On Sunday, Jay Gruden was asked a question about the situation at left tackle, and Jay said a lot of soothing things about how the work on filling that position is progressing.
“Well, we’re still working through it, really. Geron [Christian Sr.] is getting more reps and obviously [Donald] Penn; we could also look at [Ereck] Flowers over there a little bit more at left tackle depending on how we feel Wes Martin is doing at left guard – he’s getting better and better. The biggest thing is put our five best guys out there and make sure that left side is good. We’ll continue to work. Geron’s coming back from his injury like we all know, he’s got a chance. Obviously Donald is a veteran guy who has been there and blocked a lot of guys in his career and then Ereck Flowers has played both sides as a right and left tackle in his career, so we have some guys that can play it, we’ve just got to figure out which one’s best for us.”
Okay, so let’s run through the checklist:
Geron Christian - check - “Geron’s coming back from his injury like we all know, he’s got a chance.”
Donald Penn - check - “Obviously Donald is a veteran guy who has been there and blocked a lot of guys in his career.”
Ereck Flowers - huh!? Jay did say “depending on how Wes Martin is doing at guard - he’s getting better and better”, which does encourage me, but I don’t want to hear talk of Ereck Flowers playing left tackle for the Redskins.
So, Jay makes it sound like business as usual; nothing much to me concerned about. We’ve got time. We’ll get there.
He got a followup question about whether all this work for the depth players at the position was good for the team. Jay was unhesitating:
“Oh for sure, it is a positive. They’re getting work and that’s a positive thing because your depth is tested throughout the year as we all know. So the more reps these guys get, the better we’ll feel come game time if they have to start.
We’re a work in progress without a doubt. We’re not a finished product by any stretch, but these guys are working hard and I believe we’ll find one come Philly.”
Okay, I’m fine with all those ideas, but, listening to the press conference, I got the feeling that the journalist who asked the followup question was dancing around an issue that perhaps he had been told not to ask about directly, and I couldn’t help but notice the name that Jay didn’t mention in his answer to either question about the left tackle position: Trent Williams.
When I heard the first question, I thought that Jay’s opening remark would be perfectly predictable: “Well, of course, we haven’t given up on Trent Williams getting in here to play. I feel confident that he’ll be here. We need him; we want him; we believe in him. Trent just has to work through his business. In the meantime, we’re working with the players who are here....”
But I never heard that.
When the followup question was asked, it was phrased along the lines of, ‘you said at the beginning of camp that this situation would be good for the team; do you still feel that way?’ I got the sense that the reporter was throwing up a slow pitch in the middle of the plate, asking Jay to comment on Trent. Typically Jay makes some positive noises about the idea that Trent’s situation should all get worked out sooner or later.
This time? Crickets.
When Jay answers two questions about left tackle and doesn’t mention Trent Williams or take the opportunity to remind everyone that Trent is our left tackle, and that he’s the best left tackle in the NFL, then I get worried.
Jay doesn’t normally pass on these kinds of opportunities to reiterate his belief and confidence in the Redskins’ best player. The fact that he kept the bat on his shoulder as these two fat pitches sailed down the middle of the plate, in my opinion, speaks volumes in its silence.