MOBILE - With the departure of Sean McVay to the Los Angeles Rams, the Redskins lost not only their offensive coordinator but their play caller. For his two seasons as starter, Kirk Cousins has heard McVay's voice in his ear, and this fall, that will change.
McVay's move west also means a new, yet old, opportunity for head coach Jay Gruden.
"I'm very excited about trying it again," Gruden said Tuesday from the Senior Bowl.
The "it" in mention means Gruden will again take over play calling duties from the sideline. His first year as Redskins coach in 2014, Gruden called plays. The offense didn't score much (26th) but they moved the ball well (13th), and that was with a messy QB scenario that saw all three of Robert Griffin III, Colt McCoy and Kirk Cousins start games. Additionally, that was Gruden's first year ever as a head coach, which obviously required a number of adjustments for the former Bengals play caller. On top of all that, Gruden also enlisted himself as quarterback coach that season, as if there wasn't already enough on his plate.
In 2017, that will all look much different.
Gruden's comments Tuesday indicate Cousins will be back to run the offense, and the team will have a third season of continuity with Matt Cavanaugh moving up from QB Coach to coordinator. Newly hired Kevin O'Connell will serve in the QB coach role, so there will still be a specific coach for Cousins to speak with and work through problems.
"I'm excited about dipping my hat, giving it another opportunity. I'm fired up about it," Gruden said.
The coach explained that other coaches will provide insight into play calling and game schemes, like they have for two seasons.
"[Matt] Cavanaugh obviously knows a lot. Bill [Callahan] will have input in the running game again but I look forward to the challenge," he said.
The 'Skins head coach will have more confidence calling plays this season, especially after his offense has grown from his first year. Last season, Washington ranked 3rd in yards and 12th in points.
"I think the first year we came in here we tweaked with the offensive terminology a little bit, trying to add some of my concepts," he explained. This year, little changes should be expected with terminology.
It's also important to remember that while McVay was the playcaller, it was still Gruden's offense - the same system that landed him the Redskins top job in the first place. In 2013, his final season with Cincinnatti, the Bengals ranked in the Top 10 in both yards and points.
"Sean did a really good job so I didn't feel like I had to jump in there and over rule him that often," Gruden said of the last two seasons.
Going into the fourth year of a five-year contract, and with a much firmer grip on his role on the sideline, continuity at quarterback, and a coaching staff he trusts, Gruden is in a much better situation to call plays for the 'Skins offense than he was three seasons ago.
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