Redskins head coach Jay Gruden on Tuesday said he hopes his players get mentally and physically rested over the Bye Week, and ready for the nine-game grind on the other side.
Coming off their most emotional victory of the season, it would've been easy for Redskins head coach Jay Gruden to cancel Tuesday morning's practice and give his players a head start on their Bye Week.
Instead, the team went through with its brisk session as scheduled Tuesday on a cool, overcast day in Loudoun County, Va.
Yes, the Bye Week is certainly a time for the Redskins to re-charge their batteries, but Gruden said it's also important to stay focused on the task at hand.
"The second half of our season, we've got nine games left," Gruden said. "It's going to be a grind. I think it's going to be important for them just to get away — four, five days and get some rest and come back fresh and ready to roll because it's going to be a tough nine-game stretch."
Waiting for the Redskins (3-4) next week will be preparations for their Nov. 8 matchup against the New England Patriots, who are off to their third 6-0 start in franchise history.
The Patriots, fresh off an emotional victory of their own on Sunday against the New York Jets, have a short turnaround this week, as they take on the surging Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football.
Gruden wants his guys tuned into that telecast – wherever they find themselves this week.
"I want them all to tune in, watch that game, get themselves mentally ready to go," the second-year head coach said.
The Bye Week couldn't have come at a better time for the Redskins. Several players have been dealing with a variety of nagging injuries – some since the beginning of the season – and the extra few days off this week could be just what they need to get back onto the field, perhaps as soon as the game against the Patriots in New England.
Gruden said he didn't want to "project and guess" which players he expects to return after the Bye Week, but one would assume guys like wide receiver DeSean Jackson (hamstring), cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall (toe) and Chris Culliver (knee), center Kory Lichtensteiger (neck), running back Chris Thompson (back) and linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (broken hand), among others, will benefit greatly from having the next few days off.
"I just want to see these guys get with the trainers and progress at their rate that they're going to progress," Gruden said. "But expectation-wise, I have high hopes for the majority of them, really, other than the ones that are on IR, so we'll just have to wait and see."
Offensively, Gruden said the No. 1 goal over the Bye Week is "trying to get the running game back on track." After leading the NFL in rushing for the first couple weeks of the season, the Redskins have been unable to get back to anything nearing that level of production in recent weeks.
Over the past three weeks, Washington has averaged just 45 rushing yards per game.
"Three weeks, it hadn't been very good," Gruden said. "We've got to get the yards per carry up, have some more confidence in it and just keep working on that."
Defensively, Gruden and his staff will work on improving their pass rush and overall tackling technique, which, he says, has been not up to their standards the past few games.
The Redskins are getting to the quarterback, Gruden said, but getting him to the ground has been a different story at times. As a team, Washington is tied for 19th in the league with 13 total sacks.
"When we get back there we've got to wrap the quarterback up," he said. "These guys are rushing hard. I think we have the people in here that can rush, we've just got to do a better job of finishing plays with a sack or the forced fumble. We're just going to keep working with them."