The Downfall of Jay Gruden

The Downfall of Jay Gruden
Reading Time: 3 minutes.

After a 33-7 loss against the Patriots the Redskins made the decision to fire Head Coach Jay Gruden. This came as no surprise as rumours have been circulating for the past two weeks. The Redskins now sit at 0-5 to start the season, and look like one of the worst teams in the league right now. They are struggling at the quarterback position, their offensive line is in tatters and their passing options are limited.

NFC East writer Clara Lilley digests the timeline leading to Jay Gruden’s downfall.  

Beginning of the End

Gruden had been the head coach since the 2015 season. He has a combined .423 winning percentage as the coach, which ranks 18th all-time in Redskins history. There was a glimmer of hope in 2016 after leading the Skins to a division title. Apart from that division success, the Redskins have been underwhelming. Not all of this is on Gruden’s shoulders, yet, when the head coach role is to win, he has done are poor job at filling this role.

Quarterback mismanagement

Some of the Redskins problems started before the first kickoff of the 2019 season.

Rumors started to surface during the offseason that Gruden did not want to draft Ohio State sensation Dwayne Haskins at 15th overall. Haskins signified a glimmer of hope for Washington fans after their 7-9 2018 season. Yet, what followed was a discouraging display of mismanagement, and an insight into what was to come.

Throughout training camp, preseason, and the regular season, Haskins saw little work with first-team reps. Even when Washington was struggling; the rookie out of Ohio State remained sidelined. When he was allowed to play, he performed well, throwing for 409 yards on 58 attempts for two touchdowns.  

According to reports, owner Dan Snyder handpicked Haskins. Gruden publicly stated he did not intend to take him. Nothing seemed to come from these reports early, and Washington started the season watching quarterback Case Keenum struggling as starter.

Gruden had no choice but to put Haskins in the week 4 game against New York.  Haskins did not look great, but that is to be expected when he had limited time to play with starters. Gruden threw their new franchise quarterback into a game he was not ready for.

Lack of Locker Room Leadership

The troubles for this Washington did not just rest on their quarterback. The issues began when their veteran Left Tackle Trent Williams did not show up to mandatory minicamp, training camp or preseason.

It came as a surprise to many, but the 31-year-old staple of the Redskins offensive line decided to step away from the team. Williams has not spoken publicly about the reasons for his holdout, but the Washington beat believes it is due to his distrust of the Washington organisation. He has played the majority of his 120 starts without being fully healthy.

Williams has been with Washington for nine seasons and is one of the leaders in the locker room. His presence cannot be understated in uniting the team.  

Whether the front office or Jay Gruden impacted Williams’ decision is almost irrelevant. An organisation in control would have found a way around this situation, and this serves as another example of mismanagement.

Future of the Redskins

Washington’s coaching staff once included Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay and Matt LeFleur. They will now be looking to hire a head coach with the talent of their former assistants.

The market looks empty right now, with very few viable options. Former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy could be a good fit for the team after leaving Green Bay in favour of former Skins OC Matt LeFleur.

The Redskins might have to look to College football for their next HC. One article on The Draft Network even suggested former Texas Tech and now Washington State HC Mike Leach might be the one to make the leap into the league. Leach has only ever coached at College level, and famously stated ‘that’s not my job’ to prepare players for the NFL. It is a sign of the lack of suitability in the current pool of candidates.

For now, Washington sits in the hands of offensive line coach Bill Callahan. They face up against the also winless Miami Dolphins next week, which could signal a change in fortune for the organisation. For Callahan, it would be wise for him to do the opposite of Jay Gruden and give rookie Haskins the preparation he needs to be the starter.

Header image: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

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