Chris Thompson has seen a lot in his seven-year career and, until recently, the in-season departure of his head coach wasn’t on that list.
Less than a week removed from witnessing Jay Gruden be relieved of his duties, the Washington Redskins running back once again finds himself a part of another tumultuous period of change for the franchise.
Being on one of the NFL’s four winless teams is already a tough spot to be in but, for Thompson, losing Gruden, who had been his coach since 2014, has made that situation even more difficult to navigate.
“For me, it’s just, the whole situation is frustrating, being 0-5. I care more about the person than I do the coach,” Thompson told NBC Sports Washington’s JP Finlay on Thursday. “At the end of the day, it’s somebody losing their job, somebody that I care about, somebody that I feel helped give me a big opportunity in this league on top of the Redskins drafting me.”
Since entering the league as a fifth-round selection in 2013, the speedy, 5-foot-8 Thompson has overcome multiple injuries and a stint on the practice squad on his journey to becoming a contributor for the Redskins‘ offense.
Save for a lone year under Mike Shanahan as a rookie, Thompson spent the majority of his career learning from and bonding with Gruden. Now, Thompson will have to adjust to playing for assistant-turned-interim coach Bill Callahan, who has been with the franchise since 2015.
“I’ve never in my football career had this happen so its just a huge change,” Thompson said on adjusting to the in-season change. “It’s a big shock for everybody dealing with a new coach and coach Callahan has his ways of how he wants to run everything and it’s different. It takes guys some time to get used to that.”
So far, Thompson said the feedback he’s been gathering from teammates is that they’re “enjoying” the changes Callaham has implemented in practice ahead of playing the equally hapless Dolphins (0-4) in Week 6.
The road matchup will be Washington’s first chance to show improvement since Gruden’s firing. Thompson, who considers himself a “super competitive guy,” has a strong desire to make sure the losing ways end on Sunday.
“I refuse to be a 0-16 team. I can’t let that happen. We can’t let that happen,” he said. “I know it’s not just a one-man job but we got to focus up these last 11 games and find a way to make it happen.”