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Will Gruden be more like Gibbs or more like Norv?

Jan 12, 2014, 10:55 AM EDT

Jay-Gruden-headset

Jay Gruden is a different breed of coach for the Washington Redskins.

Not since they hired Joe Gibbs in 1981 have they gone with a relatively unknown coordinator with a limited record of success and no experience a head coach as their new head man.

Since then they have hired two coordinators without head coaching experience but with Super Bowl success on their resumes. Richie Petitbon, hired to replace Gibbs in 1993, was the defensive coordinator for the Redskins three world champions under Gibbs. He only lasted a year and he was replaced by Cowboys offensive coordinator Norv Turner. He had a couple of Super Bowl rings earned with Dallas in 1992 and 1993.

Neither one of those “hot” coordinator hires worked out. As noted, Petitbon lasted just one year and Turner spent almost seven frustrating seasons at the helm with just one playoff berth to show for it.

Gruden does have some hardware but it came from winning titles in the Arena League. His team won the championship four times with him at quarterback and twice with him as the coach. And he does have a Super Bowl ring earned with the Buccaneers when he was an offensive assistant.

That’s all good to have on your resume but the most notable entry there is his three years as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator. They were good offensively and Cincinnati earned a playoff berth all three years he was there. But Gruden’s offense wasn’t particularly innovative and one could say that it was the Bengals’ defense that led the way to the three playoff spots.

Some question how much of a boost he got from his older brother Jon, the former Raiders and Bucs head coach who now does Monday night football analysis. Certainly Jon gave his brother a huge lift when he gave him his first NFL job with the Bucs. But his older brother never elevated him above the lowly offensive assistant level. Before joining the Bucs Gruden toiled in the Arena League and after Raheem Morris fired him when he was elevated to head coach in 2009, Jay had to find work in the UFL. You’d think that if Jon was such a big help to his brother that Jay could have found some better gigs before landing in Cincinnati in 2011.

When you look at the big picture, for nearly every positive you can point out about Gruden there is a legitimate “yea, but . . .” to go with it. That is why just about everyone except those who view the world through burgundy and gold glasses all the time and those who are the biggest skeptics out there view this hire of with an attitude of, “OK, we’ll see.”

Will Gruden turn out to be like Gibbs, the Packers’ Mike McCarthy or Andy Reid of the Eagles and now Chiefs, all assistants with relatively modest backgrounds who have had great success? Or will he join the likes of Rob Chudzinski and Scott Linehan, hotshot offensive coordinators who didn’t have what it took to handle the complexities of being and NFL head coach?

At this point, your guess is as good as anyone’s. Gruden does have something that Chudzinski, Linehan, and other failed offensive coordinators didn’t have and that’s a quarterback. If former QB Gruden can get current QB Robert Griffin III performing at a high level he has a good chance of enjoying success and lasting a long time. If not, we will probably be doing this again in three years or so.

  1. davem23 - Jan 12, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    Are you forgetting Zorn?

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 12, 2014 at 11:49 AM

      Zorn was not a coordinator. He was a QB coach when he came here.

  2. hailyeah1 - Jan 12, 2014 at 9:13 PM

    Rich i think it will be more like gibbs ,the situation is simular to when gibbs took over in 81 .gibbs needed to build an oline as well as gruden has to .established qb in thiesman for gibbs griffin for gruden even though griffin does need more polishing .
    the only real difference and this could take longer to fix , is our defense in 81 was much better as well special teams where both are a hot mess for gruden in 2014.
    hoping the salary cap mess over with a decent draft we might be able to fix some of the problems for the upcoming season and last place schedule again we could be alright building on positives for the future!!!

    • bellykilmer - Jan 13, 2014 at 5:46 PM

      Gibbs and Bugel deserve a lot of credit that first season for grabbing Russ Grimm in the 3rd round and Joe Jacoby as a UDFA. Even without these 2 hogs though, Joe inherited an O line in much better shape than Gruden, and Joe also inherited a 1st round pick (#20), which he used to nab LT Mark May.

      Gruden, of course, is entering without the benefit of a 1st round pick.

      When Joe Gibbs and Joe Bugel came on board we already had tight ends Donny Warren and Doc Walker.
      We already had C Jeff Bostic, hog RT George Starke and experienced RG Ron Saul.

      The overall talent on that ’81 club was light years ahead of the talent Jay is inheriting. That club had Theismann, Joe Washington, John Riggins, Art Monk, Doc Walker, Don Warren,.Mark Murphy, Dave Butz, Dexter Manley, Neil Olkewicz, Mel Kaufman, Monte Coleman, Rich Milot, Joe Lavender, Mark Moseley, Mike Nelms and a number of other solid veterans.

      Gibbs 1 happily lived without a salary cap the entirety of his first stint (13 seasons.) Jay is not so fortunate. Just my opinion, but I Jay it taking on a far more daunting project than Joe inherited.

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