So, the FanPulse survey went out this week, and the results were pretty even, but Jay Gruden edged out the competition to be named as NFL Head Coach Most Likely to be Fired First in 2019.
It’s not an honor I imagine Gruden coveted or one that he will cherish.
I’m not sure it’s even one that he’s fully earned. We discussed this issue in some depth in an article published just prior to the start of the regular season, and I aired my opinion that, given Dan Snyder’s personal history and reputation, things would have to get really awful for him to make a mid-season firing. Of course, after two ugly losses to division opponents, “really awful” is a pretty apt description. If things don’t get better, then the FanPulse poll might well prove to be correct.
I can’t help but note that the top four vote-getters all have quarterback issues.
Pat Shurmer has been saddled with an aging and ineffective Eli Manning, beloved of the Maras and of many New York fans for his twin slayings of the Patriots to bring two Lombardi trophies to the team. By making the switch to Daniel Jones quickly, in week 3, Shurmer is giving himself a chance. He still has an ugly roster put together by a GM who seems not to have Shurmer’s back, but if Pat can show that he’s making progress with Daniel, then perhaps the powers-that-be in New York decide to keep him around for another year in hopes that Dave Gettleman might actually try to give him a roster that he can win games with.
Ron Rivera has possibly run out his string with Cam Newton. The quarterback has looked lost and ineffectual in the first two weeks of the season; now he his injured and seems likely to miss the Week 3 game. Personally, I like Riverboat Ron, but he simply hasn’t been able to maintain the consistency that Carolina fans expect with a talented QB like Newton on the roster.
Marrone, of course, had to stand on the sidelines and watch his new franchise-saving quarterback head to the locker room with a broken collarbone during the first game of the season. Expectations were sky high in Dooovaaal a few years back after the Jags made it to the AFC title game and looked like Super Bowl contenders. The failure to launch in any season since is the reason why Marrone’s name is on this list, but having to do it for a while despite having Blake Bortles (currently backing up Jared Goff in LA), followed by the Week 1 injury to Foles seems like a lot to hang on the Head Coach.
Jay Gruden, of course, went from his long term success project, Kirk Cousins, who wanted to get paid like a top-tier quarterback, to his own injury issue with Alex Smith, to journeyman Case Keenum. Keenum hasn’t been perfect so far this season, but he’s been at least serviceable; he’s thrown for over 600 yards with 5 TDs and no interceptions, but he’s left a lot of plays on the field. No one could possibly lay the two opening losses at Keenum’s feet. The defense has played for a quarter and a half in each game before capitulating entirely. The running game is moribund. Keenum, if anything, has been the foundation of whatever success the Redskins have had.
Should Jay Gruden do what Pat Shurmer just did, and switch from his starter to his backup quarterback?
The Redskins have Dwayne Haskins, drafted 15th overall in April, sitting on the bench. Making the change from Keenum to Haskins won’t save the Redskins season, but it could give Redskins fans something to cheer about — and if Haskins shows quick development in NFL games under Gruden, then that might be enough to save Jay’s job.
There are those who believe Jay isn’t interested in saving his job. There has been speculation popping up on Twitter that Jay is trying to get fired. He has another year on his contract, and he would likely be in demand as an offensive coordinator, and possibly even for anotherhead coaching position.
Whatever the truth of Jay’s situation, things are more likely than not to stay ugly for the Redskins in the coming weeks.
With the team taking on the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football this week, and the New England Patriots in Week 5, there’s little chance that the team comes out of its first five games with a winning record.
After that, though, the Redskins have a “get well” game against the Dolphins in Week 6. Many Redskins fans have had that date — 13 October — circled on their calendars for months as the most likely time for Dwayne Haskins to get his first start.
That may be all that Redskins fans will have left to cheer for by then.