NFL.com is reporting that the Redskins have settled on their next head coach and it's Bengals offensive coordinator and little brother of Jon, Jay Gruden. Ian Rappaport reported that Gruden canceled an upcoming interview with the Vikings and Jeff Darling says that he and his agent are wrapping up the final details of a deal in Washington.
Jay Gruden has been a popular name in coaching searches dating back to last year. In fact we profiled Gruden as a possible head coaching candidate for the Eagles (that we all roundly did not like) and the team reportedly sought and received permission to interview him. It's unclear whether that interview ever took place.
My opinion on Gruden hasn't change a whole lot since last season. I don't think anyone would view him as a home run hire, but he's certainly an intruiging candidate. He's got 8 years of head coaching experience under his belt, but they're all in the arena league. Certainly there has to be some value in running any organization, but clearly head coaching experience at the college, NFL or even CFL level would be relevant.
Gruden also played QB in the Arena League, winning 4 titles over his career.
His NFL career started as you might expect, when his brother was hired as the head coach in Tampa. Big brother Jon brought his little bro aboard as an offensive assistant, where he spent 6 seasons splitting time between the NFL and Arena league.
With that resume, it was a bit of a surprise when Gruden was hired as the Bengals offensive coordinator in 2011. It's been of a mixed bag since then. His offenses ranked 20th and 22nd in his first two years, but spiked up to #10 this season (with some dismal playoff showings every season). As we've said before though, rankings don't tell the whole story and Gruden was tasked with developing a rookie QB over that span.
That QB is probably pretty important to why Gruden is going to coach the Redskins now. Under Gruden, Andy Dalton has developed from a 2nd round quasi prospect to a competent NFL QB. He's still relatively inconsistent and isn't going to ever enter top 5 (or even top 10) discussions, but the fact that Gruden has been able to get competent NFL QB play out of a guy like that is feather in his cap.
The most positive thing about Gruden as a candidate is that he ran the offense under a defensive coach. So this is not a Greg Roman (49ers) case where you have to wonder how much credit the coordinator actually deserves for running his side of the ball. With Marv Lewis as the head man, Gruden likely had a lot of freedom to do what he wanted on the offensive side.
In a lot of ways, Gruden is a very un-Redskins hire. He's not flashy, he doesn't have an amazing resume or do things in a way that people claim will change the face of the NFL... He just seems to be a solid coordinator that's earned a shot at a head job. Maybe that kind of "boring" hire is just what the Redskins need.