Jay Gruden: 'Right now, we're winning ugly'

Brian Tinsman
November 11, 2018 - 6:46 pm
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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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The Washington Redskins came up short in almost every statistic that didn't matter on Sunday vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

They trailed in total yards (286 to 501), passing yards (178 to 406), first downs (15 to 29), third-down efficiency (38 percent to 60 percent), and time of possession (28:48 to 31:12). Alex Smith failed to eclipse 200 yards passing for the fourth time in five games, throwing for exactly 178 yards for the third time this season.

And yet, the Redskins won the turnover battle (zero to four), finding big stops and takeaways whenever the going got tough. Most importantly, they won on the scoreboard, yielding only three points in 60 minutes of play.

"If that's what it takes to win a game, I really don't care," head coach Jay Gruden said with a shrug after the game. "I'll save the fantasy football for the guys who play that. We're just trying to get a win and grind it out anyway we can.

"I told the team last night: if we win 6-3 or 50-49, I don't care. The whole idea is to win the game. Right now, we're winning ugly, but I'm not sure there's any such thing as winning ugly."

Aside from the team's forming identity around low offensive output, there were two factors that magnified the low production on Sunday.

The Redskins reshuffled the offensive line deck this week, starting Ty Nsekhe at left tackle in place of Trent Williams, Jonathan Cooper at left guard in place of Shawn Lauvao, and Tony Bergstrom at left guard in place of Brandon Scherff. Cooper was signed off his coach on Monday and was immediately pressed into starting duty on Sunday.

To help with protection, the Redskins started three tight ends as well. The Bucs still managed three sacks on Smith, which netted only eight lost yards.

"I thought they did an amazing job. Good enough for a win," Smith told FOX's Shannon Spake after the game. "Everybody counted them out and they had a challenge today against a really good defensive line, on the road. A bunch of moving pieces got moving around and I felt like everybody doubted us, doubted them. 

"Hats off to those guys for putting in the work all week, then coming out here today and playing at a winning level."

All is well that ends well, but the Redskins do need to find some more consistent offensive production. The Redskins came into Week 10 ranked 25th in total offense and 25th in scoring offense, and put up numbers will decrease both averages.

The good news is that help should be on the way soon, as pointed out by 106.7 The Fan's Grant Paulsen:

 

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