RICHMOND—Jay Gruden has no intention of micromanaging the coaches that he hired to help him turn the franchise around.
“Right now my decision is to let the coaches that I’ve hired coach and personnel players work with personnel and the GMs work with the contracts,” said Gruden.
“Ultimately, it’s my neck on the line, but right now I see everything is going smoothly and I know we are going to have some ups and downs. I’m going to probably have to stick my head in a meeting here or there and try to clear some things up and make some tough decisions here or there with scheme or player personnel making a cut or what have you – playing time – but right now I just want to make sure that the guys that I hired are allowed to do their job and that’s coaching. Sometimes they don’t feel like they can do their job when the head coach is always looking over their shoulder saying, ‘Don’t do that, don’t do this.’ I want to let them coach and give them the freedom to do what they like to do. There might come a point where I have stick my head in Coach Kotwica’s meeting room or what have you, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.”
As Gruden has pointed out on several occasions, the Redskins haven’t lost a game yet and so it’s easy for things to be going smoothly and for him to let the coaches do their thing. That could change but the default mode is hands off.
That certainly was not the mindset of the last coach. Mike Shanahan had cameras in every meeting room and a bank of monitors in his office so that he could look in on what was going on. Since he was fired in December there have been reports that he did not give Jim Haslett free reign to run the defense. Shanahan built his reputation as a top offensive mind but he liked to say that he was the head coach and involved with every aspect of the operation.
Redskins fans likely endorse the Gruden approach. It’s the one utilized by Joe Gibbs, who rarely got involved in defense or special teams during his first run as head coach when the team won three Super Bowls or during his 2.0 tenure when the Redskins made the playoffs twice in four years.
It’s been said that managing a sports team (or any organization, really) is like holding a bird in your hand. If you hold it too loosely it will fly away. If you hold it too tight you’ll crush it. We’ll see if Gruden can get it just right.