- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 9, 2014

A list of randomness already follows Jay Gruden five games into his first season as an NFL head coach.

Gruden’s team is 1-4 and staggering through one of the worst 13-game runs in franchise history with 12 losses in that stretch. The Redskins also lost 12 of 13 in 1994 and dropped 14 of 15 from the end of the 1963 season into the start of the 1964 season.

He’s lost his starting quarterback to injury after managing a pseudo-quarterback controversy in training camp. The Redskins have blown out a team and been blown out. They played with aplomb at Philadelphia, just to come up short. Their most recent loss was followed by Laughgate, immediately calling into question the locker room culture for a team that can’t get things right.

“Any time you’re 1-4, it doesn’t sit well,” Gruden said. “We had high hopes going into the season; the good thing is we still have 11 games left. We still feel like we have a lot we can accomplish.

“One thing we can’t do is feel sorry for ourselves, hang our heads, start blaming one another, find out something’s wrong in the locker room. Just have to keep working. … We’ll get through this.”

Traveling to Arizona Friday afternoon, the Redskins carry two marquee issues issues among their many problems. Their run offense has stalled and their turnover margin is negative.

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The latter was a problem last season when the Redskins finished 27th in the league at minus-8. They are well on pace to move past that number. They are 29th in the league at minus-5 just five weeks into the season.

Despite Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson mystifying the Redskins’ defense on the ground and through the air Monday, Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said the lack of a turnover was his biggest issue with the game.

“The thing that was probably the most disappointing last week was we started around midfield a bunch of times and we were trying to flip the field,” Haslett said. “We wanted to get a turnover. We couldn’t get a turnover to flip the field.”

The Redskins have just four takeaways, which is tied for 25th in the league with the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns. Haslett said they emphasize the need. They also practice strips, tackling and catching each week. Luck is also a needed element of turnover creation.

On the other side of the ball, running back Alfred Morris’ 13 carries for 29 yards against the Seahawks caused the Redskins to plummet to 19th in the league in rushing. He’s rushed for fewer yards since being a pro only once. Dec. 1, 2013, Morris carried 11 times for 26 yards against the New York Giants.

He has not rushed for 100 yards in a game this season. From week to week, his rushing yardage has declined. After gaining 91 yards in the opener against the Houston Texans, Morris has ran for 85, 77, 63 and last week’s season-low.

SEE ALSO: Brian Orkapo, Ryan Clark and Perry Riley do not practice for Washington Redskins

Gruden has lamented not sticking with the run more. One of the complications for him the last two week’s have been early deficits. The Giants led 14-0 before the Redskins scored. The Seahawks zoomed to a 17-0 lead. That’s put the rally emphasis on quarterback Kirk Cousins.

“I think part of it is being committed to it,” tight end Logan Paulsen said of running the ball. “It’s really hard as a play-caller to be committed to it when you take a negative play, take a zero-gain type play. From that standpoint, it’s just kind of trusting it and knowing that as we go we’re going to get a better feel for what they’re doing, we’re going to block it better, we’re going to be better, then we’re going to pop one and it’s going to pay off.”

Facing the Cardinals is not pending remedy for running woes. They are fourth in the league in rushing defense, allowing just 76.8 yards per game.

However, one of their prime defenders, mammoth defensive end Calais Campbell, will miss the game. Campbell, 6-foot-8 and 300 pounds, is out for up to three weeks because of a MCL strain resulting from a chop block last week against Denver. Also absent is defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, who tore his ACL in August.

Another complication for the Cardinals is that their starting quarterback is yet to be determined. Veteran Carson Palmer (shoulder) and backup Drew Stanton (concussion) have been limited in practice this week. That may mean rookie Logan Thomas, out of Virginia Tech, is the starting quarterback.

“It’s hard [to prepare] because you’re not really sure,” Haslett said. “Carson’s got a lot of skins on the wall. The young guy from Virginia Tech is a heck of an athlete and can throw the ball. Stanton’s a good football player. So, we’re not really sure who’s going to play. We’ve got our guys prepared for all three of them, but you can’t simulate all three in practice.”

Since 1990, only six teams have made the playoffs after starting the season 1-4. Two years ago, the Redskins began the season 3-6 before winning seven consecutive games and a division title. Last season, the Redskins never recovered from a rough start, finishing with eight consecutive losses, producing a malaise that is ongoing.

“We’re tired of losing around here,” linebacker Keenan Robinson said. “We’re still playing at a high level, just not high enough to win. We’ve got to be hitting on all levels it seems to get a win around here. We’re just going to keep fighting, keep pushing.”

• Todd Dybas can be reached at tdybas@washingtontimes.com.

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