WASHINGTON (AP) - Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden knows part of what he needs to do to turn things around after six last-place finishes in seven seasons is to change his team’s mindset.
More talent and better play-calling help, of course. But even if being 2-3 right now after going 7-25 over the previous two years seems like an improvement, it shouldn’t feel good enough heading into next Sunday’s game at the New York Jets.
“We’re not into moral victories. This is pro football. We have enough good players on our football team to win games on the road against good teams and good opponents,” Gruden said Monday, a day after Washington’s 25-19 overtime loss at the Atlanta Falcons (5-0). “They were a good team and a good opponent and well-coached. We just didn’t get it done. They made a few more plays than we did in crucial situations. We had opportunities on both sides of the ball to change the outcome of the game.”
Gruden acknowledged doing some second-guessing about some choices of plays on offense, including perhaps going away from the running game too soon. The Redskins ran only 24 times, averaging 2.1 yards per carry.
“We didn’t coach good enough, but we’re right there. You can see the improvement. I think everybody can,” the coach said. “We consistently have to do a better job of putting games back to back to back somehow.”
After having beaten NFC East rival Philadelphia in Week 4, Washington was aiming to beat Atlanta for consecutive victories for the first time since the middle of last season.
“You should never, ever get used to losing. It should hurt every time and it should hurt more the next time than it did the last time. I think our guys are starting to feel that. They understand the work that they’re putting in here and the effort that they’re giving on the field. When you give maximum effort on the field and you don’t get rewarded with a victory, it hurts. It does. Our guys were hurt afterwards,” Gruden said. “I don’t think there was any laughing or joking in the locker room. I think they’re all disappointed. That’s a good thing.”
Gruden’s in his second year with the Redskins and noted he thinks some veterans who were around for recent seasons filled with losses “see how we’ve started to turn a corner.”
Much of any NFL team’s success is tied to the starting quarterback’s performance. Kirk Cousins was 21 of 32 for 219 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions - including a pick-6 in OT to end the game when intended receiver Ryan Grant slipped to the ground (“just got a ‘turf monster’ and fell down,” is the way Gruden described it).
So far this season, Cousins has two games in which he didn’t throw any interceptions; Washington is 2-0 in them. In the three games in which he was picked off twice in each, the team is 0-3.
“He’s going to have his ups and downs. Every quarterback does,” Gruden said. “It’s a matter of keeping your team in the game, making good decisions and giving your team a chance to win at the end. … He’s showing enough to where we can work with him.”
NOTES: Injuries from Sunday: LT Trent Williams has a neck strain; RB Matt Jones has a sprained toe; CB Bashaud Breeland has a bruised rotator cuff. “We’re going to have to monitor it pretty close,” Gruden said about Breeland. “He’s pretty sore. He could barely lift his hand up over his shoulder.” … TE Jordan Reed, who missed the game against Atlanta with a concussion, is still going through independent testing.
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