ASHBURN, Va. -- The big brother with the Super Bowl ring watched from the sidelines, getting a feel for a team he’ll discuss during the season and for how his brother is handling life as a first-time head coach in the NFL.
ESPN "Monday Night Football" analyst Jon Gruden still says -- jokes? -- that Jay Gruden is the better coach. If that is the case he has a lot to prove. For now, he’s a rookie head coach trying to build a winning team.
But Jon Gruden said he learned a lot about his brother when both worked in Tampa. The younger Gruden served as an offensive assistant, sitting in the press box with a headset on during games.
“In a lot of ways he was like a coordinator with the Buccaneers,” said Jon Gruden, 50, and three years older than Jay. “A lot of the plays that I called went through him. He’s been able to see the game from a quarterback’s perspective for a long time. I like the way he develops young players.
“I like the way he did that for me in Tampa and the way he did that in the Arena League. If you look at the Bengals skill players, people can say all they want, but a lot of the young players played and played well fast.”
Jay Gruden will have to duplicate that success in Washington, though the young players on offense have already been starters in the NFL. But the one player Jay Gruden needs to have this happen with is quarterback Robert Griffin III.
“It’s awful early to make a bunch of predictions,” Jon Gruden said. “He obviously had his eyes open to the NFL, and I know I had my eyes opened quickly as well. It will make him better in the long run. Mentally tougher. I think he’s obviously way ahead of the game physically. Last year he was hurt at this time. It’ll be an interesting thing to see how he likes this new offense and how he performs. I have a lot of confidence in him.
“I don’t know what happened here the last couple years. He was the rookie of the year. I just know the offense will be different. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.”
He also liked how the Redskins practiced, but said what stood out was something else.
"I like the way they incorporated speed with their offense," Jon Gruden said. "You see DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon and you see [Andre] Roberts and [Jordan] Reed look good, and they still stayed with their zone stretch running game. That combination is really good."
Jon Gruden will get his first chance to call a game with his brother as head coach in an Aug. 18 preseason game vs. Cleveland. He’s already worked games when his brother was the offensive coordinator with Cincinnati.
“I’m just trying to take care of my job,” Jon Gruden said. “I’ve already been fired. I’m just trying to hang onto the job I can and he’s trying to do the same.”
Jay Gruden said he likes when his brother visits. And, yes, certain memories are triggered.
“Coaching points he’s made throughout the history of some of the plays we’ve run,” Jay Gruden said. “They’re good, solid, valid points that you’d like to bring up to your team ... He’s a great presence. Hopefully I’ll get him to talk to the team a little bit [Thursday] and pick his brain some more, maybe a little golf.”