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“Sometimes, maybe, I give coordinators too much credit like, ‘OK, this play worked a couple times, no way it’s going to work again,’” Gruden told Cincinnati radio station ESPN 1530. “You outthink yourself, and that’s the whole thing you go through as a coordinator is how to attack.”

Gruden also earned national notoriety for a profane rant captured by the HBO reality series “Hard Knocks” during Bengals training camp in August. After what he believed to be a poor practice, the coordinator invoked the name of a popular cartoon mouse before descending into a bleep-filled tirade that included his disinclination to coach a .500 team and a desire for further attention to detail.

Despite the glitches, he has interviewed for at least six other NFL head coaching jobs since he was hired by the Bengals.

Gruden’s approach has led to success outside the video-game world of the AFL. With the Florida Tuskers of the upstart United Football League in 2009, for instance, he helped quarterback Brooks Bollinger earn the league’s most valuable player award.

“Part of why I felt comfortable as a quarterback was not only what he could teach me just at my position, but how he made everything else flow together,” Bollinger said. “I think his ability to do that with the offense — you know, to get guys in the right places and make concepts match up and all the personalities you have to manage at the other position — I think his understanding of that helps the quarterback have success and feel very comfortable.”

Jim Haslett, the Redskins’ defensive coordinator the past four seasons, hired Gruden as his offensive coordinator with the Tuskers. He then succeeded Haslett as head coach when Haslett left to join Mike Shanahan’s staff as defensive coordinator in Washington in 2010.

Former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann was part of the Tuskers’ ownership group and interacted with Gruden on a regular basis.

“I watched the way he worked, watched the way he communicated with players, watched the way players responded to working for him,” Theismann said. “Everything was really positive.”

The tight-knit connections around the hire don’t end there. Redskins general manager Bruce Allen held the same position with the Buccaneers from 2004 to 2008 before he and the Grudens were fired. Allen led the coaching search after Shanahan was fired and sat next to Gruden during Thursday’s press conference. The new coach had a five-year contract and tried to push beyond the troubles that led the Redskins to losing records in seven of the past 11 seasons.

“He’s very stoic, a lot more outgoing now [than in college], when he was a man of few words,” Schnellenberger said. “The smile is on his face all the time.”

A smile that won’t soon fade.