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It was meant as a joke, but Jay Gruden’s ‘Hard Knocks’ zinger has real truth to it

It was meant as a joke, but Jay Gruden’s ‘Hard Knocks’ zinger has real truth to it

The late, great Rich Tandler once eloquently explained that when it comes to zings, "a truthful zing is the best kind."

It's the truth, and it's the truth that makes those jokes that much funnier. And while Jay Gruden had the Redskins media room laughing on Wednesday, he certainly delivered a funny line wrapped in a scary truth. 

Asked about the possibility of the Redskins landing on HBO's Hard Knocks documentary this summer, Gruden said that the Raiders are the better team for the show. The coach explained that the 'Skins could be featured on Hard Knocks in 2020. When a reporter (editor's note: it was me) reminded Gruden that if the 'Skins make the playoffs in 2019, they can't be on the show in 2020, Gruden delivered the knee-slapper. 

"If we don't make the playoffs I probably won't be here anyway," the coach said. "They can come here and do it all they want."

The room erupted. Watch the video above. 

And while there is so much to appreciate about an NFL head coach not consumed by his ego that he can be self-deprecating, there is plenty of truth in what Gruden said. 

Missing the playoffs in 2019 would mean the Redskins have not made the postseason in four straight years. 

Missing the playoffs in 2019 would mean Gruden has guided the Redskins to the playoffs just once in six seasons as a head coach. 

Missing the playoffs in 2019 would mean Gruden has zero postseason wins on his resume.

There is a lot to like about Gruden, the person and the coach, but ultimately the NFL is a results business. And those results aren't good enough. 

There are extenuating circumstances certainly. Crazy injuries buried promising seasons in 2017 and 2018, and beyond that, Gruden has done a remarkable job of keeping the 'Skins competitive late in the year despite being outmanned. 

He deserves credit for things beyond the record, too. 

Last year, the Redskins remained in the playoff hunt late in the year even while playing their fourth-string quarterback. Few teams survive losing their starter, let alone their starter and backup. 

It's also important to note that under Gruden's watch, the Redskins have avoided the extreme volatility that has marked the franchise throughout the FedEx Field era. What does that mean?

Gruden has a higher winning percentage (.444) in five seasons than Mike Shanahan (.375) did in four seasons. Guess who had the same winning percentage as Mike Shanahan? Jim Zorn. In his second stint as Redskins head coach, Joe Gibbs won just slightly more often (.468) than Gruden has. 

The difference is that Gruden's teams largely don't bottom out. His first season in Washington in 2014 was bad: the team went 4-12, but even that was an improvement from the disastrous 3-13 season in 2013 when Shanahan got fired. 

Gruden has not won enough. That's clear. But he's also avoided the terrible seasons and losing streaks that plagued nearly every other coach in the FedEx era, including Gibbs. 

Ultimately though, avoiding bad years won't override the lack of playoff success.

Gruden has achieved sustained mediocrity as the Redskins coach, and while the recent bar is so low that Gruden's numbers actually look impressive in comparison, the bar eventually must be set higher. 

And that's why Gruden made the joke. 

He knows his job is on the line if the team doesn't perform this year. It won't matter if they start a rookie quarterback, and it won't matter if the injuries pile up again. In fact, the injuries already started last week when Reuben Foster went down for the year. 

Gruden knows he has to win and make the playoffs this season. And that's why the joke was so funny, because he was telling the truth. 


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NFL bans on-field pyrotechnics after field at Nissan Stadium caught on fire last week

NFL bans on-field pyrotechnics after field at Nissan Stadium caught on fire last week

NFL pregame rituals just got a little less fiery.

The NFL has banned all on-field pyrotechnic fire machines and flame effects after last week's mishap at Nissan Stadium, according to reports. When the Tennessee Titans took the field to take on their division rival Colts, one of the pyrotechnic devices caught on fire.

Instead of going upward like it was supposed to, the flames spurted out horizontally - creating a dangerous situation for the on-field personnel. 

Fortunately, the Titans handled the situation effectively and nobody was hurt.

For the Washington Redskins, this rule change presents a quick turnaround. Washington added fire pyrotechnics to their pregame rituals just last season. 

In 2015, the then-St. Louis Rams had a similar malfunction with their on-field fire pyrotechnics when they ran out on the field to face the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Edward Jones Dome. 


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With the Redskins playing Monday night, what games should fans spend Sunday watching?

With the Redskins playing Monday night, what games should fans spend Sunday watching?

Between the national exposure and primetime atmosphere, many NFL fans love watching their team play on Monday Night Football. 

Redskins fans do not fall in that category. The team is a dismal 2-15 in their last 17 Monday Night Football contests, with their last win coming in 2012. 

But obviously, the fans don't make the schedule. So this week, Redskins fans hope the Burgundy and Gold can finally turn the narrative around when they face the Chicago Bears on Monday, Sept. 23.

That doesn't mean Redskins fans should take Sunday off from watching football, however. There are several contests on Sunday's slate that Redskins fans should be tuning into, as the result of each game affects the same in some fashion or another

Here are five Week 3 games Redskins fans should care about:

New York Giants vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4:05 p.m.)

In terms of the product on the field, this game is definitely not the best football game one can watch on Sunday. But this is a game Redskins fans should absolutely tune in for.

Eli Manning has been benched for the Giants; rookie Daniel Jones will make his first career NFL start. The Giants play the Redskins right around the corner in Week 4. With this game being the only regular-season action Jones will have prior to next week's Redskins-Giants matchup (besides mop-up duty in the Giants' Week 1 loss vs. Dallas), fans of the Burgundy and Gold will want to see what the rookie can do. 

New England Patriots vs. New York Jets (1 p.m.)

Why should Redskins fans have an interest in an AFC North matchup between the best team in football and one of the worst? Well, the mighty Patriots are coming to FedExField in just three weeks.

Through two weeks, New England has looked as good as anyone. They opened the season embarrassing Pittsburgh, 33-3. Things went the same way a week later, as the Patriots went down to Miami and shut them out, 43-0.

Down their starting QB as well as their backup, the Jets may not challenge the Patriots any more than the other teams did. But it's worth seeing how the Patriots perform, as the Redskins will see the defending Super Bowl champs in just a few short weeks.

Detroit Lions vs. Philadelphia Eagles (1 p.m.)

For Redskins fans, any Eagles game should always be worth tuning in for. If nothing else, they are a divisional foe, so fans should be aware of what the birds do every week of the season. 

But this contest has a chance to be a really solid football game in general. The Lions pulled off a surprise upset a week ago, knocking off the Los Angeles Chargers, 13-10. The Eagles were bitten by the injury bug a week ago in a loss vs. Atlanta, and will be without some key contributors for Sunday's matchup. DeSean Jackson and Timmy Jernigan will not be suiting up. Alshon Jeffery and Corey Clement will likely to be held out as well.

As one of the more intriguing games during the 1 p.m. slate, this is not a bad option for Redskins fans to watch.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins (1 p.m.)

If you're not a Cowboys or a Dolphins fan (believe it or not, there may still be some Miami fans out there), you'll probably have a hard time keeping your eyes glued to this one. Dallas looks like one of the league's best teams, while Miami may not win a game all season.

But the Redskins play the Dolphins in less than a month, and the Cowboys are the Burgundy and Gold's biggest rival. Those alone are two excuses to watch this football game for Redskins fans, even if the game will be out of reach for Miami by halftime.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs (1 p.m.)

This game may not directly impact the Redskins, but it's by far the best football game of the day. Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson are two of the league's brightest stars and promise to put on a show in what should be an incredible early-season matchup.

With it only being Week 3, it's way too early to look at potential wild card implications for the Redskins for one to watch a less-exciting, random NFC game over this one. So sit back on your couch, grab a drink, and enjoy some high-quality AFC football.