Gruden hiring helps Redskins and Bengals
January, 9, 2014
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
Getty ImagesJay Gruden's hiring may pay dividends in D.C. and Cincy.Sometimes a coaching change works out best for all involved. The Philadelphia Eagles got a fresh start with Chip Kelly and appear to be on the right track. The man Kelly replaced, Andy Reid, played a leading role in the Kansas City Chiefs' revival. Reid's former defensive coordinator in Philly, Todd Bowles, landed in Arizona and became a head-coaching candidate this offseason. Only the University of Oregon, which lost Kelly to the Eagles, would seem to have come out on the short end.
Jay Gruden's hiring as the Washington Redskins' seventh head coach since 2000 doesn't appear as clear cut from this vantage point. The move has implications for Gruden's former team, the Cincinnati Bengals, as well as for his new one. The fates of two young quarterbacks are pending, with both facing crossroads in 2014. Gruden is walking into a situation that is both treacherous and a great opportunity -- particularly in the short term.
My initial thought was that this move could be a lose-lose for the key parties. The Redskins trade Mike Shanahan for an unproven coach. The Bengals lose someone they had entrusted to develop quarterback Andy Dalton. But the status quo wasn't an option for the Redskins and wasn't necessarily the best thing for the Bengals, either. After an afternoon of review, this could in fact be a "win" for all involved, particularly relative to the alternatives.
A potential win for RG III, Redskins
The Redskins needed a change after Shanahan's tenure devolved into a circus for reasons that aren't entirely clear. I think the team also needed another offensive-minded head coach to provide maximum stability for quarterback Robert Griffin III. Yes, the Redskins' defense was and remains the team's biggest problem, but not its most important one. There is a difference. Righting Griffin's career remains the clearest path to success for the organization and stability will be key. Having an offensive-minded head coach means Griffin won't have to worry about a scheme change if a coordinator leaves to take another job. I think that can be an important advantage.