The Redskins lost more games then they won in 2018, and in some ways, that's the least of their problems.
A major leg injury to quarterback Alex Smith leaves the team in a bad spot for the 2019 season, and question marks will emerge all over the defense. This offseason will be important for Washington, not just to be competitive for 2019 and beyond, but to avoid bottoming out next season.
On Black Monday in the NFL when eight head coaches got fired, Jay Gruden did not.
The Redskins decided to bring back their head coach despite a second consecutive 7-9 record, and the case for his continued employment is simple. Washington has been wrecked by injuries for two years in a row, and additionally, Gruden has kept the 'Skins in the playoff hunt nearly every year of his tenure.
So what needs to happen for the Redskins to not just compete in 2019, but get better?
"There's some frustrating things we have to correct and we have to get better at without a doubt," Gruden said on the Redskins Talk podcast. "Third down on defense is a glaring one. Obviously offensively at the end of the year it was hard to evaluate but defensively I think there are some things we can fix."
That could mean many things, but for plenty of Redskins fans, that means the team needs to change defensive coordinators.
In two seasons in charge of the Redskins defense, Greg Manusky's group has ranked 21st and 17th in yards allowed. Early on in 2018, it seemed like Manusky's group had dramatically turned things around, particularly in run defense.
As the season progressed, that changed. In a six-game stretch from November 4th to December 9th, the Redskins defense gave up at least 400 yards five times, and twice gave up more than 490 yards.
Asked if there would be changes to the coaching staff this offseason, Gruden said that happens every year in the NFL, whether a team makes the playoffs or not.
"There’s always going to be change," Gruden said. "We anticipate that happening. I don’t know where it’s going to be or how we're going to do it, but there will be changes I'm sure."
That doesn't mean the change will come at defensive coordinator. Let's be clear about that. It could, however, and there will be plenty of attractive candidates.
The Jets fired their head coach Todd Bowles on Monday, and the ties to Washington are obvious. Bowles played for years with the Redskins, and won a Super Bowl with the team in 1987.
While many fans would get excited by Bowles, other candidates will emerge. Gruden worked under Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati, and now Lewis is available.
Again, Manusky could be back too.
Gruden has already had three different defensive coordinators in five seasons with the Redskins. Does he want a fourth?
The Redskins have significant work to do internally, as the team will turn to their own evaluation period with the season over. It could reveal lots of things, and the front office and ownership could still demand changes.
It's too early to know what will happen, but Gruden is confident of one thing: change will come.
MORE REDSKINS NEWS:
- 2019 NFL Draft: Choices for 'Skins in 1st Round
- Options at QB: Non-draft options for the Redskins
- Time's Running Out: Redskins' core is getting older