January and February were rough months for the Redskins, but so far, March is improving. While the front office remains in a state of confusion with general manager Scot McCloughan not joining team officials at the NFL Scouting Combine, there is no such uncertainty with the coaching staff, especially with the news late Saturday night that head coach Jay Gruden agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Burgundy and Gold, as CSN has confirmed.
There are plenty of reasons the Redskins want to keep Gruden around, not the least of which is a 17-14-1 record over the last two seasons to go with an NFC East title. But here are a few more:
- Offensive continuity - Fans may be freaked out at the prospect of losing Kirk Cousins, which oddsmakers still consider unlikely, but remember that Gruden put the offense together that allowed so much of Cousins' success. Further, Gruden was the coach that installed Cousins as the starter, standing up to ownership to bench Robert Griffin III. The Redskins haven't had consecutive winning seasons for two decades until Gruden came along. With his offensive gameplan installed, the Redskins ranked 3rd in the NFL in yards gained in 2016. And it might not hurt the team's efforts to keep Cousins at quarterback knowing the head coach is in D.C. through 2020.
- Players don't like him, they love him - Few coaches blend the right mix of humor and criticism that Gruden works through in almost every press conference. He backs his players up when they need it, but will point out mistakes and make changes when he sees fit. Last season, Gruden defended team captain and leader Trent Williams when he was suspended by the NFL, which players appreciated, yet benched RB1 Matt Jones when his play called for it. Speaking on CSN's #RedskinsTalk Podcast, tight end Vernon Davis said of Gruden, "Jay Gruden is probably one of my favorite coaches, all-time. And I say that because of his personality, his enthusiasm, his approach to the game. He's just a terrific coach. Everyone respects him, they look to him as a leader. He's just everything you could possibly want in a coach. I love him, I love him, and that's one of the other reasons that I wouldn't mind staying here. He allows the players to play really, really loose, and you want that in a coach."
- With everything else going on...- Despite somewhat promising news with free agent Chris Baker, and perhaps some movement towards a long-term deal for Cousins, the Redskins remain bogged down in the mire over the McCloughan situation. Things haven't seemed right with the GM since he told CSN and other reporters at the Senior Bowl in January that he could not speak to the media per instructions from Bruce Allen. McCloughan's absence from the combine only exacerbated the chaos. Gruden's extension should quell some of that uncertainty. Gruden has a strong relationship with Allen, dating back to working together in Tampa, and the 'Skins ship looks steady under the head coach's watch at least through 2020.
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