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Matt Cavanaugh Brings Even Keel And Continuity To Offensive Coordinator Position


It didn't take long for head coach Jay Gruden to find his offensive coordinator in Matt Cavanaugh, whose promotion will bring continuity to an already electric offense.

Last week, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden reached out to quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh and asked if he'd be interested in taking the open offensive coordinator position, which had been left vacant by Sean McVay, who had, himself, just become the Los Angeles Rams' new head coach.

Cavanaugh, without hesitation, said "absolutely,"  and Gruden mulled over his response for just a couple of days before offering Cavanaugh the job. The short process was predicated on a desire to keep continuity after a record-breaking offensive season.

"Promoting Matt Cavanaugh was easy. We're not going to make wholesale changes offensively," Gruden said on "Redskins Nation." "It's a system we brought from Cincinnati; we added some things, Sean [McVay] added some things, but we feel good where we are offensively and there's no reason to make a whole lot of changes. Now we're going to critique what we did last year, get a lot better especially in the red zone, but I feel good where Matt is."

Cavanaugh believes Gruden valued his input last season with McVay, and that his promotion should be a seamless transition.

"There will be some tweaks like with any team in the offseason, but for the most part we want to keep the same system in place," Cavanaugh said. "Ideally we keep a lot of the same players, we'll deal with that when free agency hits, but we want to keep continuity."

Cavanaugh, 60, has served as the team's quarterbacks coach for the last two seasons, guiding Kirk Cousins, who became an extension of the coaching staff, to back-to-back record-breaking seasons.

His previous stints as offensive coordinator came with Chicago (1997-98) and later with Baltimore (1999-04), where he won a Super Bowl in 2000. Before joining Washington, he served as quarterbacks coach for the Jets (2009-12) and then with Chicago (2013-14).

While there is still uncertainty regarding the future of Cousins, Cavanaugh has expressed his confidence in the Redskins' starter for the last two seasons after working closely to develop him into a franchise record-breaking passer.

"Kirk's made great strides in the last two years," Cavanaugh said. "There's still work to do and he'll be the first to admit it. There's things he wants to be better at, there's situational football that he wants to improve on. For the most part his decision-making has been pretty good, he wants to be more active in the pocket, he wants to extend plays, things that he sees other quarterbacks do that, it's the next step for him.

"When you first start in this league you're just concerned about throwing completions, and he's done that, he's done that very well, but there's more to the game than that and I know he wants to expand on some of those situational things."

Take a look at photos of the Redskins Offensive Coordinator, Matt Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh was a quarterback himself, starting 19 games over the course of 13 seasons in the NFL. As he's brought his experience into his coaching role the last two years with the Redskins, he believes that having a player's perspective of the position will assist him better as he takes over the entirety of the offensive game plan.

But Cavanaugh also believes that being an effective leader will also rely on maintaining an even-keel, knowing when to express pleasure or dismay with certain players' decisions and effectively conveying that in measured ways.

"[Experience] does help, and I'm certainly not saying that someone who hasn't played the position can't coach it, because that's been proven wrong , too," Cavanaugh said. "I think more than anything you have to think like the quarterback.

"My motto's always been, when you come off the sideline, I'll be sitting at the end of the bench waiting for you, and you won't know if we just scored a touchdown or you threw an interception. We're going to talk through that series and we're going to get ready for the next one."

Which is to say, Cavanaugh is not "naturally real loud" and his style will not be one of intimidation. Gruden will set the agenda for the offense and Cavanaugh will help put together the game plans and assist with play-calling.

"I think that I can talk things through without getting too animated," Cavanaugh said. "I don't need to yell and scream. If I've got to correct something, I'll get it corrected without being too demonstrative. But I want to be level headed, I want them to know that no matter what happens, we're going to be on a steady course and get things fixed and we won't get too excited when things are going great. We've got another series to go."

For his offseason work, Cavanaugh plans to analyze the deficiencies in the red zone that paralyzed an otherwise prolific offense. Washington ranked 30th in the league in that category, scoring just 45 percent of the time, a step back from last year when they ranked 11th and scored 58 percent of the time.

"It's certainly an emphasis for us to evaluate this offseason," Cavanaugh said. "We'll study other teams, see if there's some scheme we're missing, whether it's run or pass, evaluate the play calls we've made down there with the quarterback's decisions, the route-running, the blocking, it all goes hand in hand, it's not just one guy. It's not just the call, there's a lot that goes into it, and we need to evaluate that hard."

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