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Be careful what you wish for when considering replacing Jay Gruden

A look at why the Redskins might not know what they have in Gruden until he’s gone.

NFL: Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Each week I will be doing a stats column in this space, but this week I decided to be a bit less stat-centric and more focused on the NFL coaching carousal given the number of calls for Gruden’s head after Monday Night Football. I definitely think Jay Gruden deserves some blame for MNF and has had an up-and-down career as the Redskins coach, but I think he’s done a good job overall and has kept the Redskins competitive.

I’d love to find the next Bill Belicheck and be competitive for the next two decades, but that is easier said than done. The problem is finding that is next to impossible, and you probably have about the same odds of winning both the Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots and buying a piece of the Redskins.

Here is how the coaching hires have fared for the last few seasons:


Arizona Cardinals : Steve Wilks (1-4)

-The Cardinals are off to a terrible start under Wilks as their once promising offense has looked awful and their defense is underperforming. Already there are calls for the offensive coordinator to be fired and Wilks might not be far behind if they don’t at least look more competitive.

Chicago Bears: Matt Nagy (3-1)

-The Bears are off to a great start winning their last three games and barely losing in week 1 to some Aaron Rodgers magic. The Bears are benefiting from an active free agency period and trading for elite defender Khalil Mack before the season. They haven’t faced a lot of tough tests yet, but Nagy seems to have the Bears far more in contention and they have a shot at the division.

Detroit Lions: Matt Patricia (2-3)

-The Lions are off to a very slow start under Patricia the long time Patriots defensive coordinator. They remain competitive in games due to Matt Stafford, but it’s been a disappointing start for the Lions.

Indianapolis Colts: Frank Reich (1-4)

-It was always going to be a rough start for the Colts as they decided not to be active in free agency this year, and save their money for the future. The Colts have been in just about every game, but they still are just 1-4 to start the year and will probably have double digit losses.

New York Giants: Pat Shurmur (1-4)

-The Giants had a lot of high hopes for a bounce back year, given their weapons on offense and some talent on defense. So far though they have really struggled. The offense can’t get anything going on a consistent basis, and it looks to be another long season for New York.

Oakland Raiders: Jon Gruden (1-4)

-The older Gruden brother was coaxed out of the booth to rejoin the Raiders this offseason, but so far its been a bit of a disaster in Oakland. The roster has seen a lot of turnover (including a star player in Mack) and the offense has been highly inconsistent. If not for a highly questionable call in their week 4 game versus the Browns, the Raiders could be winless through 5 games.

Tennessee Titans: Mike Vrabel (3-2)

-The Titans are tied atop the AFC South, but have been more disappointing than their record shows. Most of their games have been very close and they easily could have another loss or two. Part of the issue is the injury that Marcus Mariota is dealing with, but part of it is this team is just not clicking. It’s still a winnable division so Tennessee could be in playoff contention, but they aren’t there just yet.


Buffalo Bills: Sean McDermott (11-10, 1 playoff appearance)

-The Bills got hot late last year for a playoff run, but they are in the middle of a long rebuild. McDermott has done better than expected given what he’s had to work with, but it’s unclear if he’s the right answer here.

Denver Broncos: Vance Joseph (7-14)

-It’s been a disappointing start to Joseph’s career as he was handed a team with a lot of defensive talent and some very good wide receivers among some other pieces. Joseph is starting to feel the hotseat and if the Broncos have a poor year and don’t see improvement from last years 5-11 record, he could be out of a job.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Doug Marrone (13-8, 1 playoff appearance)

-Marrone had the Jaguars clicking last year as they not only won the AFC South, but they advanced to the AFC Championship game. They’ve been more inconsistent this year, but still sit at 3-2 tied atop the division. Their defense makes them a contender, but the offense has played better under Marrone as well (though highly inconsistent).

LA Chargers: Anthony Lynn (12-9)

-Lynn has done a nice job for a Chargers team that was moving to Los Angeles and doesn’t even play their “home” games in a real football stadium. The Chargers have been competitive and have a decent playoff shot this year. A lot of the Chargers success goes back to Philp Rivers and Melvin Gordon, but Lynn has done a nice job utilizing their talent and getting the most out of a tough situation with the move.

LA Rams: Sean McVay (16-5, 1 playoff appearance)

-McVay is clearly the coach that every team would want, as he turned the Rams around quickly into one of the top contenders in the league. Now the situation was strong as he was given an elite RB in Todd Gurley and a top tier defense as well. McVay though has clearly gotten the most out of this team and the Rams might be the best team in the NFL.

San Francisco 49ers: Kyle Shanahan (7-14)

-Though hyped as the top coaching option on the market, Shanahan has not found early success. Bad luck and a lack of talent haven’t helped matters, as the injury to Jimmy Garoppolo has likely sunk the 49ers season. Shanahan is a great offensive mind, but it remains to be seen if he can be a good head coach. Unfortunately it will be tough to evaluate until year three.


Cleveland Browns: Hue Jackson (3-33-1)

-It’s been pretty bad in Cleveland as Jackson went from being a promising coordinator to a terrible head coach. There have been plenty of questionable decisions here, and it’s shown up in the record. Things are starting to turn around for Cleveland, but unless they go on a major run, it would be shocking to see Jackson keep his job.

Miami Dolphins: Adam Gase (19-18, 1 playoff appearance)

-Gase had a good first year in Miami, unfortunately an injury to QB Ryan Tannehill really spoiled any chance of them advancing in the playoffs that season. Another preseason injury to Tannehill sunk Gase’s 2nd year. This year will be a good test for Gase to see if they can remain in playoff contention. Barring a complete collapse I’d imagine Gase gets one more year after this if the Dolphins don’t make the playoffs.

New York Giants: Ben McAdoo (13-15, 1 playoff appearance)

-McAdoo went 11-5 his first year, but couldn’t even make it a full 2nd season after the team just totally collapsed last year.

Philadelphia Eagles: Doug Pederson (22-15, 1 playoff appearance and Super Bowl win)

-Pederson replaced Chip Kelly and quickly turned the Eagles around. His Super Bowl win is even more impressive as he did so with a back-up QB. Philly is off to a slow start this year, but when Wentz is fully healthy this team is a quality contender.

San Francisco 49ers: Chip Kelly (2-14)

-His one season out west was not kind to Chip Kelly as the 49ers went 2-14 and they fired him after the year. Kelly didn’t have a lot to work with, but the team totally fell apart around him.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Dirk Koetter (16-20)

-The Buccaneers went 9-7 his first year and this team looked on the way up, but after a couple free agent splashes in the offseason the team fell to a disappointing 5-11 his 2nd season. This year Tampa started out 2-0, but lost their next two games to even their record at 2-2. There is some talent on this team, but it’s unclear if they can put it together to be competitive.

Tennessee Titans: Mike Mularkey (18-14, 1 playoff appearance)

-Mularkey was promoted from interim head coach, which seemed like an odd move since he went just 2-7 in that interim. He rewarded the Titans trust in back-to-back winning seasons, but he was aided with playing in a very weak AFC South. Concerns about the lack of development on offense cost Mularkey his job.


Atlanta Falcons: Dan Quinn (30-23, 2 playoff appearances, 1 Super Bowl appearance)

-Quinn has been great for the Falcons and clearly one of the top success stories on this list. They are sitting at 1-4 this year with a slow start, but other than that this Falcons team has been rolling and has not finished below .500 during his tenure.

Buffalo Bills: Rex Ryan (15-16)

-Ryan was a big high profile hire by the Bills and finished his first year with a .500 record. There was a lot of hype entering year two and the team just disappointed all year despite an okay 7-8 record the Bills fired Ryan before the year was out.

Chicago Bears: John Fox (13-44)

-Fox had plenty of success in his career up until this point, but his Chicago teams were flat out bad. When he took over the Bears looked to have a decent level of talent, but it really bottomed out. Lack of development of 1st round rookie Mitch Trubisky was the final straw for the Bears and they fired him after the 2017 season.

Denver Broncos: Gary Kubiak (21-11, 1 playoff appearance and Super Bowl win)

-Kubiak took over a veteran Broncos team and got them to the next level by winning the Super Bowl his first season. The win was even more impressive as Peyton Manning was clearly at the end of his career and could not longer function at a high level. Kubiak was still competitive after Manning left, but health concerns forced him to leave the Broncos.

New York Jets: Todd Bowles (22-31)

-Bowles went 10-6 his first year, but just missed the playoffs. Since then the Jets have gone 5-11 back-to-back years and are off to a 2-3 start. Bowles will have to show some promise and real development of top pick Sam Darnold to keep his job through this year.

Oakland Raiders: Jack Del Rio (25-23, 1 playoff appearance)

-The Raiders went 12-4 and made the playoffs in Del Rio’s 2nd year, but an injury to Derek Carr ruined their chances of going further. After a disappointing 6-10 year and some questions about Del Rio losing the team the Raiders fired him and signed Jon Gruden this offseason.

San Francisco 49ers: Jim Tomsula (5-11)

-Tomsula took over for John Harbaugh and inherited a 49ers team that was among the leagues best over the 4 previous seasons. Unfortunately things fell apart quickly and Tomsula was fired after one season.


Now as many will point out Jay Gruden’s overall record is less than stellar, but he has had the Redskins competitive each of the last three seasons. That includes one playoff appearance and another above .500 season. Yes there have been disappointments and the team collapsed down the stretch last year (though injuries played a major role in that), but the Redskins have been in contention and competitive in most games over the last three+ seasons. I think Gruden will need to show at least a .500 record again and overall growth with the team to keep his job. The point of this though is that it’s not easy to find even a moderately successful coach in the NFL.

From 2015-2017, 15 different teams made a coaching hire, of those how many can legitimately be considered successful. Maybe 13 if we are generous. Of the seven teams who hired a coach in 2015, only two of those teams still have their coach just four years later and one of those (Todd Bowles) is very much coaching for his job. Of the seven 2016 hires, three are already out of a job and another 2 or 3 could be fired this offseason.

As it stands the odds of getting the next Sean McVay or Dan Quinn are pretty slim and it’s more likely the Redskins get the next Ben McAdoo or John Fox. If Gruden loses this team and finishes worse than last year, I understand making the change, but don’t just make a change to make a change. Typically that sets your team back (and is definitely something the Redskins have done in the past), and it could be years before you are competitive again.