Coach Jay Gruden should remain with the Redskins if only because the two deserve each other.
There are three types of coaches: awful ones, those who can make a bad team good like Gruden has done in Washington, and those who can raise a good team to great. But for a team to reach greatness, the front office and owner also need to be outstanding. And the Redskins are far from that. Fans are more invested in lobbying for the dismissal of team president Bruce Allen than in pushing for a coaching change.
Despite a 35-43-1 record in five years, Gruden seems to be given a pass because injuries decimated two potential playoff seasons. Seriously, the Redskins recently won with a fourth-string quarterback. That’s duct tape-and-spit time. This probably would have been a 10-win season if quarterback Alex Smith wasn’t hurt after a 6-3 start.
The Redskins are no longer the first choice for local fans, much less potential coaches. Although to keep Gruden just because there is no obvious option to replace him is a poor argument. There are always good candidates awaiting a chance, but this organization seems reluctant to find anyone not connected to Allen’s past Oakland and Tampa Bay teams.
Gruden’s fatal flaw is a lack of urgency. He treats players like men and expects their best effort without a draconian daily beat. But it doesn’t really work that way. The best coaches are part jerks. They’re yelling at players throughout practice to get better — now! New England’s Bill Belichick is always on the edge, always pushing players. Gruden doesn’t, and his players take advantage of it.
Firing safety D.J. Swearinger this week wasn’t part of a needed “tough guy” act by Gruden — it was just a move that had to be made.
The final week of the season doesn’t set a tone for the offseason. The final days are about staying healthy for players, not winning the finale Sunday against Philadelphia.
The Redskins owe themselves one more year with Gruden. Not that it will make a difference because their roster flaws will be hard to overcome. With 2019 being a bridge season to the next good or bad era, Gruden is a place holder until Washington can find the right coach and quarterback in 2020 — and maybe even Allen’s successor.
Gruden will at least keep the franchise from completely floundering. He doesn’t squeeze everything out of the team, but he doesn’t let it tank, either. The past two weeks showed that.
After four straight losses, Washington beat Jacksonville with journeyman quarterback Josh Johnson and then nearly upset Tennessee on Saturday. It would have been easy to have surrendered, so credit Gruden for holding things together.
That’s why Gruden should return one more year — to hold the franchise together until big moves can be made.
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