- The Washington Times
Friday, December 26, 2014

Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden said Friday that he would like to have defensive coordinator Jim Haslett return next season despite the team ranking 28th in the league in points allowed with one game remaining.

“I have a lot of respect for what he does as a football coach, so absolutely,” Gruden said in an interview Friday afternoon.

Gruden, in his first season, clarified that he will not be the one deciding whether Haslett returns, but that the choice will be made by owner Dan Snyder and president and general manager Bruce Allen.

“I have, obviously, input and all that stuff, but ultimately, it will come down to, hopefully, a group decision — and one that we can all live with,” Gruden said. “But it will be a Redskins decision, and we’ll move on.”

Haslett’s future with the Redskins has been the subject of frequent speculation, especially as Washington has allowed 26.3 points per game and ranks 14th in yards allowed, including 22nd against the pass. The Redskins snapped a six-game losing streak with a victory over Philadelphia last week, but are 4-11 heading into the season finale Sunday against Dallas.

The unit has struggled to stay healthy, with cornerback DeAngelo Hall and outside linebacker Brian Orakpo sustaining season-ending injuries in the first seven weeks. Nose tackle Barry Cofield, strong safety Brandon Meriweather, defensive end Jason Hatcher and inside linebacker Keenan Robinson, all starters, also have missed significant stretches of the season.

Haslett, in his fifth season with the Redskins, was among a select number of coaches retained by Allen when coach Mike Shanahan was fired at the end of the 2013 season.

Gruden and Haslett previously coached together in the minor-league United Football League, where Haslett was the coach and Gruden was the offensive coordinator of the Florida Tuskers, who lost in the league’s championship game in 2009.

Haslett’s contract situation is unclear. Gruden said shortly after being hired in January that the defensive coordinator had one more season remaining on his contract with the Redskins, but that the team would look into the possibility of extending it.

When asked Tuesday about how he would summarize this season, Haslett declined to do so.

“I don’t do that right now,” he said. “We’ll do that later. I don’t sit there and analyze that right now. It’s not the time.”

Gruden has also frequently avoided directly answering such questions, insisting that players need to execute their assignments better while the coaches need to put them in situations where they have a better chance of succeeding.

But his public support of Haslett has increased in recent weeks. After being asked about Haslett’s status on Dec. 1, a day after the Redskins lost at Indianapolis, Gruden sighed heavily and said that evaluations will commence when the season ends. As recently as Monday, Gruden said Haslett “has done an excellent job,” and on Tuesday, he said Haslett and the defensive coaches have “done a good job of working with what they have.”

Several defensive players have repeatedly voiced their support for Haslett. Earlier this week, free safety Ryan Clark said he has “no problem” with the defensive coordinator and that he likes him and his methods of coaching.

“To kill a coach because players aren’t executing on the field, it’s not right,” said Clark, in his 13th season. “It’s just not right.”

Allen has constantly turned down interview requests, insisting he’ll take questions from reporters after the season. Snyder, through a team spokesman, has also turned down multiple interview requests this season.

Gruden, who signed a five-year contract in January, said he has stayed away from conversations involving larger organizational matters with Snyder and Allen during the season. He reiterated Friday that he’s certain he has “let them down a little bit being 4-11” entering Sunday’s final game, but that he’ll review those matters at some point next week.

“We’ll go through everything and see where they stand,” Gruden said. “They’ll go over my performance, and I think we’ll start from there, and then we’ll go on down the list. We’ll make the necessary adjustments or changes that we need to, but I think overall, our coaches have done the best job that they could.”

• Zac Boyer can be reached at zboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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