If Redskins coach Jay Gruden seems familiar entering his first season, it’s not just because he’s the younger brother of Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden. Jay Gruden’s style echoes past predecessors, from Richie Petitbon to Steve Spurrier. His brisk practices, no-nonsense demeanor, confidence, faith in assistants and even his game-planning with multiple wideouts are reminders of other Redskins coaches of the modern era. Indeed, Gruden is a composite of these five coaches, and hopefully he’ll get better results than at least four of them.
Richie Petitbon (1993)
Gruden acts most like the former defensive coordinator who took over for Joe Gibbs in 1993. Neither showed interest in additional roles like team president, vice president or general manager. To Petitbon and Gruden, it’s all about coaching, the players and the games. Saddled with an aging team, Petitbon lasted only one season but he never changed his demeanor.
Norv Turner (1994-2000)
Gruden’s practices resemble Turner’s. There’s a good combination of teaching and tempo with a sense of urgency to get better or get out. Turner struck a balance, readying and toughening players without being excessive or easy. Like Turner did, Gruden yells at players when they make mistakes but doesn’t use profanity that could be heard by training camp attendees.
Joe Gibbs (1981-92; 2004-07)
The Hall of Fame coach let his assistants do their jobs and didn’t interfere. Of course, that came easy because Gibbs’ staff included legends like Petitbon at defensive coordinator and offensive line coach Joe Bugel. Gruden, a former offensive coordinator himself, lets his assistants do their thing — while he worries mostly about the offense.
Marty Schottenheimer (2001)
If nothing else, Schottenheimer was confident despite starting 0-5 in 2001. Gruden isn’t the “one voice” that Schottenheimer was, but he believes in himself even though this is his first season as a head coach. The good news is that Gruden knows what Schottenheimer didn’t — be humble or you’ll be humbled.
Steve Spurrier (2002-03)
The “Ol’ Ball Coach” loved his receivers, turning even Rod Gardner into a 1,000-yard producer. Spurrier swore his offense worked in the NFL (it didn’t) and loved three- or four-receiver sets. Gruden will be more balanced than Spurrier, but he too loves three- and four-receiver schemes. On the plus side, Gruden has better receivers (and a better passer).
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