GAME OVER?

Red­skins coach’s fir­ing: seems im­mi­nent af­ter team falls to 0-5

Edmonton Sun - - SPORTS -

In no longer seems a mat­ter of if, but when Jay Gru­den is fired.

As Sun­day af­ter­noon turned into evening, and Week 5 be­gan wind­ing down, his fir­ing seemed im­mi­nent.

Gru­den, Jon’s younger brother, has been the Wash­ing­ton Red­skins head coach since 2014. He’s an of­fen­sive-side spe­cial­ist and his team fell to 0-5 Sun­day, af­ter los­ing ugly on of­fence to the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots, 33-7.

Not much was ex­pected of the Red­skins this sea­son, frankly, as they tran­si­tion (awk­wardly) from vet­eran passers Case Keenum and Colt Mccoy to Dwayne Hask­ins, a raw rookie drafted No. 15 over­all.

But, as al­ways seems to hap­pen in Wash­ing­ton as the coach du jour fi­nally falls out of favour with owner Dan Snyder, strange sto­ries have be­gun leak­ing out of the U.S. capi­tol, in­clud­ing spe­cific ex­am­ples of how Snyder and the coach are nowhere near on the same page re­gard­ing in­te­gral as­pects of the club.

Co­in­ci­dence or not, a pair of year-old videos that went vi­ral over the week­end showed Gru­den ap­par­ently tak­ing a drag on some type of home­rolled cig­a­rette (ahem), and sit­ting on a side­walk with a young woman perched on his thigh.

Also, a re­port head­ing into the week­end claimed Snyder in­sisted the club draft Hask­ins at No. 15, over Gru­den’s pur­ported ob­jec­tion.

Fol­low­ing Wash­ing­ton’s loss to the 5-0 Pa­tri­ots, Snyder and pres­i­dent Bruce Allen re­port­edly bolted the postgame locker room much ear­lier than usual, and were quickly driven out of Fedex Field — for what­ever that’s worth.

Run­ning back Chris Thomp­son has been in Wash­ing­ton through­out Gru­den’s run. He could barely get out what he wanted to say in a som­bre Red­skins locker room, as tears and emo­tions over­whelmed him. He spoke as if Gru­den al­ready had been fired.

“I feel like he was one of the guys that re­ally be­lieved in me,” Thomp­son said halt­ingly, through snif­fles and tears, “and wanted me to stay here and be with him through his whole legacy here as a coach.

“Go­ing through that prac­tice squad here was real tough for me.”

Gru­den is 35-49-1 (.418) as Wash­ing­ton’s head coach.

He seemed to know what’s around the cor­ner.

“No­body has told me any­thing … If the key works Mon­day, I’ll keep work­ing,” he said af­ter the game.

NOT SO mighty QUINN

Then there’s Dan Quinn. He has been the At­lanta Fal­cons head coach since 2015. He’s a de­fen­sive-side spe­cial­ist and his team fell to 1-4 Sun­day, af­ter los­ing ugly on de­fence at the Hous­ton Texans, 53-32.

It seemed he could be fired at any mo­ment, too, along with Gru­den. But Fal­cons owner Arthur Blank on Sun­day night re­port­edly said he’s not con­sid­er­ing a coach­ing-staff change.

Quinn talked only about cor­rect­ing what­ever’s wrong at his post-game presser in Hous­ton, even though the de­fence he per­son­ally took over this past off-sea­son al­lowed Texans quar­ter­back De­shaun Wat­son to be­come the first NFL player in one game to throw for at least 400 yards (426) and five touch­downs, with five or fewer in­com­ple­tions.

Even worse, the Fal­cons al­lowed the Texans to con­vert 10 of 13 third downs and rack up 592 to­tal yards. At­lanta pass rush­ers also failed to sack Wat­son, the first time he hasn’t been sacked since Week 8 of last sea­son.

Quinn said he thought the game changed in the third quar­ter. Wrong. It changed af­ter Hous­ton went three-and­out to start the game. Be­cause there­after Hous­ton’s pos­ses­sions ended as fol­lows: Touch­down, touch­down, field goal, end of half, touch­down, field goal, touch­down, touch­down, touch­down.

“We’re dis­ap­pointed across the board,” Quinn said. “It’s 100% gut-check time for us. It’s not what we ex­pected.”

Quinn was asked if mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion is­sues con­tinue to vex his team.

“If there was mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and if there are changes to be made from a per­son­nel side, ob­vi­ously we’re go­ing to look into ev­ery­thing, in terms of how we played,” he said. “There’s no ex­cuse for hav­ing a per­for­mance like that.”

The Fal­cons didn’t fly home to At­lanta — rather, to Ari­zona, to prac­tise all week out there be­fore next Sun­day’s game against the host Car­di­nals. Maybe that’s a good thing for Quinn.

“We’ve got a week on the road to­gether,” Quinn said. “We have to get things cor­rect in our game to­gether. So that’s what we plan on do­ing.”

Said Blank, per ESPN: “This staff has per­formed be­fore. My hope is they can fix what needs to be fixed and start win­ning some games.”

Quinn’s Fal­cons are 18-19.

ALSO ON The HOT Seat

While one Texas-based team’s head coach can breathe easy at least this week — Bill O’brien of the 3-2 Texans — the seat just got hot­ter for Ja­son Gar­rett of the Dal­las Cow­boys.

In a bal­ly­hooed home-field matchup of 3-1 NFC pow­ers, Gar­rett’s Cow­boys got slaugh­tered by new­bie head coach Matt Lafleur, quar­ter­back Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Pack­ers, be­fore ral­ly­ing to make the fi­nal score closer, 34-24.

This is only the umpteenth time we’ve leaped to a con­clu­sion that Gar­rett’s job surely must be edg­ing closer to jeop­ardy, only for owner/gm Jerry Jones to as­sure ev­ery­one that his job is as safe as ever.

This one had to have par­tic­u­larly stung, how­ever, right af­ter Jones has been rain­ing praise bombs all over Dal­las re­gard­ing the play of fourth-year quar­ter­back Dak Prescott, run­ning back Ezekiel El­liott and the en­tire new-look Dal­las of­fence. Prescott was picked off three times Sun­day.

Pack­ers de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Mike Pet­tine, only seven days af­ter the New Or­leans Saints did so first, ren­dered the sup­posed high­oc­tane Dal­las at­tack rather im­po­tent un­til the Pack had screamed out to a 31-3 lead.

EX­TRA POINTS

Philadel­phia Ea­gles de­fend­ers sacked New York Jets QB Luke Falk 10 times (three times by Bran­don Gra­ham) and hit him 16 times … Will Fuller V had 14 catches for 217 yards and three touch­downs for Hous­ton … Well, well. Maybe it wasn’t all Eli Man­ning’s fault. Rookie QB Daniel Jones led a New York Giants of­fence that, in a 28-10 loss to Min­nesota, amassed just 211 yards — the club’s worst out­put since Novem­ber 2017 … In­cred­i­bly, New Eng­land’s de­fence recorded five sacks for the fourth straight game … Jon Gru­den to his Oak­land Raiders, who im­proved to 3-2 with a 24-21 win over Chicago in Lon­don, Eng­land: “You can beat any­body, any­where, in any %$&#*$ time zone!”

GETTY IM­AGES/PHO­TOS

Head coach Jay Gru­den of the 1-4 Wash­ing­ton Red­skins looks a lit­tle per­turbed dur­ing the se­cond half of Sun­day’s loss to the Pa­tri­ots. Gru­den’s post-game com­ments sug­gest even he knows he could be fired by to­day. Some felt At­lanta Fal­cons coach Dan Quinn (in­set) might be on the fir­ing line, too, but team owner Arthur Blank re­port­edly shot that down.

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