At the conclusion of a 4-12 campaign in his first year at the helm of the Washington Redskins, Coach Jay Gruden vowed to make whatever changes would improve the team’s performance heading into the 2015 season.
On Wednesday team officials announced another step in that process, with the hiring of Matt Cavanaugh to the new post of quarterbacks coach.
A former standout college quarterback at the University of Pittsburgh who played 14 seasons in the NFL with New England, San Francisco and Philadelphia, Cavanaugh has 22 years of experience as a coach in the college and pro ranks. That includes four different stints as an NFL quarterbacks coach, at Arizona (1994-95), San Francisco (1996), the New York Jets (2009-12) and, most recently, Chicago (2013-14).
From 1997 to 2008, he served as offensive coordinator at Chicago (1997-98), Baltimore (1999-2004) and his alma mater (2005-08).
Among the NFL’s 32 teams, only New England and Washington went without a quarterbacks coach in 2014.
Gruden said in early December that he’d consider adding a quarterbacks coach for the 2015 season but noted that he didn’t think his quarterbacks had suffered for lack of one.
Instability at quarterback was a running theme of Washington’s disappointing season. While injury was partly to blame, so too was the fact that none of Washington’s three quarterbacks impressed sufficiently to lay claim to the starting job.
Robert Griffin III, sidelined in Week 2 by a dislocated left ankle, finished with a quarterback rating of 86.9, throwing four touchdowns and six interceptions in the nine games in which he appeared.
Kirk Cousins, who took over once Griffin went down, threw a team-high 10 touchdowns. But his productivity was undercut by nine interceptions, which left him with an 86.4 rating.
And Colt McCoy, who opened the season third on the depth chart but ascended to the starting job only to suffer a season-ending neck injury, finished with a team-high passer rating of 96.4. In McCoy’s five appearances, which included leading Washington to an overtime upset at Dallas, he tallied four touchdowns and three interceptions.
Cavanaugh, 58, a native of Youngstown, Ohio, led Pittsburgh to the 1976 National Championship and was named M VP of the Sugar Bowl following the Panthers’ 27-3 victory over Georgia.
He was drafted by the New England Patriots in second round (50th overall) of the 1978 NFL Draft. The bulk of his pro career was spent as a backup, and he finished with 19 starts in 112 regular-season games, completing 305 of 579 passes for 4,332 yards and 28 touchdowns.
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