Press Conference: Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden

jay grudenWashington Redskins coach Jay Gruden talks with reporters on Tuesday. The Redskins (4-11) host the Dallas Cowboys (11-4) on Sunday.

 

On the impact of now having 12 players on the Reserve/Injured list:

“Yeah, and they are all on defense. It seems like every one of them is on defense and you know when you start losing starters, then your backups have become starters obviously, and then you’re looking to fill the backup roles and those backups who become starters were key special team guys and then you have to fill special teams – you know, it’s a domino effect. It’s a tough thing to go through, especially when it all hit on the same side of the ball. So I think Coach [Jim] Haslett and the defensive coaches have done a good job of working with what they have and the players have done a good job of trying to come in here and learn as fast as they can and be ready when their number is called but it does have some effect.”

 

On quarterback Robert Griffin III wearing a wristband with play calls last week:

“We just wanted to experiment a little bit. We have some calls that are a little bit wordy and just put about five or six runs on there and a couple play-action plays and a couple dropbacks just to maybe speed up the process maybe for third down, where you can say ‘Hey, No. 5.’ He can look at that and read it instead of me saying it and then Sean [McVay] saying it. So it worked out pretty good. I think we can add to the list a little bit, but I think towards the middle of the game we ended up just calling them anyway. It was kind of hard to find the numbers and all that, but there is some merit to it, no question.”

 

On if he has any idea about tackle Trent Williams’ status for Sunday:

“No idea. It’s early and he’s just got to get his necessary treatment. I imagine it will come down to the last minute like it did last week.”

 

On if it is hard to change the habits of successful players like Griffin III:

“Well, it’s hard for everybody coming out of college. You know, there are different fundamentals and techniques that you have to learn and work through for whatever position you are playing, quarterback especially. When you’re coming from the spread offense like he had at Baylor, some of the drops and some of the fundamentals things that you ask a quarterback to do in the NFL are a little bit different, things that he’s never really done. But that comes with repetition, that comes with being more comfortable and understanding the route concepts have to be matched up with your footwork and fundamentals and the more he hears them and the more he practices them, the better he will get at them. You can see he is progressing already.”

 

On how much work he has to do on the defense moving forward:

“Yeah, I mean, yes, we tried like I said in the offseason. We thought we did a pretty good job of addressing some of the depth concerns that we had going into the season but then those guys got hurt. A lot of those guys got hurt – the [Darryl] Sharptons, the Akeem Jordans and of course Adam Hayward got hurt there later on in the year, and then [Brian] Orakpo goes down, D-Hall [DeAngelo Hall] goes down, Tracy Porter never really was able to go full go and Keenan [Robinson] has been up and down. A lot of those guys like I said before, just continuity is a big thing on defense, you know, and repetition and repetition so when you have a new guy at Mike linebacker every other day or a new guy at left corner every day and you move a guy from safety to other safety and a guy from nickel to corner or corner to nickel, it takes its toll. And it sounds easy but it’s not. For these guys to come in here, ‘Now I’ve got the vertical hook, now I’ve got this, how do I play this in fire zone?’ There’s a lot of fundamentals, a lot of teaching that goes on and Raheem [Morris] and Coach [Jim] Haslett and the rest of the coaches have done a good job as far as getting these guys ready to go but it has affected us and it does… Moving forward next year, the good thing is that we got a lot of young guys some reps so we also got a look at some key young players moving forward too, so there has been some good to come out of it.”

 

On the feeling after winning last week:

“Yeah, I mean it’s good to get a win, man. We needed it greatly. I think the whole team needed it, the quarterback obviously needed it, I think everybody needed it. To go through the week, prepare and compete against a team that really had a lot to play for was a very impressive evening by a lot of guys. On defense we gave up a lot of yards but we made some key situational stands when it really counted. I think the first drive of the third quarter where we fumbled the opening kickoff was huge. There was a third and goal that we got a stop on where Perry Riley broke up a pass and of course the interception by [Bashaud] Breeland and then the special teams did some great things. So it was great to get all three units step up and make big plays when they had to, to get the win.”

 

On what it would mean to sweep Dallas:

“It would be a great deal. This is a very good football team that we are playing. Obviously they played Indianapolis last week and they were almost perfect both offensively and defensively and they are playing at a very high level. So in order to come out here in our last game of the year and compete with Dallas and beat Dallas would mean a lot just to see where we are, ending the season on two huge victories against two quality opponents and two archrivals. So it’s going to be an exciting game for us. You know, I know we are 4-11, not a whole lot of excitement after this game happening, but still to beat Dallas, to play Dallas is a great opportunity for a lot of guys to get more work and go against a heck of a football team. That’s always great.”

 

On if he had to learn patience with the quarterbacks because of the changes at that position this season:

“Well, we were forced to make some changes based on injury a couple times. Obviously Robert [Griffin III] got hurt against Jacksonville, which started the whole process of changing quarterbacks and when he got hurt he opened the door for other guys to play, and when they play well, when you come back and you know you have backups that can play, you open up yourself to getting taken out if you don’t perform at the level you are expected of. So I try to be patient with quarterbacks, I try to be patient with everybody, but I also understand that the ultimate goal is to win the game and you have to play the best people at the position and those are the decisions that are the toughest for the coach to make. Who is better fit to beat Dallas this week? This week we know it’s Robert, but in the past the decisions were tough to make but we had to make them and we thought they were the best for the football team.”

 

On if linebacker Jackson Jeffcoat could play the Cowboys, for whom his father, Jim, played:

“Yeah, Jeffcoat will get to play and of course we will get Gabe Miller hopefully back this week and you know we’ve got some guys over there that are picking up the slack and taking advantage of some repetitions and some reps and it’s good to see Jeffcoat get a sack. He’s got to work on his sack dance, but it was good to see him get a sack.”

 

On defensive end Jarvis Jenkins:

“Jarvis has done fairly decent against the run, man. He is a load in there in the running game and our run defense has been pretty solid throughout the course of the season. Obviously he doesn’t have any sacks this week, so transitioning from a run defender to a pass rusher we would like to see a little bit better. But I think Jarvis has given us some pretty good minutes. He’s part of that rotation of big guys in there that really do a good job of holding up against the run and freeing up the linebackers, so he has done some good things. Obviously we would like to see a little bit more from a pass rush standpoint but overall he has had a pretty decent year.”

 

On if he can project the offseason for Griffin III:

“Well, you know we’ve got one more game left and after that game, like I said, we will go down and go through the roster and evaluate everybody, quarterbacks included. We just want to see progress, like I said, and him to come out and continue to play gain some momentum and confidence going into the offseason and then you’re right – another good, solid offseason with the same concepts, same plays, same drops and the same footwork, will do him nothing but good. So hopefully we can build off another strong performance Sunday and go into the offseason a little chippier than we would be.”

 

On his give and take with Griffin III:

“It’s a process. Since he missed so much time, we still really – to be honest with you – we’re still getting to know one another and what he is good at, what he likes, what he is comfortable with. He did a good job in training camp, he does a good job of knowing the football plays and you really don’t get a chance to see what he is really comfortable with until you call them on game day. Practice is a little bit different. But I think we are just starting to get a good feel for one another and there are certain things that he does better than others – not saying that he is poor in anything, but there are things that he needs to continue to rep and work and hopefully he will get better.”

 

On safety Phillip Thomas’ performance last week:

“He did pretty good. He did some good things. The whole defense , like I said, we gave up some yards and there were some zones that got a little bit out of whack there and they got some yardage that was kind of easy for them. We didn’t do a very good job in certain situations but overall I thought Phillip, he tackled well and did a pretty good job. I’d like to see him get his hands on some balls though but otherwise I think he filled in nicely.”

 

On if he uses more play-action for Griffin III:

“We always try to do that. If you look at us early in games, we try to utilize play-action quite a bit. Sometimes play-action goes out the window when you’re down 12, 13, 14, 20 points. And unfortunately he has been the quarterback, you know like against Tampa Bay we got down early in the third quarter, had to catch up and when you have a whole half of a football game where play-actions and the boots and all that are out because you have got to drop back and throw it all the time, it skews the numbers. No question, any quarterback, Kirk [Cousins], Colt [McCoy], all of them are much better when on first down and second down we can utilize the play-action and the boots and that’s when we are at our best. Unfortunately, like I said, when we get down or behind the in sticks – third down and 12 – that’s when all quarterbacks have trouble, not just ours. “

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