- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins' players know it must be done after a season like the one they just had. Which is why some players predicted a gutting of the roster similar to the one Mike Shanahan made after his first season in Washington.
Just as in Shanahan's first season, there was an overrating of the roster by many in the organization. Just like in that first season, there was a reality that hit them hard. So Shanahan turned over the roster, opening Week 1 of 2011 with nine new starters from the end of 2010. He also either cut or traded veterans such as Casey Rabach, Phil Daniels, Antwaan Randle El, Donovan McNabb, Albert Haynesworth and Malcolm Kelly. Clinton Portis retired.
Last season, the Redskins added only one new starter. This year? There needs to be a lot more.
That's why, when asked Monday if he had to do some housecleaning inside the organization, Redskins coach Jay Gruden said, "No question."
When you finish 4-12, there's a lot of work that must be done. It's uncertain what he'll do with his coaching staff -- that won't be decided until after meeting with general manager Bruce Allen Tuesday and then again with Allen and owner Dan Snyder on Sunday.
And the coaches will start evaluating players next week.
"Sometimes the best addition to your team is subtraction," Gruden said. "That's what we've got to figure out. Being with these guys for a long time, there are things you want to address. You want to make sure you bring the right people in here. I'm not saying all 53 guys are my type of guys. There are some changes that are going to be made."
Throughout the season some players privately complained about the approach taken by other players, without directly naming them and some worried about the culture in the locker room. That's nothing new for a 4-12 team, but they were concerns nonetheless. And Gruden has long understood the need to add stronger leaders.
His last message to the team took only about five minutes as he laid out the offseason schedule, then delivered his take on what must happen. It's a message that should be heard in other corners of Redskins Park as well. After all, this was the Redskins' sixth last-place finish in seven years and fifth double-digit loss season out of the last six. Gruden has been here for only one year. For what it's worth, Gruden said increasing the role of executive A.J. Smith, the former San Diego general manager would "be a benefit." But, Monday, his message was to the players.
"Obviously we want to approach this next season differently," he said. "We want to work harder. We want to do things that you have never done before. Sometimes when you go about the same way you train, the same way you work, the same way you prepare, you're going to get the same results. We've had the same results here for too long.
"We've got to look at things differently and hopefully these guys come with a fresh mindset, come in in the best shape of their careers, best shape of their lives because we have to. We're not good enough not to come in in the best shape of our life. The core group of guys that I know are going to be here, I feel good about. Now it's a matter of surrounding them with other good people."
281dPat Yasinskas and Coley Harvey