Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson, carrying the frustration of an 0-5 start, tried to choke back tears as he discussed coach Jay Gruden’s future. Thompson lost the battle; tears eventually rolled down his cheeks and he paused several times while finishing an answer. Gruden’s job security remains tenuous after a 33-7 loss to the New England Patriots. New reports about his potential firing surface every week. It’s become a topic of conversation in the locker room, during the week and especially after games.
“It’s frustrating, of course,” Thompson said. “It’s something that’s tough to think about with that situation. I really care about Jay and …”
Thompson paused, tears started dripping and he needed to take a deep breath. Nine seconds later he continued.
“It’s tough, man,” Thompson said.
Thompson arrived in 2013, a year before Gruden did, but he’s credited the Redskins’ coach with giving him numerous opportunities over the years — taking him from a practice squad player in 2014 to Washington’s third-down back for the past four-plus seasons.
Meanwhile, Gruden, in his sixth season, continues to answer questions about his job. The Redskins last made the playoffs in 2015, Gruden’s second season. Since then, they’re 22-30-1. The focus on his security was there before this season started. There were questions entering 2018 as well.
But nobody from the organization has said anything publicly since the season began about his status. Redskins owner Dan Snyder and team president Bruce Allen exited the stadium shortly after Sunday’s game; they typically hang around at the stadium for several hours.
“Nobody’s told me anything,” Gruden said during his news conference. “I don’t have a concern; I’ll just wait and see — if my key works on Monday, keep working, go attack the Miami Dolphins and plan on getting our first win next week.”
No other players were as emotional as Thompson in a quiet locker room. But there is clear frustration: The Redskins did not anticipate being this bad. They’ve scored a combined 25 points the past three games. Now, they’re getting more questions about what must change — or who.
“I don’t know, to be honest,” said Redskins running back Adrian Peterson. “I’ve never been in this position before. But it’s clear something has to change. That’s one thing you do know because we are 0-5. We have not been productive as an offense. We’ve shown flashes of what we can be, but we haven’t been consistent. You have to go to the drawing board as a coaching staff offensively and defensively and you say, ‘OK, what can we do better to put our players in better position to be productive.’ It’s their job to do that. We’re 0-5 so what we’ve been doing isn’t working.”
Other veterans didn’t want to answer questions about Gruden’s job.
“That’s not a question I can answer, that’s dealing with up top,” Redskins corner Josh Norman said. “I’m not going to put myself in a situation to comment on it. That goes to the people in the top of the office that make those decisions. We just play the game and play it to the best of our abilities. … We can’t catch a break.”
Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said, “We can’t concern ourselves with that. We’ve got to try and find a way to win as players. We’ve got to be better as players. That’s our focus.”