No. 1: Gruden is not Mike Shanahan
Well yeah, there’s nowhere else to go but up. There is much more to it, though.
In announcing Shanahan’s departure, GM Bruce Allen made a vague reference to the need for a coach attuned to the new practice rules baked into the current CBA. It was a backhand slap as Shanny for whatever the front office saw lacking in his approach to the off- and preseason.
DC sports media did not run the story to ground, but Hog Heaven is watching for a different approach to the schedule, timing, tempo for this year’s training camp. One sign of Gruden’s openness is the three-day scrimmage with the New England Patriots (Aug. 4-6) in Richmond.
It is an unfair to say of Shanahan now that he is gone, but I do not think he would have done it.
The Redskins were unprepared for the 2013 season and it was obvious from Game One against the Eagles. Gruden is the reset button on season preparation. He is not Mike Shanahan.
No. 2: Gruden is closer in age to RGIII
Shanahan once praised Robert Griffin III after a particularly good game by comparing him to Cool Hand Luke, the 1967 movie starring Paul Newman. I have a mental image of somebody later explaining to RG just who Newman was.
Gruden was born in 1967. His cultural frame of reference to his players is more current than Shanahan’s. There is still a gap, but RG will likely “get it” if coach compared him to Conan the Barbarian or Arnold Schwarzenegger.
When adversity comes — and it will because it’s football — the narrower difference in age is an advantage for understanding each other.
No. 3: Gruden fits the offense
In Gruden, the Redskins selected a West Coast Offense coach. That is a refinement for the offense, not a reengineering project. Shanahan came with changes to the Jim Zorn WC offense and a conversion to the 3-4 defensive alignment.
Near-continuity potentially speeds the team’s adjustment to Gruden by six months.
And three reasons why not
No. 1: Jay is not Jon
Jay is not the Gruden who won a Super Bowl. Hog Heaven suspects Gruden was selected because of his famous name.
He has a working relationship with GM Bruce Allen who is not the Allen who led the Redskins to a Super Bowl game.
Familiarity a plus, but neither Gruden nor Allen will be on the field. Even with nice additions to the roster, Washington has the same talent issues they had with Shanahan. We do not know yet of Gruden has the stones to deal with diva players. No names mentioned here.
Brian Schottenheimer offered as much, but the owner has been there, done that with the Schottenheimers.
No. 2: No guarantees in scheme
The Redskins hired Norv Turner to replace Joe Gibbs because Turner’s offensive concepts were similar to Gibbs’ downfield offense. Look at how that turned out.
That is not a prediction of failure. It is a caution that many factors go into winning a Super Bowl. Turner contended with an aging roster, cap challenges and Draft picks that Charley Casserly put together never panned out. (Looking at you, Heath Shuler, Michael Westbrook and Desmond Howard.)
No. 3: Daniel Snyder still owns the team
Two strong-willed veteran coaches, Marty Schottenheimer and Mike Shanahan, proved unable to cope with Mr. Snyder. (Three, if you include Joe Gibbs) What chance does Gruden have?
Hog Heaven focuses on strategic management in the front office. It is lacking. The Redskins have been poorly managed since the 1990s frankly, but the current team reflects the guy at the top.
There are signs of recent improvement. I hope Allen can buffer the coach from the owner because I don’t see Gruden as well positioned to resist the well-intended bad influence Snyder will exert.
For the record, Hog Heaven is optimistic about Gruden.
Which rookie NFL head coach will have the best season in 2014?