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Redskins hold off Cleveland, 24-23, in NFL preseason

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Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden

On quarterback Robert Griffin III protecting himself:

“It is something that we have to continue to talk to him about, how important he is to this team and this franchise. When he gets out of the pocket, he needs to protect himself. He has a habit in his career of being able to get himself out of predicaments with his speed and his athleticism. But here, it is a 16-game season with the great talent across the league. He has to pick his shots and learn how to get down a little better.”

 

On the game overall:

“We had four turnovers. We had some key penalties and some stopped drives. We had second and goal at the two [yard line] and tried three runs in a row. I thought we moved the ball effectively but you have to finish drives and you have to protect the football. Part of my pre-game speech was about eliminating penalties and protecting the football. We did neither [of those things]. We have to continue to monitor those things. That is a very important part of the game, penalties and turnovers. It can cost you a lot of football games if you are not careful. I have been preaching that and coaching that but we have to do a much better job as a staff. Our players have to be much more accountable when they have the ball, quarterbacks and runners.”

 

On the overall play of Griffin III:

“The false start penalties were first of all [because of] a new rule they are stressing right now. I don’t know if those are called in the regular season or not. But, we will make sure those are correctable. He hit a little movement on the hard count with his body and guys have been doing that for many years but they are stressing that now. That is not an issue. On the interception, he threw the ball late on an out route to [wide receiver] DeSean [Jackson] and [Browns cornerback] Joe Haden is one of the top corners in the NFL and he will make you pay. He saw it and knew it right away. I’m glad it happened now but I wish it would have never happened. It is something that he can obviously learn from.”

 

On the run game in the red zone:

“We tried to smash it up in there with a couple of power plays. One to the right, one to the left and I think another one to the left. I think we ran an outside zone to the left too. They did a nice job on defense, they really did. Offensively, we haven’t got a lot of chances at goal line periods in practice or in games. It was great chance for us to line up in there and get things corrected. Hats off to Cleveland, the low man wins and they did a nice job coming off the football and playing good defense. We did a poor job.”

 

On the team’s play in the first half:

“Like I said, I thought we moved the ball well. I thought there was a lot of good execution. [Wide receiver] Andre Roberts caught a nice seam ball down the sidelines but we were unable to finish that drive. At the end of the half, we did a nice job at getting down there and getting a touchdown before halftime. This gave us the lead and some momentum which is very important. There are a lot of good things on this tape that we can learn from. A lot of people say preseason isn’t very important but I beg to differ. There is a lot of teaching that we can learn from. We gave up a Hail Mary, we got stopped on short yardage goal line and we got some sudden change from our defense. There are a lot of situations out there that will be very beneficial moving forward. I think both sides of the ball played hard. We just have to do better job with execution and my play calling.”

 

On the injuries to Griffin III and DeSean Jackson:

“Robert has a little thigh contusion but he is going to be OK. DeSean was fine. He made a heck of an effort after the interception to make a tackle. It was great to see. He got them on the grass and I think we held them to three points after that. It is very important for us when we do make a mistake on offense to make sure we all rally and get the runner on the ground so our defense can make a play. They did that all night. Both those guys will be fine.”

 

On play calling:

“Any time the play doesn’t work, it is the play caller. I’ve learned that from the media.”

 

On additional injury updates:

“[Cornerback] Tracy Porter has a hamstring. [Tackle] Trent [Williams] hurt his shoulder a little bit but I think he is going to be OK. [Tight end] Niles Paul has a hand contusion but I think he is OK. He might get it X-rayed but I think he is OK based on the initial look. Other than that, I think we are OK. [Linebacker] Rob Jackson, I think just had that shoulder AC joint sprain. I think he just re-injured that a little bit but I think he will be OK. ”

 

On Browns quarterback Johnny Manizel:

“Well, we had a lot of pressure on him and we tried to make it as uncomfortable as possible in the pocket. Defensive backs did a great job at tackling, limiting yards after the catch and making him earn every yard. That’s what you have to do in this league not give them any free plays and when he does scramble out of the pocket stay with your guy maintain your rush lanes, make him get it out of his hands quickly. I thought we did a great job for his second game as a NFL player he’s an exciting guy like all rookies, he’s has a long way to go. There is no question about it. He will learn from this and move forward. But I thought our defense did a nice job maintaining their rush lanes playing good pass coverage. Most importantly we did a great job at tackling and I thought for the most part throughout the game”

 

On wide receivers Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Ryan Grant:

“I think they are good. DeSean had some nice plays and had a chance for a double move later on but that’s when Robert got sacked. But Ryan Grant continues to make plays like he’s been doing all camp. It is good to see the consistency. We’ve just got to continue against Baltimore try to get these guys involved in the passing game and do a better job in the pass protection. But overall I am fairly pleased. Obviously second week of the preseason, there some things we need to work on but overall I think we’re coming along at a good clip.”

 

On cornerback Bashaud Breeland:

“The one thing about Breeland is that you see him in practice run around and cover and you are very impressed with him. The one thing you can’t see is him tackling. He is a great tackler and is striking people. It is exciting to have corners that can run and big like him and be great tacklers. He knocked the ball loose a couple of times and it is really impressing me. I am happy with his progression and moving forward, I think he has a great career ahead of him.”

 

On safety Phillip Thomas:

“I have to watch the film on Phillip. I saw him make a few plays and some tackles which is good to see. I think I have to watch the film before I grade him.”

 

On practicing goal line situations:

“Sometimes in goal line you don’t want to have that pit of people in there and rolling on knees and ankles. The amount of times you do goal lines is limited. We do a good job of walking through our goal line runs and our offense. We just didn’t do a good job of executing. We need to a better job coming off the football. We have to continue to work at it.”

 

Quarterback Robert Griffin III

On sliding to avoid hits:

“I got caught in an awkward situation on the first one. I tried to slide. It was a bad attempt at a slide. And then on their sideline, I was in a situation there where I thought I was going to be able to get out of bounds, and he was running out of bounds with [tight end] Jordan Reed and he came back in. I had to protect myself, so that’s why I put my shoulder down. And then my third attempt was very successful. I got down and got out of harm’s way. It’s good to be continually a work in progress focusing on getting down in those situations, knowing when to fight for extra yards and when not to. The fans have nothing to worry about there. I’ll keep getting better at that, I promise you that.”

 

On if he saw progress from the last game:

“Oh yeah, I think it was. I think we are moving along nicely. It’s just that we are getting too many penalties whether it is on myself – false starts – or anything else in between. We’ve got to overcome those things and shut those down so we can be a football team that consistently wins.”

 

On if the penalties are from preseason jitters or if they are serious mistakes:

“Anytime they throw a flag it’s a mistake. You just have to deal with what they call. Honestly, with the holding calls that they’re calling, please Jesus keep calling them because it definitely helps as an offense. Like I said, I can clean up whatever I did wrong on the false starts, make the change there and try not to move on some of those hard counts. Overall, I think [Head] Coach [Jay Gruden] was pleased. We got the win and we did move the ball well. We just have to clean up the little details, which is what this is all about in preseason and training camp.”

 

On progress based specifically on how he played tonight:

“I just think we did a good job getting our weapons involved. DeSean [Jackson] had some catches, Andre Roberts, Pierre [Garçon], and just finding different ways to get the ball in their hands and let them make plays. As far as me personally, it’s just being a quarterback and I enjoy the process of continually getting better. And I thank God to have these guys in the locker room to help me.”

 

Linebacker Ryan Kerrigan

On his two sacks:

“I definitely thought the second one was more of a coverage sack than anything, so thanks to D-Hall [cornerback DeAngelo Hall] and all of those guys back there for making [Johnny] Manziel hold on to the ball a little longer. And when you get one unblocked, you have to win those matchups and fortunately, I was able to do that.”

 

On good habits he’s seeing from the defense:

“I’ve seen a lot of three-and-outs from the ones and that’s always encouraging. That’s what you want to do. You want to keep an opposing team’s defense on the field as long as possible. When our offense was moving the ball like we were able to, I know we had some turnovers in the first half, but they were still able to move the ball and kill a lot of clock. When we can get three-and-outs and keep their defense on the field, that’s what we want to do.”

 

On if he did anything special to record two sacks on the night:

“Not really. It felt good when I came out there tonight and I was fortunately able to get the first one out of the way on a miscommunication on their part in the first play of the game. After you get that first one out of the way, you’re a little more relaxed. And when I got the second one, it felt really good.”

 

On practicing on the right side and switching with fellow linebacker Brian Orakpo during the game:

“We had thought about kind of rotating a little bit from the right and left side, ‘Rak and I, but throughout the game ‘Rak and I talked and he was like, ‘No, I want to keep working on the right side.’ So we kept it as is.”

 

Wide Receiver Ryan Grant

On his touchdown catch:

“They were playing man-to-man. I believe it was high-low. I got a good release at the line. Kirk [Cousins] threw a great ball. I came down with the catch and put six on the board.”

 

Wide Receiver Desean Jackson

On playing in his first game with the Redskins:

“It felt great. Second preseason game, I missed the first one. Me and [wide receiver] Pierre [Garçon] was able to get out there after missing the first preseason game and just fly around and get on the same page as [Quarterback] RG [Robert Griffin III] and just do some great things. I think we had a couple of great drives.  It felt great to get out there and play finally.”

 

On catching short passes:

“People don’t really realize that I can do it all – short, deep and mid-range. I just like to consider myself an all-around receiver. Don’t look at me as just being a deep threat. Making short passes into long gains is something I love to do.  The opportunities will present itself and I’m going to go out there and make the most out of it.”

 

On this week’s schedule and seeing time against Baltimore:

“I think we’ll play a half. Today we played like a quarter and a series or two into the second quarter. Maybe we get out there and play two quarters versus a very good team, very physical team with a great defense. We just look forward to who we play on Saturday. This week we’ll probably have two or three days of work days and then get ready for our game. Honestly, I’m just looking forward to that first week in Houston. We got two more games left and from there that’s when the real deal is and when everything counts.”

 

Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine

On naming a starting quarterback this week:

“It’s going to be hard to provide evaluation without really watching it, studying it. All the options are on the table and if it is something we would like to do, we will see.”

 

On trying to name a starting quarterback after this game:

“We didn’t score touchdowns, we need to move the ball and we need to get first downs. I think we’ve got to watch the tapes. Every play tells its own story. We’ll have a much better evaluation once we get back.”

 

On if quarterback Brian Hoyer is pressing:

“It’s hard to tell. I know he missed some throws. I know they both missed some throws. It’s hard to tell the reason for that.”

 

On Johnny Manziel giving a gesture to the Redskins’ bench:

“Yeah, that doesn’t sit well. I was informed right after the game and I’m disappointed. We talk about being poised, being focused. You have to be able to maintain your poise. It’s a big part of all football players, especially the quarterback. We have to keep our composure and that is something that we will obviously address.”

 

On factoring in Manziel’s gesture and performance when picking a starter:

“It’s whoever gives us the best shot to win the opener will be the starter.”

 

On his evaluation of Manziel tonight:

“He made some plays, left of couple of plays on the field, threw a couple of balls low, threw some behind some of the receivers. Definitely some stuff he has to get cleaned up.”

 

On receivers not catching balls:

“Some of that is on the quarterback. Some of those guys are running full speed and it’s hard to catch a ball that is behind you. Offense is a work in progress, but we have some time to work it out.”

 

On this week’s performance being better than last week’s performance:

“We got to look at the tape. We got to score touchdowns. The turnover before the half hurt us. We have to be in a position where we can protect the football and not put the defense back out there.”

 

On waiting another game before naming the starting quarterback:

“It’s possible. All the options on the table, we will see.”

 

On what Manziel needs to work on:

“It’s all of it. There is no substance to start him through the third quarter. There is no substitute for live game reps. I think it is everything, all components of playing in the NFL.”

 


 

On giving Manziel third quarter reps:

“I think they were close to balanced at halftime, but we felt comfortable keeping Johnny out there. I just think the way it fell, that he played all of the third quarter. I don’t think that was the original plan but we just kept him out there.”

 

On Manziel’s composure outside of the gesture:

“Yeah, that’s why I was surprised when I heard about it. Because other than that, he was composed.”

 

On wide receiver Josh Gordon’s effort:

“He made some plays and I think he would like to have some plays back.”

 

On whether or not either quarterback will be ready for the season opener:

“That’s not a choice. Someone has to be ready for the opener.”

 

On final drive of the game:

“On my angle, I was kind of screened. I just saw the pass go incomplete. We got the look we wanted. He was open. I think Brian [Hoyer] would be the first one to tell you he needs to make a better throw there.”

 

On if he talked to Manziel after the game about the gesture:

“I did not, I did not. I just found out about it once I walked in here.”

 

On building off of the final drive:

“It’s young guys making plays, that is what football is all about – step up and make a play. I thought that was a heck of a drive by Connor [Shaw]. He regrets the throw on the two-point play. It was good to see them respond. They had been waiting all game to get in and do something.”

 

Browns Quarterback Johnny Manziel

 

On his assessment of his game tonight:

“Some good and some bad. I feel like I was incredibly decisive coming out for two drives. That’s what I feel I’ve been my best at the past couple weeks at practice. Picking which side I’m going to, and sticking with that, and really throwing the ball. I felt like I came out in the earlier series and tried to force everything and not let it fly like I should have. I need to get better at that and just go out and really throw the dang ball.”

 

On his gesture to the Redskins’ bench:

“I had words exchanged with me throughout the entirety of the game, every game, week after week. I should have been smarter. It was a Monday Night Football game and the cameras were probably solidly on me, and I need to be smarter about that.”

 

On what provoked him:

“I mean, there’s always words exchanged on the football field.”

 

On if the verbal abuse has been worse the last two games:

“With me, since my name has grown bigger and people have known who I am, it just continues to go as the games continue to go on. I don’t know if there is a single level of severity each game, but I know it’s there and it’s present every game. I just need to let it slide off my back and go to the next play. I feel like I did a good job of holding my composure throughout the night and you have a lapse of judgment and slip up.”

 

On if he immediately kicks himself if he has a lapse of judgment:

“No.”

 

On if the gesture was a distraction:

“No, no distraction at all. It’s not a big deal to me. I think I need to, like I said, hold my composure better, but it’s a gesture.”

 

On if he expects to be fined:

“I don’t know how this works.”

 

On if he noticed linebacker Brian Orakpo doing his ‘money’ gesture:

“No, I didn’t even notice it. I was really tuned in and more upset at myself about the first play on that drive  not letting that ball fly to [tight end] Jordan [Cameron] as he was coming under. I kind of hesitated, and when you hesitate things close up.”

 

On his touchdown:

“I’m just glad we got into the end zone.”

 


 

On if he needs another game to show himself:

“I feel I need every practice we have, and every game that’s scheduled for us. I feel like that’s why they’re there for a reason. I’m a young guy, and the more reps I get, the more practices I get, the more game situations I get the better.”

 

On the hardest part about adjusting from college to the NFL:

“I think just really learning the playbook. It’s not necessarily how difficult it is. It’s new. It’s fresh. It’s something that I’ve only heard for three or four months of my life compared to what I was used to two years of my life being at Texas A&M. It’s new verbiage and just something new for me that I’m continually trying to hone in on.”

 

On the speed of the game:

“It’s definitely faster. It’s the NFL. These are the best football players on the face of the earth. It’s definitely faster and quicker and like I said, things close up a lot faster if you hesitate.”

 

On looking forward to playing for the home crowd:

“It will be great to get back to Cleveland. There has been a lot of excitement about our team as well as excitement in the city of Cleveland. I think it will be great for us to have our first home game. You get a lot of love from your home fans and will be really cool to see.”

 

On if the verbal abuse taken from the teams and fans has surprised him:

“Not at all.”

 

On if he thinks he has shown enough for Coach Mike Pettine to choose him as the starting quarterback:

“Personally, me grading my performance today, I’m pretty hard on myself, I don’t think I did a very good job today. I think there’s a lot of room to improve. There are some things I wish I could have had back, but I’m not sure that’s really up to Coach Pettine and the higher powers than it is me. I think I just need to come in every day and continue to try to get better.”

 

On why he felt tight throwing today:

“It’s a Monday Night Football game. It’s my second game in the NFL. I remember my first few games in college, it was the same way. I was hesitant. I just need to be really confirmed with what my eyes are seeing. I’m seeing what I need to see, and I’ll just react on it and make a split-second decision and really just throw the ball.”

 

On if he is disappointed in his performance:

“I think when you go back and look at the film, and really evaluate it and get a chance to see it for a second time you always come back with a little bit different emotions than you do walking off the field right away. I wanted to be better. I wanted to complete more passes than I did tonight. They brought a few blitzes on me there that I just had to get the ball out of my hand really quick, but still I have to get the ball out in front of the guys a little bit better and really give them a better chance tonight than I did. I mean, I’m hard on myself and I think I need to get a lot better.”

 

On if flipping the bird and being late for a team meeting might be a factor in decision:

“No.”

 

On if the pressure of the competition is strangling the quarterbacks a little bit:

“I don’t think either me or [quarterback] Brian [Hoyer] are extremely focused on it. I feel, being around Brian a few days, he’s coming in every day giving everything he’s got to go out and play his best football, and I’m doing the same thing. I’ll speak for myself, but I’m not incredibly focused on this race. I think I need to do what I need to do, and get better as a football player, get better at learning this offense and everything else will come. I’ve been here for a very short amount of time, but I’m continuing to learn things as I go throughout this preseason.”

 

On if it would be easier if he weren’t such as high-profile player:

“I think with my play in college I set the bar very high for myself, so people are going to expect what I did in college consistently. But, I mean it’s a different league, it’s a different level, it’s a different team, it’s a completely different environment for me. I just need to continue to get better, and hopefully one day I’ll do some of the things I did in college.”

 

On what he can do to mitigate some of that:

“I think the hype and the TV games that we do they’re going to come with it. I feel like really as a team if we win games we’re going to get games that are on primetime and that people are going to want to watch. If we get to that point where we’re playing a lot of Monday Night Football games, we’re playing games that are on primetime television that’s saying that we are playing extremely well then and we’re doing something right. As far as me and the hype and everything that comes along with it, I’m absolutely used to it, and I think it’s just part of coming in as a rookie and being here in Cleveland. To fill our position over the last couple years, it’s been somewhat of a struggle. There’s always a lot of hype being here with me, so I’m really used to it and I’ll take it in stride moving forward.”

 

Browns Quarterback Brian Hoyer

On the team’s overall performance:

“It probably couldn’t get any worse. It’s disappointing. It’s embarrassing. We started off poorly and really never changed after that.”

 

On switching series:

“There’s no excuses. It has nothing to do with that. The first play was messed up. It kind of spiraled out of control. We were never able to get things going. “

 

On if the competition at quarterback hurt his play:

“It had nothing to do with that.”

 

On if the quarterback competition is distracting to the team:

“No, I don’t think that’s a distraction at all.”

 

On getting better:

“I have to make better throws. Obviously, if you want to look at the positives, you look at our defense. They were amazing, they did a great job. As an offense, we have to pick it up. You see how good our defense is, you just know if we get things going how good this team can be. We just have to improve”

 

On if he felt like he forced plays:

“No, I don’t think so. If I’m thinking about making a perfect throw while I’m out there, I just got to go out and do it.”

 

On when the quarterback decision will be made:

“You’d have to ask Coach [Mike] Pettine.”


 

Browns Safety Jim Leonhard

On his interception:

“It was a great call. I didn’t have a whole lot of responsibility on the play – saw the receiver come off the ball and thought I was going to have a chance to make a play and had a good break. It is always nice to get in the end zone. I haven’t been in the end zone since 2008, so definitely a good feeling.”

 

On changes in penalties in the league from a veteran perspective:

“It’s tough. I mean, obviously we’re not really seeing them all, but there’s a lot being called right now. But it will really change in the game. It’s tough obviously being a defensive back. You don’t want to see that many flags. Third-and-long is not what it used to be. Guys have to adjust, obviously. There’s way too many penalties right now. There’s a lot of stuff that is incidental contact, or receiver initiating contact and still getting called in certain situations. But it’s tough. We’ll watch the tape we adjust. Obviously [with being only a] couple games into the preseason, teams are going to figure it out.”

 

On defensive back Justin Gilbert’s first game:

“I think he played pretty well. He went out there and competed – went up and challenged receivers. He has grown. Obviously, [he was] coming off some injuries and missed a little bit of practice time, little bit behind from where he wants to be but I thought for his first action he looked pretty good.”

 

On overall impressions of defense:

“We have a chance to be really good on defense. Overall, talent wise, it’s there – on all three levels. You get guys getting after the ball like you did tonight, you’re going to be in a lot of football games. Great to see, I think – four turnovers and goal line stance. That’s huge… You’re going to be in every football game if you’re putting up numbers like that on defense.”

                                                                                                                                                                               

On consistency with calls on secondary during regular season:

“That’s what they’re saying. They’re going to call it like this so guys have to adjust. If they’re going to throw flags, you’re hurting your team if you’re still putting your hands on guys on the field. It’s tough, as talented as receivers are, as big as some of those guys are and as good as they are at using their bodies now. It’s going to take a little time for DBs and you’re seeing that. High number of flags the first couple of weeks. It’ll get better, I think. It has to get better or otherwise it’s going to be painful for everyone to watch.”

 

On rule changes in tackling:

“It’s tough you play this game for a long time. It’s my tenth year in the NFL you kind of get used to playing a certain way but rules change, just like when they all of a sudden [called]personal fouls as far as hitting guys and stuff see that has changed a lot you see guys lowering in on their target. Takes a little bit of time obviously two weeks in is too early for a lot of guys to make that adjustment.”

 

On having to rely on the on defense because of the offense’s struggles:

“You can’t do that. I mean I’ve been in that situation before. I’ve played with a lot of young quarterbacks, a lot of quarterback battles. You’ve just got to worry about what you can control defensively. We’ve got to go out and get turnovers. Doesn’t matter who the quarterback is, if we can do that we’re going to have a chance to win games. We have enough issues. This is the first year in this system. I think we’re in a great place after two preseason games. It’s a lot of stuff we need to clean up before we start we start worrying about the offense.”

 

On being in a similar defensive situation during his time with the Jets:

“It’s tough. Obviously, you have a young quarterback – two guys competing. They’re not trying to make mistakes. You’re going to lean on running game. You’re going to lean on defense and special teams. It’s just the way it works in this league, but it’s too early for us to worry about that. I think both quarterbacks – Brian and Johnny and – have played well. They’ve looked pretty good at practice, it’s going to be a tough decision come Pittsburgh.”

 

Browns Tight End Jordan Cameron

On the competition between quarterbacks Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer:

“We get that question a lot. It’s one of those things that’s out of our control. Us as players, we have so much individually to work on. Whatever they decide, we’ll run with it.”

 

Browns Wide Receiver Miles Austin

On the quarterback battle:

“Honestly, when I’m out there, I just focus on what I can do and things I do right and wrong and things I need to do correct.”

 

On quarterback Johnny Manziel’s progression:

“I think as a team we’ve progressed. There’s certain things we do right and wrong. We just have to be more consistent with things we do right.”

 

On if there is a difference in Manziel’s confidence in the huddle:

“Honestly, when I’m in the huddle I’m just trying to hear the play.”