ORLANDO – Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder expressed excitement about his team’s new chapter and said that already, first-year head coach Jay Gruden has impressed him with his knowledge and work ethic.
Snyder, who consented to a brief interview Monday on his way to lunch while at the NFL’s annual meeting in Orlando, hadn’t spoken to reporters during the 2013 season, or following the 3-13 campaign that resulted in Mike Shanahan’s firing. He also hadn’t commented on the hiring of Gruden as his eighth head coach.
“Difficult season,” Snyder said when asked about Washington’s collapse from NFC East Champs in 2012 to the owners of the second-worst record in the league in 2013. “Difficult season. But look forward to the new journey and excited about our future.”
That future began on Jan. 9 when Snyder hired Gruden to take over the team, and tabbed general manager Bruce Allen to oversee the reconstruction of the roster.
Gruden has spent the past 2 1/2 months working to assemble his coaching staff, formulating the plot for the offseason and creating the playbook. The coach’s drive and vision has proved impressive, Snyder said.
“He’s terrific. Workaholic and a pleasure to be with,” Snyder said. “Very, very focused on making all the great football decisions, and it’s going to be exciting for us.”
He added, “If you look at his experience and what he’s done over the length of his career, it’s really diverse. He understands the quarterback position, he understands offense, he’s been a head coach. He’s someone that really understands the game from every facet. So we’re excited about it.”
One of Gruden’s biggest tasks will involve helping third-year quarterback Robert Griffin III rebound from a disappointing season and recapture the electrifying form that he displayed as a rookie, prior to tearing ligaments in his right knee at the end of the 2012 campaign.
Gruden himself played quarterback in college and in the Arena Football League. His experience as a player, and as an offensive coordinator, will prove valuable for Griffin, Snyder believes.
“I think terrific. Terrific,” the owner said. “As someone who has played that position, understands it as well as he does, I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Gruden, both during his hiring, during an interview last month at the NFL Scouting Combine and during a brief interview Monday, talked about the importance of building a strong relationship with Griffin, and said that trust is “the most important” part of a quarterback and coach’s relationship.
That philosophy has encouraged Snyder.
“I think he understands what he’s doing,” he said when asked about Gruden stressing trust between he and Griffin. “So it’s fun to watch.”
Over the offseason, Washington also added another member to the front office in former Super Bowl winning quarterback Doug Williams.
Williams is expected to assist Allen in talent evaluation, but also will help mentor Griffin and other players, Snyder said.
“I think Doug’s going to do a lot of things for us,” he explained. “Doug is a real people person, player guy, who understands players and what drives them, motivates them. So it’s not just for Robert, it’s for the entire team.”
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