One thing about Mike Shanahan when he was hired as the Washington Redskins head coach is that he had already accomplished so much in his career before he arrived. Unlike a brand new head coach like Jay Gruden, I don’t think Shanahan had the mindset that he had to build relationships with players that went beyond player / coach.
But Mike Shanahan was not only the head coach, he was the vice president of operations with final say on all football matters. A power and authority that Jay Gruden will not have. So I think Gruden will see players differently than Shanahan did. Shanahan was more of a CEO than Gruden will be. So Shanahan delegated a lot more to his assistants.
He didn’t have time to be as hands on as Gruden will be, because Shanahan had more responsibilities. Jay Gruden will be working much more closely with quarterback Robert Griffin III than Mike Shanahan ever did. And I think that’s something that was sorely missing from Shanahan’s relationship with RGIII.
Yes Gruden will rely on his QB coach and offensive coordinator for certain things, but Jay Gruden will be calling the plays on the sidelines, and not just walking around like Mike Shanahan did. And this is why the quarterback / head coach relationship will be much better than before. Because essentially, it has to be.
Making $7 million a year and resting on two Super Bowl wins, Mike Shanahan never had much to fear if his time in Washington didn’t work. He could rise or fall on his own terms, and he could live with the legacy he had already established. But Jay Gruden needs this to work, because if he fails he may not get another shot at being a head coach in the NFL.
The Redskins were Mike Shanahan’s third time as an NFL head coach. He didn’t have to be on the same page with RGIII. He didn’t think he should have to fight to get through to him. He didn’t think he should have to fight to keep him away from the owner’s attention. He thought it should have already been like that. Because he’s Mike Shanahan.
But with Gruden, the offensive coordinator won’t just be a go-between in communication for Gruden and Griffin. RGIII will know what’s expected right from the horse’s mouth everyday. Mike Shanahan had already succeeded. But this head coach and quarterback’s destinies are intertwined. And they will need each other to see those destinies fulfilled.