If there’s one thing the Redskins know how to do…it’s initiate a new era.  From Turner to Schottenheimer to Spurrier to Gibbs II to Zorn to Shanahan… no franchise turned the page with more conviction.  So now the Jay Gruden era begins…and while one thinks this may be the right move at this time, how will this turn out differently than the five other hires during the current ownership era?

Because…let’s be honest–most of the hires appeared to be the perfect prescriptions at the time:  Marty Schottenheimer would bring discipline to Ashburn… Joe Gibbs would bring back the Burgundy and Gold Glory Days…and Mike Shanahan would right one dumpster fire of a ship.  Even the Steve Spurrier hire gave people cause of optimism:  the ol’ ballcoach was going to revolutionize the game.  Jim Zorn?  Who cared–this team was set after a pair of playoff appearances in three years!  There was nothing to fix–or so we thought.

So far the “Head Coaching Hire Wheel” has delivered a proven pro (Marty), a college whiz (Spurrier), a blast from the past (Gibbs), an unheralded assistant (Zorn) and a proven champion (Shanahan).  None of these moves has generated a winning record… and the high points are debatable:  technically Schottenheimer’s 8-8 is the best percentage-wise, but we’ll take Gibbs II leading the Skins to 2 wildcard berths in 3 years over that, the 2012 NFC East title, Osaka and Zorn’s 6-2 start.

Instead of a splash… the Redskins go after a coordinator with qualifications.  Instead of a former head coach with rings…the Skins go with somebody who’s hungry to prove himself.  Instead of bringing in a big name…the team brings in a big name’s brother.

You can call him Jay– the brother of Super Bowl winning coach and ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden takes the reins…and brings with him a resume that includes head coaching stops in the Arena and United Football Leagues plus three years as a coordinator with Cincinnati.  This is no Fredo or Frank Stallone.  Not even Don Swayze.

No Learning Curve Necessary– Jay’s familiar with General Manager Bruce Allen from their days together in Tampa Bay…where he also worked with Raheem Morris and Sean McVay.  After his tenure with the Buccaneers, Jay worked with Jim Haslett at Florida in the United Football League.  So in theory…he’ll be able to easily work with his assistants and his superiors.

What he’s not is almost as big as what he is– Jay Gruden isn’t a coach coming in demanding complete control…and he isn’t a college coach with minimal NFL experience on the sidelines.  He isn’t a position coach working for a coach on his side of the ball…and he hasn’t spent a decade-plus away from the game.  If you put all of the negatives together from every coaching hire in the Dan Snyder ownership era, you’d come with a portrait that Jay Gruden is the opposite of.  So the lack of everything counts for something.

What I like– Jay’s been a head coach (albeit in the Arena and United Football Leagues) before so he knows what it’s like to be in charge of an entire operation.  He’s worked with a young quarterback recently and the Andy Dalton-led Cincinnati Bengals have improved for 18th to 12th to 6th in scoring from 2011-13.  Gruden’s been the offensive coordinator on a team where the head coach is a defensive guy;  so he’s had much more autonomy than if Marvin Lewis was a coach with offensive roots.  And he gets a healthy RG3 and a load of cap room in his first season…not that anyone is using those items as excuses for a 3-13 2013.

Even the Right Move doesn’t always yield the Right Result–  you know what?  This hire could still wind up being 3-5 more years in the wilderness.  So many variables and wildcards go into building a winner… and despite the fact that Jay Gruden is exactly what this franchise needs right now, there’s no guarantee the team fares any better than they did with previous perfect prescriptions Marty, Gibbs or Shanahan.  

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