Redskins Press Conference to Introduce Jay Gruden as new Head Coach

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Updated: January 9, 2014
Gruden hiring

The Washington Redskins and GM Bruce Allen introduced new head coach, the 29th head coach in Redskins history, Jay Gruden to the media and fans today at 4 PM at Redskins Park. Allen made a joke about getting to hire Gruden now because the Bengals just lost in the playoffs and spoke only briefly before turning the mike over to his new head coach. Dan Snyder watched from the front row and said nothing.

“An exciting day for the Washington Redskins,” began Allen. “A very important day for our upcoming season and our future.” Allen said “we were looking for a new leaders, somebody who could inspire our football team… We were able to bring Jay in.” Allen added that “it was clear to everyone here that Jay was the right man.”

While emphasizing the consultative nature of making personnel decisions — involving the coaches and the front office guys like Morocco Brown and Scott Campbell, Allen confirmed that he, not Gruden, would have final say over all personnel matters.

Later, after the presser, Allen said he would have interviewed Chargers OC Ken Whisenhunt and DC John Pagano if the Bengals had won last week. Finally, Allen said: “We have to get it right. We need to get the franchise back on track in a winning direction.”

Gruden & Allen hiring

Gruden then took the mike and, sounding an awful lot like his more famous older brother, declared optimism and forward-thinking to be the order of the day. When asked about the fiasco of the last final months of the Shanahan regime, Gruden responded: “I don’t know what happened last year… The passion for excellence is there. All they want to do is win… I don’t care what happened last year… We’re going to forget about the past and look forward to the future every day.”

When asked about his coaching staff Gruden said I’m going to interview a lot of coaches… I’m going to interview everybody. I know there’s a lot of good football coaches here who can coach… This opportunity is a once in a lifetime deal… I don’t think finding a great coach and coaching staff is going to be difficult.” Responding to reports that current TE coach Sean McVay had been hired as the new offensive coordinator, Jay said: “Nice. Good for Sean,” provoking laughter from the room. Gruden denied he had hired any assistants, but did call McVay “a great person, a great coach.”

When asked about his relationship with the front office, Gruden said “I know Bruce, I have a history with Bruce… I know he loves the Washington Redskins… I know Bruce, it’s not about Bruce… We’re going to do it together.”

Inevitably, the subject turned to QB Robert Griffin III. Gruden said he had not spoken with RG3, but was looking forward to it. This lends credence to reports that RG3, in fact, played no role at all in the hiring of Gruden.

Said Gruden of Griffin: “I expect him to be a great leader… As long as he’s working his butt off I will provide him with everything to be successful.” He said “Robert’s a great quarterback. It’s very exciting… That’s a very important position… I look forward to the chance to coach him.” Gruden admitted he had not studied Griffin yet, but said “I see a ton of talent… I see every trait that a quarterback has to have to be successful… Why wouldn’t you want to coach a guy like that?”

Gruden emphasized the need for head coach to get along with star QB, saying “If he doesn’t like the play, I’m not going to call the play.” Gruden did confirm he will be calling the offensive plays.

On the subject of the zone-read option offense, Gruden said “I love it. We ran it some in Cincinnati with Andy [Dalton]… It’s something that has a place in the National Football League.” In other words, don’t look for it to disappear from the Redskins playbook. If Gruden will run some zone-read with a relative slowfoot like Andy Dalton, he’ll definitely run it with a speed demon like RG3.

Gruden laughed off the notion that he would be wedded to the west coast variation he’s run in Cincinnati, saying “I never found a play I haven’t liked — that works.”

On the subject of defense, Gruden surprised me a bit by appearing to indicate that the Redskins would stick with the current defensive alignment. “This team is built for the 3-4… I would love to stay with the 3-4,” adding “there is a core foundation in place. They are well-coached on defense.” Of course, with nine defensive players going into free agency, it would be a simple matter to switch to a 4-3 alignment, especially since Ryan Kerrigan can play DE and Barry Cofield can easily switch back to his natural DT.

I want to really study the offensive personnel they have in place… They have a system in place that’s very good.

When asked about his strengths as a coach, Gruden said” “My strength, I believe, is dealing with players, motivating players… not letting them get too high or too low… To be a successful offense is to be diverse; to be good at a lot of things, not just one.”

Gruden ended the presser on an upbeat note, saying “We expect to win soon… The fans are unbelievable here… They expect a winner, they want a winner.”

“It’s very exciting…the history of this organization is something we can all be proud of.”

RG3 had this response:

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