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Need to Know: Redskins’ Gruden adjusting his priorities in Year 2

Jul 31, 2015, 5:26 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Friday, July 31, 13 days before Washington Redskins open their preseason against the Browns.

Getting their priorities straight

RICHMOND—A year ago, on the eve of his first training camp as an NFL head coach, Jay Gruden was asked what would make a successful Redskins training camp.

“I want to make sure we make the right decisions on players, No. 1,” he said during a press conference in July of 2014. “We have to make sure we get a good look at all the young guys, all the free agents, all the undrafted free agents, the draft picks, the veteran free agents, and make sure when we make our final cut-down we make the right choices and hopefully these players will make it very difficult on us in making those decisions.”

That is all well and good but Gruden seemed to have his priorities off a bit. Certainly finding the best 53 players is important. But games are not won or lost with the last dozen or so players on the roster. The focus of any training camp should be to prepare the team for the upcoming season.

And Gruden would be hard pressed to say that the Redskins were properly prepared for the 2014 seasons. A record of 4-12 is all you really need to know.

The good news for the Redskins is that it appears that Gruden learned from his mistake. When asked a similar question during his pre-camp press conference on Wednesday, he changed his top priority.

“We’re trying to improve as a football team, number one,” he said. “That’s all we’re trying to do every day is improve a certain area of our game. Then, we’re also trying to critique our players and find out who our best 53 are.”

It is smart to worry more about getting ready to play than giving everyone a fair shot. Your season is going to succeed or fail based on your top 35 to 40 players. If you get to the point where you’re relying on the bottom dozen or so guys on your roster to win games, well, you’re probably not going to win a whole lot. You need to get your front-line players ready to play and not worry as much about the final roster spots, your sixth cornerback and eighth offensive lineman.


Today’s schedule: Redskins walkthrough, 10:35 a.m.; Jay Gruden news conference approx. 2:45; Redskins practice, 3 p.m.

—It’s been 215 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 44 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Browns 13; final cuts 36

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  1. gonavybeatarmy - Jul 31, 2015 at 6:53 AM

    Good observation from last year vs. this year. Nobody else in the media would have caught that.

    Here’s hoping he learns some discipline and keeps his press conferences brief this year. Nothing really positive comes from a press conference.

  2. Jeffrey - Jul 31, 2015 at 7:04 AM

    Yeah I seem to rem JG saying the team needs to improve last year on multiple occasions, yes he did say about finding the last men for the 53 too. Why do they do this every year well I know why, its just pathetic, they either lie in their articles or purposely forget the major stuff they wrote the year before, or leave stuff out.

  3. skinsgame - Jul 31, 2015 at 7:46 AM

    In at least a couple ways, Gruden and Griffin are similar. Both have a lot to prove this year and both seem to have similar dispositions to the fan base. This team was atrocious at times last year, one of the leagues worst, to be sure and Griffin was one of the many problems. Gruden too contributed to it with failed situations of game management and play calling. Both men also have their share of, shall we say, “non-believers”. Many fans believe Gruden is an awful coach who makes poor decision after poor decision and there is no way he will improve. Many fans feel precisely the same way about Griffin.

    • shermanp79 - Jul 31, 2015 at 10:37 AM

      I believe Gruden WILL turn this team around!! With all that went on, the lack of talent, how would any coach thrive. It was 1 year, his first. He was given Haslet, RG3 and needed to learn about both the staff and players. He had to play 3 QBs and that is always a recipe for disaster. This team lacks talent and you don’t win without it. You also don’t win without a QB. Gruden took a less heralded guy in Dalton and built an offense that improved every year. He had Dalton throwing 30TDs with a running game that brought in a R who thrived. He didn’t just forget. Everyone talks about how bad the OL was, saw how RG3 struggled, watched a D give up record TDs, yet expected Gruden to do more??? With what??…Magic?? In CIN they had a good OL and a good D so the run had success. Let’s give Gruden that here and then make a judgment Let’s be fair and give him 3 years before kicking him out the door. When a team lacks talent as we did last year, it takes time.. He sounds like a guys who will correct mistakes and has a good vision for what he wants this team to resemble. It just so happens to match what Scott wants. What coach has succeeded with no QB, ST, D and a poor OL. None I can think of?? Even the great Bill B struggled in CLE to start and look where he is today. I’m not saying Gruden is him but the point is you can’t judge on 1 year.

  4. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jul 31, 2015 at 8:33 AM

    I think the overall talent on the team got so depleted that it would have been tough for any coach to succeed last year.

    Too many of our top 35-40 guys would have been in the last dozen on a contending team (at best).

    • bangkokben - Jul 31, 2015 at 8:41 AM


    • ET - Jul 31, 2015 at 10:48 AM

      Yes, there were some serious holes last year. Even in the best case, the Skins have some weak spots this year as well, but some glaring deficiencies (secondary, defensive line) have been shored up. We’ll see how well Scot assembled the new components, but the consensus is that the talent is much improved.

  5. jscx3 - Jul 31, 2015 at 11:17 AM

    I agree, the lack of talent has been a big problem. They seem to have started stocking up. Every time I look at the draft class I feel the gm did a great job of getting them a strong foundation. Is everyone picked going to be a pro bowler, no, are all going to to start or make team, no. I do expect a few to be major upgrades on st and some on d and o. Now with Galette, i am a big character guy, but this guy can help. 1 year deal, if you look sideways your out. All free passes have been used up. If they can get a deal done where it falls all on him then do it. Worst case, he is gone by preseason game 2. Best case double digit sacks from the opposite side of RK. Can you see it, RK, Murphy, Smith and Galette coming at you on third down and long. If the secondary is better its an easy formula, pressure causes mistakes. As fans we could all be watching the birth of the new beasts of the east. I only hope that the dc can utilize all the weapons given to him. Just got update Breeland suspended 1 game for pot. Last year that would have killed them. Now with the depth they have not just in the secondary but with d-line 1 game wont hurt. Hurts Breelands progreess.

  6. gurnblanstonreturns - Jul 31, 2015 at 11:43 AM

    Love this site, but, Rich, this is the most disappointing stuff I’ve ever seen from you: “But games are not won or lost with the last dozen or so players on the roster. The focus of any training camp should be to prepare the team for the upcoming season.”

    The first sentence could stand as a full explanation for why the Skins have sucked for years and years. From special teams to quality depth due to injuries, games are certainly “won . . . with the last dozen or so players on the roster” by good organizations and “lost” by bad organizations. You may well be able to quote some logarithmic formula created by a football stat number cruncher to demonstrate that players 41-53 have had negligible effect in NFL games, but I would still contend that the organizations that are dedicated to filling these spots with the best possible talent prove to be the most successful.

    The second sentence cannot be argued with on its face, but it also misses the bigger picture for the Skins. This is Year One of a multiyear process. If the Skins shock the world, march to the playoffs and win the Super Bowl, all Skins fans will rejoice. Calmer heads realize that this season is all about roster development and determining whether the team has a coach and a qb worth keeping.

    • goback2rfk - Jul 31, 2015 at 12:16 PM

      It seems like every year is a “multiyear process.” There is never any development into a well rounded football team. No consistency. The Skins are a crap shoot. You never know what you will get with them. Remember last year when the defense crushed Dallas and then stunk the next game. I believe we will see more of that this year. 5 – 11 is probably what we are looking at and I would be thrilled with 7 – 9

  7. goback2rfk - Jul 31, 2015 at 12:20 PM

    Galette is a nice pick up. I like that move a lot. Good stuff. That is an immediate boost up for the defensive side of the ball. Cool. Yeh!

    • ET - Jul 31, 2015 at 1:06 PM

      Talented guy. We’ll see if he can behave himself.

      At least Scot seems to be a tough negotiator in these circumstances … unlike the Days of Olde. Archives

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