If Gruden really preferred Dalton to Kaepernick, what's plan for RG3?

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

Jay Gruden reportedly preferred Andy Dalton to Colin Kaepernick. (USATSI)
Jay Gruden reportedly preferred Andy Dalton to Colin Kaepernick. (USATSI)

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On Sunday, hours before the Andy Dalton would have three turnovers in the Bengals' wild-card loss to the Chargers, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that, back in April 2011, team owner Mike Brown wanted to draft Colin Kaepernick but first-year offensive coordinator Jay Gruden favored Dalton, whom he felt better fit the offense he wanted to run.

We bring this up because on Thursday, Gruden was named the Redskins' latest coach, replacing Mike Shanahan who was fired a day after the season. And Washington's quarterback, Robert Griffin III's style, is a lot more like Kaepernick than Dalton.

The good news is that, in retrospect, Kaepernick was probably the better choice. And like Griffin, not only does he have a strong arm, but his running ability adds another dimension to the offense. So even though Gruden may have favored Dalton three years ago, it's reasonable to think that he will be able to get the most out of RG3's abilities.

Back in 2006, the Packers hired Mike McCarthy, who had previously served as the 49ers' offensive coordinator. In fact, he was on San Francisco's staff when they drafted Alex Smith with the first-overall pick in the 2005 draft, leaving Aaron Rodgers to languish in the green room until Green Bay finally put him out of his misery 23 selections later.

In January 2011, as the Packers prepared for Super Bowl XLV thanks in large part to his quarterback, McCarthy talked about the Smith-over-Rodgers situation.

"Well, pick No. 1 as opposed to 24, there was something we needed to discuss," McCarthy said at the time. "That is my personality. I am not one to let things lay. If there is something that needs to be talked about, I prefer doing it immediately instead of just waiting for it to come up. The first time we had a chance to meet and talk, that is what we talked about."

The takeaway: Smart coaches make mistakes too. The difference is that they learn from them and move on.

Whether Gruden will prove to be a good head coach remains to be seen, but as we wrote earlier this week, despite skepticism about Gruden's play-calling skills the reality is this: A coach is only as good as his franchise quarterback. As it stands, the Bengals don't have one. And the verdict on RG3 will have everything to do with just how good Gruden proves to be.

 
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