The Redskins finished the 2017 season at 7-9. That’s not a horrible season even by the modest standards of the recent Redskins teams. In the 15 seasons since 2003, they have lost more games than they did this year eight times.
And even though the season was more mediocre than disastrous, the bigger picture is more worrisome. In 2015, they were 9-7. Last year the record was 8-7-1. With the win total declining by one again this year, the trend is not what you are looking for.
The deterioration in the wins column has not escaped the attention of Jay Gruden. He will remain on the job in 2018 but he knows that things will get dicey if things continue to slide. Another season of December irrelevance, or perhaps even staying relevant but missing out on the playoffs for the fourth time in Gruden’s five seasons, will have his job in jeopardy.
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“Oh, yeah, without a doubt,” Gruden said when asked if 2018 was a critical year for his job security. “Every year is its own entity and every year is important. And we have to be competitive. We have to do better in our division – we have to do better against the Cowboys, the Eagles, without a doubt, the Giants, moving forward. The nature of this business is [that] you’ve got to perform. You’ve got to have success or you’re going to have a short-lived tenure.”
Well, except for Gruden it would not be a short stint on the job. When he coaches the first game of the 2018 season he will have the longest run as Redskins head coach under owner Dan Snyder, breaking a tie with Joe Gibbs and Mike Shanahan. Only five NFC coaches have been on the job longer than Gruden.
But he might be looking for a job if the team doesn’t snap out of the doldrums. Mediocre is not a good place to be in the NFL. Such teams are not good enough to create excitement by advancing in the playoffs and not bad enough to get high draft picks that might make the situation better.
The poor division record that Gruden mentions is one of the things at the core of the issue. They were 1-5 against the NFC East this year. Given that the fans hate losing to the Cowboys and upper management still holds a grudge against the Giants organization for being the driving force behind the salary cap penalties in 2012-2013, that’s not good. Gruden’s team have posted a winning division record just once in his tenure, going 4-2 in 2015. Add in that the Redskins have been unable to beat the Cowboys at home in Gruden’s time here and the division record is a real problem.