- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

ASHBURN — During the daily grind of the regular season, when a coach is often buried in game-planning and evaluating the players and coaches around him, there is hardly any time for self-reflection.

Jay Gruden, in his second season, has the Washington Redskins in position to clinch the NFC East on Saturday night with a win against the Philadelphia Eagles — a turnaround from the 4-12 finish a year ago.

What is it exactly he feels he is doing best right now?

“These interviews — I’m killing ‘em,” Gruden joked on Wednesday at his daily press conference.

Gruden seriously answered the question, and deflecting most of the praise and pointing to the players’ execution and the support staff around him.
“It’s fun to come to work every day,” Gruden said.

Part of the reason is because Gruden does his best to make it fun. He has injected humor into his daily interviews throughout the season, but has been noticeably more jovial this week. On Monday, when he was asked about the Redskins’ training camp fight with the Houston Texans and how it brought the team closer, Gruden delivered another gem.

“It was a good team building exercise; you know, some teams like to go bowling, we like to have all-out brawls with the Houston Texans,” Gruden cracked.

On the practice field, Gruden is often jostling with players and keeping it light, but it’s not to be mistaken for a lack of focus. As it gets later in the season, especially with the implications of Saturday’s game, Gruden said there is a delicate balance in keeping the players sharp, but not too tight.

“These players are pretty smart, man,” Gruden said. “They can see when a coach is tight, you know what I mean? You don’t want to be tight, but you also don’t want them to be freelancing all over the joint. But, there is a fine line between being disciplined and what we’re doing and also letting them be loose and have some fun out there. I think that’s part of my job is to make sure I know the difference.

“I feel like we were dialed in today. I tapered off a couple of periods there at the end to save their legs. We’ve got a couple injuries, but overall, I thought the attention and their focus was very good for today’s practice. There’s still some joking around here and there, but I think everybody is dialed in, understands what’s at stake. We’ve come a long way. A lot of the preseason polls had us ranked [No.] 32 and we’re moving up. I told them today we have made great improvements and great strides, but we still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do.”

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