The Washington Redskins chose Jay Gruden as the successor to Mike Shanahan, who was fired as coach last month after a four-year tenure that yielded one playoff appearance.
Gruden, 46, spent the past three seasons as offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals and has never held a head coaching job in the National Football League.
“I will do my best to make sure I put a competitive team on the field every day,” Gruden said yesterday in a news conference. “I look forward to the challenge.”
Gruden is the sixth coach hired by Redskins owner Daniel Snyder in 15 years. None has stayed with the team longer than four years. Since Snyder purchased the Redskins in 1999, the franchise has managed one playoff victory and has had four winning seasons.
The Bengals finished with the best record in the American Football Conference’s North division this season at 11-5 before suffering a 27-10 playoff loss to San Diego on Jan. 5. Cincinnati tied for sixth in the league with 26.9 points scored per game, while the Redskins were 23rd with 20.9.
Shanahan was fired Dec. 30 after his relationship with Snyder and quarterback Robert Griffin III deteriorated. Washington ended the year with eight straight losses, including a season-closing 20-6 defeat to the New York Giants, to finish 3-13, the fewest wins in the National Football Conference.
“When you’re 3-13, there are a lot of things that need to be fixed,” Gruden said. “There’s a lot of work to do.”
Shanahan, 61, had one year and $7 million left on his contract. His exit came three weeks after he benched Griffin, the second overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft, for the last three games of the season. With the Redskins out of playoff contention, Shanahan said he was protecting the quarterback, who underwent knee surgery in January, from injury.
Gruden said he didn’t know and didn’t care about what happened with the Redskins last season.
“We’re going to forget about the past and look forward,” he said. “There’s a passion to win here.”
Gruden’s brother, Jon, coached 11 NFL seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders, and currently works as a television analyst for Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN network.