ASHBURN, Va. — The Washington Redskins fired coach Jay Gruden on Monday during yet another disappointing season.
Gruden entered the season on the hot seat, and after Sunday’s 33-7 loss to the New England Patriots dropped the Redskins to 0-5, it became clear he would not continue as the team’s coach beyond this season. Team owner Daniel Snyder and team president Bruce Allen met with Gruden early Monday morning at Redskins Park to deliver the news.
“Through the first five games of the 2019 season, the team has clearly not performed up to expectations, and we all share in that responsibility,” the team said in a statement. “Moving forward we are committed to doing all that we can collectively as an organization to turn things around and give our Redskins fans and alumni a team they can be proud of in 2019 and beyond.”
Redskins assistant head coach/offensive line coach Bill Callahan will be the interim head coach, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Speculation on Gruden’s possible firing began to surface before a Week 4 loss to the New York Giants and intensified.
Gruden had one more year remaining on his contract after this season because of a two-year extension he signed during the 2016 offseason. He is owed $5 million for 2020.
The Redskins retained Gruden in part because of their record after nine games last year, when numerous injuries started to hit. They were 6-3 when quarterback Alex Smith suffered a broken leg in a loss to Houston that might have ended his career. They ended up starting three more quarterbacks last season and finished 7-9. But the organization felt it could return to that higher level with good health and one or two moves, so it gave Gruden one more chance.
Gruden lasted longer than any of Snyder’s six other coaching hires, with none coaching longer than four years under him. Gruden was in his sixth season.
Gruden becomes the fifth coach fired by Snyder, joining a group that includes Norv Turner, Marty Schottenheimer, Jim Zorn and Mike Shanahan. Steve Spurrier and Joe Gibbs resigned. Spurrier did so after two years but was unlikely to return; Gibbs retired after four seasons.
No coach has finished with a winning record under Snyder, who bought the team shortly before the 1999 season. Schottenheimer was fired after going 8-8 in his only season in Washington. Under Snyder, the Redskins have finished first in the NFC East three times, including in 2015 with Gruden. They have finished last eight times and third seven times. The Redskins are headed toward their ninth season of at least 10 losses during Snyder’s tenure.
Washington went 35-49-1 under Gruden.
The Redskins have a young talent base to provide a new staff, and will be expected to have a high pick in the 2020 NFL draft. They have seven defensive starters who are 25 years old or younger. They drafted quarterback Dwayne Haskins No. 15 overall in April, and rookie receiver Terry McLaurin has emerged as a threat. But they have major questions at other areas offensively.
The Redskins had high hopes for their defense this season, but that group has underachieved, allowing three straight games of 30 or more points to start the season. Offensively, two of the Redskins’ top players didn’t provide help: Tight end Jordan Reed hasn’t played this season because of a concussion, and perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams remains a holdout. Starting running back Derrius Guice tore the MCL in his right knee in the season opener and was placed on injured reserve.
The organization did not feel Haskins was ready to start immediately, leaving the coaching staff with a choice between Colt McCoy and Case Keenum. McCoy at least knew Gruden’s offense well, but his right leg, which he broke in December, gave him problems in training camp, and he missed the first four games of the season. Keenum, starting for a third team in three years, started the first four games.
Gruden started McCoy for the Week 5 game vs. New England, bypassing Haskins, who relieved the injured Keenum the previous week.
Snyder had wanted the Redskins to draft Haskins, but multiple sources said there had been no push by the organization to play him and it wasn’t a main factor in the firing.
Keenum was the fourth quarterback to start a season under Gruden. When the Redskins hired him in 2014, they wanted him to help turn Robert Griffin III around. That didn’t work, so Gruden turned to Kirk Cousins. After three years, and with Cousins heading toward free agency, they traded for Smith.
Before getting the Redskins’ head-coaching job, Gruden had spent the previous three years as the Cincinnati Bengals‘ offensive coordinator.