Meet the New Coach. Same as the Old Coach?

Our long nation’s capital nightmare appears to be over.

We are, of course, referring to the Washington Redskins season and its aftermath, not Iraq, Jennifer Lawrence’s ever changing wardrobe, the proliferation of bicycles and their riders minus any laws that might make them obey traffic laws that everyone else does—and, oh, the insurance pig, gecko and duck.

Actually, it’s not over, even though the Redskins appear to have named a coach after numerous interviews of coaches, assistant coaches—excuse me, coordinators—former coaches, RGIII’s college coach, which just goes to show you why football coaches have caller ID. None of the names of those interviewed spring instantly to mind, nor does the name of the new coach, who appears to be Jay Gruden, as opposed to his Super Bowl winning brother John Gruden now a sports analyst. Analyze this, John.

This is not really news, actually: folks were twittering the fact that Gruden had dinner with Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen with whom he’s worked before at Tampa Bay where he had been assistant coach for eight years. Gruden is highly regarded as an offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals where he nurtured quarterback Andy Dalton to stardom and a spot in the playoffs this season, although the Bengals offense and the team was knocked out by the San Francisco 49ers.

Gruden—Jay—is familiar with Allen, with defensive backs coach Raheem Morris and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, under whom he coached with the UFL’s Florida Tuskers in 2009. (Stop. “What is a Tusker?” you may well ask. Good fans, look it up). It appears that it is who you know that may count for something after all. On the other hand, it will be interesting to see if Gruden will want to keep Haslett, defense not being a strong point for the Redskins this past awful, awful season, along with the defensive backfield and special teams and, oh, just about everything.

The Redskins had just gotten through firing Coach Mike Shanahan and his son Kyle a week or so ago after a 3-13 season in which relations between coach and coach junior and their star quarterback Robert Griffin III had soured. The whole thing became a nightmare, as seasons often do under the long but futile reign of owner Dan Snyder. Not only that, but the team and Snyder were plagued with the old “Redskin” naming controversy, about which Snyder has so far refused to budge, along with many fans who do not realize that a name change, and all those chief feathers and John Riggins jerseys would become antiques.

Local sportswriters and sports casters and some anchors agonized over this mess as did we the people, a condition akin to emotional heartburn, intense feelings of shame for caring so much about so little of importance. People dreamt about the nightmare of the Redskins. Then, things became more nightmarish, especially for columnists who had predicted a trip to the Super Bowl, joining Davey “World Series or Bust” Johnson in the “not” club.

In any case, we have a coach—the eighth one since 1999. It will be a good reason to avoid the local sportscasts tonight, and the Redskins are still the Redskins. After all, there is a certain amount of certainty in our quaint little world. Maybe, for a few months at least, we will have other things we can talk about needlessly now that the coach is here. That “Duck Dynasty” thing appears to haves quacked itself out. Of course, we do have a mayoral primary campaign going on in Washington, which is a sport all its own.


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