The Daniel Snyder era in Washington has been turbulent for a multitude of reasons. A wide array of bad front-office and personnel decisions stemming from Snyder's micromanaging nature have hampered a once-proud franchise. Far too many clashing egos and far too many PR blunders have crushed the organization's reputation.
To their credit, the Redskins are in better shape right now than they have been for much of Snyder's 15-year reign. They have a franchise quarterback in place, and the decision to hire Jay Gruden—a fresh face with a strong offensive resume and sound football pedigree—was a good one.
For once, they appear to be adhering to the standard pro football hierarchy, with owner hiring general manager and general manager hiring head coach, and each supervising the next. That's the healthy approach, and it's encouraging that they've stopped over-thinking the process.
But—and you knew that nasty conjunction was coming—there's one problem: Washington hired Gruden this week without consulting first with Robert Griffin III, according to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio.
As of Thursday afternoon, the two hadn't talked, according to NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano.
Gruden: "I have not talked to Robert. I look forward to it, though."— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) January 9, 2014
I know, according to that aforementioned so-called healthy hierarchy, the head coach has more power and carries more weight than the quarterback. But this is a remarkably unique situation, because while Gruden will essentially be Griffin's boss, the Redskins had to consider why things blew up with the last coaching regime.
They also had to consider the fact that RGIII is the most important member of this organization, and that he alone is the largest investment in the 82-year history of the franchise.
Gruden said during his introductory press conference Thursday that he was excited to work with RGIII, and Griffin took to Twitter to declare his excitement regarding the hire:
Excited about the hiring of Coach Jay Gruden. Can't wait to get to work with him & the guys!— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) January 9, 2014
So they're saying the right things, but what choice do they have?
We know that in 2011, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Daugherty, Gruden preferred Andy Dalton to Colin Kaepernick for style and system reasons, and Griffin is a lot more like Kaepernick than Dalton. Is the fit perfect? Probably not, but how many of us wouldn't make concessions for a dream job?
If indeed that's a concession, the question now is whether Gruden will remain as amenable in the months and years to come, now that he's got the job.
And Griffin doesn't know what to expect, because by all indications he was closed off from the hiring process. Right now, he's probably just happy to be free of Mike and Kyle Shanahan. But if things boiled over that quickly with the Shanahans, and Griffin had met them before coming on board, the potential exists for another fast clash here.
|Era||Win%||Playoff||Super Bowls||Avg. coaching tenure|
|Pre-Dan Snyder||.574||13 for 33||3 for 33||4.1 years|
|Dan Snyder era||.433||4 for 15||0 for 15||2.0 years|
Pro Football Reference
Both men will have to be flexible on and off the field, which is far from guaranteed based on what we've seen from Griffin and what we've heard from Gruden, who was quoted saying this in 2006, per the Washington Post: "I’m 39, and I don’t take orders very well. I like being in charge and calling all the plays and bringing in who I want to bring in and cutting who I want to cut, signing who I want to sign. Leaving when I want to leave.”
And this in 2004: “I like having control over my team. I like signing who I want, cutting who I want, paying what I want and calling what I want on game day. ... I’m kind of spoiled to where if I go somewhere else, and I’m low man on the totem pole, it’s hard for me to take that.”
It's possible Griffin actually gave a nod of approval to this move before it was made, and I suppose it's even possible the two connected. The Redskins' media relations department is very careful, and it's not as though everything said at that Redskins Park podium has been truthful.
It's therefore possible that the Redskins are just leading us to believe that Griffin wasn't involved in this decision because they think that's the correct message to send. If that's the case, they'd be dead wrong, but at least it would mean they tackled their coaching search the right way.
If indeed Gruden and Griffin are entering this new era with complete unfamiliarity, don't be surprised if this thing blows up again in a year or two.