A quintet of consecutive losses to start the Redskins’ 2019 season brought an end to Jay Gruden’s days as head coach for Washington.
While the five straight defeats were the period to Gruden’s sentence as the Redskins’ coach, there were also concerns with the progression or lack of from first-round pick Dwayne Haskins, who never got a start under Gruden. Meanwhile, down in Jacksonville, the Jaguars were struggling as well, but rookie sixth-rounder Gardner Minshew’s arm and mustache were providing hope.
Now, Gruden is in Duval as the offensive coordinator and realizes full well that ushering along the maturation of Minshew is paramount.
“Well, it better mesh,” Gruden said Tuesday, via team transcript, when asked about the relationship thus far between him and the Jags quarterbacks, specifically Minshew. “It’s my job to make it mesh, you know, to take on the personality of the quarterback and get him to understand what we’re trying to get accomplished on the play-to-play, game-to-game, week-to-week basis, it’s going to be critical. I love Gardner’s competitive spirit. You could see it shine through on tape when he was in college and obviously last year in the games he got to play. Now it’s just a matter of him getting some general knowledge of our offense and me figuring out what he likes, what he doesn’t like, what makes him tick and go from there. I’m pretty easy to get along with, I know he is too, so I think it will be a great relationship between the two of us.”
And thus, the right words were spoken by Gruden as it relates to dealing with the young gunslinger who might be the future of a rebuilding franchise in Florida.
Perhaps boding well for all parties involved, Gruden’s last season as an offensive coordinator — in 2013 with the Bengals — saw Andy Dalton produce a career-high 33 touchdowns and career-high 4,293 yards with Cincinnati netting an 11-5 record.
Now the onus is on Minshew, who Gruden spoke spectacularly of, having seen him in college and been most impressed by how the Washington State product rose to the opportunity as a rookie when starter Nick Foles went down in Week 1 last year. Foles has since been traded and the offense is very much Minshew’s with Gruden set to navigate uncertain waters.
“He got drafted in the later rounds and came out and playing in the National Football League is about taking advantage of your opportunities and Gardner did that,” Gruden said. “He’s a shining reason why once the opportunity presents itself, you take advantage of it. He did that, and he’s put himself in a great position to take the Jacksonville Jaguars and lead them into the future. He has shown a skillset where he can sit in a pocket, step up, make things happen outside the pocket. He’s accurate, he’s tough and obviously he’s a great leader so he’s got the intangibles you want in a quarterback. Now he’s got to get to know the team, get to know the offense a little bit so we can all gel together.”
It’s Gruden and Gardner going forward into 2020 for Duval and whether they mesh or not might well tell the tale for each of them and the Jaguars franchise for seasons to come.