The Redskins’ 45-14 loss to the Giants on Thursday night was painful for everyone—players, coaches, the fans at FedEx Field, the television audience—to go through. But coach Jay Gruden believes that it may have been just what the players and coaches needed. Even though going into the game they were 1-2 on the season and had won just four of their last 19 games going back to the start of the 2013 season, they perhaps were a bit full of themselves.
“I think we have a good group of guys character wise and I’m hoping that this is a wakeup call, like I said last night, a slap in the face,” said Gruden. “Hey, you’re not as good as you think you are, you have a lot more work to do than you think you do and hopefully they’ll get it done and realize that. Both coaches and players realize we have to put in the extra time, we have to put in the extra work, we have to put in the extra [preparation], we have to stay focused for longer and work harder for us to be successful. We just can’t put our uniform on and jog onto the field and act like we’re going to beat peoples’ butt without working.”
But given the team’s track record, with just one playoff appearance since 2008 and no playoff wins since 2005, why would they think they were anything special?
“That’s a good question,” said Gruden. “We had some success a little bit. We went to Philadelphia, they played hard, lose 37-34 . . . I just think that sometimes you need a beating like this to let people know that we have a lot of work to do. When you’re in close games like that or you win 41-10 and get 10 sacks on defense and you have 500 yards of offense [in their Week 2 win over Jacksonville] people might tend to think that they’re a little better than they are, coaches included.”
With the bar for success in the organization being so low, perhaps it’s just human nature to be satisfied with relatively modest success, even when that success doesn’t result in a win. But it sounds like now that they’ve hit rock bottom Gruden is going to get them to aim higher and to do what’s necessary to get them there.
“I think that at 1-3, reality check has come in full force and we don’t have a choice now,” said Gruden. “There are no wasted reps now. We have to take advantage of all of our reps and all of our time together to get this thing turned around because we have dug ourselves into a hole so to speak and we’ve got to get out of it quickly.”
We will see if Gruden can get this ship turned around. It’s not just a matter of studying more film and getting the players to hit the blocking sled for a while longer in practice. It’s about changing a culture and that never is an easy fix nor is it a quick one.