On Monday at around 5 a.m., Jay Gruden was “summoned” to the Washington Redskins headquarters for what turned out to be a brief sitdown . The head coach of the organization for the last five-plus seasons had been sent packing after suffering an 0-5 start to the 2019 season, with offensive line coach Bill Callahan being anointed as interim coach until the team figures out the future atop their coaching pyramid.
For Gruden, the divorce easily carries as much relief as it does disappointment, considering he truly did want to establish and maintain a winning culture with a team that is known for the polar opposite. The 52-year-old made it known following the decision that greater detail with ESPN to further explain the split.— the former having made an odd slew of comments in a Tuesday press conference that didn’t inject a sense of confidence in the team’s direction going forward — and spoke in
In the end, Gruden thought it’d happen before he ever took the field for what turned out to be a 33-7 suffocation at the hands of the New England Patriots.
“I thought it might happen last week after the Giants game — based on reports,” he confessed. “And [the Redskins] never said, ‘You’re not getting fired,’ so I assumed I was. I had a good staff there, and hopefully they can make it work in the last 11 games and stick around. It’s a good group.”
What Gruden also admitted was the presence of a seemingly cavernous disconnect between what he wanted and needed versus the tools he was given by Allen and Snyder.
“I have mixed emotions about it,” Gruden said. “At the end of the day, if you’re not the GM, you have to accept the fact that you don’t get everything you want. You accept the players given to you. I had input in some areas, but there are some major issues there.
That’s a strong and rather definitive statement, but one he tempered — or at least tried to temper — with a more general framing.
“It’s that way with most coaches,” Gruden noted. “You don’t have that total say. It’s something you have to overcome and work with the guys you have.”
While true, the wedge between head coach and front office isn’t usually as deeply driven in as it was between Gruden and the Redskins the past few seasons, and it appeared to culminate in a reported war over who should be the starting quarterback in 2019 and potentially beyond. With the season-ending and career-threatening broken leg suffered by Alex Smith in 2018 — followed by a season-ending broken leg on Colt McCoy shortly thereafter — the Redskins traded for veteran Case Keenum, but then selected Dwayne Haskins in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. It was reported Gruden was not on board with the decision to pick Haskins, and was instead eyeing Keenum and the return of McCoy as his tandem in the top two spots on the QB depth chart.
That rumor was fueled by Gruden not giving Haskins a shot until later in the aforementioned far-gone contest against the Giants, and truly enflamed when McCoy — who hadn’t played football since breaking his leg last December — was named starter against the Patriots. So when McCoy muddled to a 119-yard day with no touchdowns and one interception on 18-for-27 passing, Allen and Snyder had seen enough.
Gruden was gone roughly 12 hours later, but he insists he never doubted Haskins — instead believing the 22-year-old simply isn’t ready.
“If you haven’t done it, there’s a lot on your plate,” Gruden said of Haskins. “Until he gets really comfortable, it’s for his own good. If I didn’t like him, I’d put him out there right now. I do like him.
“I think the world of him. He’s going to be a great quarterback one day. Time is really important for him.”
To that point, Callahan won’t start Haskins either just yet, and that leaves many wondering if the upstart QB is simply not ready or if the team is holding him back. Either way, it’s no longer Gruden’s issue to concern himself with — now free to join whatever NFL franchise he wants, and that will have him, in the future. It’s not expected he’ll sign on anywhere before 2020, but .
Despite the Redskins making the playoffs in his second year on the job, Gruden will be remembered there — be it fairly or unfairly — as not much more than a coach that didn’t get the job done in an organization that basically helped make sure he failed; and while demanding the opposite. That, of course, includes the Trent Williams debacle .
Gruden leaves the Nation’s Capital with a record of 35-49-1, and a step back to offensive coordinator in a new environment might be the best medicine for his ailing brand. Meanwhile,, hoping against hope the real issue isn’t what everyone believes it to actually be.