by Chris LingebachBy Chris Lingebach

WASHINGTON — After keeping the Redskins competitive till the bitter overtime end against the undefeated Atlanta Falcons last Sunday, Jay Gruden has every reason to feel confident in his coaching abilities.

The second-year head coach has the Redskins at 2-3, in a theoretical three-way share for second/last place in the NFC East, though they’re technically in third place by virtue of their 1-1 division record. Still, only a game behind the division-leading New York Giants.

NFL circles appear to be taking notice of his improved club. Andy Benoit, a writer for Sports Illustrated’s The MMQB, praised Gruden’s ability to properly game-plan for opponents.

Benoit has fared so-so with his Redskins takes in the last calendar year. Over the summer, his assessment of projected NFL starting quarterbacks for 2015 had Robert Griffin III ranked 31st. He seemed ahead of the curve on that one in hindsight.

However, after Washington was blown out by Indianapolis in 2014, Benoit adamantly defended then-Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, saying “if Haslett were fired today, this coming offseason, there would be a line of ten teams looking to hire him as a D-coordinator.” Haslett and the Redskins “mutually” parted ways after the season. After a six-month job search — and shedding some very messy arrows from London Fletcher — Haz was able to land on his feet in Happy Valley.

So what does Benoit think of the job Gruden’s done thus far in 2015?

“I think Gruden’s doing a sensational job though with this team,” he told 106.7 The Fan’s Chad Dukes on Wednesday. “Watching every single team on film each week, you get a sense for who does what and who’s tailoring their game plans and still operating within the confines of their system, and I think Washington does as good a job as almost any team in the league at that, especially when you consider that they really don’t have the quarterback they want.”

“So, Gruden, I don’t know how your listeners feel about him,” he said, “I don’t know what his reputation is there on the east coast.”

“They hate him,” Dukes replied.

“They hate him? Yeah, that’s easy to do and it’s totally ridiculous,” Benoit said. “Because there’s no reasoning for it whatsoever. That’s just the guy that they label the head coach and assume that anything that goes wrong is his fault. Gruden, he’s a top ten NFL head coach right now, just going by game-planning.”

Follow @ChrisLingebach and @1067TheFanDC on Twitter.


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