PHOENIX — The change has been made and there is nothing left for the Redskins to do but move on.
Whatever the exact reasons for general manager Scot McCloughan’s departure, the organization itself has adjusted quickly to his absence, according to head coach Jay Gruden. Echoing team president Bruce Allen’s comments earlier in the week at the NFL owner’s meetings, Gruden expressed sadness that the relationship failed and McCloughan was fired on March 9.
“I was disappointed. I liked Scot. I liked working with Scot,” Gruden said. “I think he’s a good person and a great talent evaluator. Any time you lose somebody that you become close with, whether it’s a coach or a GM or a player, it’s disappointing. But at the end of the day in pro football, anybody who has been around it long enough understands that change is going to happen. You have to react and adjust to it and move forward with a positive outlook.”
Gruden noted that he and McCloughan shared a basic philosophy about acquiring players and shaping a roster. That led to a comfort level between the two men, who didn’t know each other well before McCloughan was hired in January, 2015. He also insisted that even without McCloughan, the Redskins current front office structure is still set up to build on back-to-back winning seasons.
“Moving forward, we’ll just have to get it done another way. And we will get it done,” Gruden said. “The coaches are going to be even more involved than they were and the scouts have done an excellent job – the area scouts, the pro scouts – we have a lot of faith in what they do, in their grades. And obviously the coaches and we’ll get it done.”
McCloughan’s departure has created a void that’s led to a greater voice for Gruden and other member of the front office – though he declined to frame it that way during a talk with reporters at the NFL owners’ meetings on Tuesday. Allen said as much during an interview with 106.7 The Fan on Sunday in Phoenix. Senior personnel executive Doug Williams is another with more duties on his plate, according to team sources.
“I felt like I’ve had a big role. I’ve had a lot of fun with it. It’s one of the reasons that drew me to this job is the ability to have a role and a say in personnel,” Gruden said. “It may not be the final say, but we have a ‘Redskins say’ at the end of the day and my input [has] been used quite a bit over the years, I’d like to think.”
Gruden said he texted with McCloughan “here and there” in the days before and after the firing and let him know he enjoyed working with him and wished him future success. It wasn’t his decision, Gruden said, and he wouldn’t address whether a change had to be made.
“I’m not going to say ‘it had to be made.’ It was made, that’s all that I can live with,” Gruden said. “When decisions are made of that magnitude in the organization, you think about it, you reflect on the good things that you learned from Scot and the good things that he did for the team. But at the end of the day it’s about moving forward in a positive way and that’s what we’re going to do.”
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