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Need to Know: Is Jay Gruden’s seat getting hot already?

Jan 21, 2015, 3:10 PM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, January 22, 98 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock for the first round of the NFL draft.

Question of the day

We’re changing up the format of Need to Know for the offseason. Every day I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today’s question is from Twitter:

Welcome to the NFL, Jay Gruden.

Yes, he’s been around the league since the early 2000’s and had three years as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator. He was introduced as the head coach of the Redskins a little over a year ago. But he had his honeymoon season in 2014. And now he will experience life as the coach of a 4-12 team with a new general manager who is going to build through the draft, a new defensive coordinator with only a couple of bad years running a defense on his resume, and a fan base that is getting antsy.

In other words, he’s really experiencing life in the NFL starting now, at least the way it has been in Washington for most of the last two-plus decades.

How long does he have to turn it around? How patient will Dan Snyder be?

I’m inclined to think that he has two more years to get the team moving in the right direction. However, he does have to show improvement and that’s where the seat is getting hot.

The improvement doesn’t have to come in the won-loss record although a season of, say, 6-10 or 7-9 would help his prospects and 2-14 would damage them. If Scot McCloughan is true to his word and the Redskins look to rebuild almost exclusively via the draft then they know it will take some time.

The improvement has to come in a few areas. At times last year it seemed like the job was too big for him. That’s not unusual for a coordinator promoted to a head coaching job. But he needs to show progress in getting a handle on things.

Also, the team needs to have its act together. If players get beaten physically, that’s to be expected. If they get beaten because they are missing assignments or committing the same correctable errors of commission and omission over and over again, that’s another thing that will land on Gruden.

So, yes, Gruden’s seat is warm. But if he and his team appear to have their acts together, the temperature dial won’t get turned up any higher. If it looks like he’s in over his head and the players aren’t buying in it could get very hot very fast.


—It’s been 25 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 234 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 28; NFL free agency starts 47; 2015 NFL Draft 98

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

  1. Phillip Robinson - Jan 22, 2015 at 7:51 AM

    Scot can try to build through the draft all he wants but you have a head coach that refuses to play and develope young players. You practically have to put a gun to his head to play young players. Fire Jay Gruden he is a nutcase!

    • Joe Greene - Jan 23, 2015 at 5:19 AM

      Oh great, now your insanity is here as well.

    • mr.moneylover19 - Jan 24, 2015 at 7:52 AM

      Thats a stupid idea…getting a new head coach is like starting from the bottom again and who would want to come here ??? Nobody

      • hk2000 - Jan 24, 2015 at 4:46 PM

        Start from the bottom? Just where do you think we are now?

  2. rcjur - Jan 22, 2015 at 8:52 AM

    If Gruden plays the same style next season,” I’m going to make you into a pocket passer with RGIII” and doesn’t mix in back some of what made this team successful in 2012, and if there’s no improvement but the same old same old…then yes he needs to be fired after next season.

    • bowlregard - Jan 22, 2015 at 9:31 AM

      It seems to me this attitude about how Gruden uses RG has been pretty well debunked. The best comments came from another running QB, Steve Young.

      When RG came back from his ankle injury he wasn’t the same player. Gruden had him running read options against the Jags just before he was injured on a rollout. If RG can’t handle the normal reads a QB makes from the pocket, that’s on him.

      • hk2000 - Jan 22, 2015 at 10:07 AM

        If the play is designed so the reads take 3+ seconds and the line barely gives him 2 seconds, then it’s not on him it’s on the coach. That’s the problem with this coach, he designs plays in a vacuum with no consideration how awful the line is and RG refuses to risk INTs. Either the coach needs to devise different play calls or coach the line and the QB better. Everybody is killing the QB for everything and anything he says or does but no one seems to be bothered by how predictable and pedestrian this coach’s methods have been or how irresponsible he was all year long when it came to handling the media questions. THIS COACH IS WAY OVER HIS HEAD.

        • Joe Greene - Jan 23, 2015 at 5:24 AM

          Kirk took sacks at 4%, Colt took sacks at 8% outside of the St. Louis game, and Bob took sacks at 13%. Bob is the problem more than the line (which is bad).

    • redskinsinrichmondva - Jan 22, 2015 at 4:53 PM

      McCoy’s sack rate wasn’t much better than Griffin’s behind the Redskins’ O-line.

      • Joe Greene - Jan 23, 2015 at 5:24 AM

        McCoy’s sack rate was 8% outside of the Rams game, much better than Bob’s.

        • redskinsinrichmondva - Jan 23, 2015 at 7:11 AM

          Haha is this a joke? You want to throw out certain games now that don’t fit your personal bias?

          I’ll keep this in mind. From now on, Robert’s games against the Bucs and Niners games don’t count. Therefore, your posts about his “footwork” are invalid as well, since those criticisms mainly came after the Bucs game. Heck, I’ll even throw out the games from the past two seasons, and just focus on 2012. Robert is an elite QB!

        • redskinsinrichmondva - Jan 23, 2015 at 5:08 PM

          Outside the Eagles and Seahawks games, Kirk Cousins threw for a measly 4.4 ANY/A. The league average in 2014 was 6.2. Oh, and that 4.4 average was over MORE dopbacks than the Eagles and Seahawks games.

          I can play this game too, Joe.

    • Joe Greene - Jan 23, 2015 at 5:20 AM

      Bob and his daddy FORCED the team to stop using him as a running QB by crying to the owner.

      • redskinsinrichmondva - Jan 23, 2015 at 7:59 AM

        Did he also force Gruden to start McCoy over Cousins? Or, better yet, force the team to stink for several seasons (or more like a general 20+ seasons) prior to 1991?

  3. HTTREDSKINS247 - Jan 22, 2015 at 9:13 AM

    #NTK Hey Rich, do you think offense, or defense should be the main priority in this year’s upcoming draft? I would say OL (specifically RT) but the entire line could use a overhaul, then safety, the cb. What do you think? Thanks.

  4. rayvil01 - Jan 22, 2015 at 9:44 AM

    Rich, When “…the job seemed too big for him” I wonder how much of that was driven by the local dynamics. Between the years of losing, the diva QB who is lost, and a media which has a source around every corner I wonder how different this gig is than say, Kansas City or Buffalo.

    I’m not arguing a word you said. It’s just a curiosity thing with me if this hasn’t turned into one of the hardest places in the League to cut your teeth as a Head Coach.

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 22, 2015 at 10:52 AM

      Perhaps. But very, very few NFL head coaches got a chance to cut their teeth in ideal environments. An opening usually means issues are present that go beyond just the players on the field. Perhaps the Redskins are one of more difficult locations for a new coach but it’s only a matter of degree.

  5. polofourme - Jan 22, 2015 at 10:46 AM

    I have been trying to support Gruden thru his rookie year as HC. There is no way you can succeed in the NFL with a constant rotation at the QB position and being forced to play one QB who could not even execute a three step drop. His offense produced lots of yards but had trouble scoring in the red zone which I attribute to the use of those stretch running plays which work fine outside the 20 but do not work inside the 20. I also realize Gruden looked over matched at times on the side line and in his play calling…but IMO he has the right idea, just not the right players to run his version of the WC O. I also think he did not get to pick his staff and Snyder and Allen simply told him who would be on his staff. So I was all in when it was disclosed that Gruden would finally get to choose his own DC…but after seeing his decision, Barry a real loser but part of the so called TB connection, I am getting very concerned about Gruden and his ability to actually run his staff and make good decisions. Barry was a huge mistake, a real loser. Why Gruden choose him even over Wade Phillips is a complete and total mystery to me and it is sending up red flags to me. I am ready to pull the plug on Gruden if this does not work out..his poor call, if it works out that is enough proof to me he is not qualified to remain as HC…this franchise takes one step forward and two steps and I am just getting fed up with every aspect of it…one year, that’s what I give Gruden…if we stink the place up then he is toast and gone. Let Callahan run the team…and I would be fine with that.

  6. bangkokben - Jan 22, 2015 at 11:52 AM

    I’m with Rich when he says Gruden gets two years. You can’t expect the GM to draft players specific for this scheme and then turn around and fire the coach because he hasn’t suddenly fixed what was broken for twenty years.

    You can already see how two-faced most ‘skin fans are when they say, “Hooray! We’re going to build through the draft but damn let’s fire the coach.”

    We got in this mess by doing precisely that. We had Norvel and signed a shipload of over-the-hill free agents. Got rid of Norv. Hired Marty. He got rid of Vinny and the FAs and won 8 games with Tony fricking Banks. He cleared the books and gets fired for the ol’ ball coach. Snyder brings back Vinny. Vinny signs Florida never-weres and Trung are-you-kidding-me Canidate. Starts drafting for the part-time golfer’s system. Coach quits because this isn’t the SEC. Joe Jackson Gibbs comes in to save the day. He loves this new thang called free agency and has no patience to build a team. He dines with Mark Brunell and trades a pick for the guy who saved his diabetic life. He makes all sorts of dubious trades and signings in order to win now. Santana Moss: not too bad trade but of course had whomever listened to the owner Moss would’ve already been a Redskin and 50/50 Rod Gardner would have been somewhere else. At this point we have the unholy trinity of JJG, Vinny, and the owner ‘building’ the team. Two magical playoff runs in four years and the murder of the team’s best young player lead the to walking away of the greatest Redskin coach in history – his grandson’s leukemia may have had something to with it as well. Worst case scenario: Vinny and the Dan are running the show. They hire the coordinators first and can’t find anyone the fans will approve (Jim Fassel – HELL NO!). Suddenly they’re horny of Zorny. Starts out surprisingly well but then the wheels fall off the o-line and the team tanks. Snyder wants the suddenly available Shanahan but sticks with Zorn for one more year because Mike wants to get his Bronco money free and clear. The next year is a disaster. Orakpo was the only solid addition. A bingo caller is brought in to call the offense in an effort to make Zorn quit but Jim also wants his money. The writing is on the wall. Bruce Allen is hired. Then Zorn is fired. Vinny is fired and the fans rejoice. Shanahan is hired as team president and coach. Mike builds his team but it takes time and he has a lack of resources or hadn’t you heard how he/we were robbed of $36M? One magical playofff run with an amazingly talented rookie qb and the sky is blue until RG3 breaks in two against Seattle. A year later a new coach with a huge guaranteed contract.

    Now we have had one draft for Gruden and are embarking on another but let’s fire the coach because we been sorry for so long what’s another two years of wasted picks? And they will be wasted if you change systems because only the most talented transcend systems.

    It’s funny how there are so many ‘skin fans touting the cowboys drafting of the o-line? What about the fact that they stuck with Jason Garrett even when it looked like a stupid thing to do? Continuity along with a smart draft is what changed that team.

    • gasngo14 - Jan 22, 2015 at 4:05 PM

      agree… well said!

  7. kenlinkins - Jan 22, 2015 at 4:41 PM

    Rich: IMO something happened after game 10 in 2014 that sent HC Gruden off the rails. When the Redskins were sitting at 3-5 and looking like they would hit 5-5 but instead hit 3-7 HC Gruden seemed to change. Before the 11th game he had made a few rookie head coach mistakes but seemed to be in control and showing he might have started to turn the corner. I do not know if it was players fault, his coach’s or the way he was dealing with the front office, but the HC Gruden we saw from game 11 to 16 was not the same. He looked over matched and ready for the off season to start, the fight was gone! If Coach Gruden can not figure out and correct what over took him after game 10 in 2014, then I would not count on seeing him in 2016 (I would also think that President Allen and anyone with a TB stamp would also be gone) and I would not blame the owner one bit. Rich: Do you have any idea what happened right before game 11 that might have sent HC Gruden into this funk? (He just seemed mad at the world after losing game 10 and seemed to throw his hands up in the air and could not recover from that 7th lost). If HC Gruden can not last longer than 10 games being the Redskins leader, he has no business being a Head Coach in the NFL.

  8. redskinsinrichmondva - Jan 22, 2015 at 4:52 PM

    I’ve said this elsewhere; but FWIW, by the metrics from Football Outsiders, Jay Gruden has rarely part of an above-average passing (or overall) offense in his NFL coaching career (as an offensive assistant, offensive coordinator, or head coach).

    Blame Griffin all you want, but Jay Gruden hasn’t exactly overseen high-octane offenses even before he coached Griffin. And that’s spanning back to 2002 — when Griffin was barely a high-schooler.

  9. elfstone8402 - Jan 24, 2015 at 5:58 AM

    Gruden has a second chance this off-season and blew it. No other team would trade their coordinators for the ones in DC Please. Gruden stubbornly kept boy wonder greenie McVay, who has no success or skills to give pros. Then he takes another under-achiever for Defense. Barry is a proven LOSER, just look at his record, and Gruden is one, too, based on his 4 wins.

    No optimism for next year, and the team will be too far away in training camp for real DC fans to go see them. Snyder is dissing all the Maryland fans and driving them to the purple gang. VEry stupid. Of course, the Ravens win and get to the playoffs. while the Redskins have Barry and McVay. Gruden needs to go. Archives

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