The Washington Redskins‘ search for a new head coach, which once looked like it would take weeks, ended Thursday when the team hired Jay Gruden.
Gruden had been scheduled to interview for the Minnesota Vikings coaching vacancy Thursday before he agreed to become the Redskins’ coach.
He replaces Mike Shanahan, who was fired the day after the team’s season ended. Gruden becomes the sixth coach hired by owner Dan Snyder in his 15 years; none have lasted more than four years.
Gruden, the Cincinnati Bengals‘ offensive coordinator, interviewed with Washington on Wednesday, one day after meeting with the Tennessee Titans. He also had a visit scheduled with the Detroit Lions.
Hue Jackson told ESPN’s Josina Anderson that he has accepted the job to become the Bengals’ new offensive coordinator. He had been serving as the club’s quarterbacks coach.
Gruden has deep ties to numerous members of the Washington organization, which is why he was always considered one of the favorites for the position. He worked as a Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive assistant for five seasons under general manager Bruce Allen, now the Redskins’ GM. Secondary coach Raheem Morris worked with Gruden in Tampa, and tight ends coach Sean McVay worked with Gruden for one year in Tampa and one year in the United Football League. Finally, Gruden served as the offensive coordinator for Jim Haslett in the UFL with the Florida Tuskers.
McVay is expected to become Washington’s offensive coordinator under Gruden while Morris is a candidate to be defensive coordinator, according to league sources.
Gruden spent the past three seasons as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator, all of which ended with trips to the postseason. The offense fizzled in the playoffs, averaging 11 points in three losses. Gruden, however, earned praise for his work with quarterback Andy Dalton, who has thrown for more than 3,300 yards in each of his first three seasons.
In that time, the Bengals improved in points per game each season, from 18th to 12th to sixth. They had the NFL’s 10th-ranked offense in total yards in 2013.
Gruden also served two stints as head coach of the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League and was the Tuskers’ head coach and general manager in 2010.
His task with Washington is to restore a sense of balance to a franchise that thought it turned a corner last season, going 10-6 and capturing the NFC East. But the Redskins’ season fell apart in 2013 in part because of inconsistent play by quarterback Robert Griffin III and a defense that wasn’t good enough to offset his struggles.
Griffin was benched the final three games and had a difficult relationship with Shanahan. He did not always like how he was used, particularly when it came to running the zone-read option — especially after he injured his knee late in the 2012 season.
But Griffin is only one year removed from a historic rookie season that saw him throw for 3,200 yards and run for 815. He threw 20 touchdown passes and ran for seven.
Gruden’s brother, Jon, a former coach of the Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders, is a broadcaster for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” The two will be the third pair of brothers as NFL head coaches, joining the company of Ted and Al Nesser (1920s) and the Harbaugh brothers, John of the current Ravens and Jim of the current 49ers.
Jay Gruden was elected to the Arena Football League Hall of Fame in 1999.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
- ESPN NFL Insider
- Joined ESPN in 2009
- Former president of the Pro Football Writers of America and the author of four books
- Covered the Redskins for the Washington Examiner and other media outlets since 1994
- Authored or co-authored three books on the Redskins and one on the Cleveland Browns