The face was different, the words familiar. Like Mike Shanahan and nearly every recent Washington Redskins coach, Jay Gruden is anxious to declare an end to franchise’s days of dysfunction.
“I don’t know what happened last year,” Gruden said. “I know that interviewing with Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen and everybody here that the passion for excellence is there. All they want to do is win, and they’re going to provide me with every avenue to win.”
Gruden was introduced Thursday as the man charged with ending the perpetual state of turmoil the team has endured under owner Snyder and general manager Allen.
Gruden was a given a five-year contact for his first NFL head coaching gig, taking over a 3-13 team that has finished last in the NFC East in five of the last six seasons.
Gruden is Snyder’s eighth coach in 16 seasons as an NFL owner. Unlike Shanahan, who was fired last week, Gruden will not have final say over all football matters. He’ll report to Allen, who has taken charge of assembling the roster and other personnel decisions.
The 46-year-old Gruden, who spent the last three seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals, said he will call the plays himself and that he has yet to decide which members of Shanahan’s staff to retain. It seems a safe bet, however, that some combination of defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, defensive backs coach Raheem Morris and tight ends coach Sean McVay has a good chance of sticking around, based on the trio’s previous relationship with the new coach. Gruden also said he’s a fan of the 3-4 defense that Haslett has used the last four years.
Gruden was an assistant coach with Tampa Bay from 2002-08, where he worked at various times with Allen, Morris and McVay. Gruden also coached under Haslett with the UFL’s Florida Tuskers in 2009.
There’s no question Gruden has paid his dues. He was a quarterback in the long-defunct World League of American Football, then went to the Arena Football League and began a playing and coaching career that was so successful it landed him in the AFL Hall of Fame in 1999.
• The Bengals promoted running backs coach Hue Jackson to offensive coordinator to replace Gruden.
Titans to interview Zimmer
Tennessee confirmed it has finished interviewing Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. Zimmer has been Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator since 2008, and his defense ranked No. 3 overall this season. From 1989-93 Zimmer served as defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach for Washington State.
Vikings owner appeals ruling
Vikings owner Zygi Wilf is moving to invalidate a court decision that demands his family pay $100 million in damages and legal fees over a broken business deal.
The Wilfs formally appealed a ruling that found the real estate developers committed fraud, violated civil racketeering laws and deprived a former business partner of contractual payments. It extends a case that has been working its way through the courts for 21 years.
Around the league
Chicago Bears second-year WR Alshon Jeffery will replace injured Detroit star Calvin Johnson (right knee) in this year’s Pro Bowl. … New York Giants top RB David Wilson will have a fusion of the vertebrae to repair the herniated disc in his neck on Jan. 16 and his future in football is uncertain. … A person familiar with the situation says Cleveland has given Miami permission to interview assistant general manager Ray Farmer for the Dolphins’ recent GM opening.