Redskins in Richmond - July 25 - The King Speaks
by Chris Russell
Jul 26, 2014 -- 2:22pm

The national media arrived in Richmond for the Redskins 2nd day on the practice fields. Deion Sanders and Jeff Darlington of the NFL Network were in the capital of the Commonwealth on Friday, as was Dan Pompei.

If you count Jon Gruden as national media, I suppose you can add him to the list. Let's be honest here, I think he has a connection or two in the organization.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated, the MMQB, and Sunday Night Football on NBC also was here. As you know, King has been outspoken over the Redskins name controversy, but  that was just one of the issues that George Wallace of WTOP and I were able to speak about with King.

King saluted Bruce Allen for the hire of Jay Gruden, with an interesting spin that I haven't heard many discuss at least recently.

"I thought that Bruce Allen made the right hire," King said.  I thought he hired the right Gruden."

He clarified what he meant about Jon, by complimenting Jay. Essentially saying because Jon has climbed the mountain, he prefers a young and hungry wolf.

"I want  as a coach of my team a guy who has beaten the bushes, who has done everything," King told us.  His career path, his goal is to be a head coach in the NFL."

King felt that Jay Gruden's number one mission (to get the most out of the franchise quarterback) will be easier to accomplish because Gruden is flexible.

"The reason Robert Griffin III is going to like working with Jay Gruden, I think, is because Jay runs a fairly democratic ship," King mentioned. "He's going to feel like he has a little more ownership in the scheme."

King preached something that I have been mentioning to anybody that would listen. "The one thing he's sure of is that he can go out there without restriction," King opined. He just wasn't happy (last year). This year, it's so different. He's involved in everything. I think mentally, he's so much more with it."

King meant that because Griffin is fully involved, he wasn't as frustrated. He also may have been talking about the peace of mind effect that Griffin has now that he feels he has "two coaches that believe in you," as he labeled Sean McVay and Jay Gruden on Thursday.

King felt that Gruden is not necessarily married to just his way or the highway, or to just what the coaches feel is the right thing to do. Players are going to have a voice. Griffin voiced similar sentiments earlier this off-season and that theory has held true on defense.

With players and with the coaching staff. One of the reasons why Jim Haslett has been reinvigorated to a large degree is because the proverbial handcuffs are off. Players, like DeAngelo Hall, Ryan Clark, Brian Orakpo and Barry Cofield are going to have more input with the staff both during the week and in a game to bend and adjust.

"The defense knows that Jim Haslett runs a smart scheme, very aggressive pouncing defense," King told ESPN 980. King mentioned the Redskins second round pick, Trent Murphy and the enthusiastic and fiery Ryan Clark. King thinks Clark "is going to be a real asset to that secondary."

Two other big picture items that we were able to pick King's brain on was the first public comments of Mike Shanahan since he was fired by the Redskins in January. Shanahan told USA Today that he would like to coach again, with a team that has a legitimate chance.

"I think Mike Shanahan will have a chance to coach a team, where the quarterback is under-achieving," King said. "He had some rocky moments with Jay Cutler, but he really helped Jay Cutler be a better player."

An early guess here is that I wouldn't be surprised to see Shanahan take over a team like the New York Giants next year if Eli Manning struggles again this year. Miami - perhaps with Ryan Tannehill.

King feels that Shanahan's departure from Washington wasn't all his fault. It was just a tough situation and "once they started going sideways, it couldn't be repaired," he said. "It's hard to repair something when your season is going down the tubes and your quarterback still is probably 88 %."

King was using that number as a figure of speech, but the point was served. Robert Griffin III was never one hundred percent last season.  

Finally, the issue that will never rest. The term "Redskins" doesn't exactly sit well with a lot of people, as you might have heard, but get used to it. "I don't think the issue is going to go away," King said. He's right. However, he made a tremendous point about the overall issue and the handling of it.

"I don't know that you want to be using a really good  smart general manager like Bruce Allen to be out front as often as he has been out front, writing letters talking about the nickname of your team." No doubt, this issue can hurt the operation of your program.

"Jerry Reese with the New York Giants, Howie Roseman of the Philadelphia Eagles - they're not fighting the national government about Giants and Eagles," King said. It's an issue that he feels is hurting the overall ability of the franchise to move forward because of "the way that Bruce Allen is fighting in a lot of arenas here."

King recently wrote that he feels the Redskins will likely change their name by 2016. "I have no proof, I have no reason. I can just feel the momentum," King told Wallace and ESPN 980. "Pretty soon, the NFL is probably going to realize that we can get rid of a pretty big headache if we start calling them the Washington Veterans or the Washington Americans or the Washington Warriors. I don't know what..Pick a name."

"It's just a gut feeling. I don't have a little birdy on Park Avenue in New York whispering in my ear 'hey we're going to get that name out of there,' It's just a sense I have."

Far be it from me to sit here and advocate for a change to the name when the issue does not have any effect on me. I get those that are bothered and I understand those that defend the name so passionately.

I also get that this issue is never going away. I don't think the Redskins are budging and I don't believe the other side of the aisle is backing down.

Chris Russell - -

Return to: Chris Russell Blog