There was plenty of blame to go around after the Redskins' blowout loss Monday night, but for some, including NBC Sports Washington analyst Brian Mitchell, it started with Jay Gruden. After the Saints embarrassed the Redskins in New Orleans, Mitchell ripped Washington’s preparedness. He said players aren’t taking their jobs seriously enough and suggested that’s a reflection of their head coach.
“There were things that happened after the bye week that made me start to question a lot of things,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got guys getting a break — a veteran day after a bye. Hell, you just were off for seven days and you come back and you need a veteran day? . . . Guys are still blowing assignments, can’t keep their coverages, can’t communicate properly. And you know what? We always talk about players taking on the personality of their coach, and I’m going to say this: Yes, they’re taking on the personality of their coach. They think everything is a joke. They think everything is easy, and they’re not going out there busting their a — to become the best players they can be.”
The Redskins are now 2-3 coming off a bye under Gruden, who is 30-37-1 overall in the regular season with Washington. On a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Gruden vowed that his veteran team will “clean it up” and avoid a repeat of Monday’s debacle. If the Redskins don’t turn things around, Mitchell suggested it might be time for a change at the top.
“Listen, if Jay can’t get them to play better, maybe somebody else needs to come in here,” he said. “I’m not going to hold my tongue anymore. If you cannot coach the team properly, you can’t get the guys to play their best, then damn it, you shouldn’t be the coach, point blank. And I’m sure a lot of fans feel the same way.”
On his podcast, Kevin Sheehan echoed some of what Mitchell said. He pointed to the personal foul penalty on safety Montae Nicholson that negated a third-down stop on the Saints' second drive as the latest example of a recurring problem of discipline under Gruden.
“We’ve talked about ‘Camp Jay’ and loose Jay and no culture of where you’re fearful of making a mistake like that,” Sheehan said. “I don’t know that Nicholson will even be punished for that. I don’t know if there will be a deterrent created for others. That’s part of why I think Jay, and I’ve said this for multiple years running, is no better than, say, a middling coach, average coach. He does some of the things very well. He’s an offensive guy. I like it. I like the way he designs guys to get open. It would be nice if they had a quarterback that would throw it to the guys who were open. But there’s always been sort of this lack of discipline with Jay Gruden, stupid penalties. It was an ugly night from that perspective, going back to a performance that just lacked professionalism.”
Former Redskins safety and NFL Network analyst Will Blackmon engaged in a Twitter Q&A with fans Tuesday and was asked about Gruden’s ability to prepare a team.
“He let us be ourselves,” said Blackmon, who played for Gruden in 2015 and 2016. “I’ve always felt prepared. Coaches only have a certain amount of time to coach us. We are professionals. We must take advantage of the rest of our day.”
The Team 980 host Steve Czaban called Monday’s loss “as bad as it could be and then some.”
“[Monday] night, our coach called the effort, and I quote, debauchery,” Czaban said. “Sir, that word doesn’t mean what you think it means. Debauchery. Noun. Excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures. Our coach can’t even find the right words to describe his own t--- that he has authored as our head coach in that awful game last night. . . . Now the number of systems on board the spaceship that is the Redskins that is either malfunctioning or outright on fire has alarmingly tripled overnight. By my count, the systems now that are either on meltdown or burning include the coach’s ability to prepare the team and scheme and make halftime adjustments, QB1, RB1, WR1, DB1 and maybe some other things I’m not mentioning here. The only good thing about where we are right now, aside from the fact that, hey, we’re in first place — the only thing good is that there is another football game . . . coming up in the blink of an eye, on a short week. That is actually a good thing."
Czaban also made the argument that Alex Smith’s interception in the third quarter Monday was the Redskins' worst play since the “Swinging Gate.” Kirk Cousins would like a word.
The Redskins Talk podcast crew of J.P. Finlay, Mitch Tischler and Rich Tandler described Monday’s performance as atrocious, bad, horrible, ugly, disappointing, embarrassing and humiliating.
“It’s probably too early to talk about Jay Gruden’s job, but this pattern cannot persist, of playing one great game, one poor game,” Tandler said. “Eventually, whether it’s fair or not, it comes down to the coach."
Finally, in non-Gruden-related commentary, NFL analyst Brian Baldinger highlighted a missed opportunity for the Redskins' defense on the Saints' second drive that could have changed the complexion of the game. After defensive lineman Daron Payne forced a fumble by Saints running back Mark Ingram, linebacker Pernell McPhee failed to pounce on the loose ball and Ingram was able to recover.
“The ball is out!” Baldinger said. “It’s your ball. You created it! You got to get the loose balls. You got to get the loose balls, man.”
At some point, the Redskins' players have to make plays or the heat on Gruden will only intensify.
Redskins in NFL Power Rankings
ESPN: 17 (Last week: 19)
USA Today: 14 (LW: 10)
SB Nation: 19 (LW: 17)
Bleacher Report: 15 (LW: 19)
NFL.com: 18 (LW: 15)
Pro Football Talk: 23 (LW: 20)
The Washington Post: 17 (LW: 14)
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