ASHBURN, Virginia — Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden doesn’t know what his future holds with the organization. He does know he’s in a precarious situation, five years into his contract. But, he said, it hasn’t added any sort of burden with three games remaining in the season.
“It doesn’t weigh on me at all,” Gruden told ESPN on Friday. “My key works; I come in and work. … I understand it. You’re fine, you’re fine, you’re fine and then you’re not fine. I’ll wait to get final word when the season is over.”
Redskins linebacker Mason Foster blames a cousin for a private Instagram account that caused controversy with pointed remarks about the team and its fan base.
Josh Johnson, playing for his 12th NFL team and starting for the first time since 2011, kept believing because he said there was no other choice.
That’s when Gruden will sit down with owner Dan Snyder, as the two always do once the season ends. Last season, word leaked before the finale that Gruden’s job was safe.
“It’s not my job to judge [my performance],” Gruden said. “It’s my job to coach the guys I’ve got. There’s only one judge and he’s the one that has all the money. He’s the one that writes the checks. It’s up to him.”
The Redskins remain alive in the playoff race at 6-7, but they’ve lost four consecutive games and five of their past six heading into Sunday’s game at Jacksonville. Washington has 17 players on injured reserve, including five starters on offense. The Redskins will be starting their fourth quarterback of the season Sunday.
Gruden is the longest tenured coach under Snyder, but if the Redskins fail to turn things around, they will have missed the playoffs for a third consecutive season.
Gruden has two years left on his contract, thanks to a two-year extension he received after the 2016 season. The extra years were for a combined $10 million in fully guaranteed money.
“He has always been supportive,” Gruden said of Snyder. “Never been negative. He gets very upset after losses, as we all do. But he’s been very supportive and has tried to do everything he can to help.”
The Redskins have had a tumultuous several weeks, with devastating injuries, to quarterback Alex Smith in particular, and a rash of players publicly airing grievances from linebacker Zach Brown to safety D.J. Swearinger. This week, a private Instagram exchange involving linebacker Mason Foster created more controversy. Foster said his cousin was behind most of the exchange, but it still created a bad look for the organization. And last month, they claimed linebacker Reuben Foster off waivers three days after he was arrested for domestic violence.
To the outside world, they come across as a team coming apart.
“Any time you have a losing streak, things can go awry and issues come to the forefront and negativity can rise to the forefront,” Gruden said of recent player blowups. “When you’re winning, that stuff gets squashed. When you’re losing, it becomes an issue and deservedly so. When you lose, you have to figure out what’s wrong.
“There are a few things we’ve had to address. For the most part, 95 percent of our guys have continued to work and play hard and try to compete. Some guys’ interviews may have been [blown] out of proportion. You can’t let anything like that affect the rest of the guys. For the most part, we have guys working extremely hard.”
Gruden said he did not view the complaints aired by Brown and Swearinger in particular as a sign he’d lost the locker room. Brown was benched last week after missing multiple practices because of an undisclosed illness. He said earlier this week he could see the writing on the wall as far as his future in Washington. Swearinger has been critical multiple times this season, about preparation — by players and coaches.
“I have a good pulse on [the locker room],” Gruden said. “It’s good. You always worry about that. Any time you have a losing streak there’s going to be questions and it starts at the top, whether it’s the fans or ownership, the players. And the finger-pointing starts. That’s what we’re trying to avoid. Ultimately when you have a losing streak, it’s on me because it’s my ship and I have to make sure I figure out ways to fix that, and if there are issues I have to address them head-on.”
Gruden has talked to players at various times about what they’ve said either on social media or to reporters. He said he likes how the players responded after a 40-16 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday.
“I feel we turned a corner,” Gruden said. “We can put out a lot of fires with a win.”
But they can create more heat with another loss.
“I’ll do the best I can and go from there,” Gruden said. “Try to put a winning product on the field. At the end of the day, we’ll see what happens. All I know is I have to get my coaches ready to coach and my players ready to play.”