WASHINGTON — When the Washington Redskins fell to the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 14, falling to 5-8 on the season, it would be reasonable to assume that head coach Jay Gruden was on the hot seat.
After all, team owner Daniel Snyder once fired head coach Marty Schottenheimer after an 8-8 season, a mark that the team could only reach by winning its last three games.
The Redskins have also struggled through the second half of the season with both players and coaches acknowledging that practice is not good enough and not preparing players to succeed. That seems to be a more direct criticism of the coaching and strategy.
It turns out that Gruden will not pay the price for this sin. According to an NFL Media report, Gruden’s job was always safe. Per Ian Rapoport:
It also helps that Gruden signed a contract extension before the season. While it isn’t unheard of to fire a coach with multiple seasons left on his contract, there is no indication that Gruden has lost control of the team or locker room.
It’s more like bad luck.
There are currently 20 players on injured reserve, with several coming off after missing most of the season. There are an additional 14 players on the injury report this week, marking 14 straight weeks with double-digit players on the report.
If this report is accurate, then Gruden will not take the fall for this personnel crisis. What will be interesting to observe in the weeks to come, perhaps even as soon as the so-called “Black Monday,” is if any members of the team’s medical or training staff are fired or not retained.
Here’s a discussion between beat reporter Craig Hoffman and the Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan in mid-December:
This also does not mean that each member of Gruden’s staff will be spared either. Whether a team is successful or not, it is unusual to keep a coaching staff intact from year to year, either through growth or attrition.
Unlike last year, the Redskins are not a focal point for head coaching candidates, as they were with Sean McVay last year. Instead, changes to the staff this year could come as a way of assigning blame for the shortcomings of this team.