Jay Gruden: Simple plays not being executed

ASHBURN, Va. -- The first season of his coaching tenure hasn't unfolded the way Jay Gruden had hoped. Though he didn't expect an easy road, he also did not foresee a 1-5 start. And that already has him contemplating changes -- perhaps more to the Redskins' routine than the roster, but the latter is something he'll consider.

That's where the Redskins are six games into his coaching career, in a hole that's getting deeper. They lost their fourth straight game Sunday, a 30-20 defeat at Arizona. Once more, turnovers played a killer role as Washington lost the ball four times in the fourth quarter, with three Kirk Cousins interceptions.

Gruden pointed to turnovers, poor execution and also coaching as the reasons for the bad start. In other words, a little bit of everything.

"Everybody sprinkles in a little bit of poor play, and that results in 1-6. 1-5? What are we? 1-5? I'm losing track," Gruden said.

One thing they won't do is change quarterbacks. Kirk Cousins will remain the starter, likely until Robert Griffin III returns from his dislocated left ankle.

Here are the highlights from Gruden's Monday presser:

Poor execution

He discussed what he considered poor execution, saying there have been plays on both sides of the ball where they've worked on a look, then get it in the game and they don't get the results they should.

“I won't blame the players for poor execution and I don't think the coaches can say it's the coaches for poor game planning," he said. “It's a combination. When we have the record we have, as long as we're all willing to accept the fact that we are all letting the city down, the better chance we have of getting out of the rut."

Third downs

Third downs have been an issue and were again Sunday as Washington converted just two of 10 into first downs. With veteran players, they failed once more to execute a bubble screen because of poor blocks and then had the timing blown on another that resulted in an interception. The latter, Gruden said, was more the fault of Cousins for being late on the throw.

Cousins has a 39.8 passer rating on third down, lowest among NFL starters. The next worst? Minnesota's Teddy Bridgewater at 59.8.

“There are simple plays that should be executed," Gruden said. “We weren't clear on the detail and that's on us as coaches. Things like that should be fixed quickly. They should not happen in pro football. They did [Sunday] for some reason. ... Sometimes when you have veteran receivers you assume they know more than they do. It's our job to make sure we prioritize and really get it taught the right way. If we're not doing it the right way, that's on us. We know they're good players and should know what to do.

“I can handle a tackle getting beat by a good pass rush or a corner making great pass coverage. But some of the easily executed plays that should be executed that we don't, those are the ones I have a problem with and those are the ones we should get fixed."


Gruden said he and his coaches will discuss everything to see what must be done to turn their fortunes around. Making plays during games would help, of course. So, too, would cutting down on turnovers. Both are on Gruden's list of desired outcomes.

But he also wants to look at how they practice and perhaps if someone who isn't playing a lot should be. For the most part, though, he said their discussions will center more on how they're preparing for games.

“Obviously the status quo isn't doing so well," Gruden said. "I like the guys that are playing. They're all doing enough good things. We just all pick the most inopportune times to call a bad play or have a bad throw or run a bad route or miss a coverage or take a bad drop or not get a pass rush. It's hard to put your finger on one thing."

Gruden isn't just blaming players.

“We have to address the plays we're calling, the defenses we're calling," he said. “We will work to figure out the right remedy to get this fixed and hopefully the players will come in willing to compete to make the changes."