Press Conference: Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden

redskins_scriptrWashington Redskins coach Jay Gruden talks with reporters on Monday. The Redskins (3-11) host the Philadelphia Eagles (9-5) on Saturday in NFL action.

 

On what he can draw from the first game against Philadelphia:

“Well, there’s some positives to take from that game. We had some big plays and some good chunks of yardage plays, and unfortunately at the end we had a chance to tie the game or win the game and didn’t get it done in a big-time situation. There were some good things to take from that film. We were competitive obviously, but we’re looking for more than that. We’ve got to finish the deal one time. We’ve got to play in a crucial situation and somebody’s got to rise above it and make a play. Unfortunately, we were unable to do that against Philadelphia. It was obviously a very good game, but we came out on the short end of the stick which isn’t good enough.”

 

On where quarterback Kirk Cousins stands:

“He’s No. 2 right now. He has got to wait his turn and it’s up to Robert [Griffin III] to keep the job. Hopefully Robert does a good job and we don’t have to worry about it. But, Kirk’s been competing every day. He had some really good plays when he played. Unfortunately, we had to make a [No.] 1,2 and a 3 and he was No. 3. Now that Colt’s on IR, he’ll be No. 2.”

 

On placing quarterback Colt McCoy on IR:

“We’re going to put Colt on IR, and we pulled Jackson Jeffcoat up from practice squad. Those were our two roster moves.”

 

On his feelings about McCoy’s injury:

“It’s been a tough deal for all three quarterbacks. Robert had the job Week 1, hurt his ankle and leg, and opened the door for Kirk. Then, Colt had a great opportunity also. All three of them had great opportunities to take this thing and run with it. Unfortunately, we just haven’t had the stability at that position. Colt started out pretty hot there against New York, had some high hopes for that game. Unfortunately, his neck didn’t hold up. But, the big thing for him moving forward is making sure that neck gets 100 percent healthy. It’s not a long term issue, we know that. But in a short period the next couple weeks, I think it’s important for him to rest it and get himself back to next year.”

 

On the possibility of adding another quarterback:

“It’s probably too late for that unless something happens to one of the quarterbacks these last two games or this week against Philadelphia, we might – or we will.”

 

On if he has any concern that Griffin III is “injury prone”:

“He’s had injuries and durability is a very important trait at the position. You’ve got to be dependable. Unfortunately, he’s had a couple fluke injuries. That’s an issue. We have got to do the best we can to keep him upright, get him out of the pocket, run the ball. Obviously there’s some worries there that he might get injured, but I think as a play-caller, utilizing Robert to the best of our abilities, we can’t worry about the ‘injury-prone’ factor. We have to call the game to best utilize his strengths and that puts him at risk sometimes. Hopefully, he does a good job of protecting his body – slide when he has to slide, get out of bounds when he has to get out of bounds and throwing the ball away when he can throw the ball away and avoid the hits. That all comes with experience and playing the position.”

 

On Griffin III’s development and if he believes Griffin III has started to “get it” in recent weeks:

“We hope so. That just comes with repetition. You look around the league at some of the successful guys. I was looking at Eli Manning – I think he’s on his 195th career start and Peyton [Manning] is on 200. Drew Brees is on 200. He’s on what, 15 or 16? So, it’s going to come with time, man. This position is very difficult, especially when you’re learning new concepts with a new system. It takes time. So, it’s important for us to try and have some success on first and second down so we don’t have to dropback and throw it 30 times a game and have a lead so we don’t have to worry about it. But, eventually, like I said, when you get behind, you get in third down, you get behind the chains, those have to be accomplished – the dropback reads and progressions have to be accomplished and that’s something we’re fighting through right now.”

 

On if it is good to assess players in games in which the opponents are fighting for the playoffs:

“It is. It’s a great opportunity for us to come out and play against a team that’s fighting for their playoff lives and for a division title and see what we’re made of, see how we can come out here and compete. I thought we competed last week. Unfortunately, we didn’t get it done, and we’re very sick about that. But, to see some of these young guys compete on a Saturday afternoon against a division possible champion or a playoff team is going to be a great test for a lot of them. Hopefully they step up.”

 

On if he noticed any mental change in Griffin III:

“I don’t know what his mental approach has been. As a quarterback, you’ve got to have the confidence and you’ve got to feel like you have total control of the situation, which in turn makes you play free and have some fun playing. I think he might have been pressing a little too much early in the season, putting a little bit too much pressure on himself and therefore some of the troubles incurred. But, he’s taken this game, taken this game plan and these plays and has a better understanding and a little bit more confidence, but I don’t expect perfection from him, but we want to see improvement from a weekly basis.”

 

On if he noticed any physical change in Griffin III:

“In training camp, we thought he had some explosiveness. We saw him take the ball and run pretty well in training camp. Then, after the injury against Jacksonville, we felt that in the practice leading up to the Dallas game, he had some explosion. We wouldn’t have put him back in if we thought he lacked explosion or wasn’t as explosive as we thought before the injury. So, we’ve always seen that he can run. That’s not been an issue. The issue is keeping him upright in the pocket, getting the ball out of his hands when he has to get the ball out of hands and when it’s his turn to run, elude some people and make some plays.”

 

On Griffin III getting up from taking hits:

“We were down 11 in that game against the Giants and we had every intent to try to score there at the end of the game, and he laid down there and I thought he was out. I thought he was knocked out. I think he might have been dinged or something, I don’t know what happened to him. He laid down there and everybody saw it, so the receivers kind of trotted back. We didn’t have a third quarterback, so we ran a draw play. I was just worried about his health. So, he’s got to get up. He’s got to get up quicker. He has got to avoid those crazy falls if he can, but he’s such a competitor and tries to get every inch that he can that sometimes he puts himself in harm’s way. But that’s Robert being Robert. He just has got to understand that as a starting quarterback you’ve got an obligation to stay healthy for this football team and sometimes you need to avoid some hits, get the ball out of your hands and live to fight another day. That’s something quarterbacks will go through at this early age.”

 

On his comments about Griffin III earlier in the season:

“It was coaching out loud. The whole thing came up when it came out that he was ‘criticizing his teammates’ or what have you, and I just wanted to make sure that he was worried about his own game. There’s some things that he can clean up and I can clean up, and everybody just needs to clean up. That comes with coaching. I need to coach him to clean up his fundamentals. I need to coach our left tackle to clean up his fundamentals, our middle linebacker, our safety… It’s just fundamental football that everybody needs to clean up on a weekly basis, and we’ll never stop coaching fundamentals.”

 

On if the Eagles change their offense for quarterback Mark Sanchez:

“No, not at all. They have different things up their sleeve every week. They do a great job with the no-huddle and obviously try to keep you off-balance and keeping you basic on defense and running their stuff. [They are] very effective in what they do. But I don’t see really a lot of difference in what they do. Both of them, they ran the read option. They both have the good play-action game. Obviously they utilize their weapons extremely well and they have a lot of them with [Darren] Sproles and [LeSean] McCoy and obviously [Jeremy] Maclin and the tight ends with [Brent] Celek, and Riley Cooper. So they’ve got a number of guys they can throw the ball to and they distribute the ball equally amongst all of them and they’re very effective.”

 

On if there are any young players he wants to focus on during the next two weeks:

“We’re focused on everybody, to be honest with you. I don’t really discriminate with the age thing. I want all of our football players to step up and compete and play well and give us something to be excited about heading onto the offseason and make our jobs as easy as possible as far as who we’re keeping and all that. So the big fundamental issue that we have right now is we’ve got to get ready for a very good Philadelphia Eagle team at our place. And then the players need to play and show what they’ve got.”

 

On safety Phillip Thomas:

“I thought Phillip made a couple strides toward the better. It’s good to see him run around there and make some plays. He’s a very good tackler – sound tackler. Did some good things – almost had a pick there, went through his hands. He always catches them in practice, didn’t catch it in the game. I was impressed with Phillip and he’s one of the guys you might have mentioned – a young kid we want to see continue to develop and step up – Phillip, and obviously we’d like to see Chris Thompson and we’d like to see Silas Redd do some things. We’d like to see [Will] Compton continue to improve. We’d like to see a lot of our guys step up and improve – [Bashaud] Breeland continue to play better, Trent Murphy. We’ve got a lot of young guys back there. They just need to step up and continue to play and gain some confidence and momentum headed into the offseason.”

 

On if the team will have to accomplish more tomorrow because of the short week:

“No, we’re going to keep tomorrow like a typical Wednesday, and then Thursday we’ll change it up a little bit and do more specific work – red zone – and then Friday, instead of doing a walkthrough, we might have a little shorter practice session to make up for some of the periods we lost. But I think it was important today to have a walkthrough, introduce Philadelphia’s offense, defense and special teams to our guys. Let our guys heal up physically, and then we’ll have a good practice tomorrow and Thursday and do a little bit more on Friday as opposed to a walkthrough to get them ready for Saturday.”

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