WASHINGTON — Jay Gruden was introduced as the new coach of the Washington Redskins on Thursday afternoon, becoming the team’s eighth head coach since Daniel Snyder purchased the franchise in 1999.
Gruden, most recently the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals, succeeds Mike Shanahan, who was fired by the Redskins after a 3-13 season in which the team finished last in the NFC East.
Gruden, the brother of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden, never has been an NFL head coach. He has been a head coach in the Arena Football League and the United Football League. He oversaw the NFL’s 10th-ranked offense this season with the Bengals. He inherits a Redskins team that lost 40 games in four years under Shanahan.
“There’s a lot of work to do,” Gruden said. “When you’re 3-13, there’s not one particular player or reason. There’s a lot of reasons and a lot of things that need to be fixed, no question.”
Gruden had interviewed with the Redskins on Wednesday and had been scheduled to interview Thursday with the Minnesota Vikings. Instead, he agreed to a five-year deal in Washington, according to a person with knowledge of the deal, and was introduced at an afternoon news conference.
Gruden has ties to several members of the Redskins organization and was said Wednesday to have emerged as the team’s top choice to replace Shanahan. Gruden worked with Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen in Tampa Bay, where Gruden was an assistant coach working for his brother and Allen was the team’s general manager.
People with knowledge of the situation say that tight ends coach Sean McVay will be promoted to offensive coordinator, and they expect defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and defensive backs coach Raheem Morris to remain in some capacity. Allen also retained defensive line coach Jacob Burney and offensive line coach Chris Foerster and his assistant, Chris Morgan. Gruden, who has worked with Haslett, McVay and Morris in the past, said “I know those guys know football,” but didn’t publically commit to any of them. He estimated that in the last 24 hours, he has received roughly 350 text messages from coaches eager to join his staff.
“I don’t think finding a great coach and coaching staff is going to be difficult. It’s finding the right ones that fit what I want to do and what the players want to do,” Gruden said.
Bengals assistant Hue Jackson won’t join Gruden in Washington but likely will be elevated to offensive coordinator in Cincinnati to replace Gruden.
Gruden arrived in town Tuesday night after interviewing earlier that day with the Tennessee Titans. He had dinner Tuesday with Allen and had his formal interview Wednesday at Redskins Park in Ashburn, Va.
He was the sixth candidate known to have interviewed with the Redskins following offensive coordinators Darrell Bevell of the Seattle Seahawks and Jim Caldwell of the Baltimore Ravens, defensive coordinators Sean McDermott of the Carolina Panthers and Perry Fewell of the New York Giants, and Dallas Cowboys special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia.
The Redskins had planned to meet with Vanderbilt University coach James Franklin, but he reportedly was offered the coaching job at Penn State University. The team also had sought interviews with offensive coordinators Ken Whisenhunt of the San Diego Chargers and Greg Roman of the San Francisco 49ers, and defensive coordinators Mike Zimmer of the Bengals and Vic Fangio of the 49ers.
“We were looking for a new leader, someone to inspire our football team,” Allen said. “It was more than just X’s and O’s. It was about finding the right person to build the team chemistry that we needed. We needed someone who would be a good teammate to the coaches, the organization and the players in the locker room, and through this search, we kept looking for that leader and teacher.”
Gruden was a candidate for the Titans, Vikings and Detroit Lions. One person close to the situation said that Gruden seemed to prefer the Titans, but the Redskins might make him a financial offer that would be difficult for him to refuse.