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5 Takeaways: Dec. 16 Jay Gruden Presser

Posted Dec 16, 2014

Here’s five takeaways from Redskins head coach Jay Gruden’s Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014, press conference at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.

Here’s five takeaways from Redskins head coach Jay Gruden’s Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014, press conference at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.:

1. Quarterback Colt McCoy has been placed on season-ending IR list.

After starting the Redskins’ last three games, quarterback Colt McCoy’s season was abruptly cut short with a nagging neck injury that sidelined him at the end of Washington’s Week 14 game against the St. Louis Rams and then midway through Week 15’s game against the New York Giants.

It was a crushing blow for the Texas product, as he looked in-sync against the Giants, connecting on four-of-seven passes for 39 yards along with 24 yards on the ground.

Calling it a “tough season” for all three of the team’s quarterbacks, Gruden told the media that what’s most important for McCoy moving forward is that he’s healthy.

“Colt started out pretty hot there against New York, had some high hopes for that game,” he said. “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 (for) next year.”

READ MORE: Redskins Send 'Frustrated' Colt McCoy To IR

2. The next few weeks will tell how quarterback Robert Griffin III is progressing as he closes an up-and-down third season in the NFL.

Perhaps the hardest position to learn, Gruden understands that in order for a young quarterback to grow, he needs repetitions.

The Redskins, of course, have alternated between their three talented -- yet young -- quarterbacks this season, especially when looking at Griffin III and Kirk Cousins, each of whom are in their third year.

Now back to Griffin III: Gruden said he’d like to not only see the No. 2-overall pick from the 2012 NFL Draft play well, but that he wants the offense as a whole to step up their game, especially on early-down situations.

“It’s going to come with time,” he said. “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."

3. Griffin III’s signature explosiveness is still there, but Gruden would like to see him upright more often.

While he hasn’t been carrying the ball as much this season, that doesn’t mean Griffin III is no longer the dual-threat who took the league by storm early in his career.

On Sunday, Griffin III displayed his rare combination of speed and elusiveness from under center, as he ran for 46 yards on just five carries.

After posting a season-best via the run, Gruden said part of the reason Griffin III hadn't been running as much was because of a dislocated ankle injury suffered Week 2 against Jacksonville. 

“We saw him take the ball and run pretty well in training camp,” he said. “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.”

4. The next two weeks will be important for some of the younger players who have seen their roles increase in recent weeks.

From running backs Silas Redd and Chris Thompson to guys like linebacker Will Compton and safety Phillip Thomas who have made starts in recent weeks, the Redskins have a crop of very young players contributing.

When asked about Thomas, Gruden said the Fresno State product “made a couple strides toward the better” against New York. 

“It’s good to see him run around there and make some plays,” he said. “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.”

Also factoring into their growth is the chance to get more playing time so they’ll better understand what it takes to succeed at the NFL level.

“They just need to step up and continue to play and gain some confidence and momentum headed into the offseason,” he said.

READ MORE: Chris Thompson Score Touchdown In 2014 Debut

5. Regardless of who is at quarterback, Gruden believes the Eagles’ offense is still as good as it’s ever been.

Replacing Nick Foles during the Eagles’ victory over the Houston Texans on Nov. 2, Mark Sanchez has been the guy leading Chip Kelly’s quick-strike offense over the last few weeks.

While he’s struggled at times this season, he’s also succeeded at other junctures, to the point which Gruden doesn’t see much difference in the offense.

“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,” he said. “[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.”

Of course the Eagles' offense extends well past whoever is playing under center. Gruden complemented Philadelphia, saying they "utilize their weapons extremely well." 

"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," he said. "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.”

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