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Jay Gruden fires defensive coaching staff in Washington

Defensive coordinator Joe Barry is out in Washington, along with a handful of assistants.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive coordinator Joe Barry is out in Washington, along with a few of his assistants, the team announced Thursday.

Along with Barry, defensive backs coach Perry Fewell and defensive line coach Robb Akey were also fired on Thursday, as well as strength and conditioning coach Mike Clark. It’s a big upheaval for the franchise after finishing the 2016 season No. 28 in total defense.

No team allowed more first downs than Washington and it was a defensive unit that struggled against both the run and the pass — finishing in the bottom 10 in yards allowed in both categories. Still, players came to Barry’s defense at the end of the season.

"The reason he's taking heat is because the people that don't execute his play," defensive end Ricky Jean Francois told the Associated Press. "It's going to make it seem like `Well he doesn't know what he's doing, he's not adjusting, he's not doing this.' Sometimes he may not have done that, but the majority of times when he did do it, did we follow him? And when we didn't, now he's in the hot seat. Now his job is on the line. So I really don't blame it fully on him."

But Barry is out, along with Fewell, the former defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills and New York Giants. Despite acquiring cornerback Josh Norman in the offseason, the team’s secondary struggled to stop star receivers. The Washington defense drew criticism early in the season when it allowed Antonio Brown to repeatedly torch Bashaud Breeland.