The waiting game officially began Sunday night as the Washington Redskins left FedEx Field for the final time in 2018, 24-0 losers to the rival Eagles in front of a home stadium packed with Philadelphia fans clad in green and white.
The first question centers on Coach Jay Gruden, who at five years is the longest-tenured Redskins head coach since owner Daniel Snyder bought the team. But after this season’s 7-9 finish, he has a record of 35-44-1 with just one playoff appearance.
“I have nothing to say about 2019 right now,” Gruden said after Sunday’s loss, adding he did not know what the next 48 hours would bring him. He will meet with the team at 10 a.m. Monday, he said, and a schedule for individual meetings will be put together.
“We’ll figure out everything else from there,” Gruden said.
Gruden isn’t alone on the hot seat. Team president Bruce Allen owns a 59-84-1 record in his nine seasons at the helm, and he has been the subject of frequent criticism over on- and off-field decisions.
There are a variety of ways to assess Gruden’s performance in 2018. He should get credit for a 6-3 start fueled by a much-improved defense and an efficient offense led by new quarterback Alex Smith. He could be blamed for the 1-6 finish, although that could be deemed unfair given that the team had an NFL-high 24 players placed on injured reserve and lost both Smith and backup Colt McCoy to broken legs. Washington finished the season with Josh Johnson, who hadn’t started a game since 2011, at quarterback after a short-lived experiment with Mark Sanchez.
“You look at the injuries, I know he’s a great coach,” offensive tackle Morgan Moses said. “I love him to death. Obviously, he drafted me coming in here.
“I know he expects more from us. I know we expect more from them. Coming this offseason, the big thing is just getting guys healthy. That’s the main thing.”
The team had plenty of in-house drama throughout the season. Josh Norman was benched during a blowout loss to New Orleans after Gruden took issue with the cornerback wearing headphones during the halftime break. Norman and safety D.J. Swearinger caused a commotion after criticizing the home fans. Linebacker Zach Brown said he saw “the writing on the wall” in regards to his future in Washington after being benched. Swearinger was cut on Christmas Eve for insubordination after calling out defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.
Although many players supported Swearinger, Gruden still seems to have the backing of the locker room.
“I love Jay, man,” running back Adrian Peterson said. “He’s the ideal-type coach. Players’ coach. He’s hard on his players. He’ll call you out if you’re doing something wrong. A lot of coaches don’t do that. That holds every player accountable.
“. . . Just his leadership. Going through the things we went through. All the adversity. Him being the great leader he is, helped corral us and allowed us to stay focused and continue to try to win.
“I feel like he has a great staff. Working with [running backs coach Randy] Jordan has been a blessing for me. He’s one of the reasons I was able to pick up the offense so easily. . . . It’s a great group of guys that’s in that building.”
Even if Gruden returns as head coach, there have been rumblings around the organization that there could be changes made at other positions on the coaching staff.
Manusky’s defense played at a high level early in the season but regressed as the year wore on. Offensive line coach Bill Callahan could be interested in moving on to a different role elsewhere. There could be adjustments involving offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh and/or passing game coordinator Kevin O’Connell.
“We’ll talk, obviously,” Gruden said about the staff. “Everything we do is talked about, obviously, [with] Mr. Snyder and Bruce and some others, so we’ll see. There’s time for that.”
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