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Jay Gruden on future with Redskins: Nothing to say about 2019

December 31, 2018

LANDOVER Despite another sub-.500 season and a growing playoff drought, the Washington Redskins might be sticking with their coach.

Entering Sunday, league insider Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that Gruden’s job was safe. But Gruden would not address his future employment after Sunday’s embarrassing season finale, a 24-0 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

“I have nothing to say about 2019 right now,” Gruden said.

The Redskins finished 7-9 for the second consecutive season. It is the fourth year in a row they posted a record between 7-9 and 9-7.

In March 2017, the Redskins extended Gruden’s original contract through the 2020 season. A two-year extension, it kicks in following the 2018 season.

Running back Chris Thompson said Gruden has support from “every guy in this locker room.”

“I know every single guy here enjoys playing for him,” Thompson said. “We enjoy his attitude, every single day. His approach to the game. I wouldn’t ask to have any other coach. I love him and I enjoy him every single day.”

Of course, Gruden’s staff was far from universally popular in the locker room this year.

Former Washington safety D.J. Swearinger routinely criticized defensive strategy after losses this season. He aired his disagreement with defensive coordinator Greg Manusky’s play-calling after a Week 16 loss to the Titans. It led to the Redskins releasing Swearinger a Pro Bowl alternate selection on Christmas Eve with one game left to play.

Gruden has a quarterback’s and offensive coordinator’s background, but on Sunday, Washington’s offense had its worst showing of the year. Injuries and poor performance forced the team into its fourth starting quarterback of the year, Josh Johnson, for three weeks. Still, the offense posted several season lows Sunday: 89 total yards, an abysmal 21 rushing yards and, of course, zero points.

It was the first time the Redskins lost in shutout fashion since 2014.

Thompson did not think calls for coaching changes were necessary, saying players often deserve the blame for missing details.

“It makes Jay look bad as an offensive coach, and that’s something that we gotta find a way to not let it happen,” Thompson said. “Because our failures fall back on him, and then when we look at film we realize, a lot of times it’s the small things that we do wrong.”

Gruden did not reveal any timeline for evaluating and possibly changing up the coaching staff.

Adrian Peterson, who signed with Washington in August, also expressed appreciation for Gruden, calling him a “tough leader” throughout the adversity the Redskins faced.

“He’s the ideal type coach. A players’ coach,” Peterson said, but added, “He’ll call you out, man, if you’re doing something wrong. And I feel like a lot of coaches don’t do that, but that holds every player accountable.”

Since Joe Gibbs retired the first time, the Redskins have cycled through nine different coaches, including one-time interim coach Terry Robiskie and a sequel with Gibbs. Gruden’s five years so far is the longest tenure for a Redskins coach since Norv Turner from 1994 to 2000.

Even if the Redskins fired Gruden, NFL sources have said there are relatively few strong candidates to become head coaches in 2019. Some former head coaches Bill Callahan and Jim Tomsula are assistants on Gruden’s staff.

In an interview with the Washington Post before Week 17, Gruden owned up to the franchise’s mediocrity during his tenure.

“I have not done a good enough job to get us over the hump,” he said. “I have not won a playoff game since I’ve been here, and if you had told me five years ago I would have laughed at you.”

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