The Washington Redskins shook up their coaching staff this morning, but did not completely clean house, when they hired former Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden to be the team's head coach.
As part of the hiring, the Redskins have made a pair of coaching staff promotions from last year's 3-13 squad. Tight Ends coach Sean McVay will be promoted to offensive coordinator. McVay has been an offensive assistant since Bruce Allen was hired, and does not turn 28 until later this month (totally unrelated — I feel unaccomplished). McVay was recruited to the Miami University football team when Ben Roethlisberger was the quarterback in 2003.
He enrolled there as a freshman, ten years ago. Admit it: you feel old.
Raheem Morris is receiving a promotion to defensive coordinator from defensive backs coach, a position where he will presumably also still handle duties.
Jim Haslett is going to be retained. It is not clear whether he is receiving a promotion to assistant head coach from defensive coordinator, or whether he will share the defensive coordinator responsibilites with Morris.
Gruden has spent the last three years as offensive coordinator under Marvin Lewis. Under Gruden, Andy Dalton is a career 60.9% passer. Dalton's QBR increased each season from 11 to 13, and the improvement has been fairly incremental. He set a career high in TD tosses with 33 and YPA with 7.3 this season. But he remains an inconsistent player with a limited skill set. There is a good chance that Dalton would be the third best QB on the Redskins if he was added to the roster today, although he is more accomplished in the league than Kirk Cousins.
For Gruden, this is a case of a team wanting him so directly and obviously that it didn't make sense to take another position. His time in Cincinnati had run it's course, he's got multiple friends in the Redskins organization, and it was time to make the jump to head coach. He would have been in the running for other HC positions, such as with the Tennessee Titans, but the Redskins went all out and sold him on his chances to win here and put a staff together that would support him.
Jay Gruden is not a finished product as a pro coach. He's got just three years as a high level assistant, in addition to the seven years that he spent in Tampa with brother Jon. It's not going to be a slam dunk first year walk towards the Super Bowl. There's a lot of work that has to be done before the winning can start, and once it does, he brings the struggles-in-the-playoffs stigma with him to Washington. It will be a welcome sight when we get to approach Jay Gruden's playoff coaching aptitude in online print because it means that he will have brought the Redskins back to that point. But it's a stigma he won't shake until he wins in the postseason.
This is a winning hire for Bruce Allen, selling the guy he wanted all along on the head coaching position with the Redskins. The Redskins haven't hired a coach from the ranks of NFL coordinator since Dan Snyder has been the owner of the team. For my opinion that Hue Jackson would have been the better fit, he would have continued that trend. Allen gets a guy in Gruden who will offer valuable imput in terms of talent evaluation on the offensive side of the ball, a skill which I believe he (like his brother) has. It is something that Mike and Kyle Shanahan and to a lesser extent, Jim Zorn and Joe Gibbs struggled with. And the Redskins organization will be better for it.