After watching Jay Gruden preside over rookie minicamp last weekend, this much about the new Redskins coach is clear: He’s no Mike Shanahan in terms of his demeanor on the practice field.
Over the course of the three-day camp, Gruden lined up as a cornerback. He threw passes to wide receivers. He even patted himself on the back after a particularly nice toss.
“I did throw some good passes,” Gruden later cracked.
Shanahan, by comparison, often observed from a distance, arms crossed, taking mental notes and interjecting only when a mistake needed to be corrected. Although many of his players enjoyed playing for Shanahan, he wore a scowl more often than a smile.
That’s not to say one approach is better than the other. It’s just different. And during Saturday’s practice—the first session open to the media since Gruden was hired in January—it was also very noticeable.
“I just try to be myself out there,” Gruden explained. “I try to have some fun. I want to make sure the energy level is high out there and guys are enjoying what they’re doing.”
That said, Gruden was quick to point out that there’s a line that must be straddled.
“We have got to stay on them and make sure they’re disciplined and not jumping offsides,” he said. “And [they’re] running to the ball on defense and offensively finishing blocks and finishing runs and running the routes at the right depth.”
Gruden added: “There’s a lot of coaching going on out there. [But] it doesn’t mean I have to be a hard-ass on every snap and yelling at people. I like to have fun and keep things loose and just coach the game of football that we all love to play and coach. I want them to have fun when they come out here, but I also want [them] to be very competitive and do their work.”