The face was different, the words familiar. Like Mike Shanahan and nearly every recent Washington coach, Jay Gruden is anxious to declare an end to franchise’s days of dysfunction.
"I don’t know what happened last year," Gruden said. "I know that interviewing with Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen and everybody here that the passion for excellence is there. All they want to do is win, and they’re going to provide me with every avenue to win."
» New Orleans at Seattle, 2:35 p.m., Ch. 13
» Indianapolis at New England, 6:15 p.m., Ch. 2
» San Francisco at Carolina, 11:05 a.m., Ch. 13
» San Diego at Denver,2:40 p.m., Ch. 2
Gruden was introduced Thursday as the man charged with ending the perpetual state of turmoil the team has endured under owner Snyder and recently under general manager Allen.
Gruden was a given a five-year contact for his first NFL head coaching gig, taking over a 3-13 team that has finished last in the NFC East in five of the last six seasons.
"We HAVE to get it right," said Allen, who led the search and interviewed six candidates. "We need to get the franchise back on track in a winning direction. ... We were looking for a new leader, somebody who can inspire our football team. We knew it was more than just X’s and O’s, it was about finding the right person to build a team chemistry that we needed."
Gruden is Snyder’s eighth coach in 16 seasons as an NFL owner. Unlike Shanahan, who was fired last week, Gruden will not have final say over all football matters. He’ll report to Allen, who has taken charge of assembling the roster and other personnel decisions.
The 46-year-old Gruden has spent the last three seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals, where his skill in helping to develop Andy Dalton will no doubt be of use when he takes on the task of grooming another young franchise quarterback, Robert Griffin III.
Panthers WR Smith says knee is worse
Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith said Thursday his injured left knee isn’t coming along quite as well as he’d hoped.
Smith practiced for the second straight day on a limited basis, saying, "It didn’t feel as great as I thought it’d feel."
He said he "overdid it a little" in practice.
Smith estimates he’s "57 percent" healthy, down from 71 percent he mentioned on Wednesday.
As for whether he’ll play Sunday against the 49ers in the NFC divisional playoffs, Smith said "I’ll have to see" on Friday.
Coach Ron Rivera expressed some concern, saying Smith didn’t look as sharp Thursday in practice as he normally does.
"When you watch Steve and watch the way he does things, there’s a smoothness to his movements and stuff — and it’s not quite there yet," Rivera said.
Smith said the primary issue is his cutting ability while running routes.
"I’ll be all right," he said. "I’m going to need some treatment."
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