Jay Gruden reportedly has been told he will be back in Washington next season, according to NFL Network.
A season that was beset by injuries likely will be enough to save Gruden's job despite another step backward this year and a 7-8 mark heading into Sunday's finale against the New York Giants — a team that needs a new head coach.
Gruden kept the team competitive for most of the season, even if Washington's playoff hopes went downhill quickly after blowing a 15-point lead in the final minutes of regulation in an overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints.
The coaching staff had to be commended for its work — especially up until that point. The team lost a number of major contributors throughout the course of the season and at one point late in the year was unable to practice with 11-on-11 because of a severe roster shortage with all the health problems.
Washington has placed 20 players on injured reserve, including Trent Williams, first-round pick Jonathan Allen, Jordan Reed, breakout star Chris Thompson, free-agent pickup Terrelle Pryor and Week 1 starting running back Rob Kelley. The team also mustered through injuries elsewhere on the offensive line and in the secondary, including safety DeAngelo Hall and cornerback Josh Norman.
Kirk Cousins has had a mostly strong season, even with a few recent hiccups, in what could be another contract year. His future is unknown, but Washington bringing back Gruden might give the team a bit more hope that Cousins might consider signing a long-term deal to stay — if he's not given the transition or franchise tag. Cousins' career really has taken off after Gruden gave him the shot over Robert Griffin III in the first place.
Even with this vote of confidence, though, Gruden will be feeling the heat next season — with or without Cousins in tow — after missing the postseason in back-to-back seasons. His overall record also needs a bit of work at 28-34-1.
This news could affect what happens with a potential coaching search in Cincinnati where the Bengals could move on from Marvin Lewis. Gruden had been labeled as a possible successor there, having served under Lewis previously as offensive coordinator. It's also possible — although we feel fairly remote — that Washington and Cincy could have trade talks for Gruden.
Speaking of Grudens, it appears Jon might be staying at ESPN following the news that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are likely bringing back Dirk Koetter for a third season as head coach. There had been a lot of chatter of a change there, with Jon Gruden's name coming up most often lately.
It's not known if the Bucs even reached out to Jon Gruden about returning to the franchise with whom he won a Super Bowl, but he is a Tampa native and is said to have listened to other coaching offers in the past despite being one of the highest-paid media analysts in the business.
So for Jay and Jon Gruden, Friday likely means there will be a lot of the same in 2018 as there was in 2017, although things can change quickly in this business.