Gru­den’s abil­ity to have Red­skins pre­pared to play a con­cern

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - THOM LOVERRO

There is per­haps noth­ing in sports that is more fraud­u­lent and un­fair than NFL pre­sea­son foot­ball. Fans are asked to watch and be­lieve it is foot­ball, but it is not, re­ally. It’s work­outs, it’s prac­tice, ex­cept they run plays like real foot­ball and keep score like real foot­ball.

But it’s not — and ev­ery Au­gust, fans are asked to watch but not be­lieve what they see.

Pro­fes­sional wrestling has more cred­i­bil­ity than pre­sea­son foot­ball.

But even in pro wrestling, there are good fake per­for­mances and bad fake per­for­mances.

The Red­skins turned in a bad fake foot­ball per­for­mance in their 23-3 Thurs­day night loss in Bal­ti­more against the Ravens. And while Red­skins fans would be wise to re­peat over and over, “pre­sea­son foot­ball means noth­ing, pre­sea­son foot­ball means noth­ing,” there may have been enough truth in the il­lu­sion on the field last week to be con­cerned.

The con­cern? Coach Jay Gru­den’s abil­ity to pre­pare a team to play.

The last time we saw Gru­den coach­ing the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins, it was the dis­ap­point­ing end of the 2016 season, when, be­fore the home fans at FedEx Field against a New York Gi­ants team with noth­ing to play for. Gru­den’s

team had ev­ery­thing to play for — a play­off berth.

His team played that game like they were play­ing the Bal­ti­more Ravens in Au­gust.

After the Gi­ants loss, Gru­den told ev­ery­one what a lousy coach he was.

“Any­time you’re stand­ing up here after 17 weeks of foot­ball and your season is over, it’s a dis­ap­point­ing season, whether it’s 17 weeks, 18 weeks or 19 weeks,” Gru­den said. “We’re very dis­ap­pointed at the out­come. We feel like we have per­son­nel good enough to win the game. I take re­spon­si­bil­ity for us hav­ing our season over. It’s on my shoul­ders. We’ve got to do a bet­ter job as coaches.”

When he was asked if he had the team ready to play, Gru­den replied, “On a gut level I like to think so, but ob­vi­ously the re­sults say oth­er­wise, so what can you say?”

Two weeks ear­lier, against a los­ing Carolina Pan­thers team, when he led an­other un­pre­pared team to a 26-15 loss at FedEx Field in a game with play­off im­pli­ca­tions, Gru­den again ques­tioned him­self. “We’re dis­ap­pointed, it’s no ques­tion,” he told re­porters. “First of all, we were out­coached to­day. There’s no ques­tion about that, and they played bet­ter than us, so you’ve got to give credit to the Carolina Pan­thers. It’s my re­spon­si­bil­ity to get these guys ready to play, and we didn’t ex­e­cute like I would’ve liked to have seen. That falls on my shoul­ders.”

He wasn’t so self-loathing after the first pre­sea­son per­for­mance last week – the first time he had to get a team ready to play since the Gi­ants loss.

“It was a good learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for our guys,” Gru­den said, as if this team, in his third season, was going to school on the first day. “I’m glad they got out there and got beat around a lit­tle bit, took a few hits, and played against a phys­i­cal de­fense. Now they know what to ex­pect next week.”

So what his first team squad saw in the brief time they were on the field in Bal­ti­more came as a sur­prise? Re­ally? Pre­sea­son foot­ball?

Or maybe they just weren’t pre­pared.

“Of­fen­sively, I think it was sort of a wake-up call for them, as far as the com­mu­ni­ca­tion process goes with the young cen­ters that we had in the first, se­cond, third, fourth quar­ter,” Gru­den said. “We had some is­sues there .... a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for ev­ery­body.”


Maybe the words weren’t as harsh, but the mes­sage was still the same — a team un­pre­pared.

I keep pound­ing this drum be­cause Gru­den is a fa­vorite among lo­cal me­dia. He’s a warm, per­son­able, charm­ing guy, and with that has come the as­sump­tion that he is a good NFL coach – even though, with his own words, Gru­den is telling you that he might not be the guy for this job. And for those who claim it’s coach-speak

– a coach fall­ing on his sword for his team – it ceases to be so when it is the com­mon thread.

That’s the mes­sage we heard from Jay Gru­den on Jan. 1, 2017. And that’s the mes­sage we heard from Jay Gru­den on Aug. 12, 2017.


Wash­ing­ton Red­skins coach Jay Gru­den said Thurs­day’s pre­sea­son loss to the Bal­ti­more Ravens “was good learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for our guys. Gru­den saw sev­eral drops by re­ceivers like Robert Davis (in­set) and his play­ers take big hits against a phys­i­cal de­fense.

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