- - Tuesday, September 13, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Jay Gruden opened his press conference following Monday night’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers by thanking the fans.

“Thank you, fans, for coming out,” Gruden said. “We let them down in a big way.”



Coach, when I wrote Monday that you needed to create a stronger connection with Redskins fans, I didn’t mean following a 38-16 beating.

Like Kirk Cousins and the Redskins Monday night, Gruden’s timing was off. The next time the coach wants to thank Redskins fans, it might be better to wait until FedEx Field is actually filled with Redskins fans and not the visiting team.

That may not happen until Oct. 2, when the Cleveland Browns come to town. And that scene would have likely been a lot different if the victimized savior who was driven from the land, Robert Griffin III, wasn’t hurt and sidelined for at least two months — and maybe forever.

Sunday the Cowboys come to town, and there will be Cowboys fans all over FedEx Field. They are probably the second most popular sports franchise in the area, perhaps ahead of the Nationals, and with a local following that is likely far bigger than the Wizards and Capitals.

It may seem foolish to mention the word “code” — as in Gruden’s infamous “Code Red” game last year — after just one loss. No, it absolutely is foolish.

But if Dallas, with a rookie quarterback, comes into FedEx Field and hands Washington a second straight home loss — with another division rival, the Giants, up next on the road — someone is going to the code book to see what color the code should be at Redskins Park.

“We need to bounce back,” Gruden told reporters in his post-game press conference Monday night. “We’ve got a good Cowboy team in here playing a lot of big men on offensive line and a good defensive coordinator, a good coach, so we’ve got to get ourselves picked up off the ground and ready to roll.”

But can they roll? If you listened to Gruden’s post-game press conference, you might wonder if they are capable of getting up off the ground and rolling against Dallas.

What went wrong against Pittsburgh, coach?

“They just out-coached us and out-played us,” Gruden said.

Coach, the honesty is great, but the last thing those fans you just thanked want to hear is the coach of their team was out coached.

No one expected the Redskins roster to match the Pittsburgh Steelers in just general manager Scot McCloughan’s second year in Washington.

But you don’t expect your coach to be outcoached so badly that it was obvious to all those fans – you know, Redskins fans – who stayed home and watched on TV.

Outcoached? You had months to prepare for this game – more time than any other game you will play on the schedule this year. And this was your best shot?

Like the game his team just played, things got worse as the press conference went on.

Someone asked Gruden about perhaps trying to get the running game — 12 carries for 55 yards — going, the coach answered, “Yeah, I think you’re right.”

I think you’re right? Some guy with a notebook at a press conference?

“I think that’s the one thing we [have] got to really look at,” Gruden said. “We’ve got to get our running game going to take some pressure off the quarterback. You know, we get a little bit too giddy sometimes with the weapons that we have.”

Was anyone listening to this? Too giddy? The coach just admitted that this team believes its own press clippings — yet they haven’t done anything. Nothing. A 9-7 accidental NFL East division title last year, and that’s it.

The Pittsburgh Steelers had two of the most elite players at their positions on the field Monday night — Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. They had a right to be “giddy.” Yet I doubt they were before they took the field Monday night.

I’m sorry, but if we take Gruden at face value for what he said following his team’s disappointing loss Monday night, the Redskins are poorly coached, clueless about an offensive game plan, yet are very impressed with themselves.

Did I miss anything?

• Thom Loverro can be reached at tloverro@washingtontimes.com.

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