- - Monday, October 7, 2019


In 1969, the Public Health Smoking Act of 1969 required all cigarette packaging contain this statement: “Warning — the Surgeon General has determined that cigarette smoking is dangerous to your health.”

In 2019, it may be time for the media to require this warning with all references to the Washington Redskins: “Warning — the Washington Redskins are not a real NFL franchise. It doesn’t matter who plays quarterback. It doesn’t matter who coaches. Nothing matters as long as Dan Snyder owns the team.”

How about starting today, with the stories that coach Jay Gruden, after an 0-5 start to the season (35-49-1 overall) was fired Monday morning? Does it really matter? Will nothing short of a three-hour tour by Snyder on his yacht change anything, no matter who is the coach?

The answer is no, and to believe otherwise may be dangerous to your health.

The truth is that if you were truly judging Gruden’s ability as a coach, you would have fired him at the end of the 2016 season, when, with a record of 8-7-1 and a chance to make the postseason for the second straight year, his team lost 19-10 to a New York Giants squad that had already locked up a playoff spot and had nothing to play for.

All the ills that have consistently defined Gruden’s tenure as the Redskins coach — the sloppiness, the lack of discipline, the inability to prepare a team to play in a big game — all that was in evidence in a must-win game against a sparring partner of an opponent.

It was the end of Year 3 under Gruden, and we were hearing too many times from the coach himself that he was being outcoached in losses, such as their 26-15 loss to Carolina weeks earlier, when he said, “We were outcoached today.” He did the same thing after the Giants loss, telling reporters, “We’ve got to do a better job as coaches.”

I might point out that he was outcoached that day by Ben McAdoo — who was out of a job a year later.

We heard it too many times after games throughout Gruden’s time in Washington. His media buddies — and Gruden had many — might say this is coachspeak to protect his players. But it was the continuous drum that Gruden himself beat. And he was right. He was often outcoached.

He may be a great play caller. He may be a smart offensive coordinator. I say these things because so many Gruden media supporters have said it, so it must be true. But this from former Philadelphia Eagles president Joe Banner on Twitter may be closer to the truth: “The Skins organization is awful and I have been very critical of it, but media people giving Jay Gruden a semi/pass are not doing anything but defending a friend. He has also not been good.”

Gruden was easy to like. He treated reporters with respect, rarely losing his cool. But he may be Norv Turner — a likeable media favorite and good offensive coordinator who was unable to be the firm, visionary leader on the field to guide a team to consistent winning.

Then again, it wouldn’t matter if he was that kind of coach. It won’t matter if the next coach is that kind of coach. It just doesn’t matter.

In case Redskins fans need convincing of that, all they had to do was listen to the Prince of Darkness’ news conference Monday from Redskins Park, an exercise that reminded everyone there are worse things than watching this team play football.

Team president Bruce Allen was at his arrogant, delusional worst, declaring that their Politburo culture is “damn good.” He also claimed there are “millions of Redskins fans,” ignoring the fact that few of them watch the team on television and even fewer pay money to see them in person.

Asked about the Patriots fans that filled Ghost Town Field Sunday, Allen put the blame on fans selling their tickets on the secondary market — one of the very things that former chief operating officer Brian Lafemina and his team of business executives were trying to stop to repair the damaged attendance. Then again, Allen undermined Lafemina and drove him and his crew from the building eight months after they arrived.

I wonder what Allen’s father, former Redskins coach and Hall of Famer George Allen, would think of his son these days. Since he was hired as general manager, the team has a record of 59-89-1. Monday, the Prince of Darkness claimed he would not “hide” from that record.

His father might say, “Son, maybe you should.”

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

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