Redskins' final three games more about job security than playoffs

LANDOVER, Md. -- As Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden headed to his postgame news conference Sunday, a team official announced to no one in particular that it wouldn’t be a long one. There wasn’t a whole lot to say after a 40-16 drubbing by the New York Giants: The Redskins (6-7) got their fannies kicked and the team had become an avalanche of futility.

But Gruden let it be known: There won’t be a time limit on this presser.

“I’m not hiding from anything,” he said. “It’s deserved.”

The entire Redskins organization should be saying the same. When a team spirals like this one has -- four straight losses -- it’s a stain on all. The offense has easy excuses: They’re now down to their fourth starting quarterback of the season in Josh Johnson. He had not attempted a pass before Sunday since 2011.

Of their original starting 11 offensive players in training camp, five are lost for the year and a sixth (tight end Jordan Reed) exited Sunday in pain and unable to walk on his own because of a sprained foot/toe.

Of their original starting 11 on defense, they’ve lost one for the season (corner Quinton Dunbar). Another starter, safety Montae Nicholson, was replaced by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix after a trade. It hasn’t helped.

Somehow, the Redskins have gone from a franchise that enjoyed a tremendous home-field advantage to one that has none. Many fans no longer buy two things from the franchise: tickets and hope. After years of promises or changes, they want results. They haven’t won 11 games in a season since 1991, the longest such drought by any NFL team. They haven’t won a playoff game since 2005. Those are among the reasons they haven’t come close to a sellout this season.

The last three weeks of the season will be spent speculating on the job security of just about anyone in the organization:

President Bruce Allen: When he was hired in December 2009, multiple people in the NFL praised him. They said he’d be good on the business side, a good ambassador. But, they’d say, he’s best on the business and not the football side. In Washington, he’s in charge of all. During the nine full seasons of Allen’s tenure, the Redskins have a 58-82-1 record (it’s 30-30-1 in the last four years). He’s a lightning rod for fans, many of whom have voiced their displeasure with him, whether on local radio or social media.

Gruden: He’s nearing the end of his fifth season and has the longest tenure of any coach under owner Dan Snyder. They haven’t won more than nine games under him, though they did win the NFC East in 2015. The Redskins are 21-23-1 since that season.

Gruden signed a two-year extension in the 2017 offseason, which means he’d receive $10 million if fired after this season. It would then cost millions more to get rid of his staff, though some could be kept.

Gruden has always been aware of his precarious security.

“My job is in jeopardy every week,” Gruden said, “so I just have to go about and do the best I can to get these guys ready to go. We’ll continue to do that."

Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky: Whether it’s all on him or not, it’s his group and they’ve regressed mightily. There’s a disconnect all over, from the chemistry of the group to their on-field execution. Mistakes are repeated, which frustrates several defenders. In Manusky’s first season in 2017, the Redskins ranked 27th in points and 21st in yards. But he had inherited a bad unit, one that had been neglected for too long in the draft. Injuries hit hard last year and with little depth, a big drop-off was expected.

This season, there’s no injury excuse. There’s only this: After seven games they ranked fourth in yards and fifth in points; since Week 9, they rank 26th in points and 31st in yards.

Gruden said he did not anticipate any imminent changes to his staff.

“No, not really,” he said. “We have a game to win next week in Jacksonville. Then, we have to go about and try to find a way to do it."

Personnel: There will be, and needs to be, numerous changes. The last three games will finalize the direction Washington must go when it comes to its roster, regardless of who’s in charge. Safety D.J. Swearinger does not speak for the entire defense -- some roll their eyes at his comments -- but he is vocal.

After Sunday’s game, he bit his tongue on some comments. When asked why they haven’t played well, he said, “We just didn’t execute. We didn’t get the job done. That’s the answer they want me to give.”

Later, Swearinger said he’d played on talented teams that went 2-14 and teams that might not have been as talented but made the playoffs. His first team with Houston was 2-14; he made it to the playoffs with Arizona at 13-3. That led to a comment and another tongue-biting.

“The difference is chemistry,” he said. “I can’t say nothing else.”

And, he said, “This is one of the most talented defenses I’ve been on, but the results ain’t there.”

Once upon a time, the Redskins' final three games were going to be about a playoff push. Technically they’re still alive; realistically they’d need a massive turnaround. So these final three games become about something else for many in the organization: survival.