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Friday, January 17, 2014
Gruden explains decision to retain Haslett

By John Keim

The numbers suggested a move could have been made. Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden looked beyond the numbers and decided he wanted to keep defensive coordinator Jim Haslett around.

In fact, Gruden said they will start talking Monday about a contract extension.

Gruden
The Redskins announced Friday that Haslett will remain as the defensive coordinator, which was expected from the time Gruden was hired. The Redskins’ defense the past four years ranked 21st, 21st, 22nd and 30th in points per game. They were 31st, 13th, 28th, and 18th in yards per game.

“It was a lot of issues, and schematically it wasn’t the issue,” Gruden said. “It was special teams and depth issues. But to see them compete on a weekly basis ... They played well. I know a lot of offensive coaches that have a lot of respect for what coach Haslett brings, and how difficult it is to go against them. I’m one of those guys.”

The Redskins did much better in the second half of the season, ranking 10th in yards per game (25th in points).

Gruden also said he wanted to keep the staff intact to maintain continuity in their system.

“With another year coaching them up I think they’ll be fine,” Gruden said. “I’ve gone against his defense. I know what he’s about, and I know the scheme he plays is very difficult. He’s done great against Dallas, and he did well against Philadelphia the second time around, and in the second half of the year they played well. They were put in a lot of difficult situations.”

Gruden also is allowing Haslett to hire members of the staff, something he was unable to do under Mike Shanahan. And Gruden will not be as involved in the defense as his predecessor.

But he also liked the fact that Haslett is a former head coach (as is secondary coach Raheem Morris), which he said will benefit a first-time head coach like himself.

“I wanted someone with experience,” Gruden said. “I have Raheem also, and I know obviously Jim has great experience, not just the coaching part, but setting up schedules and practice schedules and dealing with players. And just to have another guy to bounce ideas off of. If I have a screwed-up idea, I know he’ll tell me this is not going to work. I need people like that, who will be loyal and work their tail off and come up with good ideas.”