Jay Gruden is sinking the Washington Redskins

Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images /

Make no mistake about it, the Washington Redskins are a sinking ship. Should head coach Jay Gruden be blamed for this disaster?

Fans of the Washington Redskins are a resilient and occasionally optimistic bunch. But even Jay Gruden fans are growing tired of the ongoing inexplicable decision making at Redskins Park. Something has got to change and unfortunately, I think everyone is starting to figure out what that change is going to be.

I am a Jay Gruden fan. Taking it a step further, I think the Washington Redskins go up to the Meadowlands and thump the New York Giants on Sunday. But, even if that happens, there are going to be questions that simply can’t be answered. Some of Gruden’s decisions this year defy logic.

It would not be fair to not preface this barrage without pointing out that some of the disasters leading up to this season were not Gruden’s fault. There is nothing he could have done to prevent the 2017 team from incurring more injuries, to starters and backups, than any team in NFL history.

Nor can he be blamed for the 2018 team breaking that record and setting a new historical NFL high for injuries to players on the active roster. That one of those players was the newly signed Alex Smith was unfortunate but not the head coaches fault.

This year Trent Williams quit the team. I don’t care what the reasons are and we may never know, but it’s hard to blame Gruden for that fiasco. Gruden has definitely been dealt some weak cards. A lesser man might have folded but to his credit, he pressed on. However, at some point, even Gruden’s staunchest advocates have to wonder what exactly is going through his mind.

First of all, where are Cam Sims and Robert Davis? It’s a rhetorical question. Cam Sims is on the Practice Squad and Robert Davis is on the bench. Yet these two lit up the practice field in training camp and preseason games both this year and last. How long has the team been longing for big, tall, fast wide receivers?

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Also, both players excel on special teams and are two of the best blockers on the team. Yet both remain woefully underutilized. I understand completely that Terry McLaurin is a future star, Paul Richardson just makes too much money not to play and Jay loves Trey Quinn.

Still, Gruden has to find a way to get these two guys some touches. How can these receivers, with their condor-like wingspans, not be an asset to any quarterback? You lead the team in preseason catches and yards and touchdowns and then … you sit? Inexcusable.

Secondly, is this coach really only capable of running an offense that is so complicated that only wily veterans with years of experience can grasp it? Incase Gruden hasn’t noticed, the quarterback is not the only player struggling with the complexity of this scheme.

Receivers are running the wrong patterns and guys are missing blocks all over the field. At times it’s clearly not because they can’t block it’s because they don’t know who to block. It appears that Jay Gruden is trying to run an offense that requires players that either had a perfect score on their SATs or have IQs over 160. Good luck with that.

Next, and I hope Jordan Reed is okay, but Gruden’s infatuation with the 240-pound wide receiver, (if you can’t block you are not a tight end), has to come to an end. He can not be dead set on running his offense through a guy that never plays. It does not work. Obviously.

It is extremely probable that this offense would have performed better thus far if Jordan Reed had been available and had Derrius Guice not gone down. Until then that happens, Adrian Peterson must become a larger part of the gameplan.

Peterson is one of the best running backs in the history of the NFL. Even it means tweaking the sacred gameplan- include him in it. At least stop acting like he’s the guy who stole your girlfriend. For a man that has been criticized for being too much of a players’ coach, the Gruden-Peterson relationship is one of the most bizarre in the league.

Now to the defense. Even Gruden has expressed frustration with this group but as the head coach, he takes the hit. This defense rarely lines up in their base 3-4 set. They can’t afford to as they absolutely HAVE to have five defensive backs on the field at all times. So, teams attack the inside linebackers with short passes or run the ball because the defensive line in the nickel sub-package consists of two 260-pound guys on the ends (Usually Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat).

How long does it take for opposing defensive coordinators to figure out that their 320-pound offensive tackles are blocking 260-pound outside linebackers? The answer is one play. And we wonder why the quarterbacks are not getting pressured.

For all the talent on the defensive coaching staff, we see zero creativity. Why don’t we see more four-man fronts consisting of Allen, Payne, Ioannidis, and EITHER Kerrigan or Sweat, (Sweat please)? After all, who do you like getting to the QB; Ioannidis, at 310 pounds and one of the strongest guys on the team, or Kerrigan, at 260 pounds with two tackles and one sack in three games? Hey, maybe they know something I don’t, but whatever it is, it’s not working.

Furthermore, this defense seems to suffer from some of the same technical difficulties as the offense. How many years in a row are we going to hear about the defenses problems with communication? How hard can it be? The Washington Redskins never blitz so what can possibly be so complex?

It comes down to a simple matter of who is covering who. Some of these zone concepts will not work against teams with smart, mobile, strong-armed quarterbacks. Uh oh, here comes Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz and Daniel Jones twice a year.

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If the guys on the field knew what they were supposed to do they might have a chance. Fans get to a point, eventually, where optimism starts to feel like delusion. In game after game when we see players that don’t seem to understand what they’re doing it begins to become clear that it may, in fact, be the coaches that don’t know what they’re doing.

The Washington Redskins, especially the head coach, better simplify this thing in a hurry or the best that he can hope for is to go down with the ship.