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The inevitable happened on Monday when news broke that the Washington Redskins finally parted ways with head coach Jay Gruden after an 0-5 start to the season.
The writing was on the wall after the Redskins faced another embarrassing loss, this time at the mercy of the New England Patriots. Gruden knew his time was up even if he wasn’t ready to fully admit it.
“If the key works on Monday, I’ll keep working,” Gruden said. “Go attack the Miami Dolphins and plan on getting our first win next week.”
It turns out the key only worked long enough for him to endure a 5 a.m. meeting that resulted in his dismissal after coaching the team for six seasons. Gruden admits he didn’t get the job done and had plenty of opportunities to turn things around. He finished with a 35-49-1 record.
While Gruden was never the long-term answer from a coaching perspective, his firing is a small solution to a much bigger problem. The Redskins have a systemic issue that starts at the top with owner Dan Snyder and president Bruce Allen.
It’s well-known that Snyder and Allen are more involved in football matters than most leadership tandems across the league. That was highlighted in recent weeks as stories leaked that the coaching staff didn’t want to draft quarterback Dwayne Haskins but he was the guy Snyder and Allen wanted.
Not only that, the duo is notoriously known for questionable decision-making including their current standoff with Trent Williams.
The Redskins are on their seventh head coach under Snyder’s ownership and hold a 59-92-1 team record since Allen took over president duties. Inconsistency, an ongoing losing record and a lack of accountability has deteriorated the organization’s culture and driven fans away.
It’s painfully obvious that fans are frustrated when you look around the stadium at empty seats. The seats that aren’t empty are filled with fans from opposing teams. Following New England’s recent win, Tom Brady stated that “it felt like a home game” because of all the Patriots’ fans cheering them on at FedEx Field.
Allen has a different take on why the stadium is being taken over by other fans:
“Well, I appreciate the fact that the Patriots have a great fan base and they’ve had tremendous success and Bill Belichick is probably the best coach in NFL history, so I’m sure many of our fans put their tickets on the second market and made some money on it selling it to people from the Northeast. All we can do is try to improve our product.”
Instead of self-reflecting, Allen and Snyder believe they got rid of the problem by firing Gruden which in their eyes will ultimately improve the product. However, Allen’s press conference addressing the coaching change brought to light that he is in denial that other steps are necessary to turn things around and shift the culture of the organization.
“The culture is actually damn good,” Allen stated. “These people care. We have a very young core of players that we have brought in here who are accustomed to winning. If you look at the records of these guys, they’re accustomed to winning, they want to win.”
When pressed further, Allen continued to defend the team.
“The pieces are here for a winning team. We have to put them in the right place, believe in each other and keep fighting for a goal,” Allen stated. “There’s only one way you win, you have to work and you have to get better and you have to beat your opponent. And that’s what we have to do, and I believe these players and these coaches will do that.”
A team that is last in the league in every category is not as close to winning as he would like everyone to believe. Until Allen and Snyder are willing to admit there are issues that run deeper than coaching, the organization will never change.
If they truly believe the culture is “damn good” even though there is evidence that says otherwise, the Redskins will continue to spin their wheels for years to come.