- - Sunday, August 20, 2017

“You know, we’re a work in progress, no question about it.”

— Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden after his first team struggled for the second straight preseason game in a 21-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers Saturday night at FedEx Field.


So what were all those OTAs for, coach? Mini camp? The 13 days of training camp? What were you doing in Richmond, looking for Confederate statues to tear down?

Didn’t departed offensive coordinator Sean McVay leave behind any instructions?

“We’re building something and we’ve got to do some things and quite frankly we didn’t get them done today,” Gruden told reporters.

Sound familiar?

“You know, we’re stuck,” Gruden said after last year’s season-ending embarrassing 19-10 loss to the New York Giants at FedEx Field to eliminate Washington from the playoffs. “We have been a little bit. We haven’t been able to get over the hump as far as winning those close games consistently, and it’s not easy but we’re going to keep working at it. I have a lot of room for improvement, as do the majority of the people in this building, so as long as we all realize that and understand that and recognize that, there is room and we can do it.”

Here it is — 231 days later — and Gruden remains stuck. Not just stuck, but sinking.

Preseason overreaction? Not when the struggles of this team are a continuation of what we saw at the end of last season, when Gruden’s team turned in pathetic performances in two of their last three games — the Giants and a 26-15 loss to the Carolina Panthers two weeks earlier.

This is the big story now as the Redskins prepare for Week 1 of the regular season at home against the Philadelphia Eagles — Jay Gruden’s ability to have his team ready to play.

This performance was worse than the first preseason 23-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens? Why? Because Gruden was so desperate for any kind of offensive success that he kept the first team offense in the game long after the Packers first-teamers had departed — and likely longer than he would have if his team had come close to accomplishing anything they were hoping to achieve in the second preseason game.

After their performance against Baltimore, the first team was on notice to show something more.

“It was a wake-up call,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said last week. “It showed us, as much as we might have been making some plays in training camp in Richmond and feeling good about what we were doing, I think it’s a realization that we have a long ways to go. I think that can be a good thing in the long run. I think it could be a good thing to have that wake up call. It could be the best thing we need right now.”

The alarm wasn’t loud enough. The Redskins’ first-team offense barely got out of bed to play Saturday night.

When they handed out first quarter offensive statistics in the press box, I was going to type them in, but I couldn’t find the fraction keys on my computer. While Aaron Rodgers and the Packers walked through the Redskins defense on their touchdown drive — completing 6 out of 8 passes for 37 yards — Cousins and the Redskins offense couldn’t even muster a first down against the Green Bay starting defense.

It got so bad that Gruden kept his starters in against the Green Bay backups and bag boys to give them something to feel good about. Finally, Cousins, who finished the night with the illusion of completing 14 of 23 passes for 144 yards and one touchdown to Jamison Crowder.

“We didn’t run the ball probably as well as we would have liked, at times didn’t throw the ball as well as we would have liked,” Cousins said.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?

Typically, this level of concern over preseason production would be lunacy. Really, they should issue a long list of warnings and side effects to watch the fraud that is preseason football, like they do on drug commercials.

But what we have seen in the first two exhibitions goes beyond preseason results. Gruden has things that he wants his team to accomplish in these games. They haven’t been capable yet of accomplishing those goals.

“We’ve just got to continue with our plan and build on what we’ve done, or haven’t done, learn from it, move on and get ready for the Bengals (their next preseason opponent) and try to figure out a new plan,” he said.

Oh, those plans.

“We have a plan on how we do business.”

— Vinny Cerrato, Redskins vice president of football operations, 2006

• Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast “Cigars & Curveballs” Wednesdays available on iTunes, Google Play and the reVolver podcast network.

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