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Redskins fire Jay Gruden as head coach

Redskins fire Jay Gruden as head coach

The Redskins fired head coach Jay Gruden early Monday morning after a 33-7 loss to the Patriots on Sunday to drop Washington’s record to 0-5, a source with knowledge told NBC Sports Washington. ESPN first reported the news. 

Gruden coached the Redskins for the last six seasons and will finish with a career 35-49-1 record. His teams only made one playoff appearance and won zero playoff games. 

There has been speculation about Gruden’s job dating back to the end of the 2018 season, when the club finished 7-9 despite a 6-3 start. That season fell apart when QB Alex Smith broke his leg in November and a number of other injuries piled up. 

In fact, for a few seasons in a row, injuries have been so significant in Washington that is was hard to get a real read on Gruden’s coaching performances. 

This year, however, nothing has gone right for the head coach and injuries aren’t the main culprit. The team got out to a 17-0 lead in Philadelphia in Week 1 and ended up getting outscored 32-10 the rest of the game for an ugly loss. Then there were two blowout home losses, first to the Cowboys then on Monday Night Football against the Bears. 

There was clumsy handling of the quarterback position, where three players have already lined up this year including rookie Dwayne Haskins in a relief appearance. Gruden also benched Adrian Peterson in Week 1, the only time ever that the future Hall of Famer was a healthy scratch. There were also videos that popped up on social media showing what appeared to be the head coach in an embarrassing social situation. 

Nothing has gone right for Gruden and the Redskins this year, and the decision to fire him marks the first in-season coaching change since 2000 when Norv Turner got fired late in the year. The Redskins haven’t started 0-5 since 2001.

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3 critical takeaways from Jack Del Rio's first media session as Redskins defensive coordinator

3 critical takeaways from Jack Del Rio's first media session as Redskins defensive coordinator

Jack Del Rio spoke to the Washington media on Wednesday, his first public session with reporters since being named Redskins defensive coordinator on Jan. 2.

While the conference call came more than two weeks after the team's announcement, it was certainly worth the wait.

Here are the three most critical takeaways from what Del Rio discussed.

1) He has no interest in discussing potential

At one point in the call, Del Rio was given the chance to set expectations for his group and explain what kind of potential he sees. It was the kind of question he could've easily answered, using glowing adjectives and praising many players.

But he didn't go that route. In fact, he went the opposite direction of that route

"It’s interesting to me that so much is made this time of year with thoughts on potential," Del Rio said. "Potential really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t really amount to much. To me, it’s more about what we can get done and the work that we’re willing to put in and the idea that, ‘Look, we’re going to become a respected unit, OK?’"

That might've been the most compelling response from the longtime coach, and it's a mindset that people like Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Landon Collins will surely appreciate.  

2) Teaching matters quite a bit to him

During one explanation, Del Rio brought up current Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard. Why? To illustrate how someone can grow and improve with the proper coaching.

Woodyard was with the Broncos when Del Rio took over as defensive coordinator, and according to Del Rio, people told him not to worry too much about the linebacker. Woodyard was merely a special teamer who "wasn't going to amount to much."

Del Rio dismissed that advice, instead focusing on bettering Woodyard's fundamentals, which in turn would help his confidence spike. That former Denver special teamer was recently on the field for Tennessee's playoff win in Baltimore and is now one victory away from a Super Bowl.

That's just one example that sticks out to Del Rio and proves how necessary it is to assist in the continuous enhancement of a pro's skills.

"For us, we are going to look to teach and develop," he said. "To me, we have players here that are maybe considered in a specific light and they will have the chance to change that."

3) He absolutely wants Ron Rivera's input

Del Rio and Rivera are both former NFL linebackers who seem to share a lot of the same ideologies about what they want in a scheme and in their guys. For that reason, he is more than willing to get input from Rivera on the 2020 defense's plan.

"It’s an inclusive process," Del Rio said. "[Rivera] wanted to be sure that I knew, ‘Hey look, you’re going to call it. It’s your defense’. I said, ‘Hey coach, I’d love to have you in there any time you have to be in there with us.’ It’s our staff. We’re going to work together. The first thing I said to the defensive staff at our very first meeting, ‘This is not me. It’s not about what I want. It’s about what we are, what we’re going to become.’"

Between Del Rio and Rivera, the franchise now has two leaders who each can point to plenty of past successes in building defenses. The thought of that pair working together and applying what they know in Washington should have fans feeling very pleased.

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3 critical takeaways from Scott Turner's first media session as Redskins offensive coordinator

3 critical takeaways from Scott Turner's first media session as Redskins offensive coordinator

It takes most Americans decades in the workforce before they find happiness in their job. Scott Turner turned 37 years old last August and landed his dream job last week. No wonder he's so excited. 

Redskins head coach Ron Rivera tabbed Turner as offensive coordinator and on Wednesday he spoke with reporters for the first time. His excitement for the new gig was palpable. 

"To be able to come here and be the offensive coordinator for this franchise is really awesome and something that I'm really excited about. So, on a personal level it is pretty cool," Turner said. 

Remember, Turner's father Norv was head coach of the Redskins during much of the 1990s, and Scott Turner lived in Northern Virginia from the age of 11 until he graduated high school. Those are his formative years, spent with the Redskins organization, and now he's the offensive coordinator. Most people would be excited. 

"It is really a dream come true to be back," Turner said. "It is pretty surreal, to be honest with you."

The homecoming story is great. It really is. But those good feelings are not going to score any points for Washington this fall. Coming home again won't gain a single first down. 

For Redskins fans that want to know the critical information provided from Turner in his first media session, dig in below:

1. Ready for Dwayne - Scott Turner made no secret that he's high on quarterback Dwayne Haskins' potential. Turner said he liked Haskins as a prospect coming out of Ohio State last year and he progressed well as a rookie, particularly late in the year with more opportunity. The new offensive coordinator also wasn't shy to tell Haskins he needs him to be the "most committed guy on the team" and that expectations will be high for the second-year signal-caller. Where Rivera gave relatively lukewarm praise to Haskins, Turner sounded all in on his presumed quarterback. 

2. Hold the linebackers - Turner talked about some similarities with his dad's offense, but things also evolve in pro football. The young coordinator said he intends to "use a lot of play-action pass" as a means to maximize Haskins' ability and generate chunk plays in the offense. The Redskins have playmakers too in Terry McLaurin and Stephen Sims. In 2019, Washington ranked 32nd in points scored and 31st in yards. There are only 32 teams. Turner must make this offense better, immediately, and watch Norv or Scott's offense in the past and know that play-action will be a huge component. Passing to the running backs likely will as well. 

3. Play to your strengths - For far too long the Redskins have tried to force players out of their comfort zones and into the Redskins strategy. That's not Turner's plan. "Right now, as a coaching staff we're really trying to get to know these guys. We have a little experience with some of them as far as like I was saying, evaluating Dwayne coming out of the draft. But, just really trying to figure out the pieces that we have on offense and then fit our scheme to our personnel and what they do well and not ask them to do stuff they don't do well. Now obviously we're going to push them and develop them to improve the things that they don't do quite as well, but we really want to develop our scheme around the strength of our players. So like Dwayne, you obviously see the big, strong guy who can stand in the pocket and really push the ball down the field." That sure sounds encouraging. 

Bonus - For years Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan seemed at odds over the Redskins run game. The play-action didn't work that well because the blocking scheme in the run game didn't mesh well with the run-fake looks. Now, with Turner and new offensive line coach John Matsko coming from the same principled staff in Carolina, expect much more cohesion between the pass and run game. That could help Haskins a ton. 

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