The process starts all over again now.
Redskins coach Jay Gruden, hired on Thursday, may choose to keep holdovers Sean McVay and Jim Haslett as assistant coaches on his 2014 staff, but there will be plenty of new faces for Redskins players to impress. That can be a blessing and a curse.
“There’s always apprehension when a new coach comes in because they do have their own system,” Redskins tight end Logan Paulsen said. “I do think [Gruden’s] system is similar to what we were running here, but you’ve got to learn all the new verbiage and get used to how they coach things. And that’s something that’s always tough. From that perspective you have a little anxiety. You might not fit with what they do. You’ve got to kind of show them that you can work in this new system, that you’re not a one-trick pony.”
And that’s even more imperative when the new coach is an expert on your side of the ball. Paulsen started 14 games at tight end as rookie Jordan Reed battled injuries and veteran Fred Davis was often benched even when healthy. There’s likely a spot for him on next season’s roster as long as the Redskins don’t bring in someone with a similar skillset. That can happen in the draft. Or in free agency.
That’s part of the butchers’ bill when a coaching staff gets blown out. But with the way last season ended, with a 3-13 record and unseemly media leaks and anonymously sourced reports in a back-and-forth between quarterback Robert Griffin III and coach Mike Shanahan and his son, Kyle, the offensive coordinator, Redskins players understood a change was likely. No one was surprised when the ax fell on Dec. 30 the day after a season-ending loss to the New York Giants.
“In some ways it is good to have a fresh start,” Paulsen said. “What was going on before was getting kind of crazy and that was unfortunate because I’ve got a ton of respect for the Shanahans and that coaching staff. They did a great job in terms of the x’s and o’s and putting us in the right positions. But sometimes there needs to be a change.”
Haslett is expected to be named the defensive coordinator, though Gruden would not confirm that at his press conference on Thursday at Redskins Park. McVay is considered a promising young coach at age 27, but his role, too, remains up in the air, according to Gruden. Both men were kept under contract for a reason, however, after Shanahans and other assistants were let go. It will be an interesting mix coming back if Haslett and McVay, who both have prior relationships with Gruden, stay on.
“So we’ve got a new staff, a new head coach and probably some new coaches along with that hire,” Paulsen added. “But I do think that it’s good we’re going to have some continuity in terms of guys that were here will stay here and give us the opportunity to not make the transition quite as difficult, quite as harsh, quite as drastic.”