Home Press Conference: Washington coach Jay Gruden

Press Conference: Washington coach Jay Gruden


redskins_scriptrWashington coach Jay Gruden talks with reporters on Tuesday. Washington (1-4) plays at Arizona (3-1) on Sunday at 4:25 p.m. Eastern.


On if he felt good about the fight team showed after watching the tape:

“Yeah, I think there was some good effort there. I think there’s a lot of things that we need to do better on both sides of the ball and special teams, obviously. We are just not quite clicking for four quarters. There is a breakdown here and a breakdown there and against great teams those breakdowns will cost you, as they did last night. There are some things from a technical standpoint we’ve got to improve upon with some of our players and some of our positions. We thought we had them coached up but obviously we didn’t do a very good job of it, so we’ve got to do a much better job of making sure the players understand exactly the technique and the fundamentals we want to use so they can go out there and do them. The effort was there, it was just some of the fundamentally sound things weren’t there.”


On Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson’s success running the ball as the defense focused on Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch:

“Yeah, they had a couple plays where he just had some plain old naked keepers right off the backdoor and they hadn’t shown that really that much. The zone reads were really surprising to me because we have worked zone read technique before. Heck, we’ve done it in camp with Robert [Griffin III]. We’ve done it with [Eagles quarterback] Nick Foles. We have prepared for the zone read and some of those that came out scot-free were a little disappointing. Some of the naked keepers, it’s just a technique on the back side that we’ve got to do a better job of maintaining our outside leverage and making sure that the ball is handed off before we trigger on the running back. So from a technical standpoint, they did a better job of it in the second half. We addressed in at halftime and in the second half we were much, much better of not letting them get outside, but the first half we gave up way too many runs – not only in the scramble lanes but obviously the planned runs that Russell had, and that wasn’t good.”


On the injury situation, specifically with linebacker Perry Riley, Jr.:

“I think most of them are day-to-day. Perry Riley is probably the most concerning. We are going to get him checked out today. He just got treatment today. He already had treatment. But he would be the one. We will check him tomorrow. I would doubt he would go tomorrow, moving forward. But he is the one that is probably the most significant. The rest of them it will be day-to-day.”


On tackle Trent Williams playing through injury:

“Yeah, he actually came out pretty good. He was a little sore going into the game, obviously, and didn’t have as much strength as he would like to have had in that knee but he actually played OK and came out good.”


On if the locker room was more upbeat than expected after a 10-point loss:

“I don’t know what the locker room was like after the game. I have no idea. I was doing a press conference and had to do my own stuff. I know that I wasn’t upbeat and I don’t think anybody should have been upbeat after the loss. There is no reason to be upbeat when you have somebody come into your building and beat you. So that is concerning if it was. Hopefully, it was taken out of context or what-have-you. But I have no idea what it was like but if it was upbeat, it shouldn’t have been and that is disappointing if it was because they played their hearts out. They played hard, I thought. We lost the game. No reason to be upbeat, though, whatsoever. But we do have to move forward turn the page and get on to Arizona. This season is starting to shrink down on us right before our eyes and we’re at a point and time where if we don’t flip the script, we’ll be playing for nothing the rest of the season. So we got to turn this thing around and hopefully they understand that and are eager to get back to work.”


On if he has concerns about the mindset of his players:

“Well, if they are happy after a game, I do. I don’t know if they were or not. I will have to address it. I know that when I talked to them, everyone was pretty down in the tank. I don’t know how long after the game we are talking but I know right after the game, they were exhausted and they were all dejected. Then I tried to bring them up a little bit because I thought for the most part they played hard with the exception of some technical errors that we’ve got to get fixed. We just couldn’t make enough plays to get the job done and Seattle did. But from a standpoint of bouncing back from the effort and performance on Thursday night against the Giants, coming out and playing fairly hard I thought was a better effort and something to build upon. Obviously, losing is not something to build upon, but the effort was. Moving forward we have to maintain that type of effort and play a lot better, obviously, and make some damn plays for us to get this thing turned around. But I am hoping that nobody was jovial after a loss. for sure. I don’t know if that was the case or not. Like I said, I wasn’t down there.”


On if figuring out how much to run the ball while handling both play calling and head coaching is part of his learning process:

“Yeah, I think it is. You know, there’s not so much to my learning process, it’s just a feel for the game and who you’re playing. Some teams you have better opportunities to run the ball than other teams – and personnel groupings and all that stuff. And last night, obviously Seattle was very, very good against the run. Their base package, they can start two tight ends and I can start one tight end and one fullback. They did a very nice job of loading the box. We thought we could still knife in there a couple runs, but the problem is if one guy loses on a block – just one – it’s a negative play of one or two yards, and we’re stuck with second-and-eight, second-and-nine. And that’s what happened. We just missed a backside cutoff block. Maybe at the point of attack our tight ends didn’t do a good enough job, maybe the fullback lost on his first force block or what have you. It wasn’t everybody who was failing. It was maybe just one guy, and that’s the difficulty running the football against these teams with very good defenses. That’s just something that has to be a feel, but the big thing is we don’t want to go out there and ask Kirk to throw the ball 45 or 50 times a game either against that pass rush. So, t was important for us to find some kind of mix , like some kind of balance but unfortunately we couldn’t do it with the running game. Maybe we should have done more screens, more quick passing game, but they were crawling up on our receivers too doing a good job in that. So the best way to attack them was probably throwing the ball down the field and we had a couple shots which got our drives going, but they did a nice job of containing our running game and stopping the quick game, which in turn made the quarterback hold it. That’s a tough day. And they’ve given a lot of people tough days. They gave Aaron Rodgers a tough day, they gave Peyton Manning a tough day and obviously they gave us one too.”


On converting on third downs:

“All the third downs, all the third-and-long ones are very difficult, obviously. The third-and-mediums, we have to do a better job converting them. If you want to run the ball and stick with the run, fine, but you have got to anticipate sometimes being in third-and-six, third-and-five, third-and- four. Those are the ones you have to convert, and we did not convert some of those that we should have converted in my mind. We missed a couple throws. I think Kirk missed a couple shallow crosses there that he could have hit. Maybe we got a little pressure or what have you, but those are the ones we have got to really focus in on as a football team moving forward are the third-and-mediums. Twenty-five percent last night, I think we were dismal on Thursday night against the [New York] Giants. We’ve had a couple good outings but it’s definitely going to a focal point this week and moving forward we are going to have more third-down periods and making sure we’re all on the same page. The big thing is running precise routes and then the quarterback just has got to get a feel for the coverages – when to step up and he might have to wait an extra count or two, step up in the pocket and let plays develop as opposed to, ‘Oh, I feel a little bit of pressure, I’ve got to check it down.’  Those are tough downs for a quarterback to get a feel for the game and what we need for the down and distance. Hopefully our guys understand that a little bit, and we’ll do a better job as coaches to get these guys ready moving forward against the Cardinals.”


On issues with quarterback Kirk Cousins’ headset during part of the second half:

“Yeah, that was probably the worst time we could have difficulty with the headset. It went out there on a third-down-and-one and a fourth-and-one call and we rushed the field goal unit late on there to kick the field goal. I wanted to make sure we got points on that possession. We were down 17-7, I think it was, and we had a nice drive to get down there and we had third down and one, the headset went out and we called a play in there late – the quarterback sneak, just inches short. We had fourth-down-and-one, the headset was out, so we sent the field goal team out there. I could’ve probably called timeout if I wanted to go for it, but I really wanted to make sure I got a positive feeling out of that drive and get three points and make sure we cut that [lead] down to one possession. And then it went out again on the other third-down-and-one later on, which we got stopped on. Two very unfortunate times it went out, but it’s something that we’ve got to deal with. We’ve got to work with our hand signals and communication.”


On if he would have had a different thought process had the headset been working on fourth down:

“It might have been. I had a play ready to call for fourth-down-and-one, but since the headset went out and we were a little bit behind on the clock, I thought about it for five or six seconds and I said, ‘Shoot. If we don’t get this, it’ll be a wasted trip.’ I made a big, big deal at halftime making sure we get positive – making sure we get points on our opening drive coming out and I wanted to make sure we got at least three. I thought three was more important. The headset had a little bit to do with it, but not totally. I was probably going to end up kicking it anyway. I like to go for it on fourth down quite a bit but I thought that was a time to get something positive going.”


On Seattle’s speed:

“That’s the one thing you can’t gauge in practice – how fast the opposing team is. They’re definitely a fast team, especially on defense. Their linebackers can run, obviously [safety] Earl Thomas can fly and obviously their corners are very big and physical and their defensive line with [Michael] Bennett and those guys. And [defensive end] Cliff Avril can rush and they’re fast, so it’s hard to simulate that. It takes a little bit – a period of time get used to how fast they really are. You watch them on tape but that doesn’t do them justice until you see them live. And then offensively, the same thing with [wide receiver] Percy Harvin, obviously Russell Wilson’s escape ability. We had Colt McCoy trying to simulate him and scramble around in practice and do all those things, but it’s just not quite the same as it is in a game-type situation with the zone reads and all that good stuff. I think it does take time getting used to and it’s very, very difficult to simulate that on game day – somebody else’s speed – if you don’t have that on your team to really simulate it in practice. We couldn’t put [wide receiver] DeSean back there and our starters back there to simulate their offense. They’ve got to get their rest so they can do our practice. It’s a tough deal and it took some getting used to it and I think we adjusted fairly well in the second half. We got a bunch of three and outs and kept the game close, gave our offense a chance, we just couldn’t take advantage of it.”


On watching the tape of the challenged play:

“You know what? The tape view, it wasn’t very good. I tried to freeze it when he was over the line and he was clearly over the line. His body was fully over the line but you couldn’t tell on our tape video copy where the ball was. It looked like it was on his left hip, but his whole body was over the line. I don’t know what view they had on television but they said the ball wasn’t over the line and that was the rule they gave us. Obviously, it’s the call. You know, it’s probably because I challenged it and now I’m 0-for-11 now. I think I am, and I thought it was a good challenge for this type of situation it was, seeing his body across the line and it was big play. It could have really backed them up in a third down and long. Instead, they had third and one, which they converted. It was a big play in a close football game, that’s for sure. Had it gone our way, I think things might have been different. The referees saw it a different way and we had to live with it and adjust and overcome and we didn’t.”


On what most concerns him about special teams:

“I think my biggest concern is the lack of just overall splash plays – momentum changing plays – and that was my biggest focal point going into the season. We’re going to cover kicks, we’re going to protect our punter, we’re going to run down, but we haven’t made any splash plays. The splash plays have gone against us. We’ve given up a kick return for a touchdown, a blocked punt for a touchdown, now a faked field goal for a huge first down. We haven’t really flopped field position with our special teams and we haven’t made a game-changing play: a turnover, a blocked kick, a return. We had a good return against Jacksonville, but overall I’m looking for momentum changing plays and until we start to get some of those, it’s difficult to drive the ball 90 yards every time against a defense like Seattle. We have to figure out ways to flop field position and special teams is a big part of that and defense obviously is, too. We’re not getting enough turnovers on defense. If you don’t get any turnovers on defense, if you don’t change field position on special teams, you’re going to ask your offense to 85 yards and 80 yards every drive. With a young quarterback and some of the things we’re asking him to do, it’s very difficult. We’ve got find ways to make those plays on special teams and on defense. That’s my biggest concern.”


On how he addresses the general lack of forced turnovers:

“They are random by nature, but teams do force them. And that’s flying to the football, getting more than one or two hats on the football and stripping the ball when they’re running the ball, and if they’re throwing the ball, we’ve got to get in passing lanes, we’ve got to get more eyes on the quarterback and we’ve got to break on the football. Other teams are getting them [turnovers], and it’s usually the teams that are winning a lot of games are getting them. And the teams that are 1-4 aren’t getting them – they’re giving them away. Luckily, we didn’t give any away yesterday, but we’re not getting any, and that’s part of it – the reason why we’re struggling, in my opinion. We’ve just got to figure out a way to do it. We’ve got to coach better, we’ve got to get our guys in better positions to play, but ultimately, I’d like somebody to step up and break on a pass or step up and force a fumble, knock the ball loose from the quarterback. We had a couple good opportunities last night to get a couple turnovers, and we just didn’t make any plays. But, eventually they’re going to come. We’ve just got to keep preaching that at them and keep playing hard, keep pursuing to the football, and all eyes on the quarterback as he drops back to pass and do the best job we can. Ultimately, for us to turn this thing around, we’re going to need some help with the turnovers from special teams or defense.”


On Riley, Jr. and safety Brandon Meriweather in coverage:

“You know, Perry’s got beat by a couple tight ends throughout the year, and he had a holding call last night – I think it was Perry, I’m not sure – but he has been beat a few times, and sometimes when you play some man-to-man they’re going to be put in situations where they’ve got to cover good backs or good tight ends, and it’s not always easy for those guys to do that when you’re covering Darren Sproles out of the backfield or you’re covering a big tight end. They’ve just got to do a better job with their position and their technique and believing in what they’re doing. And same with Meriweather. It’s not just those two guys. There’s been a combination – sometimes it’s the corners, sometimes it’s the safeties, sometimes it’s the other linebackers. So when we play man-to-man, we want to rush five to get pressure on the quarterback, then we better get pressure on the quarterback and not ask our guys to cover all day. Perry got beat on a deep corner route last night, but the quarterback scrambled around for 11 seconds and the guy ran a crossing route, then he converted to a corner route. He was all over the field, and that was a tough down. So we’ve got to do a better job of corralling the quarterback down if we’re going to rush five and try to get pressure. We’ve got to get pressure, and we’ve got to get the quarterback down and not allow him to scramble around and find his tight ends 15 yards, 30 yards, 40 yards down the field against a linebacker. That’s a mismatch.”


On wide receiver Pierre Garçon’s role in the game plan:

“He was a big part of it. Anytime we go back to pass, any of our eligible receivers are a big part of our game plan. We don’t ever go back to pass and say, ‘Hey, disregard him and throw it to him.’ We let the coverage dictate where we’re going. And if it’s man-to-man and we like the matchup, we’ll work Pierre, or we’ll work DeSean [Jackson] or our tight end, our halfback, depending on what the play is. Zone coverages, sometimes the way they play their zone coverages, it’s hard to get it to your outside receivers because they have somebody buzzing underneath them, and they have the corners staying on top of them, so you have to work your inside, check down sometimes on your tight ends. So coverage will dictate where the ball goes. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the ball to Pierre enough, and that will be a focal point moving forward. We’ve got to get him more touches, because he’s dynamic after the catch, and we’ve got to do a better job of that. That’s nothing to do with Pierre; it’s everything to do with just the coverage that they were playing and the decision that the quarterback had and where he wanted to go with the ball.”


On injured quarterback Robert Griffin III’s role during the week and during games and if Griffin III is able to get mental reps during that time:

“That’s all he can do – he can just come in here and go to meetings. You know, he’ll watch practice and go to meetings – sit in on meetings – and make sure he’s up to date with anything new we’re putting in, and continue to watch the film like he’s playing. That’s the same role that Kirk had when he was the backup. Quarterbacks, when they’re not playing by injury or if they’re the backup, they’re not getting reps. They have to watch the film, take their notes and envision themselves in the same situation and what they would do. And as we coach them, they’re listening and preparing. That’s the only thing they can do.”


On if they need Griffin III to help during games:

“No, we don’t need him to help. You know, he’s just trying to offer support, really, should be the only thing he should be doing, and if he sees something, he can recommend something. But for the most part, between myself and [offensive coordinator] Sean [McVay] talking to Kirk [Cousins], I think it’s more [Griffin III’s] there to pat him on the head and tell him, ‘Good job,’ or, ‘Hang in there,’ or what have you.”


On changing the team’s culture as a first-year head coach:

“First of all, you have to make sure you do the best job you can of getting them prepared during the week so they can go out and play fast and play the right way – fundamentally sound and fast and physical football. And, sometimes, in pro football, you’re not going to play your best or the other team’s going to beat you. I mean, there’s a winner and a loser every week, and when you do lose, you want people to be sick about it, and you want people to try to bounce back from it and move on to the next week and learn from their mistakes and make sure it doesn’t happen again, and not ever – ever – be satisfied with a loss. Last night was a little different because we played so poor against the New York Giants, and I thought, at least from an intensity standpoint, we played a little bit better. There’s still a lot of things we can do to improve on. But for no reason, no way shape or form should anybody have been satisfied or accepted that game against Seattle. We had every intention of playing Seattle at home and winning that football game, and that was our goal and our intent, and for anybody to be satisfied with that is absolutely wrong, and I need to find out who they are so we make sure we address it or get them down the road, because we can’t have it. We’ve got to turn this thing around. Our sense of urgency has to be code one right now. We’re 1-4, and we don’t have a lot of margin for error anymore, so we have to get this thing turned around, and it starts on the road against Arizona. But I think the type of guys that we have, I don’t think any of them are really satisfied with losing or accept losing. Hopefully I’m not wrong on that. Hopefully they all want to win and they all want to prepare to win and they all are trying their best and their darndest to get this thing turned around. They seem like they’re competing their butt off, which is the most important thing. After the game, if they’ve had a couple of hours after the shower and they got their treatment and all that stuff, if maybe they’re not as dejected as they should be, then maybe that’s the issue, but for the most part, I think they all gave it pretty much their all and played hard and they all understand what’s at stake now moving forward as far as how fast we need to turn this thing around.”


On if players and coaches have to hate losing in order to win:

“Unfortunately, I think that comes with the person. I know me – I can’t stand to lose. I think a lot of that is in the DNA. A lot of the great ones hate to lose. I hate to lose – not to say I’m great, but hopefully everybody has that in their DNA. Anytime you have a player that’s accepting losing, then he’s probably not going to be a very good player, a very good teammate. So we’ve got to make sure that we find the right guys in here to want to make sure that losing is not part of their vocabulary. I think, for the most part, these guys all want to win, they’re all preparing to win, they’re all practicing hard, they’re playing hard, and hopefully that’s really the type of guys that we have on this team. And if we don’t have those guys, then hopefully we find out who they are and we can find some replacements, or, get them coached up and teach them how to win and how to hate to lose.”


On if Jordan Reed’s has been doing everything he can to get back on the field: 

“I believe so. Like I said, these hamstrings are very, very delicate so to speak. You can only push a guy so far on a hamstring if he feels it’s tight or sore. They [the athletic trainers] don’t want to push it much more, but the necessary thing for him to do is just get enough treatment as he can. He’s done a good job of that and we’re going to get a really good look at him tomorrow. We’ve got high hopes for him as far as being active this week but we’ll have a better understanding [of his status] tomorrow afternoon at this time, as to whether or not he’ll be up or not. So hopefully he has a good practice tomorrow and is ready to go, because he is a much needed part of this offense. There’s no question the things that he can do on the outside and in the slot and at tight end. He creates problems. When teams want to try to double cover and play a lot of zones and take away a lot of our outside receivers, that’s when your tight ends have to really become a major part of your offense.”


On the possibility of Griffin III increasing his workload this week:

“I don’t think so. I don’t think he’ll take any practice reps. I think his increased workload will come in the training room as far as without the boot and maybe some running or maybe some treadmill work or what have you, and I’m sure the trainer has a scheduled course of events for him and as he gains more and more confidence and more and more strength. Maybe we’ll get him out there when the time is right, but I don’t envision that anytime soon.”


On how he plans to address the team regarding the atmosphere in the locker room following Monday’sgame:

“Yes, I heard wind of it I guess this morning, or afternoon. At some point, somebody told me that. I already talked to [safety] Ryan Clark about it and tried to find out what the deal was… I don’t exactly know what the deal was. What were they doing? Were they telling jokes? I don’t know what happened. I don’t know who they were, unfortunately. This is the first time I’ve ever heard of something like this happening, so I’m going to have to think long and hard of how to approach this. For me, I haven’t smiled since two days ago I don’t think. So I don’t know what approach to take. I thought that when you lose a game that you’ve prepared your butt of to try to win and an important game at home in front of your home crowd on Monday Night Football, you should be dejected and sick. If anybody was jovial and joking around, I don’t understand why that would be the case but I’ll have to find out.”


On if there is a team leader who can address the other players in a situation like this:

“Well, that’s what we’re looking for. We’re hoping that our captains, those guys that guys voted for, the Adam Haywards, the Trent Williams and obviously Ryan Clark are our three captains right now. Obviously, [linebacker] Brian Orakpo I’ll lean towards because he’s been here for a while. [Linebacker] Ryan Kerrigan’s obviously been here for a little bit and so have some of the offensive lineman – [guard Chris] Chester and [center] Kory [Lichtensteiger], they’ve been here. And our quarterbacks need to step up and fill that role and I think we have guys that have leadership qualities, we just haven’t had that really guy stand up and really take charge, but that’s OK. Not every team has those. We’ve just got to make sure that our guys try to do a better job of policing situations in-house. I can’t be there 24/7. I can’t police everything and nor do I want to. I think it’s important for us to turn this around and we have to have a strong bond and a strong locker room and they have to hold each other accountable in certain situations, and until that happens we’re going to have our share of issues. But hopefully this is just overblown a little bit and I’ll try to get to the bottom of it, but we need our players to step up and hold themselves accountable and police themselves every now and then.”



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