Press Conference: Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden

redskins_scriptrWashington Redskins coach Jay Gruden talks with reporters on Wednesday. The Redskins (3-8) play the Indianapolis Colts (7-4) on Sunday.

 

On the injury report:

“Did not practice today –E.J. Biggers, concussion like symptoms; Jason Hatcher, knee – his other knee. Limited was Jordan Reed, hamstring; Chris Baker, SC joint; Silas Redd, rib; Trent Williams, knee; and Ryan Clark, stinger/shoulder. Full participation was [Bashaud] Breeland.”

 

On electing to start Colt McCoy at quarterback:

“Well, we’re searching for answers on offense, No. 1. It starts at the quarterback position, quite frankly. Colt was 2-0 as a starter – really 1-0 – but he came in in relief in the second half of the Titans game. Due to our recent struggles offensively, I thought I would try a change at the helm. We’re not trying to pin – I know it seems like it – we’re not trying to pin all the problems offensively onto Robert, but we just feel like Colt deserves another opportunity being that he had a lot of success as the starter.”

 

On why Robert Griffin III hasn’t progressed as quickly as expected:

“Why hasn’t he progressed? Well, there’s a lot of reasons. I don’t know. He’s done some good things. He’s learning a new system, some new terminology, all that stuff. He’s a young quarterback still and young quarterbacks sometimes pick up things quicker than others. He’s a very smart guy, a bright guy, willing to learn, willing to work, but for whatever reason when he’s started here with me, we haven’t been very productive on offense and that’s the bottom line. We’re looking for more production out of the position and we’re going to see if we have it in the building.”

 

On thinking about the other 52 players on the roster while making the change:

“Well, it’s important. These guys are important. When you’re preaching production, when you’re preaching accountability and all that stuff, it’s important that you hold everybody to the same standard. Like I said, I know Robert can play better. I know we can coach him better. But the bottom line is we didn’t get much production from the offense with him as the starter, and that’s why we had to make a change. I think it’s quite evident why. We scored very few points on his possessions for whatever reason, and it’s not all him. It’s the offensive line sometimes, sometimes we turn the ball over, poor field position, but ultimately it’s the responsibility that we have that we feel to put the best player in at that position and we think right now it’s Colt.”

 

On what this could do to Griffin III’s confidence:

“I’m hoping that as a pro, I’m hoping that it helps him, it helps toughen him up, helps fuel the fire in his belly. That’s what I hope. I hope he comes out here and prepares like he’s going to play because he has to. He’s a backup quarterback and that’s what quarterbacks do. He’s not happy about the change, nor should he be. I don’t want him to be happy about it. I want him to come out here and work harder and prepare harder, and when his time comes again, he’s ready to roll. Kirk [Cousins] wasn’t happy when I went to Colt. Colt wasn’t happy when I went back to Robert. And Robert’s not happy I went back to Colt. It’s like a merry go round. Bottom line is we’re trying to do the best we can as far as picking the players that give us the best chance to win and right now that’s the way we feel.”

 

On if Griffin III needs to change what he focuses on in his development:

“That could be the case. He’s worked very hard on his fundamentals. He’s worked very hard in the weight room, worked very hard on his strength and conditioning and all that good stuff. I think now that he’s got these concepts that he can work on and seeing them and watching film, you know there’s other ways to work. But I’m not concerned about the way he works. Anybody who’s questioned that about his work ethic I think is off-base. I think he works extremely hard. He’s a great kid. It’s not me against Robert, although people want to make it out to be. Man, this is just about us trying to win football games and for whatever reason we have not been very good offensively when he’s been the quarterback. We’ve got to figure out why.”

 

On why he didn’t opt to let Griffin III use the final five games to get reps:

“I think there’s a case for that, but there’s also a case that Colt’s 2-0 and he played very well at Dallas on Monday Night Football. He played very well in the second half of Tennessee. I feel very strongly that players who play well, practice well, deserve another opportunity if they do, and I feel that very strongly about Colt. I feel like he deserves an opportunity to get a shot again. For Robert to take a step back and be a backup quarterback is not the end of the world. It’s happened to great quarterbacks in the past. It’ll happen again. He’s just got to work and fight through this and continue to learn and compete.”

 

On what kind of improvements Griffin III can make as a backup, and if Griffin III could get another shot in Washington:

“He could get a shot. There’s a lot of instances where he could get a shot. When you’re the backup quarterback, you’ve got to prepare for the second play of the game. You’ve got to be ready to go in. Very feasible he could get another shot this year, obviously. Obviously we think that with Colt being the starter, we have high hopes for Colt, just like when Robert was starting I didn’t anticipate going to Colt. I thought Robert would take the starting job and run with it and we’d be successful. Didn’t happen, so I went back to Colt and [am] giving him an opportunity again. It is what it is. Robert’s a man, and he’s going to handle it like a man and continue to compete. But right now, we’re going to focus on Colt McCoy as the starting quarterback and give him every avenue to get better and prepare for the Colts and get himself to be a starting quarterback.”

 

On if there was anything else he could have done to put Griffin III in a position to succeed:

“There’s always a possibility he could have done something different, but I feel like we tried everything that were his strengths.  I tried to cater to his strengths. Obviously early on we didn’t do a lot of zone read that he had success with, but there’s reasons for that. We did do some zone reads. We did do some play-actions that he had success with in 2012. We tried to make the offense comfortable for him, but for whatever reason, like I said, all eyes are on the quarterback. The focus is on the quarterback. When the offense does not have success, the quarterback gets the brunt of the blame, and he just hasn’t had the success that everybody’s expecting. Everybody’s expected him to throw for 350 and run for 100 yards and light it up every week, and for whatever reason, that didn’t happen. We’ve just got to figure out why. He’s had a couple injuries, obviously. I don’t think that had anything to do with it, but I just think when you’re talking about pass concepts, you’re talking about the game of football, there’s a lot that has to do with repetition, confidence and knowing where people are and where you get rid of the football, and right now, for whatever reason, it’s just not quite clicking as fast as it should be. It doesn’t mean he’s not going to be a great quarterback one day here or somewhere else or whatever, it just means that he just needs a little bit more time to go through this.”

 

On if he is prepared to commit to McCoy for the rest of the season:

“I’m prepared to give Colt every opportunity to keep the job, yes. That’s not an issue for me. I think the best man gets the job, and if you open the door for somebody to play by injury or by lack of production, that’s what happens sometimes if a guy comes in and does well. That’s what we hope happens with Colt. If he struggles or whatever happens, there’s a lot of things that can happen in this league as we all know. But right now, we’re just focused on giving Colt every opportunity to succeed this week, and if he does, he’ll be the quarterback next week, and if he does, he’ll be the quarterback the following week. He’s an experienced quarterback. He’s got some games under his belt in the NFL. He’s got a little bit more experience than these other two guys have here and, you know, he plays like it.”

 

On why he is confident enough for Griffin III to be his backup:

“My confidence is not really shaken. That first half drive, we’re on the road, that doesn’t mean I don’t have confidence in him. It just means I’m trying to get out at the half tied up. I didn’t want to be backed up, and that had nothing to do with my lack of confidence in Robert. Had a little bit to do with the pass protection also. You have a rookie left tackle playing against one of the best pass rushers in the NFL the last couple of years. There’s other issues involved, but I have total confidence that if Robert is going back into the game that he’ll do fine. We’ve just got to coach him up and let him play. The fact of the matter is we’re searching for answers. We’re 3-8. We’ve been not very good on offense the last few weeks and not very good with Robert as the starter for whatever reason. Colt is 36-for-42 as the starter, beat Dallas on Monday night, I just thought he deserved an opportunity to play. That’s just the bottom line.”

 

On if he has any regrets about going back to Griffin III following the Dallas game:

“I have regrets that we lost those games, yes. I don’t have regrets of making the decision to go back to Robert because we thought at the time – and if we reverse the clock, obviously knowing what we know now, I’d stick with Colt, but – Robert was ready. Robert was our starter all through training camp, all through the OTAs, all through preseason. Had a great first half drive against Jacksonville, got hurt. When he was ready, fully recovered, 100 percent ready, he was going to be the starter again. And we got that word he was 100 percent. He looked good in practice and he was the starter. So I have no regrets in that regard.”

 

On when he told Griffin III about the move:

“Yeah, I gave him the news Tuesday. I didn’t want to come up here Monday to a press conference and announce I was making a quarterback change and let them read it on your Twitter accounts. I wanted to make sure I talked to them face-to-face and I wanted to try to announce it to the team first. It’s a big deal. These guys put a lot of effort and a lot of time and a lot of work into this position and they have a lot of pride. I want to make sure I talk to them man-to-man. [He] wasn’t happy about it, like I said, he wasn’t happy about it. He was very upset. He wanted to have more time and a chance to play himself through this slump, so to speak. But I decided to make the change to Colt and that’s the bottom line.”

 

On how to coach a player who is upset about losing a starting position:

“You just have to tell him the way it is. There’s not sugar coating this thing. You know, you’re the starter, you’re a hell of a quarterback, a hell of a kid. You’re working your ass off, but we’re going to try Colt. You just have to keep preparing like you’re the No. 1 quarterback and you have to use this as motivation. It’s going to be upsetting for a little bit of time, but one day, you’re going to look back at this and say it helped you out in the long run and hopefully that will. A step back, learning and watching, getting yourself ready to play, hopefully it’ll make him stronger because of it. But like I said, we’re just trying to get out of this 3-8 hole and we’re trying to play the best quarterback and I’m not trying to pin the reasons we’ve lost on Robert, but I’m just trying to give our team a spark.”

 

On if he considered the investment the team made in Griffin III:

“No, not really. I came here with a clean slate and I want to play the best players, period, whoever they are. First-round picks, sixth-round picks, free agents, I don’t really care who they are, where they came from. Obviously the history of Robert and the talent that he has at quarterback, very excited to coach him when I first got the job and I still am. I’m not giving up on Robert. It’s just we haven’t been successful. But the past is the past. We’re moving forward and we’re trying to do what’s best for the Redskins this year and for years to come. Right now, today as I stand up here, I feel like this is the best move for us moving forward to Indianapolis.”

 

On Griffin III and his future:

“I think as a man and as a competitor, I think Robert does have a future in the NFL, but I’m not going to predict it. I’m not going to stand up here and say we’re going to sign him to a 15-year contract or we’re going to trade him next week or whatever. I’m not going to predict it. All I’m doing is coaching the quarterbacks that I have the best way I know how and that’s all I can do. As far as the future – next year, the year after that –bruce allen and myself will and Mr. Snyder and the staff will talk about what’s in store. I have nothing against any one of the three quarterbacks that we have. I have a lot of respect for all three of them, but ultimately it’s my job to make a decision on who I think is the best one to help us win and, like I said, this week it’s Colt.”

 

On if Griffin III’s confidence will still be intact after not finishing consecutive seasons:

“I think, yeah. I think he can. We’ll see how he reacts to this and how he gets himself ready. People handle adversity in different ways. Some people can’t handle it, some people can but I think Robert is the type of guy that can. Hopefully, he can. It’s a very tough position. Like I said, I’ve said it before; he’s a very young quarterback. He’s had two different systems in three years. He’s had a couple different injuries. I think the expectations for him were a little bit unfair but I’m not going to give up on him. He’s not going to give up himself, but as far as the future is concerned, we don’t know.”

 

On if Griffin III is “better or worse” since 2012:

“‘Better or worse?’ 2012 was a good year for the Redskins, I guess. They went to the playoffs and lost in whatever round it was – first round. The expectations were high for him coming off the injury. He didn’t perform up to standard for whatever reason, but as far as him getting better or worse, I’d like to think he’s gotten better as far as a dropback passer is concerned and some of the things I’ve asked him to do since I’ve had him, I think he’s gotten better. It hasn’t shown on the field. I think it’s shown in the meeting room, it’s shown on the practice field from time to time, but he’s not at the stage yet where he is a starter for us right now. For whatever reason, he’s taken a little bit of a step back here in the last couple weeks – the offense has, not just him. The offense has in general. This is such a team sport that when the offense doesn’t succeed, the quarterback gets a lot of the criticism, but he’s the one with the ball in his hands most of the time – got to make the decisions.”

 

On going with Griffin III as the backup instead of Kirk Cousins:

“Well, I’ve got to think about our record with Kirk. I think right now, Robert is a better option as No. 2. That’s the way I feel, yes.”

 

On his reaction to the news becoming public overnight:

“Well, it’s unfortunate, but it happens. I don’t know how it got out but unfortunately it got out. It’s unfair to you guys. I’d like for all you guys to be the first ones to spread the scoop, but unfortunately somebody got it first. I was asleep when I got the 14,000 texts. Unfortunately, in a big market like this, things like this are going to get out and that’s just the way it is. I’ve accepted that. I don’t want there to be any moles or anything like that, but agents, players’ wives, family members, they talk and they have everybody on Twitter accounts now, so it’s hard to keep secrets nowadays.”

 

On if the decision to start McCoy was discussed with the front office:

“We’re all on the same team. We’re all on board. There hasn’t been any arguments, ‘You play him. You do this. You do that.’ I think, ultimately, it was the coach’s decision but they’re on board. Had they been adamant and said, ‘No, play him [Griffin III],’ I don’t know what would’ve happened. I do know that they’re on board with the coaching decision to play Colt McCoy this week.”

 

On cornerback Tracy Porter:

“We’re going to put him on IR.”

 

On what he saw on film that led him to choose McCoy over Griffin III as the starter:

“Just the total production of all his games. I went back and watched all his games – Houston, obviously, first drive against Jacksonville, Minnesota, Tampa and obviously San Francisco. That’s where I came up with my decision. I watched Colt’s game against Dallas and Colt’s game against Tennessee and I watched all of Kirk’s games again. I just thought right now, just watching the offense, watching it click with Colt, I thought it was the best chance for us to win next week.”

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