Gruden to call offensive plays again
ASHBURN | Matt Cavanaugh has found himself handling a variety of roles as Washington’s offensive coordinator. He just won’t be calling plays. Redskins coach Jay Gruden will again take that responsibility, which leaves Cavanaugh to manage multiple other offensive tasks.
“It’s a mix,” Cavanaugh said. “I’m doing some of the installation (of the offense), Jay is doing some of the installation. Jay is running the film, I’m running the film. He’s got other duties, obviously, as the head coach, and if he gets pulled out of a meeting and can’t be there, then I’ll take over and fill the void.”
Cavanaugh was named the Redskins’ offensive coordinator in the offseason when he replaced Sean McVay. McVay, whom Gruden groomed and called plays, was hired to coach by the Los Angeles Rams.
This is the fourth time Cavanaugh will be an offensive coordinator in the NFL. Cavanaugh, who has been coaching in the NFL since 1992, previously held the role in Pittsburgh (2005-08), Baltimore (1999-04) and Chicago (1997-98). He’s been with the Redskins since 2015.
Cavanaugh was promoted, in part, because of his familiarity with the offense. Cavanaugh said even when McVay was calling plays, the Redskins’ offensive plan felt like a group effort.
“Between Jay, myself, the other offensive coaches, we’ve all got input into what goes into the game plan,” he said. “When I was in Baltimore we used to have a saying, ‘Anybody can call the game.’ That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the point there is if everybody understands the game plan so well, what plays are in, why they’re in, what looks we want to run them again, you really could have anybody call the game.”
Gruden said he’s been trying to get back in the flow of calling plays during OTAs. For some drills, Gruden will not script plays in advance to simulate calling real-time plays.
“Matt’s role won’t change,” Gruden said. “Matt will call some plays too. I’m sure we’ll have some recommendations in between series. (Offensive line coach) Bill Callahan will be involved. At the end of the day, I’ll end up calling them.”
As for what offensive success will look like under Cavanaugh, he said one position wouldn’t define the group. It’s about getting everyone on the same page, which includes converting in the red zone.
Last season, the Redskins were 30th in red zone conversion percentage, scoring touchdowns on only 45 percent of their opportunities. In 2015, they ranked 11th — converting 58 percent of their chances.
Cavanaugh said the red zone comes down to execution.
“We’ve spent a lot of time this offseason studying everybody in the league and some of their red zone concepts,” Cavanaugh said. “Many we already have in our playbook, a couple that’ve we added. So now we’ve got to go out and execute over the next three months and get ready for the season to start.
“Hopefully, we have that consistency with a good mix of run and pass down there and just make more plays, quite honestly.”
Redskins offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh will continue to lead quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy after being their position coach last season. However, he will not be calling plays on offense unlike previous offensive coordinator Sean McVay.