navigation-background arrow-down-circle Reply Icon Show More Heart Delete Icon wiki-circle wiki-square wiki arrow-up-circle add-circle add-square add arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up calendar-circle chat-bubble-2 chat-bubble check-circle check close contact-us credit-card drag menu email embed facebook-circle facebook-square facebook faq-circle faq film gear google-circle google-square google history home instagram-circle instagram-square instagram linkedin-circle linkedin-square linkedin load monitor Video Player Play Icon person pinterest-circle pinterest-square pinterest play readlist remove-circle remove-square remove search share sign-out star trailer trash twitter-circle twitter-square twitter youtube-circle youtube-square youtube

A Soft Landing Spot For Gruden?

January 11, 2018
Jon Gruden is back in the NFL and with the Oakland Raiders.  Now, he hopes he can re-install the “Just Win, Baby!” mantra that has been lost for much of the time he’s been gone.

His return not only lifts the competitive fight of the silver and black, but it also gives the city of Oakland a chance to reminisce and enjoy football again, with a guy that they called “Chucky” who brought the Raiders back to glory one time already.

With Jon back and signing a ten-year deal with the Raiders franchise, he also provides an easy landing spot for his brother Jay, if/when he’s let go by the Redskins. As you know, the Redskins didn't make the playoffs and they have a lot to do before they can be on the same page as last weekend's wild-card round winners. 

True, Jay is not going anywhere right now. That could also change drastically next year. The younger Gruden is entering year five of his tenure in Washington and even though he has three total years remaining on his original five-year deal and extension from last off-season, he could be a dead man walking if the Redskins struggle.

Or if Jay Gruden convinces Dan Snyder that he can win and run the offense with Colt McCoy while developing a rookie.

Those are two very real possibilities because as we’ve mentioned several times in this space, Jay Gruden’s power in the organization has grown steadily. His evaluation skills are widely respected in the building and Jay has made it very clear that he is not married long-term to Kirk Cousins at the large amount of money a long-term deal would cost.

Gruden, in the first week of another early winter, strongly indicated that he believes somebody else could be effective and run the Redskins offense at a much lower price. While saying he would like to keep Kirk, he’s the classic case of somebody who is not going to stand on the table (at any cost) for his player.

That doesn’t mean they have a bad relationship or that the marriage is in need of divorce court, it just means both parties are highly unlikely to bend over backwards to make the relationship grow.

That’s fine. It happens in many partnerships. It’s hard to keep something special and that’s where we are right now.

The problem with this is 2018 is a "You Better Win, Baby!" year for the Redskins. Make no mistake about it: Inside the building, they are sick of being average (2015- 2017, 24 - 23 - 1) after a two-year stretch of awful football (2013 - 2014, 7 - 25) and that's just the last five years. 

It’s not good enough to be (8-8) in 2018 and that’s a mentality that you admire and embrace, but it’s also one that could easily get the head coach fired. Again, that’s understandable but is it really if Washington decides to cut ties with Cousins and totally revamps their depth chart at the most critical position? 

It isn’t if Gruden is adamant about keeping Cousins and warns the executive branch that Colt McCoy and a rookie just isn’t good enough. He would be right to have this stance, by the way. 

The problem? Jay thinks his system is the star and that McCoy to a rookie (and perhaps McCoy all the way) is a good idea. Gruden brought McCoy to Washington and totally believes in him. He knows the system inside and out. He could be what Case Keenum has become for the Vikings this year.

A crafty, still somewhat young veteran who has bounced around and learned the nuances of his position.. That all could happen but it’s highly unlikely.

McCoy would have to stay healthy and not take as many sacks as he has in a limited sample size with the Redskins. He also would have to overcome a “noodle arm” as one coach once called it.

Of course, the Redskins could always turn to a rookie if things don’t work out with McCoy right? The problem is this: What happens if the youngster is more Nate Peterman than Russell Wilson? In other words, what if he’s a true rookie and struggles?

The one notable alternative path to success was a vision we outlined last week in this space, which encouraged the Redskins to pursue either Andy Dalton or Alex Smith if they could not land a deal with Cousins on a somewhat fair long-term basis.  

If that doesn't happen (and even if it does), the Redskins could miss the playoffs. They could finish at .500. They could finish below .500.  While some might look at that as an understandable achievement, there’s very little chance that Gruden would keep his job after three consecutive non-playoff years, especially if his belief was that the Redskins were better off with McCoy and a rookie as opposed to Cousins. 

But at least Jay has a home in Oakland awaiting him on his brother’s staff, which strenghthens his resolve and stance here in Washington.  He knows he’ll be paid very well by the Redskins. He knows he won’t get a second head coaching opportunity right away, if ever, but he can accentuate what Jon and company has already brought to the Raiders.

Good for Jay. It empowers him to a large degree. It makes his stance stronger. That’s not a good thing unless you are in "Camp Gruden" and think that McCoy is the golden ticket in 2018.

Chris Russell has covered the Washington Redskins for eight seasons for multiple media outlets and was a part of the Redskins Radio Network broadcast team for five years. He covers the Redskins, Washington Valor and Baltimore Brigade for Monumental Sports Network (  Listen to Chris on Washington D.C.'s # 1 sports radio station, 106.7 The FAN