Any gambler would have seen this as a sure bet. After the Washington Redskins got off to an incredibly poor 0-5 start on the season, the back office decided to pin it all on head coach Jay Gruden and showed him to the door. It didn’t do it in the most polite manner, either, calling him in at 5 AM this morning to give him his walking papers. Yesterday’s embarrassing loss at the hands of the New England Patriots – 33-7 – was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
Gruden already knew what was coming – no one gets called in for a meeting with the brass before sunrise to receive good news. However, he took it in stride, meeting with team owner Daniel Snyder and president Bruce Allen to accept his fate as he was most likely already packing up his office.
Stepping in for Gruden will be the current assistant head coach and offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who also replaced Jon Gruden in Oakland in 2002. He was appointed the team’s interim leader until a suitable replacement can be found, but the Skins most likely won’t be in any hurry. This season is, for all intents and purposes, already a write-off.
In a statement about Gruden’s firing, the Redskins said, “Through the first five games of the 2019 season, the team has clearly not performed up to expectations, and we all share in that responsibility. Moving forward we are committed to doing all that we can collectively as an organization to turn things around and give our Redskins fans and alumni a team they can be proud of in 2019 and beyond.”
There is already a list of possible replacements being created, and was almost certainly begun after the team’s first loss of the season. Among the candidates are Mike Tomlin, the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Eric Bieniemy, offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs, and the defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Todd Bowles.
Allen added in the statement, “To make a decision like this is difficult but it was necessary. Our 0-5 start is not just disappointing, we had much different expectations for this beginning of the season. We owe it to our fans, our millions of fans not just here in the great nation’s capital but across the world, the players, the coaches and their families to do everything we can to win.”
Gruden won’t walk away empty-handed. He was working under a contract extension that was signed back in the break after the 2016 season and, to get rid of him, will cost the Redskins $5 million. He was with the team longer than any other coach Snyder had hired – of which there have been six – and none lasted more than four years.
Last year hadn’t been that great for the team, either, but Gruden got a pass because the team’s record was due, in part, to numerous injuries. They started strong and were 6-3 before quarterback Alex Smith was taken off the field with a broken leg and things fell apart after that. Ending the season 7-9, some began to wonder if the team would be able to recover this year and Gruden was given a shot to try to turn things around.
The Skins have had a decent run under Gruden, including a first-place NFC East finish in 2015. However, since Snyder purchased the team in 1999, it has finished third seven times and last eight times. This will have been the ninth season that the team has finished with at least ten losses since Snyder has been at the top of the ranks.
The good news is that 2020 should be considerably better. The Redskins have a talented, but young, pool of players and will most likely have an early pick in next season’s draft. That will give it even more strength and, perhaps, 2020 will be the turn-around year for the team.