Redskins fire head coach Jay Gruden

Ben Krimmel
October 07, 2019 - 5:54 am

The Washington Redskins have fired head coach Jay Gruden, the team announced in a statement.

An hour before the Redskins hosted the Patriots Sunday, a fan was seen at FedEx Field holding a sign with two words: "Fire Gruden." By early Monday morning, that demand became a reality, the head coach was fired after Washington fell to 0-5 on the season following a 33-7 loss to the defending Super Bowl champions. 

The organization announced owner Daniel Snyder and team president Bruce Allen informed Gruden of the decision Monday morning.

"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," the team said in a statement. "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."

The Redskins have made assistant offensive line coach Bill Callahan the interim head coach, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Gruden, who was hired by Washington in Jan. 2014, accumulated a 35-49-1 record in parts of six seasons with the franchise. The Redskins made one playoff appearance during that time, a 35-18 home loss to the Green Bay Packers in the 2015 Wild Card round. A game in which the Redskins had an 11-0 lead.

He was the eighth head coach since Snyder bought the team in 1999 and the first to receive an extension from him. Gruden was the second coach Snyder has fired in-season after Norv Turner.  

"Once Jay's interview was about three-quarters through, we knew he was the right guy. It was a unanimous decision," Allen said in 2014. 

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"If you look at his resume, it's broad, it's deep," Allen said at the time. "He's done every job in football. ... He has a credible resume. His passion is contagious. He's a great people person and he's always been that."

The Redskins have undergone tremendous change during Gruden's tenure, but the results stayed the same. After taking over a 3-13 team following Mike Shanahan's dismissal, Gruden went 4-12 and shuffled through three QBs: Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, and Colt McCoy

Gruden had his best season at the helm in 2015, going 9-7 with Cousins starting all 16 games Washington won the NFC East but did not manage a postseason win. Two seasons of mediocrity followed as the organization wrestled with the decision to hand Cousins an extension before deciding to move on and add Alex Smith before the 2018 season. But mediocrity followed in the form of another 7-9 season after a promising 6-3 start.

In his final season, in his final game in charge, despite all the change, it was McCoy who was again running Gruden's complex offense. The result was the lone constant.   

Once again Allen and Snyder will be holding interviews to find a new head coach and the news is not surprising: Gruden was the bookies' favorite for the first coach to be fired before the season began.

There were many signs the Redskins head coach was frustrated with the power dynamic in Washington. The Sports Junkies' Eric Bickel said in March he was told Gruden was "not being consulted" on certain moves in free agency. Bickel added his source told him the Redskins head coach was "super frustrated Bruce is calling all the shots." 

Before the draft, there were reports Gruden was not interested in selecting quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who Snyder was very keen on and the Redskins did take at No. 15 overall. And again this week a report said the head coach "did not want Haskins." (After the draft reports suggest the decision to take Haskins came from Allen and Snyder.)

The Junkies also revealed Gruden "did not want to keep" veteran running back Adrian Peterson when the team was making their final cuts, but ultimately Washington kept Peterson.

After Week 2 of the season, former NFL executive Michael Lombardi told 106.7 The Fan, the problems facing the organization begin not with Gruden, but the owner. 

"(Snyder) doesn't understand that culture and player development win. I mean he just has no idea that culture matters," he said in September. "Snyder is never gonna grasp it. He thinks 'If I hire Steve Spurrier,' 'If I bring Joe Gibbs back' or 'If I do this or do that... But what he needs to do is stop having the front office control everything."

Lombardi went on to say he feels bad for Gruden.

"I feel bad for Jay Gruden. Jay Gruden's trying to get fired," Lombardi said. "The day they come and tell Jay Gruden he can't coach the team anymore he may be running around the parking lot like George Costanza. He can't wait. At least Jay understands it's incompetence. You can... hear it in his voice, he knows that it's not gonna work. He's really content with it, I think."

"The real issue is (Allen) is running the program. A GM can't control the team," Lombardi added. "The head coach has to be the most important person in the organization. And he's gotta be able to control what he tells the players. And so what Bruce does, I mean, look at his record. There's been no general manager that's been in his job as long as Bruce has, that has that below a .500 winning percentage."

Gruden is now gone. The Washington Redskins he leaves behind now must figure which direction they are going.

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