Jay Gruden was fired on Monday as coach of the NFL's Washington Redskins after the team lost its first five games of the 2019 season

Washington (AFP) - Jay Gruden was fired Monday as coach of the NFL’s Washington Redskins, ending his reign early in his sixth season after an 0-5 start, the club’s worst since 2001.

The winless Redskins lost their fifth straight game, matching Cincinnati for the worst start so far this season, with a 33-7 home defeat Sunday to unbeaten New England, the reigning Super Bowl champions.

“To make a decision like this was difficult, but it was necessary,” Redskins president Bruce Allen said. “Our 0-5 start is not just disappointing. We had much different expectations for the beginning of the season.”

Gruden, 52, is the younger brother of Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden. He was dismissed in a Monday meeting with team owner Dan Snyder and president Bruce Allen.

Gruden finished with a record of 35-49 and one drawn and only one playoff appearance, a first-round loss to Green Bay in the 2015 postseason.

The Redskins, looking at a third consecutive losing season after back-to-back 7-9 campaigns, named Bill Callahan, the assistant head coach and offensive line coach as interim head coach.

Callahan has coached for more than two decades in the NFL, starting as offensive line coach for the 1995 Philadelphia Eagles. He served as an offensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders from 1998 to 2001 before taking over as head coach for two seasons when Jon Gruden left to coach Tampa Bay. Callahan was offensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys from 2012 to early 2015 until he was hired away to join Jay Gruden at the Redskins.

Callahan’s first game as interim head coach will be next Sunday at winless Miami.

Under Gruden, the Redskins, who have had only five winning seasons this millenium, crept above .500 in 2015 and 2016, when Sean McVay, now coach of the Los Angeles Rams, served as Washington’s offensive coordinator.

This season, the Redskins began with Case Keenum as starting quarterback. Rookie Dwayne Haskins has struggled in limited action, throwing three interceptions in a relief role in a fourth-game loss to the New York Giants.

On Sunday, Gruden started Colt McCoy against New England but the attack continued to sputter.

Gruden also raised questions by benching veteran running back Adrian Peterson for the season opener.

Washington’s defensive unit is without tackle Trent Williams, the NFL’s only remaining contract holdout.