Inherent tension usually resides between NFL coaches and front office types. The coaches want players that will help win immediately, where front office folks have to juggle player development with salary cap constrictions. Add that to the fact that most scouts don't fully trust coaches with personnel evaluation, and often it's a situation rife with pressure.
As much pressure may fill the halls of Redskins Park, one such area it didn't was between former general manager Scot McCloughan and head coach Jay Gruden. In fact, McCloughan believes Gruden to be the best talent evaluating coach he has worked with, and that includes some high company.
I was with [Mike] Holmgren. He didn’t want any part of it. Pete Carroll didn’t want any part of it. Mike Nolan didn’t want any part of it. Mike Singletary didn’t want any part of it. But Jay really, really studies. He watches a lot of tape and he can identify, which helped me out quite a bit. Because you can always use good opinions from people that can see it. Because it’s not an exact science.
Gruden has worked in football his entire life, but it took him a long-time to make it as an NFL head coach. Combined with his years in the Arena League, never making it to the NFL as a player, might have helped hone his eye for scouting.
It also doesn't hurt that Gruden's father, just like McCloughan's, was a scout. The Gruden family grew up watching football like scouts. That doesn't just go away.
"The thing that’s cool about this organization – because I’ve been in three other ones – the head coach in Jay is a good evaluator,” McCloughan said. “He can see it and identify it. I leaned on him, he leaned on me."
McCloughan's comments came Tuesday speaking on Grant and Danny on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here), and in an odd way, showed agreement with Bruce Allen. The Redskins team president, Allen had the final say to fire McCloughan, yet both men spoke highly of Gruden's talent evaluation skills.
Both McCloughan and Gruden said they will be rooting for the other as events move on. Gruden will continue to do so from his seat as Redskins head coach. McCloughan's future holds more questions, but as usual, his scouting opinions will be in high demand. Already he has started back up his personnel business, just like he did before his tenure with the Redskins.
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