Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, muted behind a podium in the bowels of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, called Washington's performance Monday "a total team debauchery "and said he was the one responsible for the 43-19 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
That's nothing new for Washington, which for four years has been capable of whipping the Green Bay Packers one week and then after 15 days off laying an egg on national television against a likely playoff team like the Saints.
Take away Gruden's ugly first season, a 4-12 debacle, and the Redskins are 26-25-1 over their past 52 games. It is the definition of mediocrity. They have one NFC East title and playoff berth to show for Gruden's tenure. They show no ability to beat legitimate Super Bowl contenders and are often blown out by them.
And yet - all three of Washington's NFC East rivals lost Sunday and at 2-2 it is somehow alone in first place in the division. Maybe the Philadelphia Eagles, defending Super Bowl champs, will get themselves together soon. But for now the Redskins are in control when they play the Carolina Panthers Sunday at FedExField. That did little to take the sting out of the New Orleans loss, where dumb penalties, a lethargic offense and a poor performance by the secondary led to an embarrassment.
"Our whole team played poorly. That a reflection of myself," Gruden said. "Everybody in that locker room, hopefully, will say that they have to play better. I absolutely understand that the coaches on this staff have to coach better. That is one way we can look at it. Looking forward, we have Carolina coming in. We are 2-2. There is a bright outlook. We are still right there and will continue to be."
But he knows it won't last if another performance or two like that one occurs. Washington hosts the Panthers and then the Dallas Cowboys, its first division game, at home. There are no more chances to rest. The bye week came in Week 4. That leaves 12 more games to go.
Gruden has to get his team in a far better frame of mind, however. Cornerback Josh Norman had to be benched to start the second half. That's how upset he was at a blown assignment that led to a Drew Brees 64-yard touchdown pass. Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas trolled the Redskins on social media afterward. Other defensive players were left frustrated, too.
"It's football. I don't give a damn when we play," defensive end Jonathan Allen said. "I'm gonna still be the same as I am today ... It's football. National stage? It's always a national stage."
SERIES HISTORY: 14th regular-season meeting. Redskins lead series, 7-6, but Carolina has won the past five meetings, including two at FedExField and three of those wins have come by double digits. The last game was Dec. 19, 2016 at Washington, a 26-15 Panthers' win.