RICHMOND, Va. -- They like that he leaves them alone. Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden said he hired his coaches for a reason; he needs to let them coach. It’s a philosophy the coaches embrace and one the players like as well.
However, Gruden knows that can only go so far. And one question some around the NFL have is this: Will Gruden intervene when necessary? The first-year coach says yes, he will.
“Ultimately it’s my neck on the line,” Gruden said. “But right now I see everything going smoothly. I know we’re going to have some ups and downs and I’ll probably have to stick my head in a meeting here or there, try to clear some things up and make tough decisions with scheme or player personnel, making the cut, playing time. But right now I want to make sure the guys I hired are allowed to do their job. Sometimes they don’t feel they can do their job when the head coach is always looking over their shoulder saying, ‘Don’t do this, don’t do that.’"
It’s a departure from the previous head coach, Mike Shanahan, who liked to dabble in all aspects of the operation. At times, Shanahan made defensive calls as well as offensive ones. Some worked; others did not.
Now, however, Gruden has given his assistants a lot of leeway, whether on special teams or defense. Gruden gave defensive coordinator Jim Haslett a lot of say in hiring the remaining coaches on his staff. Gruden lets special teams coach Ben Kotwica coach the way he needs.
“I’m going to give them the freedom to do what they like to do,” Gruden said. “There may be a point where I have to stick my head in coach Kotwica’s meeting room, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.”
Gruden will sit in on meetings now, enough to know what’s going on in all aspects. He just doesn’t want to throw his coaching weight around.
“He’s letting us play defense,” Cofield said. “He’s letting [coordinator Jim] Haslett handle the deal. We brought in some great coaches and we’ve got some great defensive minds, so I don’t think he needs to micromanage everything. The great head coaches let their assistants, let their coordinators and let their players police themselves. That’s what I’ve seen so far and I’m excited about it.
“When it’s not right, you know you’ll get in that meeting room and he’s going to show everybody that it’s not right. But until then, he’s going to let you do you. … We have so many great coaches on the defensive side of the ball, I don’t think we need the head coach at all.”