SNIDER: Stress is showing in Redskins coach

Rick Snider
September 12, 2019 - 11:41 am
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It was a simple question that had to be asked and answered each day like some game. What was Redskins tight end Jordan Reed’s playing status after suffering a concussion on Aug. 22?

Head coach Jay Gruden spat a response on Monday with unusual harshness.

“I’ve explained this 3,000 times,” he said. “OK, they’re never really totally out of the protocol, they just continue to get more work in practice. He did a lot of work in team today, which is good. He’s just gotta continue to get more reps and we’ll continue to monitor how he’s feeling afterward.”

And just like that, another crack was revealed of the mounting pressure Gruden now faces after an 0-1 start in a win-or-get-fired year.

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Now no one cares that a coach gives a reporter a terse answer. I’ve seen much worse for much less. But that’s not Gruden’s style. After watching his pressers for six years, you draw a baseline on his emotions. Coaches don’t realize it, but reporters look for subtle tell signs just like poker players and Gruden showed one there.

Gruden is unfairly forced to deal with questions on medical issues when past years saw the team trainer talk with reporters daily. He’s also forced to give the usual who-knows answers about offensive tackle Trent Williams’ holdout when general managers normally do so.

It’s wearing out the coach and that moment showed it. But it also shows facing a possible 0-2 start after a loss to Dallas Sunday sans several top players in a stadium sure to have more Cowboys fans cheering than Skins fans groaning likely puts Gruden’s job in peril.

If Washington opens 1-4 as many expect, then Gruden may have to endure the same dead-man walking that predecessor Jim Zorn painfully exited in 2009.

MORE: Moss, Portis slam Gruden over Peterson decision

Gruden is well-liked by the media. He’s a good guy and a respected coach no matter the lackluster record. Gruden won’t be given a bum’s rush out. But behind the seemingly calm demeanor is obviously a sense of urgency.

Sunday is now or never for this team to show they can work for an easy-going coach.

The locker room may have been upset over Adrian Peterson not playing in the opener, but the bottom line is if you can’t play for Gruden, you can’t play for any coach. He doesn’t beat them down like predecessors Marty Schottenheimer and Mike Shanahan. Gruden expects players to be professionals and give their best without his turning into a draconian coach.

If the Redskins look dazed and confused, it’s going to be a slow roll to a quick ending.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks.

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