Jay Gruden learned a deep lesson about coaching in the modern version of the NFL this week.
Gruden had the temerity to criticize his starting quarterback after yet another mistake-filled performance following the Redskins’ 27-7 home loss to the Tampa Bay Bucs last week.
A day after that game, Gruden took Robert Griffin III to the woodshed because the quarterback was basically incompetent in the game and his fundamentals were so poor.
Gruden’s analysis was cold, decisive, unemotional, and spot-on. In so doing, he eviscerated RGIII and left him bare for the world to pick apart.
“Robert had some fundamental flaws,” said Gruden when asked about Griffin’s performance in Sunday’s game. “His footwork was below average. He took three-step drops when he should have had five. He took a one-step drop when he should have taken three on a couple of occasions. That can’t happen.”
Gruden went on to imply that RGIII’s work habits and knowledge of the Redskins’ system was not where it needed to be.
It’s one thing for a quarterback to make mistakes. It’s quite another when he doesn’t do enough or the right kind of homework to prepare for the opponent each week.
RGIII had endured plenty of criticism, and rightfully so, because the Redskins are 4-14 in his last 18 starts. He had been brilliant throughout the majority of his rookie season in 2012, but he has been largely awful since enduring a knee injury in a Redskins 24-14 playoff loss to Seattle at the end of that season.
The luster of his bright start has disappeared, and the time for excuses, second chances, and third chances has passed. He is costing the Redskins games, and everybody knows it.
However, Washington owner Daniel Snyder certainly doesn’t want to face it, not when he made RGIII the face of his franchise and signed him to a four-year, $21 million contract.
Snyder wants to protect his investment, and he does not want his first-year head coach attacking his quarterback.
Gruden is not stupid, and he does want to stay employed. But his job is not to protect Snyder’s investment. Instead, he has to make that investment pay off. If that means lighting a fire under the investment’s rear end, then that’s what he has to do.
But Snyder seemingly does not understand what his coach is trying to do. That’s why Gruden was sheepish a couple of days later and regretful about woodshedding his quarterback. His owner didn’t like it, and he made sure Gruden knew he had erred in his judgment.
Snyder has basically assured that Gruden will be the same kind of failure that all of the other Redskins head coaches have been under Snyder.
Norv Turner was the never-could-quite-get-it-done head coach when Snyder bought the team in 1999, and he was fired in the 2000 season. Terry Robiskie finished the year on the sidelines, but he never stood a chance of getting the head-coaching position because Marty Schottenheimer was available.
Martyball was much too blunt and old school for Snyder, and that marriage was never going to work. Steve Spurrier was no more cut out to be a head coach in the NFL than he was as a player. Joe Gibbs could not work a miracle in his second time around.
Jim Zorn didn’t have the personality or profile to stand up to Snyder, and that brought us to Mike Shanahan. He had been one of the great head coaches in the game during his heyday in Denver, but he had problems with Snyder injecting himself into the football decisions the team had to make.
Gruden has already seen his legs cut out from under him. If he is truly clever, he will find a way to make some progress the rest of the year and get a chance to return in 2015.
However, if he can’t get the Redskins playing respectable football, Snyder could once again fire another head coach.
The owner has once again damaged his head coach. At a certain point, after you go through seven head coaches, you have to realize that the problem is not “them.” Instead, Daniel, the problem is “you.”
Gruden took the kid gloves off and let RGIII have it with both barrels. That’s just what should have happened.
Too bad for all concerned – especially RGIII, his teammates and Gruden – the owner had to butt in.
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