Washington Redskins: Ranking Every Head Coach of the Daniel Snyder Era

Some great coaches have come to Washington during the Snyder era and had limited success

After an 0-5 start, Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder fired head coach Jay Gruden. The dismissal marked the seventh of a head coach in 20 years under Snyder's ownership of the franchise. Even in today's produce or perish NFL, that is a lot.

 

Since taking over the Redskins prior to the 1999 season, the team has gone 139-180-1 with a 2-5 record in five playoff appearances. Washington has won three division titles (1999, 2012, 2015) and posted just six winning campaigns during this stretch.

 

That being said, some of these coaches have had their bright spots despite the chaos. Here's a ranking of each one based on how well they did.

 

7. Jim Zorn

Tenure Under Snyder: 2008-09

Record: 12-20

Zorn was initially hired as an offensive coordinator before being named head coach. The Redskins opened the 2008 season with a 6-2 start but then went 6-18 during the rest of his time at the helm. Snyder relieved Zorn of play-calling duties during the 2009 season and fired him at the end of it.

 

6. Steve Spurrier

Tenure Under Snyder: 2002-03

Record: 12-20

After abruptly resigning as the Florida Gators head coach in early 2002, Spurrier signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Redskins. The "Ole Ball Coach" brought most of his coaching staff from Gainesville even though they had little NFL experience and signed former players like Danny Wuerffel, Shane Matthews, and Chris Doering. The moves did not result in an NFL edition of the Fun 'n' Gun offense, as Washington finished 7-9 and 25th in scoring in 2002. He and Snyder also frequently clashed over personnel decisions, straining their relationship. The Redskins went 5-11 in 2003 and Spurrier resigned, forfeiting the remaining $15 million on his contract. "I did a lousy job," Spurrier told The Washington Post in 2019. "The GM did a lousy job. He happened to be the owner, so who needed to go?"

 

5. Mike Shanahan

Tenure Under Snyder: 2010-13

Record: 24-40

Playoff Appearances: 1 (2012)

The two-time Super Bowl champion head coach of the Denver Broncos had no success in his first two seasons in Washington. Then in 2012, he drafted Robert Griffin III and the metropolitan area was captivated when the Redskins went on a seven-game winning streak to claim the NFC East and make the playoffs. But RGIII blew out his knee during that run and was never the same. Fans and the media criticized Shanahan for not giving RGIII enough time to recover and Snyder fired him after a 3-13 season in 2013.

 

4. Jay Gruden

Tenure Under Snyder: 2014-19

Record: 35-49-1

Playoff Appearances: 1 (2015)

To give you a sense of the Redskins' long periods of futility, Gruden is the fifth-winningest coach in franchise history behind Joe Gibbs, George Allen, Ray Flaherty, and Norv Turner. And with a 9-7 season in 2015 and an 8-7-1 record in '16, he became the first head coach to post consecutive winning seasons since the mid-90s.

 

3. Norv Turner

Tenure Under Snyder: 1999-2000

Record: 17-12

Playoff Appearances: One (1999)

The architect of the Dallas Cowboys offense that won back-to-back Super Bowls became head coach of the Redskins in 1994 and posted only two winning seasons in his first five seasons. After Snyder bought the team in the spring of 1999, Turner led the Redskins to a 10-6 record and their first playoff appearance in seven years. In the offseason, Snyder paid big money to acquire a number of veterans, including Deion Sanders and Bruce Smith and expectations were high. The 2000 squad started off 6-2, but poor offensive output led to a 1-4 slide and Turner was fired after a 9-7 loss to the New York Giants in December. With a 7-6 team at the time of his departure, Turner remains the last coach in NFL history to be fired during the season with a winning record. "This is a change that we need," said Snyder at the time. "It is all about winning football. Nothing personal."

 

2. Marty Schottenheimer

Tenure Under Snyder: 2001

Record: 8-8

The former Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs head coach had spent two years in the broadcast booth before returning to coach Washington in 2001. It looked as if he had lost his fastball when the team started 0-5, but then the Redskins rebounded to win eight of their final 11 games. However, Snyder fired Schottenheimer for his refusal to relinquish control over player personnel decisions... and because he wanted to replace him with Steve Spurrier.

 

1. Joe Gibbs

Tenure Under Snyder: 2004-07

Record: 30-34

Playoff Appearances: 2 (2005, 2007)

The greatest head coach in Redskins history was finally lured out of retirement in 2004. While his second tenure with the team did not return the franchise to glory, Gibbs lead the team to two playoff appearances in four seasons, including an emotional run in 2007 after the murder of safety Sean Taylor. His success makes him the best coach of both the pre-Snyder and Snyder eras.

 

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.

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