Jay Gruden to Return as Redskins Head Coach After 7-9 Season

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 31, 2017

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 19:  Head Coach Jay Gruden of the Washington Redskins on the sidelines during a game against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 19, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Saints defeated the Redskins 34-31.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden will reportedly return to coach the team next season, according to ESPN's Dianna Russini.

Per Russini, Redskins ownership "vocally informed" the staff that Gruden will be staying on for a fifth season.

With an 18-10 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday, the Redskins finished 2017 with a 7-9 record.

The Redskins hired Gruden in January 2014 following the dismissal of Mike Shanahan. He'd spent the previous three years serving as the Cincinnati Bengals' offensive coordinator.

Progress was limited during his first year in charge, as Washington posted a 4-12 record—one game better than the final season under Shanahan. The team turned a corner with a 9-7 record and a playoff appearance in 2015, however, and posted another above-.500 mark in 2016 (8-7-1).

The Skins took a step back this season, though. They faded after a 3-2 start en route to a 7-9 record, which marked the third time in four years of Gruden's tenure they failed to make the postseason.

As their playoff hopes diminished, the head coach downplayed criticism suggesting the team looked unprepared following a 30-13 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 14.

"Well, we didn't spend all week last week playing checkers," Gruden told reporters. "I mean, we have a lot of meeting time, a lot of practice time, a lot of walk-throughs. They have iPads. … They have a weight room in here, plenty of water to drink. We just didn't go out there and perform in a way we would like to have. … But as far as being prepared, I don't really buy into all that."

Ultimately, it wouldn't have been a surprise to see Washington move in a new direction given the team's drop off in play and the fact it hasn't won a playoff game since the 2005 campaign. But the front office opted to give Gruden, who's under contract through 2020, another chance next season.

Now the biggest question heading into the offseason is the future of the quarterback position after Kirk Cousins played 2017 under the franchise tag for a second straight year. If the Redskins allow him to enter free agency, they'll have a massive void to fill under center before next fall.

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