While this offseason had let head coach Jay Gruden relax more than last year, he's just as determined to keep improving on a winning year.
When the Redskins' season ended in January, head coach Jay Gruden took a week off from football to decompress and reflect on the season. He didn’t care to watch the Packers play the Cardinals in the next round of the playoffs, or figure out if his team would have had a chance to advance.
“You’re obviously always a little frustrated when the season ends, you never want it to end unless you’re hoisting up the trophy, you know everybody’s going to be disappointed,” Gruden said in a one-on-one interview on “Redskins Nation.” “But I did feel good about the progress we made as an organization and as a football team and hopefully that’ll turn over into some more positive results next year.”
After inheriting a 3-13 football team for his first year, and improving by one win in 2014, Gruden was aided when the Redskins hired general manager Scot McCloughan in January 2015, who helped overhaul some of the roster, signing some key defensive players and making a mark in the draft.
Gruden’s decision to start
In a year’s time, Gruden has noticed a slight change in the way fans feel about his tenure.
“Well I can take my hat off from time to time,” he said about being recognized in public. “When you’re 4-12 you don’t want anybody to recognize you. You can walk with a little bit of pep in your step, you know I think the energy level, we’re heading in a positive direction and I think everybody can feel that and the fans were very excited about the way the season ended with the NFC East Championship. We’re not happy about losing to Green Bay, but I think progress is being made and I’m very proud to be the head coach of this organization and excited for the future.”
Gruden is often termed a “player’s coach” and while that often sounds like cliché, he affirms his love for his head coaching job by explaining his excitement to see his players every day. Throughout the season he’s enjoyed mixing it up with players and coaches, both at practice and occasionally in the locker room, too.
“We’ve got some characters on this football team and there’s never a dull moment, that’s for sure,” he said.
“I think the most important thing, one, is to get the free agents we want back on our football team, try to get as many of them signed as we can,” Gruden said. “Obviously we don’t want to have a lot of turnover on this football team, but if it’s necessary it is. And then obviously focusing on the Draft and make sure we are correct on our Draft picks because it’s so important, that’s how you build your football team for the future.”
In terms of that future, adapting and evolving each year, Gruden said he and his staff will take a hard look at their playbooks and schemes from the past season. When determining what they want to add or subtract this upcoming year, a lot, of course, comes from recommendations based on studying the film.
It rarely ends.
“A lot of it is review and what we did well and…what we need to work on,” Gruden said, “correct things that we did well, what we’re going to continue to do and study how we did it, working on our fundamentals obviously. Then we get into the game plan and the installation and…some new things we might add, but for the most part it’s about going back to last year and figuring out ways we can improve on our performance.”