Jay Gruden became the 28th head coach of the Washington Redskins this year and he certainly has his work cut out for him. But he’s going to have to work especially hard to earn a spot with this elite group.
Here are the least successful men to ever coach the franchise.
1.) Mike Nixon: 1959-60
Here we have a Mike other than Shanahan that didn’t fare well in Washington. In two seasons as head coach, Nixon’s teams managed to win 14 fewer games than they won. He was relieved of his duties following the 1960 season and replaced by the man who comes in third on the list.
2.) Richie Petitbon: 1993
Petitbon was a longtime assistant and understandable successor when Joe Gibbs retired for the first time. When Gibbs decided to pursue a full-time career as a NASCAR team owner, the former defensive coordinator stepped up.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to match the success of his former boss and was shown the door after one abysmal season. He never worked in the NFL again.
3.) Bill McPeak: 1961-65
McPeak took the reigns in 1961, but perhaps the team should have thought twice before making the hire.
Although Petitbon’s promotion ultimately proved unsuccessful, it made sense because he did come from winning stock. McPeak, however, was an assistant under the least successful coach in team history. He only fared marginally better than the man that groomed him.
4 tied.) Steve Spurrier: 2002-03
As recently as July 2014, Spurrier has said his move to the NFL was probably a mistake. And he’s right.
Spurrier is tied with two others as the fourth least successful coach in franchise history.
Some guys are just meant to stay in college and “The Old Ball Coach” is a perfect example. He’s also a perfect example of how you can’t bring college to the NFL. (see: Shane Matthews and Danny Wuerffel)
Spurrier couldn’t quite get his “fun ‘n’ gun” offense to work in the pros. We wonder how much of that blame falls on Patrick Ramsey or a host of others under center in his two seasons in Washington.
4 tied.) Jim Zorn: 2008-09
This guy really shouldn’t be on the list. Heck, he shouldn’t have even been head coach.
Although the Redskins were without a head coach in 2008 following the second retirement of Joe Gibbs, owner Dan Snyder hired Zorn as offensive coordinator. The backwards logic hampered the hiring process and Zorn was promoted to head coach a few weeks later.
It went about as well as you’d expect.
Zorn’s Redskins posted a record of 8-8 in his first year and regressed to 4-12 in 2009 — both good enough for last place in the division. Let the Mike Shanahan era begin.
4 tied.) Mike Shanahan: 2010-13
Although his record is only fourth-worst, modern fans will have a hard time saying Shanahan wasn’t the most disappointing coach in team history.
The Super Bowl winning coach was supposed to be the savior to restore the team to glory and keep the franchise from getting in its own way. Yeah, about that.
Sure, the Redskins won the NFC East in 2012 as rookie Robert Griffin III proved worthy of everything given up to draft him. But the way the season ended… and then the offseason… and the next season.
All of the finger-pointing and underhanded comments in the media led to a horrendous 3-13 record in 2013 and Shanahan’s ouster. Good luck, Mr. Gruden.
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