- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The Washington Redskins have not made an in-season coaching change since 2000, when they fired Norv Turner after 13 games for failing to deliver on Super Bowl expectations. There have been plenty of embarrassing losses and dysfunctional moments since then, to be sure, but owner Dan Snyder has resisted making drastic changes until the season ended.

Yet, after a humiliating 31-15 loss Monday against the Chicago Bears — with his team looking hapless and hopeless en route to an 0-3 record — it was only natural to wonder if coach Jay Gruden’s job was in immediate danger.

Gruden’s seat has never been hotter as the Redskins now turn to face the New York Giants next week at MetLife Stadium.

But asked Tuesday if he considers his job status week-to-week at this point, the sixth-year coach said no.

“I haven’t felt like that,” Gruden said. “But who knows? I’m just trying to concentrate on the Giants right now, put our best foot forward, learn from our mistakes here and try to get better. That’s all we’re trying to do here as a staff and go from there.”

For the third straight week, Gruden stressed he believes his team can turn its season around. He told reporters that he is not considering making changes to his coaching staff, which includes keeping Greg Manusky as Washington’s defensive coordinator.

Gruden, too, stuck by Case Keenum — despite the quarterback’s five turnovers against Chicago.

But for the Redskins to salvage their season, Washington will need to improve substantially. Through three games, the Redskins ranks 30th in points allowed and has the worst third-down defense in the league at 63.4%. Even more embarrassing, quarterbacks have completed an astonishing 79% of their passes against Washington.

Gruden and the Redskins are confident a turnaround is possible, saying there’s still a lot of football left.

When Gruden watched the film of Monday’s loss, he observed his team missing “great opportunities.” He also saw his team refuse to quit, cutting a 28-0 Bears lead to a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

That, he said, showed heart.

“I know there’s a lot of fight in these guys,” Gruden said. “They have a lot of pride. They want to win. They want to do whatever it takes to win.”

Gruden’s answers won’t please everybody. Fans are fed up with the lack of winning, and Washington has lost nine of its last 10 dating back to last season. They’re tired of the Redskins being thrashed on national TV: They have lost eight straight appearances on “Monday Night Football” and are 5-17 in prime-time games in the last six years. They want better results.

This situation facing Gruden isn’t entirely new. Throughout his six-year tenure, Gruden has navigated questions about his job status. Back in May, the coach joked about being fired if the Redskins failed to make the playoffs, a nod to the fact they haven’t made the postseason since the 2015 campaign.

But the pressure hasn’t been quite like this.

ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith called for Gruden’s job Tuesday on the debate show “First Take.” Fans tweeted “#FireJayGruden” after Washington’s loss. The coach took criticism for not turning to rookie Dwayne Haskins in light of Keenum’s performance, as well.

Gruden will have to prove he can get the Redskins to perform better.

“This season is not lost,” Gruden said. “It’s not over. I know everybody wants to say, ‘It’s over and the season is over so go ahead and play Haskins.’ We feel confident we can turn this thing around. I’m out here at practice every day. We’re out here at practice every day evaluating everybody.

“If we feel like Dwayne gives us the best chance to win in a coming game, we’ll definitely put Dwayne in there. If we feel like it’s Colt [McCoy] when he gets healthy, it could be Colt. Right now, we feel like it’s Case Keenum and we’re going to move forward with him this week.”

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