Friday, August 15, 2014

Redskins, Browns have many cool connections

Did you realize how many connections there are between the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins, who play Monday at FedEx Field?

Most obviously, Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is making his return to Landover, Md. Browns fans can only hope that Shanahan can bring the same kind of magic to Cleveland that he created two seasons ago which helped Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III earn offensive rookie of the year honors. (More on what I want to see from RGIII in a separate CCC post.)

New Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan (center) coaches rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel (left) and the other QBs at the Browns' facility in Berea, Ohio. (Mark Duncan/Associated Press)
You may remember that Shanahan was the offensive coordinator under his father, Mike, from 2010 through 2013. The Shanahans were fired after the debacle known as the Redskins’ 3-13 season last year.

There’s yet another ‘Skins-Browns connection involving Kyle Shanahan. He takes over the duties once overseen by Norv Turner, who coached Washington for seven seasons starting in 1994.

Ex-Washington Redskins QB Rex Grossman 
At the same time Shanahan was the Redskins’ offensive guru, Rex Grossman was one of the QBs. (In a nice twist of fate, former Browns starting QB Colt McCoy is the Redskins' third-stringer behind Griffin and Kirk Cousins.)

On Aug. 12, the Browns signed Grossman, a gunslinger who led the Chicago Bears to the NFC Championship and a Super Bowl berth after his first full season in 2006.

While those credentials are impressive, don’t forget he has his issues with throwing interceptions at the most inopportune times. Speaking as a Redskins fan, I can say Grossman made me pull my hair out and yell at the TV more than I celebrated when he was the starter. Despite all that — and given his experience as a both and starting and back-up QB with the Bears and Washington, he can provide some great counsel to rookie Johnny Manziel on what it takes to play in the NFL.

In short, Grossman is a solid addition to the Browns’ quarterback depth chart.

Tarik El-Bashir’s Redskins Insiders blog on pointed out a few more links between the Browns and Redskins that I hadn’t realized.

First of all, the Browns’ staff features two ex-Mike Shanahan assistant coaches besides his son — Mike McDaniel (wide receivers) and Richard Hightower (offense quality — what does that mean anyway?).

Here’s the coolest connection about Monday’s game.

Jon Gruden, the oldest brother of new Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, will be doing the analysis for ESPN. According to the Redskins Insider blog, the Gruden brothers “are close, as are their families, and Jon has already visited Redskins Park at least twice this offseason.”

Jay Gruden is introduced as the Washington Redskins' newest coach Jan. 9, 2014. (Getty Images) 
Needless to say, it will be interesting to see how much Jon is willing to say about his younger brother’s game plan and overall vision for Washington’s prospects this season.

“My brother is coming to town, so that will be fun. And Johnny Football. But I really want to make it about our guys, how we perform, how we come out under the lights (with all) the excitement. And show them what we can do,” Jay Gruden told the Redskins Insider blog.

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