Jay Gruden awaits his fate amid slew of coach firings

January 1, 2019

ASHBURN As soon as Jay Gruden took the podium Monday for his year-end press conference, the Redskins coach was asked if he had any changes to his coaching staff to announce. He laughed as he said no, adding he didnt even know what he was doing there.

Gruden, after all, is still waiting to find out if hell return to the Redskins in 2019 let alone his staff.

Since the regular season ended Sunday, six teams the Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets, Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals have fired their head coach. In total, eight teams have coaching vacancies.

But for now, the Redskins are not one of them. Gruden said he has yet to meet with owner Daniel Snyder to discuss his future. Multiple reports have indicated Gruden is expected to return, but the coach did not confirm his status for next season.

I havent had any talks yet, Gruden said. I have no idea when they will take place, but I know they will take place. I just have to wait and kind of see what happens. It is a tough business. A lot of good coaches have been let go already and there will be a lot more Im sure here in the next couple days and weeks.

So, moving forward if I am fortunate enough to be here I feel really good about the nucleus of players that we have.

If he does return, Gruden acknowledged there are a lot of things that probably need to change. For a second straight year, the Redskins finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the third consecutive year.

In his five years at the helm, Gruden is 35-44-1 and has two years left on his contract. After Sundays 24-0 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, players like Chris Thompson and Adrian Peterson voiced support for the coach.

This season marked another challenging year for Gruden. He and his staff had to adapt to a plethora of injuries with 24 players ending the season on injured reserve including quarterbacks Alex Smith and Colt McCoy. That number surpassed last years total of 23.

The Redskins dont have an obvious solution for their injury woes, either. Following 2017, the team invested in a brand-new recovery room with updated technology and medical equipment. That helped, Gruden dead-panned.

Regardless of injuries, Gruden understands the Redskins record was not good enough.

I know Mr. Snyder demands greatness from his staff and his players and we didnt deliver this year, Gruden said. So we have to figure out ways to get better from a coaching staff standpoint first and then from a players standpoint.

In the past, Snyder has shown a willingness to quickly move on from coaches. Over his 20 seasons as owner, hes hired seven head coach coaches and only Gruden made it past four years.

The NFL, of course, is a win-now league. On Monday, the Cardinals parted ways with Steve Wilks after just one season. Vance Joseph, formerly with the Broncos, lost his job after two seasons, while Todd Bowles (Jets), Adam Gase (Dolphins) and Dirk Koetter (Buccaneers) were fired after three.

Marvin Lewis, who had 16 years with the Bengals, was a rare exception, but he was finally fired after Cincinnati missed the playoffs for the third straight year.

There were two midseason firings this year as Green Bay moved on from Mike McCarthy and the Browns fired Hue Jackson. In both cases, the Packers and the Browns underperformed and got off to slow starts.

In Grudens favor for being retained, the Redskins arent seen as a premier destination for a coach, especially compared to some of the other openings around the league. Thats in part because of the uncertainty at quarterback and in part because of Snyders reputation, deserved or not, for being too involved on the football side of operations.

Gruden, however, isnt the only one inside the Redskins waiting to see if he will be retained. Despite D.J. Swearingers release, defensive coordinator Greg Manusky is on the hot seat and there have been rumblings that offensive line coach Bill Callahan could move on.

Inside the locker room, players packed their belongings in the annuals cleanout day. Others, like cornerback Josh Norman and linebacker Zach Brown, admitted they didnt know if they would be back with the Redskins next season.

As for possible changes, Gruden, if he does return, said the Redskins have to be on the same page.

I think staff-wise we did some good things, but not good enough, Gruden said. That evaluation process, I will have to do a lot of listening first if Im still here, will see what they see, what their vision is and then I have to adapt to what they see and try to do the best I can to make it work.

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