- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A narrow loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday had the Washington Redskins thinking that they had made significant progress, especially after being humiliated in their previous game against the New York Giants.

Progress, though, will never be confused with success, and on Tuesday, Redskins coach Jay Gruden objected to the actions of a handful of players who were a bit too content following a 27-17 defeat.

Left tackle Trent Williams and wide receiver Pierre Garçon were among those who were jocular and festive in the locker room following the game — actions that Gruden did not witness first-hand, though he said he learned about on Tuesday morning.

While reporters attempted to speak to wide receiver DeSean Jackson after a game in which he caught five passes for 157 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown reception, Garçon acted out a scene from a video that has been distributed virally around the Internet.

Williams then joined in, echoing Garçon, much to the delight of several other players in that corner of the locker room. The two continued repeating lines from the video until they had dressed and left the locker room an hour after the game had ended.

“There’s no reason to be upbeat whatsoever, but we do have to move forward and turn a page and get onto Arizona,” Gruden said, referencing the Redskins‘ next opponent. “This season is starting to shrink down on us before our eyes, and we’re at a point in time where if we don’t flip the script, we’ll be playing for nothing the rest of this season. We’ve got to turn this thing around, and hopefully, they understand that and are eager to get back to work.”

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The Redskins have lost their last three games to fall to 1-4, which has them tied for the third-worst record in the league. Their only victory was over Jacksonville, which has started the season with five consecutive losses; they also finished 3-13 last season, losing their last eight games.

“Sometimes, in pro football, you’re not going to play your best or the other team’s going to beat you,” Gruden said. “There’s a winner and a loser every week, and when you do lose, you want to people to be sick about it, and you want people to try to bounce back from it and move on to the next week and learn from their mistakes and make sure it doesn’t happen again and not ever, ever be satisfied with a loss.”

Upon learning of the atmosphere in the locker room, Gruden reached out to free safety Ryan Clark, who has been serving as the de facto defensive captain with cornerback DeAngelo Hall out for the season after tearing his left Achilles’ tendon.

Gruden, though, still had questions after speaking to Clark, whose locker is in the opposite corner of the room at FedEx Field. On a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, he first treated questions about the incident with skepticism, then eventually grew disappointed and conflicted as the questioning continued.

“I don’t know who [all of the players] were, unfortunately,” Gruden said before sighing deeply. “This is the first time I’ve ever heard something like this happening, so I’ll have to think long and hard how to approach this.”

Gruden, in his first year with the Redskins, was previously the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati for three years. Before that, he coached in the now-defunct UFL, a minor league, and the Arena Football League, where he won two championships in nine years while coaching Orlando.

Regarded by many of his former players and colleagues as someone who can communicate with nearly any player, regardless of status or background, Gruden’s disciplinary ability has rarely been tested. When rookie cornerback Bashaud Breeland was cited for possession of marijuana in Richmond the night before the final day of training camp in August, Gruden permitted Breeland to continue practicing and said he would handle any potential discipline internally.

Williams, meanwhile, is the team’s offensive captain, an honor granted to him by a vote of his teammates. He has earned the respect of his teammates by being a physical player who is always willing to play through injury — such as on Monday, when he played all but five offensive snaps despite dislocating his right knee in the previous game.

Gruden vowed that a select few veterans, including Clark, special teams captain Adam Hayward, outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan and offensive linemen Chris Chester and Kory Lichtensteiger can help the Redskins change the longstanding culture of losing.

But he also mentioned Williams, a fifth-year veteran, as being in that group as well.

“We just have to make sure that our guys try to do a better job of policing situations in house,” Gruden said. “I can’t be there 24/7. I can’t police everything — and nor do I want to. I think it’s important for us to turn this around. We have to have a strong bond and a strong locker room, and we have to hold each other accountable in certain situations. Until that happens, we’re going to have our fair share of issues.

“Hopefully, this is just overblown a little bit and I’ll try to get to the bottom of it. But we need our players to step up and hold themselves accountable and police themselves every now and then.”

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