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Jay Gruden deserves praise for keeping Redskins 'out of the ditches'

Jay Gruden deserves praise for keeping Redskins 'out of the ditches'

On paper, Jay Gruden's tenor with the Redskins is nothing to write home about. Through five seasons he holds a 35-44-1 record, good enough for a .444 winning percentage. Looking at that, some may draw the conclusion that Gruden hasn't been what the Redskins need at the helm.

But according to Pro Football Talk's Darin Gantt, that's not exactly the case. Taking into account the variables Gruden has dealt with throughout the five years, Gantt actually sees him as a "really good" coach.

"I have always come down of the side, maybe, of guys who are doing more with less," Gantt said recently on a Redskins Talk Podcast. "I think Jay has done a pretty good job keeping things in the middle."

Doing more with less and working in the middle essentially defines Jay Gruden's career with the Redskins. Besides his opening year in 2014 in which Washington went 4-12, Gruden's teams have consistently finished right around the middle of the pack.

In the last four seasons, the Redskins have not won more than nine games, but they also haven't lost more than nine. Hovering right around .500, they've always been around league average.

Part of the reason Gantt is willing to give Gruden praise for records that some coaches would get scolded for revolves around what he's had to work with. Gruden's time as head coach has been filled with injuries and other dilemmas both on and off the field. 

In those circumstances, it wouldn't be surprising to see a team completely flounder and spiral out of control. But, that hasn't really been the case with Gruden. Dealing with what he has, the head coach has kept the team competitive for the most part. The team hasn't been a perennial playoff contender, but it also hasn't been at the bottom of the league.

For that ability to keep the Redskins out of the basement despite all the problems he's encountered, Gruden is someone Gantt respects.

"They're able to keep it out of the ditches," Gantt said about Gruden and former NFL head coach John Fox, who Gantt followed during his time in Carolina.

"I think again in the NFL there's something to be said for that," Gantt added. "When things get sideways a Jim Zorn can lose control in a hurry. I feel like Jay just got sort of a steady hand on the wheel."

Until Gruden takes Washington back to the postseason, the critiques will continue to come, as they would for almost all head coaches in similar situations. But when looking at Gruden's time in Washington with a wide view of everything that has happened, Gantt believes the head coach deserves at least a little praise for keeping things afloat.

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The 2019 Redskins are looking for their first win on their absolute least favorite night

The 2019 Redskins are looking for their first win on their absolute least favorite night

The 2019 Redskins could really use a win in Week 3 against the Bears. Like, really badly.

Unfortunately, the Redskins have played badly on Monday night (which is when they'll square off with Chicago this time around) over the past decade. Like, really badly.

Since 2008, Washington is 2-15 on the primetime stage. Two. And. Fifteen. 

Their last victory on that particular weeknight came in October of 2014. Furthermore, they haven't won a home Monday Night Football appearance since December of 2012, a streak they'll look to end when Mitch Trubisky and Co. come to FedEx Field.

Overall, they've lost seven straight, meaning there are almost-five-year-olds strolling around this planet who have no idea what it's like to see the Burgundy and Gold be successful on that part of national TV. Those poor children.

"I don't give a damn when we play," Jonathan Allen told reporters after the team's MNF loss in New Orleans last year. "We can play [expletive] Tuesday afternoon. I'm still going to be the same as I am today, Sunday night, Sunday morning, Saturday, I don't give a damn."

That is absolutely the attitude to take. Sadly, while the players say they'll be the same no matter the day, the franchise's recent record certainly indicates they aren't the same (they are undefeated on Tuesday afternoon this decade, though).

Now, if you're looking for something promising to hold on to — which you should be, because these stats are legitimately absurd — the Redskins have beaten the Bears seven times in a row. The last time they didn't came in 2003.

So, which run will come to an end: the team's horrendous stretch on Monday night or their dominance of the Bears? Well, knowing their luck, they'll probably just tie, bringing both to an unsatisfying conclusion.

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Redskins running back coach Randy Jordan breaks down Steven Sims' jet sweep vs. Dallas

Redskins running back coach Randy Jordan breaks down Steven Sims' jet sweep vs. Dallas

Entering this past Sunday's contest vs. Dallas, the Redskins knew they needed to be more creative with their rushing attack. The previous week, running back Derrius Guice was only able to muster 18 rushing yards on 10 carries against Philadelphia.

Guice was placed on injured reserve following Week 1, suffering a meniscus injury to his right knee. That meant that the Redskins' ground attack vs. Dallas was expected to come from the likes of veteran Adrian Peterson, Chris Thompson, and Wendell Smallwood.

But in the first quarter against the Cowboys, offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell decided to get a little more creative. On three separate occasions, O'Connell called a jet sweep to speedy rookie Steven Sims. He finished with three carries for 16 yards, with the longest going for eight.

The drive resulted in a one-yard Adrian Peterson touchdown run, giving the Redskins an early lead.

While a jet sweep may seem simple on the surface, all 11 players on the field have to be in sync in order for the play to work. Redskins running backs coach Randy Jordan explains in detail the responsibilities of each player in order for the call to be a successful one (see the video player above).

While Sims was unable to break off for a big gain, the thought process behind the play makes a lot of sense. Gadget plays like these frequently result in picking up large chunks of yardage. However, running it three times in one drive may be pushing their luck.

Don't be surprised if the Burgundy and Gold try and catch a team by surprise with this play in the future. 

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