Jay Gruden has improbably made it five seasons as the Redskins Head Coach. But after two consecutive campaigns of mediocrity, is his job in jeopardy?
Prior to Jay Gruden’s arrival in 2014, the Washington Redskins were in chaos.
Robert Griffin III looked as bad in 2013 as he looked good in 2012. After a 3-13 campaign in that ’13 season, Shanahan and Son were both given the opportunity to seek employment elsewhere.
Meanwhile, fans were sending their imaginary fan cards into Redskins Park, addressed to one Mr. Bruce Allen. This was merely the highlight in a erosion of fan support that has lost the battle of attrition ever since the Deion Sanders / Bruce Smith / Jeff George / Steve Atwater experiment failed miserably.
Gruden Rights the Redskins’ Ship
Jay Gruden arrived in DC with low expectations.
The 2013 season demonstrated that the Redskins had a roster problem. Without stellar quarterback play, things fell apart in a hurry. After three quarters in the first game, the Redskins offense had scored exactly zero points, while the Eagles had scored 33. This was a sign of things to come.
So when 2014 began, it was obvious that Washington needed to overhaul its roster. Gruden was never going to be held accountable for his team’s record that first season.
Lucky for him. A record of 4-12 usually gets coaches fired, especially when they work for Dan Snyder.
So when Gruden announced after the 2014 training camp that Griffin would ride the bench and 4th round draft pick Kirk Cousins would be the starting QB, there was little indication of improvement on the horizon.
After a 2-4 start, the Redskins seemed right where they belonged. Then a funny thing happened.
Cousins engineered the largest comeback in Redskins history, 31-30, after falling behind to the Buccaneers 24-0. Then this happened, and a legend of sorts was born:
The Redskins would go on a late-season run and win a weak NFC East with a 9-7 record. Since then the Redskins have been a team that plays with heart. They don’t beat themselves and they don’t embarrass themselves.
Some of that can be attributed to vastly improved personnel decisions in both the draft and free agency. But mostly, the Gruden/Cousins offense has consistently been one of the better attacks in the NFL, and the Skins have become a tough out.
Jay Gruden should probably get more credit than anyone for that improvement.
Playoffs? You kiddin’ Me? Playoffs? Don’t Talk About Playoffs!
One problem: the Redskins have missed the playoffs the past two seasons.
Most of that can probably be attributed to an improved NFC East. The rest can be blamed on a bad run defense and bad health, particularly in 2017.
But in the end, what it seems to indicate is that the Redskins can’t rise to playoff status without a little help. When the division is at least average and the schedule is tough, the Redskins are about a middle-of-the-road team.
There’s only so much patience in the NFL for such failures. And the Redskins owner has consistently shown less patience than most.
What Does Jay Gruden Have To Do To Keep His Job?
If the pattern of the past three season continues, Jay Gruden might just become the Raiders’ next offensive coordinator.
The Redskins won nine games in 2015, then eight in 2016, then seven in 2017. A six-win season will undoubtedly seal his fate in 2018.
If the Skins go 7-9, there will probably have to be some serious extenuating circumstances present in order for Gruden to stay in Washington, such as another season featuring an unprecedented lack of good health.
If they go 8-8, it will really be interesting to see what happens. Flip a coin.
If they go 9-7 or better, I’d give Jay a 100% chance of keeping his job.
With that in mind, one has to say that the Redskins look like a much improved ball club as the 2018 training camp approaches. Yes, the schedule looks brutal once again, but they should be much healthier (can’t get much worse than last season, right?). They should be much better against the run and running the ball thanks to Daron Payne and Derrius Guice. They should produce fewer turnovers in the passing game with Alex Smith on board.
Conclusion: Jay Gruden will make it to a sixth year as Redskins coach.