In the most anti-climactic personnel move of the 2019 NFL season, the Washington Redskins relieved Jay Gruden of his coaching responsibilities on Monday morning.
This was a shock to absolutely no one as those rumors had been circulating for quite some time. Gruden’s tenure in Washington was extremely turbulent to say the least with apparent tension with the front office from the beginning. The Redskins have not been very successful under Gruden’s direction and may feel their issues go well beyond the sideline.
It has been interesting to see how this situation has progressed over the years.
Gruden was a heavily sought after candidate and led Washington to their first playoff appearance since 2012 in only his second year on the job. They never returned to the postseason however and the relationship between Gruden, Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder became increasingly more contentious as time passed. The team finished the 2018 season 1-6 after losing Alex Smith and his backup, Colt McCoy, to season ending injuries. Afterwards, the whispers began for Gruden to be replaced. With the way last season ended and this one began, his departure was basically a forgone conclusion.
While he was never anyone’s candidate for Coach of the Year, the Redskins shortcomings weren’t solely Gruden’s responsibility. Recent comments made by the former head coach and the Redskins brass paint the picture that the two were never on the same page. Although he was ever venomous in his speech, he basically suggested that ownership never really worked on his behalf to get the players he wanted. Bruce Allen called the firing “necessary” because the franchise wasn’t winning enough. Those two issues can be linked if what Gruden alluded to was accurate. He was pretty much two words short of saying he was sabotaged.
The alleged disconnect seemed to be maximized with the handling of the recent quarterback debacle. With Alex Smith’s situation in limbo due to the nature of his injury, Gruden planned to proceed with Case Keenum holding down the fort until Colt McCoy returned. But when Dwayne Haskins was drafted, seemingly with the intent of him taking over the reins, Gruden was opposed. This was apparent by his decision to start McCoy in Sunday’s game against the Patriots. Although Haskins didn’t do much to entice anyone to play him after his subpar performance against the Giants. Gruden even spoke on his feelings towards Haskins post-firing saying “He will be a great quarterback but he’s just not ready.”
All of this on top of the numerous injuries the Redskins have had and dealing with the Trent Williams saga, the 0-5 start seems to be a microcosm of several issues as opposed to just poor coaching.
This has to be unsettling for Bill Callahan. No one wants to step into a situation like this.
Callahan is very experienced and has a AFC championship under his belt but I’m sure he is not excited to be batting clean up in this instance. That added to the the high possibility that he will not be retained after this season won’t make his time in the driver’s seat very pleasant.
It has been rumored that Mike Tomlin, Todd Bowles and Eric Bieniemy are on the short list of candidates to replace Gruden next season. Offensive Coordinator, Kevin O’ Connell, could very well fill that role as well. He’s been talked about as being the next offensive guru in football and with Sean McVay’s recent success, the Redskins are in the perfect position to elevate some in-house talent rather than send them elsewhere to realize their potential. But whoever is chosen to roam the sidelines next for the burgundy and gold, they will have to deal with the same front office that hasn’t put the team in the best position to be successful.
Sure, firing Gruden seems appropriate on the surface but there are several issues beyond his control that weren’t addressed before him and if the current regime stays in place, likely won’t be addressed now that he’s gone. With Snyder and Bruce Allen wielding a substantial amount of power in the franchise, they have to take some responsibility for the current state they are in. It has to be a great position to be in where you can make questionable decisions and be able to escape judgement and have no repercussions when they don’t work out.
If the Redskins truly want to reverse their fortunes then change at the top would most likely be the best way to achieve that. They have had talent on the sidelines and on the field but for some reason the dots haven’t been connecting. They’ve tried shifting personnel in every other area. Maybe a brain transplant may be just what the doctor ordered for the embattled franchise.