During the Redskins 0-4 starts, there have been plenty of problems that could have been avoided. Penalties, blown coverages and more have led to a dreadful start to the campaign.
But, one thing that is hard to avoid are injuries. In recent years, the injury bug is something that has decimated the Redskins at times, and 2019 is no different. On Sunday against the Giants, Washington was without many its starters on offense. Big names like Derrius Guice, Terry McLaurin, Jordan Reed, Brandon Scherff and Chase Roullier were all sidelined for Week 4.
That's a lot of important pieces on offense, none of them able to contribute.
Gruden won't use the injuries as the scapegoat for the Redskins start, as plenty of other teams have dealt with their own and he understands there are improvements that need to be made no matter who is out on the field. But, the head coach does admit that the absences of some key players is making what they can do on offense more challenging.
"Offensively, we got to get some of our guys back. That would help," Gruden said. "I don't know what people expect when you're missing the talent and some of the payroll that we're missing on offense. These are hired guns watching the game on television eating popcorn, unfortunately."
It's hard to understate how important the current group of players dealing with ailments are to the offense. While some will look to Trent Williams' absence being a big contributor (and it is), Gruden pointed out that he's liked what he's seen from Donald Penn so far.
He wants Williams back, but there are other names he wants to see in pads as well.
"Before I want to cry about Trent Williams, I want to commend Donald Penn for what he's done. He's done a great job and that's not the reason why we're struggling," Gruden said. "The offensive firepower that Jordan Reed gives us is part of the reason. Missing Brandon Scherff and Chase Roullier in the game. Terry McLaurin, who we know what kind of speed and threat he's been for us for the first three weeks has a little bit of an impact. I think Derrius Guice has had an impact, you know what I mean? Obviously Alex Smith, he was our quarterback that we brought in here."
Injuries have clearly taken their toll on Washington once again, and it's not out of line to think things may be going slightly better with a fully healthy roster. Yet, that's something that can't always be controlled. No one knows better than the Redskins that injuries are bound to happen.
With no time to play the 'what if?' game, Gruden understands that his team has to be better no matter who takes the field.
"There's a lot of good players out there, but we still have enough talent to do a heck of a lot better than we've done the first four weeks," Gruden said.
"The guys who are asked to step up in their place, we got to get more out of them, for sure. I'm not using that as an excuse. We got to play better."
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