcher (@LFletcher59) January 9, 2014
As for the hire itself, Cooley seemed….well, unsure, I suppose.
“I’m not initially blown away by what he did as the coordinator for Cincinnati,” Cooley said. “I don’t think that they were especially dynamic. I think they mixed it up, I think he did utilize his best players to some extent. Another thing that I understand, when I look at that Bengals staff, is that Jay Gruden came in as the OC to a staff that remained entirely intact from 10 years ago. I played in the Senior Bowl with six of the coaches that are still on the Bengals staff offensively. So it’s not like he came in and just took over and did exactly what he wanted. Maybe that would change, as head coach, whatever he does offensive wise in D.C.
“The other thing I like is he comes from a football background,” Cooley continued. “He comes from being around it, he comes from understanding players, understanding personalities. That’s something that’s really underrated, and it’s hard to gain ground as a new guy coming in. But when you come from that football background, grow up around it as Jay did, you start to get it more than a lot of other people, you start to understand the way people function, the way players think, the way you deal with everything. And I appreciate that.”