Gruden, the younger brother of Super Bowl-winning coach and current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, spent the last three seasons leading the Bengals offense, which he slowly crafted into one of the league's better units. After struggling a bit in his first two years (the offense ranked 20th and 22nd in total yards, respectively), the team took a major step forward in 2013. They went 11-5 before losing in Wild Card round to the San Diego Chargers last week, with the offense ranking top 10 in total yards, passing yards and scoring.
The 46-year-old Gruden was instrumental in the development of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who the team selected in the second round in Gruden's first year. In each of his three seasons under Gruden's tutelage, Dalton saw steady increases in completions, yards, touchdowns and passer rating, while decreasing his interceptions every year. Dalton's only shortcoming has been the postseason -- after three turnovers against the Chargers last week, he's now 0-3 in the playoffs.
Washington is expecting franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III to bounce back after a disappointing '13. The former first-round pick jump-started his career with a Rookie of the Year campaign but regressed this season while recovering from a major knee injury. Those plans align well with Gruden's track record as an offensive coordinator.
Griffin proved to be a divisive issue for Mike Shanahan, who was fired two weeks ago after a 3-13 season. He and team owner Dan Snyder reportedly clashed over the young signal caller, and Shanahan benched the struggling Griffin over the last three games, escalating the media circus.
Shanahan posted a 24-40 overall record during his four seasons in Washington. He led them to a single playoff berth in '12, when the team captured the NFC East during Griffin's breakout season.
Gruden inherits a team with a lot of young talent on offense. Griffin, running back Alfred Morris and receiver Pierre Garcon give him plenty to build on in Washington. The NFC East isn't as strong as it once was, and a quick turnaround in Gruden's first year is not out of the question.
Washington has been extremely active in its coaching hunt, which was reported to include Mike Zimmer, Ken Whisenhunt, James Franklin, Art Briles, Jim Caldwell and others.