RICHMOND—Redskins training camp gets underway tomorrow here at the Bon Secours Training Center.
The team has high expectations after winning the NFC East last year. The priorities have shifted since Jay Gruden took over as the head coach in 2014.
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“I want to make sure we make the right decisions on players, No. 1,” he said during a press conference during his first training camp.
“We have to make sure we get a good look at all the young guys, all the free agents, all the undrafted free agents, the draft picks, the veteran free agents, and make sure when we make our final cut-down we make the right choices and hopefully these players will make it very difficult on us in making those decisions.”
That all sounds great but what about winning games? Where was that in the pecking order or priorities? The young guys and undrafted free agents can help you out here and there. But if you miss on a couple of them it’s not going to kill you. Failure to make preparing to win games during the coming season the top priority will kill you. The Redskins went 4-12.
Gruden was singing a different tune when he was asked what the priorities were as the team started camp a year ago.
“We’re trying to improve as a football team, number one,” he said near the start of training camp in 2015. “That’s all we’re trying to do every day is improve a certain area of our game. Then, we’re also trying to critique our players and find out who our best 53 are.”
So the emphasis on improving the team seemed to work as the Redskins went 9-7 and were surprise NFC East winners.
Sure, there’s an element of coach speak in all of this. But don’t underestimate the importance of what the head coach is focused on. If the coaches spend an inordinate amount of time in meetings trying to sort out the last half dozen players on the roster there is less time to prepare the starters for Week 1 and beyond.
I expect Gruden to order his priorities the same way this year. Focusing on the play at the top of the roster will bear more fruit that worrying about which fifth cornerback or tenth offensive lineman to keep.