Redskins need major changes to start winning again
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) Why just lose when you can lose with gusto? Of the Washington Redskins' 12 losses this year, nine were by double digits.
Only one other team in franchise history has lost so decisively so often. The dreadful 1961 Redskins also dropped nine by double digits in a 1-12-1 season.
It wasn't until a decade later - 1971 - that the Redskins returned to the playoffs. Unless there are some major changes, no one is going to rule out another long drought for owner Dan Snyder's team.
''We've had the same results here for too long,'' coach Jay Gruden said.
And he only just got here.
The first-year coach was supposed to re-energize the franchise, but that was also supposed to happen with the other six coaching changes under Snyder. The second coming of Joe Gibbs provided a couple of brief sparks, but overall the Redskins are 108-148 in the 16 years since Snyder bought the team, tied with the Buffalo Bills for the fifth-worst record in the NFL during that time.
Gruden has promised changes. We've all heard that before, but here's how some of them might come about following a 4-12 season and a sixth last-place NFC East finish in seven years:
TOUGH JOB, HUH? Gruden was every bit a rookie, and it showed. He conceded his mistakes in game management, and that he could be too blunt for his own good when it came to publicly criticizing players, particularly Robert Griffin III.
Players frequently talk about the NFL's massive learning curve, and the huge leap they take from Year 1 to Year 2 after going through it all the first time. The same can be true of coaches, and Gruden is already mulling how he will do things differently next season after what he called the ''humbling experience'' of 4-12.
''There's a million things swirling in your brain right now,'' Gruden said. ''That's why it's important just to take a deep breath, take a few days off, let everything sink in, make the notes you need to make, and when you talk to the owner and the general manager and the rest of the staff, then you move forward with some of your thoughts and your beliefs.''
BIG MEETING: Fly-on-the-wall time comes Sunday, when Gruden sits down for his big review-the-season meeting with Snyder and team president and general manager Bruce Allen. It's unlikely Gruden will lose his job, but there are sure to be serious discussions that will determine the future of the franchise. Particularly talks concerning Griffin, the rest of the coaching staff and how best to upgraded the many deficiencies on the roster.
SO WHAT ABOUT RG3?: Gruden worked diligently to try to teach Griffin the finer points of pocket passing. He didn't make much progress, at least not enough for Griffin to avoid getting benched for the second straight season.
Gruden this week declined to say whether Griffin will be the starter headed into training camp. The Redskins also must decide in the spring whether to pick up a team option in the quarterback's contract for the 2016 season.
Allen and Snyder have invested much into Griffin. They would naturally be more reluctant to give up on him than Gruden, who was hired because of his track record of working with quarterbacks, and could be ready to move on to someone else.
It could be quite the tug-of-war. Then again, it wouldn't be a Redskins offseason without RG3 drama.
''Yeah, there needs to be some clarity at certain spots,'' Gruden said. ''There's no question about it. Obviously, the quarterback position is one of them.''
SCAPEGOAT HASLETT?: Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett had another tough season and is the low-hanging fruit for fans demanding some sort of immediate change. But the loss of several key starters compounded the problems of a unit that was already thin on talent at the start of the season.
Gruden once worked for Haslett in the now-defunct UFL and is staying loyal to his former boss. Snyder and Allen might have other ideas.
''I would recommend keeping him,'' Gruden said.
ALLEN & A.J.: A more significant change would come in a front office that has flopped too often when drafting players and signing free agents. Allen isn't going anywhere, but there's an argument to be made that he should yield his GM duties.
One candidate is A.J. Smith, the former San Diego Chargers GM who advises the Redskins in a role as ''senior executive.''
''I have a lot of respect for both Bruce and A.J.,'' Gruden said diplomatically. ''And I think if A.J. is here full-time, it could only be a benefit.''
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