- - Thursday, May 30, 2019

Redskins coach Jay Gruden is not looking forward to the possibility of his team being on the upcoming HBO “Hard Knocks” NFL series.

“Well that’s not up to me, so if we’re forced to do it, obviously, we’ll have to make it work,” Gruden responded when asked by reporters Wednesday about the likelihood his team would be featured on the show. “It’s a process. It can be distracting at times. But really, they do an excellent job of keeping out of your business. So, it wouldn’t be the end of the world at the end of the day. Initially, it would be a distraction so to speak.”

Gruden is familiar with the process. He was part of it in 2013 when he was the offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals.

He had some memorable moments in that season of the show.

“Do it all over again,” Gruden yelled in one clip from the HBO show that year.

“We’re in a high school field, doesn’t mean you have to play like high school,” a frustrated Gruden told the Bengals’ offense.

“Some of the [expletive deleted] that happened yesterday, you wouldn’t expect on the first day of rookie OTAs, to be honest with you,” he said. “We had three dropped snaps and a couple of other things that were my fault … that is Mickey Mouse horse [expletive deleted] football right there, and everybody had their hand in it. It can’t happen for us to be as good as we want to be — ever. I can handle a drop every now and then, I can handle a guy beating you with a good pass rush move, I can handle certain things, but I can’t handle mental [expletive deleted] ups time and time again.

“Andy (Dalton) has been a quarterback here for three [expletive deleted] years, and hasn’t had one dropped snap,” Gruden said, showing his anger. “Not one. We had three in one day. “Concentration, poise, you’ve got to have it on every snap or else you’re going to get your [expletive deleted] beat time and time again. You’re going to be the 18th-ranked offense, you’re going to be 9-7 or 8-8 and you’re going to be watching the [expletive deleted] playoffs at home every year.”

He finished with: “If you want to muddle around at .500, [expletive deleted], then come out here and [expletive deleted] around and [expletive deleted] up. But if you want to be great, then you have to set your standards high and come out and go after it every [expletive deleted] day.”

That was the 2013 Gruden. Departed safety D.J. Swearinger, who was unceremoniously cut last season by the Redskins, wanted to know, “What happened to that Jay Gruden? Where was that guy?”

After he was released by Washington and then picked up by the Arizona Cardinals, Swearinger wrote this about Gruden on his Instagram page: “That coach y’all have will never win big because it ain’t in him to coach discipline. It ain’t in him to chew somebody out in practice cause they lacking.”

Swearinger’s contention was the Redskins got the other Gruden caught on tape in that 2013 season of “Hard Knocks” — the one who got pushed around by linebacker James Harrison.

Gruden tells Harrison, after he thought the defender got too rough with A.J. Green in practice, “We don’t touch the merchandise ever.”

Harrison shot back, “The merchandise is gonna get touched … I like touching the merchandise.”

Gruden tells Harrison to “relax” and Harrison answers back, “I’m not going to kill him, but I’m not going to let him get his job done because that means I’m not doing mine … understand? Do we understand each other? That’s all I need to know.”

Gruden said, “We do.” They shake hands, and Gruden laughs off the encounter with, “Seriously, don’t hurt this [expletive deleted].”

That’s the Gruden that we’ve seen, for the most part, in Washington.

Look, it is unfair to judge this coach based on a few TV clips. Gruden may have his moments behind the scenes where he is a bad man. But Swearinger, a team leader performing well at his position, was released because he, Swearinger, thought otherwise, and chose to speak about it publicly.

You can certainly understand why Gruden would rather not have cameras and mikes recording his interactions with his team. If he has listened lately to his 2013 “Hard Knocks” appearance, he would probably wince.

Those comments — “You’re going to be 9-7 or 8-8 and you’re going to be watching the [expletive deleted] playoffs at home every year” — are certainly wince-worthy. In Gruden’s last four seasons, he is 9-7, 8-7-1, 7-9 and 7-9 with just one playoff appearance, a 35-18 loss to the Green Bay Packers in January 2016.

Another wince: “If you want to come out here and muddle around .500.” That, of course, is exactly where the Redskins have muddled around during Gruden’s tenure.

On the other hand, Gruden will be worth a few laughs. He had them rolling in the aisles Wednesday when, after lobbying for his brother’s team, Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders, to be the “Hard Knocks” choice, he suggested HBO could pick the Redskins for the show in 2020. When a reporter pointed out a playoff appearance for the Redskins — a long shot, according to oddsmakers — would mean they wouldn’t have to do the show, Gruden responded, “If we don’t make the playoffs, I probably won’t be here anyway. They can do what they want.”

Save that wince for January 2020.

Hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoons and Saturday and Sunday mornings and on the Kevin Sheehan Show podcast every Tuesday and Thursday.

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

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