Washington Redskins Coach Jay Gruden has been fired, according to a person with knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Gruden was summoned to the team's facility in Ashburn at 5 a.m. Monday morning by owner Daniel Snyder and team president Bruce Allen, who informed him of the decision.
He had been the longest-tenured Redskins head coach in the two decades that Snyder has owned the franchise, but his 35-49-1 record in a little more than five seasons and the team's inability to make the playoffs more than one time ultimately cost him his job.
His fate was sealed by an 0-5 start to this season, with Sunday's 33-7 loss to the New England Patriots being the final blow.
Though Snyder had been more appreciative of Gruden than many of his other head coaches, the team's owner has been described as increasingly frustrated over Gruden's inability to get back to the playoffs after winning the NFC East in 2015. Snyder decided to keep Gruden in January after the team finished 7-9 for a second straight season, but told associates he would make a change if Washington lost four games early in the season.
"Dan's just fed up," a person familiar with Snyder's thinking said this summer.
Gruden, who had been an offensive assistant for his brother Jon with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and later the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals, was seen as one of the league's brightest offensive minds when Snyder hired him in 2014. Early on, his offenses did well, especially late in the 2015 season when quarterback Kirk Cousins led a late-season run to the division title and in 2016 when Washington had the third-most yards in the NFL.
But his teams often had defensive breakdowns. He had three defensive coordinators in less than six years and while the defense was supposed to be the strength of the team the last two seasons, Washington struggled to make key stops late in games.
Mostly, though, his teams were damaged by critical injuries, none more devastating than quarterback Alex Smith's likely career-ending broken leg in November 2018. At the time the Redskins were 6-3 and seemed headed to the playoffs. But then Houston's J.J. Watt landed on Smith, causing the quarterback's leg to snap - an injury that ultimately required several surgeries to remove infections.
Two games after Smith went down, backup quarterback Colt McCoy broke his leg as well, and Gruden had to finish the season with two quarterbacks who had been out of football. Washington finished the season 1-6 and is 1-10 after Smith's injury.
But there were other injuries as well, often depriving Gruden of key players. His best playmaker on offense, tight end Jordan Reed, has missed large parts of several seasons with a variety of injuries including seven concussions, the last of which kept him out all of this year. Running back Derrius Guice, drafted in 2017 to be a key piece of the Redskins offense, tore his ACL in his first preseason game a year ago and injured his meniscus in this year's season opener. Linebacker Reuben Foster, expected to be a key part of this year's defense, was injured on the first play of offseason practices and was lost for the year.
The Redskins finished the last two seasons with 23 players on injured reserve and already have 10 on this year's list.
Two disputes between team executives and top players likely hurt the Redskins' performance during Gruden's tenure. Washington used the franchise tag on quarterback Kirk Cousins for two straight years, angering Cousins, who eventually left in free agency after the 2017 season to join the Minnesota Vikings. Seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams has held out all of this year, so far refusing to play for the team, because of frustration with its medical staff.
Gruden has generally shrugged at the things that have gone wrong, and many around the team say his even-tempered personality kept the team from collapsing. Even as this season started off poorly, the players said they refused to quit.
"I mean, there's worse things to do in life than coach a football team," Gruden said recently. "I enjoy coaching, love coaching, like the players and I like the staff that we have and I hate losing. [I'm] miserable losing, because you put so much time and effort into it and players are working hard, but at the end of the day once you lose the game you got to refocus and get your mind right and get ready for the next one."
Gruden is Snyder's eighth coach in 20 seasons and the seventh to be fired. In addition to being Snyder's longest-tenured coach, he is also the only one to get a contract extension, having two years added to his five-year, $20 million deal in 2017 - two years before his original contract expired. He was only four games into that extension when he was fired.