December 11, 2019

Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden discusses defensive coordinator Jim Haslett

In his Thursday press availability, Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden was asked about his defensive coordinator, Jim Haslett, who was retained by the team in the wake of firing former head coach Mike Shanahan, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and others.

Gruden was specifically asked why Haslett was retained considering all the change, and the defense’s poor showing in 2013.

“I think number one, he’s a good football coach,” Gruden said. “I think he’s a good man. Number two, I think the players respect him and play hard for him. From a schematic standpoint, his 3-4 defense has been very effective and has been proven over the course of his career at different places. I’ve known him for a while and I know what kind of person he is – what kind of coach he is, what kind of leader he is – so it was a no-brainer for me.

Gruden talked a little bit about how Haslet might have been handicapped in the past. “It’s just a matter of getting him some better players over there that he can feel good about competing and trying to put the defense in better situations and not let them get on the field when they’re backed up at their 20-yard line three or four times a game and turn the ball over and make the other team have first-and-goal at the five a couple times a game. It’s very important for us to play good team football, do the best we can and make it field-position friendly for our defense and let them go out there and play.”

Gruden is aware of the criticism of Haslett in the media, and he acknowledged that it’s hard to ignore those types of comments. “Well, when you go 3-13, you’re going to get criticized if you’re on the team, on the staff, in the equipment room, if you’re the owner – everybody is going to get criticized. So that is natural, but I think that it doesn’t take away the fact that I think that [Haslett] is a good football coach. There were just some few instances and circumstances that were unfortunate. They could’ve done better, he could’ve coached better, they could’ve played better, but I still think he’s a darn good football coach and offers a lot to this team.”

 On how involved he plans to be with the defense and special teams this Sunday against the Houston Texans, Gruden replied,”I listen to what’s going on and if I have any input or what have you, then I’ll have my input, but I don’t anticipate having a lot of input on special teams or on defense. I will know what’s going on and be very involved in seeing and taking place in the game plan, seeing what’s going on in the gameplan, but overall, I’m going to let these guys coach.

“Coach Haslett has been a defensive coordinator for a lot of years. I’ve never been a defensive coordinator. Coach Kotwica has been a special teams coordinator for a lot of years and that’s not my forte, but I will offer my advice if I have any. But for the most part, I’m going to let them do their thing and call their game the way they see fit because they’ve been studying their butt off for the last month and a half on the Houston Texans and I have trust and faith in what they’re doing.”

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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