Here's five takeaways from Redskins head coach Jay Gruden's Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, conference call with reporters after the team's Week 12 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers:
1. The worst news about linebacker and special teams captain Adam Hayward was confirmed — he's out for the year.
Gruden said Monday that Hayward will require season-ending surgery to the tibial plateau fracture in his leg, a non-contact injury that he suffered while downing a punt in Sunday's 17-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium.
The first-year head coach also said cornerback Tracy Porter suffered an AC joint separation in his shoulder, and his recovery period "could be lengthy," too.
In other Redskins injury-related news, cornerback E.J. Biggers suffered a concussion in Sunday's game against the 49ers, and he'll have to go through and pass the league's concussion protocol before he can return. Rookie running back Silas Redd suffered a rib cutusion and sprain, but "should improve during the week," Gruden said, while safety Ryan Clark suffered a stinger and cornerback Greg Ducre had a hip contusion against the 49ers — both of which aren't expected to be serious.
As for those players who missed Sunday's game with injuries, Gruden said tight end Jordan Reed (hamstring) and defensive lineman Chris Baker (SC joint strain) will be day-to-day, while left tackle Trent Williams (sprained MCL and ankle) will "be able to practice slowly but surely."
"We'll get a good look at him Wednesday," Gruden said.
2. As of Monday, Robert Griffin III will start Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.
Gruden said the coaching staff was going to take Monday and Tuesday to take a look at the film from the last two games — contests in which the Redskins scored a combined 20 points — and try to figure out what exactly has gone wrong.
Gruden said it's not fair to attribute all the problems to Griffin III, but the staff will be evaluating all players' performance to determine who should be in starting roles moving forward.
"We got back [from San Francisco] at like 4 a.m., we're still in the process of evaluating this tape, like I said, in the last couple of games," Gruden said Monday afternoon. "We're evaluating all of our guys right now, and our starting lineup is not etched in stone right now for Sunday's game at Indianapolis.
"It's Monday afternoon at 3 o'clock, and right now, we have every intent for Robert [to be the starter], but we'll look at the tape and make our evaluations here shortly."
3.Alfred Morris is running with confidence — and those in front of him are sealing off great blocks, as well.
The third-year running back from Florida Atlantic turned in his best performance of the season against the 49ers, carrying the ball 21 times for 125 yards and a touchdown.
Morris crossed the 100-yard plateau for the first time this season, and for the 11th time in the 2013 Pro Bowler's career. He's also getting better as the season winds down. Since registering just 29 rushing yards Week 5 against the Seattle Seahawks, Morris has, in order, produced games of 41, 54, 73, 92, 96 and 125 rushing yards.
"I don't know what he did, whatever clicked on in his mind, I think something did," Gruden said. "I don't know if it's the confidence of really pressing the hole, pressing the line of scrimmage and being decisive with his reads and his cuts. You can see that he's really doing a good job of pressing it and then when he makes a decision to cut it or to bounce it, he is very confident with it and he runs through tackles, which is the Alfred that we really need and love."
Gruden also gave credit to those opening up the holes for Morris, including fullback Darrel Young, the team's tight ends and, of course, the offensive linemen.
"We are excited about the running game, obviously" Gruden said.
4.The offense needs to do a better job distributing the ball around.
When an offense isn't clicking like it wants to, there's always plenty of problems a coach can point to that he'd like to solve.
One of the current problems for the Redskins' offense, Gruden said Monday, is that they are struggling to consistently get the ball in the hands of their plethora of playmakers, primarily at the wide receiver position.
Against the 49ers, DeSean Jackson had two receptions, Pierre Garçon had three and Andre Roberts had one.
"You get paid to catch balls and they're not catching the balls they're accustomed to catching," Gruden said. "We've just got to find out ways to get them the ball."
Gruden said that's easier said than done, however. The team needs to make sure they are feeding their running backs — Morris and Roy Helu Jr. — as well as involving their tight ends in the passing game.
"You only have one ball," Gruden said.
The former quarterback credited San Francisco for their solid gameplan defensively, but said he likes the determination by his receivers moving forward.
"I think their spirits, they're not down and out," he said. "They're a little frustrated, but they are coming to work every day and they're going to push the envelope and try to get us better."
5. Gruden and the Redskins won their first challenge of the season against the 49ers.
After going 0-fer on their first six replay challenges through the first 12-plus weeks of the season, Gruden and his staff finally won one last Sunday against the 49ers.
In the fourth quarter, the officials gave a generous first-down spot to San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis. Gruden threw his red flag.
You could cut the tension with a knife as the officials reviewed the play. Ultimately, they determined Davis was short of the first-down marker, setting up a 4th-and-1 scenario that the 49ers would convert.
Gruden on Monday laughed when asked about winning his first replay challenge of his NFL head coaching career.
"Yeah, that's very exciting, we won a challenge. Good things are happening, man. We're close, we're getting closer," he said. "We just have got to keep grinding, but, shoot, it was good to win my first challenge."
Gruden said he joked with the officials before the game about his not-so-successful challenge record.
"I said, 'Have mercy, man, I'm 0-for-8 [0-for-6] or whatever the heck I am, so I think they might have cut me some slack," he said.