Here's five takeaways from Redskins head coach Jay Gruden's Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, postgame press conference at FedExField in Landover, Md.:
1. The defense's play, especially against Dez Bryant early in the game, isn't something Gruden wanted to see, but he did like their effort in the second half.
Unlike the first Redskins-Cowboys matchup of the year in Week 8, when Washington's defense set the tone with multiple sacks and turnovers to start the game, Dallas scored 17 points on their first three possessions Sunday.
After holding the Cowboys to a 36-yard Dan Bailey field goal on their first drive, quarterback Tony Romo found wide receiver Dez Bryant on back-to-back touchdowns on the next two drives.
The first touchdown, which went for 65 yards, was the result of bad tackling, according to Gruden.
"[It] was a Cover Zero play and David [Amerson] was right there, he just missed the tackle," he said. "It was a great run by Dez and we've just got to try to slow him up and wait for the cavalry to get there and get the pursuit there, but unfortunately it was a missed tackle by David and David is really a good tackler, usually."
On Bryant's second touchdown, which was caught in the corner of the end zone, Amerson "was in great position to make a play," the throw was just placed in a perfect spot.
"[It] was an unbelievable throw away from the corner and Dez made a great adjustment on it," he said.
Adjusting to the Cowboys' gameplan, the Redskins would improve their play in the second half, as they held Dallas' offense to just seven second half points.
"The second half I was pleased with the way they competed," he said. "I think both sides of the ball competed their butts off. It's just we didn't make enough plays in crucial situations to win that game."
2. With the Redskins' season ending at 4-12, Gruden saw some positives at times, but knows there's more to be done to get Washington back on top.
While the Redskins at times performed on all cylinders, the reality is they simply didn't put all three phases together for complete performances very often throughout the season.
Whether it was the offense struggling and the defense holding strong, the offense clicking and the defense failing to hold opponents or special teams having some lapses, Gruden said that the evaluation process has already started in seeing who might be back next season.
"We have a lot of time now, which is good and bad," Gruden said to begin his press conference. "Bad that we're not playing anymore, but good in the fact that we can evaluate a lot of players and we went through a lot of players this season [on] both sides of the ball."
Gruden said the process will take some time to ensure they're getting in proper evaluations, so that moving forward, they can rebound quickly.
"We plan on taking this very seriously and taking a long time to do it," he said. "Everybody, top to bottom, in this organization is going to get evaluated and it's going to be a thorough evaluation.
"Moving forward, hopefully we make good, sound choices on the team we're going to bring back next year and the players, coaches, everything."
3. There's the possibility of having several new faces on the roster next season, depending, of course, on how internal evaluations go first.
The Redskins do have pieces on both sides of the ball that they can build around, but with just seven wins over the last two seasons, they understand that some changes will need to be made.
While they'll look to strike in free agency once again, they benefit from not only have a first-round pick for the first time in three years, but a high one at that.
"We have some picks in the draft this year that are pretty high and it starts there [with] free agency and evaluating our talent," he said. "Figuring out who we want to move forward with next year and that starts very soon."
Gruden also said that it's not necessarily one player's problem, but rather a "matter of a whole team rebuild."
"The big thing is to try and get some healthy people around here and move forward and figure out who is going to be here and who's not," he said.
4. Changes for next season may go beyond the roster, as Gruden said they'll possibly look into tinkering some of their routines as well.
Taking command of an NFL team as head coach for the first time in January, Gruden brought a much different atmosphere which permeated throughout the team.
This was evident from the first offseason lifting session all the way to the last practice of the season. And while there are some components of the daily, weekly and month schedules he liked, Gruden also knows that they'll need to mix it up as well.
"We need to change a lot," he admitted. "I honestly think if you don't change something, you're probably going to get the same results, so there's going to be some change going on and it's something we have to look at.
"We've got a lot to do and a lot has to change and it starts in the weight room – how we train – and it goes all the way up to how we practice – practice habits."
Gruden also said they need to analysis different methods that may be also to push the players to be the best they can be.
"We've really go to take a long look at what we're doing and make sure we change just enough to challenge these guys and motivate these guys to get more out of them," he said.
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5. His overall evaluation directly correlates to wins and losses.
Reiterating a point he's made over the last few weeks, Gruden said that he's not really into giving out letter grades or anything like that to judge the season.
At the end of the day, whether it was a nail-biter that was won or a tough loss, the final record really tells where the team is.
"Well, you're judged on wins and losses," Gruden said when asked about evaluation. "We've said that all along, every coach is and when you're 4-12, obviously, it's a poor grade.
"So… [we're] not getting the most out of our players, we're not getting enough victories and that's the bottom line."
Regardless of the changes they make or what they choose to keep intact from this season, Gruden said the Redskins as a whole must find a way to be better next season.
"It's our job here as coaches and my job as head football coach to do a better job of motivating not just players, but the staff – everybody -- to get the most of players and figure out ways to win games," he said.