- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 6, 2019

Jay Gruden slowly walked from the Redskins locker room, briefly looking at a stat sheet while accompanied by a team official before entering the press conference room inside the bowels of FedEx Field.

He looked tired. His team, for the fifth straight week, had not accomplished what it set out to do — this time getting dismantled 33-7 by the defending-champion New England Patriots. Gruden’s change at quarterback, installing Colt McCoy as the team’s new starter days earlier, did not work.

Nearly three minutes into his five-minute presser, Gruden was finally asked the question weighing on everyone’s mind.

“Nobody’s told me anything,” Gruden said, referencing his job status. “I don’t have a concern. I’ll just wait and see if my key works on Monday.”

If the Redskins are planning to fire Gruden, the two men who will make that decision — owner Dan Snyder and team president Bruce Allen — did not stick around to give any indication on which way they were leaning.



The two men left the Redskins’ locker room and quickly got into a car headed out of the stadium.

Inside, players were left guessing whether they’ll have a new coach. Sunday’s game didn’t look, early on, like the kind of game that might cost a coach his job.

For two quarters, the Redskins were surprisingly competitive — even taking the lead on a brilliantly designed end-around to Steven Sims that went for a 65-yard touchdown.

The Redskins’ defense looked strong, generating pressure and sacking Tom Brady three times in the first half. Safety Montae Nicholson even picked off the six-time Super Bowl champion.

Washington caught a few breaks. First, Patriots kicker Mike Nugent missed an extra-point attempt, keeping the Redskins in the lead. Then in the second quarter, when Washington committed two disastrous turnovers, the defense held firm — limiting the Patriots to one field goal.

But the Patriots are a better team than the Redskins. That was evident before the game, and unfolded gradually over the course of the afternoon.

McCoy, who took over from Case Keenum and rookie Dwayne Haskins, did not look equipped to handle the league’s No. 1-ranked defense. Making his first start since breaking his leg last December, the 33-year-old was under constant pressure and was sacked six times.

The Redskins’ offense was also a mess. Washington punted 10 times and converted only one third down.

Entering the game, Gruden turned to McCoy in hopes the quarterback’s familiarity with his system would help lift a struggling offense. But McCoy threw for just 119 yards on 27 attempts.

With the offense ineffective, the Redskins’ defense fell apart in the second half. They gave up 21 points after halftime, with defenders disorganized on various plays. New England’s third touchdown of the half, for example, was the result of a Washington miscommunication in the end zone and tight end Ryan Izzo was wide open for the easy score.

After a slow start, Brady still finished with 348 yards and was pulled in the fourth quarter — no need to risk injury with the game in-hand.

“It’s clear something has to change,” running back Adrian Peterson said. “That’s one thing you do know because we are 0-5. We haven’t won. We haven’t been productive as an offense.”

Peterson, who finished with 18 yards on seven carries, said he didn’t know what to expect regarding Gruden’s future.

While meeting with reporters, Gruden was again dismissive of the idea of making staff changes. He said it’s too late in the year to install a new defensive or offensive system, especially with the team’s injuries. The Redskins were without key pieces Sunday like star left tackle Trent Williams (holdout), guard Brandon Scherff (ankle) and tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis (concussions).

“We just got to perform better and do a better job,” said Gruden, who in six seasons is the longest-tenured coach under Snyder.

Regardless, Gruden’s future, remains the season’s dominant storyline. The Redskins face a hapless, 0-4 Miami Dolphins team next week and a loss could be catastrophic for Gruden — if he makes it that far.

Running back Chris Thompson, however, said it was “tough” to think about his coach possibly being fired. As he started to talk, the 28-year-old began to get choked up — slowly taking his time to try to complete his thoughts. The two are close, as Gruden stuck by Thompson in 2014 when the then-second-year back was demoted to the practice squad.

He began to cry.

“I really care about Jay,” Thompson said, wiping tears from his eyes. “It’s tough, man. You know I feel like he was one of the guys that really believed in me. And (he) wanted me to stay here through his whole legacy as coach.”

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