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Need to Know: What is the biggest challenge for Redskins’ Gruden in 2015?

Apr 8, 2015, 5:01 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 8, 22 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Question of the day

A few days a week 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 comes from Twitter:

One thing before I answer your question. I’m not so sure you can confidently say that the Redskins have a core of young players just yet. Yes, most of those added in free agency are on the youthful side and some holdover young players will play key roles. But lot of the 26-and-under crowd on the team is unproven and I’m not sure you can say it constitutes a “corps” just yet. Maybe after a successful draft or two the “corps of young players” will be a more apt description of the team.

Gruden’s biggest obstacle outside of the quarterback position is the fact that what should have been a one-year changeover ended up stretching out over two years. They now have an organization that seems to be on the same page from the GM through the head coach down through the assistant coaching staff. But what they should have done is cleaned house in January of 2014.

After Mike Shanahan, who was in charge of all football matters, was fired the right move to make would have been to get rid of everyone, all of the coaches and start from scratch. Instead of Bruce Allen taking over football personnel decisions for a year they should have found the best personnel man available. Instead of keeping around Jim Haslett and Chris Foerster and Raheem Morris, they should have let everyone go and found a solid group of replacements right away.

Those coaches are now gone and their replacements are in place. But rather than having a new staff going into its second year, it’s a mixed bag with Gruden and Sean McVay settled in but Joe Barry, Bill Callahan, and Perry Fewell needing players to wear “Hello, my name is ___________” tags around Redskins Park while they learn everybody’s name. And instead of building on his 2014 draft, the general manager (Scot McCloughan may or may not have been available in January of 2014 but other very competent personnel men were) is just starting to build the team the way he thinks it should be built.

Add in the that the final 53-man roster is likely to have about 20 players who were not with the organization in 2014 and you have another year of transition. All NFL coaches have to deal with change from year to year but Gruden’s biggest challenge will be dealing with major upheaval for a second year in a row.


—It’s been 101 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 158 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 12; 2015 NFL Draft 22; Redskins training camp starts 113

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. Rick - Apr 8, 2015 at 6:06 AM

    Staying Employed?

    • renhoekk2 - Apr 8, 2015 at 11:04 AM

      Gets paid the same either way. Not sure that is his “biggest”.

  2. sidepull - Apr 8, 2015 at 6:34 AM

    There is no doubt in my mind that how the QB goes so goes Gruden. In addition, Scot made it crystal clear that the Joe Barry hire was not his but solely Grudens. It will be interesting to see how that one pans out.

    • troylok - Apr 8, 2015 at 8:17 AM

      Yeah, I am nervous about the defensive coordinator hire. With all of the big name defensive coordinators that were available, hiring Berry was a really weird call. You said the QB’s performance will make or break Gruden but I think it could also be said for the defense overall. If Berry ends up with a similar performance to his last time at defensive coordinator, Berry will be gone and Gruden might be gone with him.

  3. greed - Apr 8, 2015 at 10:06 AM

    rich im going to think the other way about this- in keeping some of shannys holdovers it gave gruden a first yr HC a chance to learn how to lead a team and not take total blame for the team failures last season also with alot of the same players in key positions who did return last season gruden was able to evaluate them from his own view rather than what a former coach ,bruce allen or mr snyder thought and the same could be said of the evaluation of the coaches which was evident of the way he cleaned house on the field and in the coaches office so imo timing is everything so im going to have a wait and see about this approach and hope the time is now !

    • rarreola619 - Apr 8, 2015 at 1:30 PM

      I agree…Gruden needed to get his feet wet regardless. New staff or not …the obstacles were always going to be there. I disagree that holding over “shanny” players were a bad thing. Could you say holding over Morris, Kerrigan, Reed, were bad? The good thing is we purged the older players that were not contributing and taking up cap space…THAT needed to be done LAST year. But then again we didn’t have a competent GM till now.

  4. shermanp79 - Apr 8, 2015 at 10:58 AM

    Keeping the defensive staff the same wasn’t a smart move. You are right, they delayed things. I’m not sure Scot was an option last year. I believe I read they had a conversation with him. The organization purchased his Scouting Reports or whatever package he sold to NFL Teams. I’m sure if he was here everyone would of been gone. Who knows we might have Harbaugh on the sidelines. I’m not saying it would of happened but more the point it may be someone different.

    I like Gruden and have faith he will turn this team around. With a GM he really has a true shot. Rarely does keeping half a staff work so we really are behind. For that reason Gruden should be given another 2 years. So many complain about him but look at all the things he couldn’t control. He has made changes and they look solid. We may not know or like Barry but he is what Gruden wanted.The QB situation will impact how quickly success comes. Everything else will improve.

    He needs to be more patient with the young QBs and players overall. He can’t have 3 QBs starting again. If RG3 doesn’t show dramatic improvement, I go with Cousins. If he has a bad game or two let him play through it. I totally believe if Cousins steps on the field he will seize the opportunity. It’s just my gut feeling.

    This is a team building let the young guys play and learn, let them improve. Especially since the talent should be there now Scot is drafting. A building team goes young (at positions) if things are close or tries getting the young guys experience with situational use, especially if it’s clear they have no shot at the Playoffs. We come in this year with the same questions about the young guys, other than Breeland. An example; Last year our return game was lack luster. Why not put Thompson back there? I know he had been injured but play him. He could of given a spark all year. If he gets hurt, then he isn’t reliable. We would have a better idea now instead of needing another year to figure it out. When he came out it was expected he would be a return guy while getting his feet wet. It seems the good teams find ways to get a good percentage of their R , 2nd and 3rd year guys on the field with success. So that will be something Gruden will need to do.

  5. timwillhidetimwillhide - Apr 8, 2015 at 11:04 AM

    I think he needs to learn to adapt his system to the playets he hs. Call mor runs, Bootlegs, Read Option, Pistol, Shotgun, Play Action to cover up the bad Pass Blocking and give our QBs more time to make a play. Keep it up tempo

    • bowlregard - Apr 8, 2015 at 2:41 PM

      They were doing that in the Jags game. Later in the season RG wasn’t healthy enough to do that stuff.

  6. redskinscaio - Apr 8, 2015 at 11:36 AM

    The running of the 2 minute offense has been absolutely atrocious.

  7. rarreola619 - Apr 8, 2015 at 1:20 PM

    Here is the thing I want to see from Gruden this year…I want him to establish a STRONG run game. Personally I think this was one area Gruden failed last year. I was greatly disappointed to see our offense struggle overall and due part to coach for not carrying over what worked the year prior…Morris is the prototype RB to handle 20-25+ carries per game. Use him!

    We have Callahan and hopefully some improvements on the OL personnel. I want to see us come out the gate this season with a run game based offensive scheme. This will take the pressure off whoever is manning the QB spot thru-out the year. With a better defense we can control the clock with the run and rely less on making RGIII or whoever, carry the offense.

  8. Skulb - Apr 8, 2015 at 1:25 PM

    Since you have said that the Skins are in a two year process of building through draft and transfers, what sort of a season do you think we should be expecting? I was thinking that something like 6-10 might be the most realistic, but what odds would you give for 8-8 or a winning season?

    • Rich Tandler - Apr 8, 2015 at 5:57 PM

      I don’t have a good feel for it at this point. I’d say six wins is closer to reality than eight but don’t hold me to that in a month or two.

      > > >

  9. bowlregard - Apr 8, 2015 at 2:49 PM

    I think saying they should have done this or that a year ago is easy to say. But this year I think they were in a better position to clean house as far as the coaches were concerned. And Callahan and Cavanaugh were not available a year ago, most likely. And call certain decisions Gruden’s if you want, but it seems to be there’s a certain process which includes meetings with all the brain trust. And having McC there this year seems to be a settling influence. I tend to be overly optimistic when it comes to the Redskins. At least I tend to give the benefit of a doubt. But in this period where we have to wait sooooo long for the draft there seems to be a tendency to make more of issues than is warranted.

  10. goback2rfk - Apr 9, 2015 at 2:33 AM

    The biggest challenge for Gruden…. Keeping his job.

  11. hk2000 - Apr 14, 2015 at 1:48 AM

    How about be creative and devise more plays than the couple he kept running over and over. How about evaluate what his players can do well and come up with a scheme conducive to winning with those players. How about have a plan for every game that includes a provision of adjustment at the half based on how the opponent defended his plays in the first half. maybe look at other teams’ offenses (successful ones) and try to learn from them- there is nothing wrong with that. But above all, stop doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result…. oh yeah and be brief with the media and stop giving them a full blown analysis of how a player did, talk to the player instead and guide him on how to avoid those mistakes you saw. Archives

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