Hiring Gruden is a smart move for Redskins

January 9

Redskins general manager Bruce Allen, center, introduced new head coach Jay Gruden, left, during a news conference at Redskins Park on Thursday. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

A former Dragon now rules Redskins Park, and it’s a smart move.

After failing with a Hall of Famer, two more proven pro mentors and a college legend, plus a quirky quarterbacks coach, Redskins owner Dan Snyder finally tried hiring an offensive coordinator with Jay Gruden.

A traditional move of promoting a coordinator? How radical.

It seems Snyder was tired of paying big money for legendary coaches and getting little results, so why not try someone ready to move up? What’s next for Snyder, not overpaying aging free agents whose best days are behind them?

Gruden is a solid pick regardless of whether the Redskins rebound from a franchise-busting six years of Jim Zorn and Mike Shanahan. It feeds into the critical element for retaining Redskins fans, who are ready to quit after 22 years since a Super Bowl. No one sells offseason hope better than Snyder, and Gruden gives fans something to keep watching.

How will Gruden mesh with quarterback Robert Griffin III? How will the defense and special teams change? Can the coach keep the owner from meddling without getting exiled? If Gruden could survive having an older brother nicknamed “Chuckie,” he should be able to handle Snyder.

It was telling that Gruden said his first move would be to build confidence among players. He sounds like a selfless person, devoted more to team than his system. If the Redskins need to switch back to the 4-3 defense, so be it. If Griffin doesn’t execute a play well, Gruden won’t call it. Zone read, power blocking, whatever is needed, Gruden is open to it, saying, “I never found a play I didn’t like that works.” That will resonate through the building after his predecessor’s iron grip.

“We expect to win soon,” Gruden said without hesitation.

Gruden’s résumé is so varied it’s reassuring. No matter what happens, he has some background to deal with it. He was the third-string quarterback on the Barcelona Dragons. That’s working from the bottom.

Gruden won four Arena League titles playing for the Tampa Bay Storm and two as an Arena coach. Indeed, Gruden took a nontraditional path of the Arena League and UFL. Gruden has two stints in the NFL, including three seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals before coming to Washington.

What’s left? U.S. coach for the 2024 Games when football may become an Olympic sport? If Gruden fails with the Redskins, there’s always Snyder’s dormant Arena franchise.

Washington’s newest coach needs to handle any task, down to parking cars and selling tickets. Gruden seems capable of handling it all. Good thing, because there’s a lot of work to rebuilding this team.

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