By: Nick Foxley
So, Jay Gruden is the new head coach of the Washington Redskins. Gruden’s taken a fairly unusual path to his first head coaching job, and comes to D.C. as an offense minded coach, after overseeing a strong Cincinnati Bengals offense that appeared in the top ten of the NFL this season.
But what of the defensive side of the ball? I wait with interest the decision concerning our defensive coordinator. Gruden has suggested he may keep incumbent DC Jim Haslett or look to secondary coach Raheem Morris, but are they the answer? This will be one of Jay Gruden’s key early decisions as head coach.
Should Haslett stay on despite his less than impressive achievements? There would be some continuity of system but we need to see progress and he hasn’t had it in four years. In the Jim Haslett era in DC, he oversaw the transition to the 3-4 defense that was supposed to utilize speed and encourage turnover creation.
But since the Redskins changed to the 3-4, they haven’t been near the top ten and have twice been in the bottom five. While you can accept a drop in performance in the first year, maybe even the second due to personnel and system issues, our defense has looked as soft as ever at times, and unable to make key stops or create those crucial big plays.
In the six years prior to Haslett, utilizing the 4-3 under Jim Zorn (Greg Blache) and Joe Gibbs (Gregg Williams), our defense was only out of the top ten once, and twice in the past ten years. Haslett’s record prior to taking over in Washington is also less than impressive although it started well enough as DC in Pittsburgh, keeping their defense in or around the top 10 each of his four years.
After taking over in New Orleans as the top man, his first year there saw the Saints with the #8 ranked “D” but that was as good as it got, never reaching higher than #14 and being #32 in his penultimate year there. In his three years as DC for the Rams, his teams were never in the top 20 so you start to wonder why or how he landed the job with the Redskins?
Part 2 – Would Raheem Morris be the answer? cont.