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Quotes: Jay Gruden (01.11.16)

Posted Jan 11, 2016

A transcript of Redskins head coach Jay Gruden's press conference Jan. 11, 2016.

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On how much easier it will be to go through an offseason knowing who the starting quarterback will be:

“It helps out a lot, no question about it. You try to build your team around that position, the most crucial position in sports, especially in football, obviously. Having some stability there is important, something we look forward to having."

On when he was convinced Kirk Cousins could be the team’s quarterback for the future:

'That’s what we hoped, obviously, early, then just watching him progress throughout the season. I think it was a process we had to see too. We had a lot of confidence that he could do it based on his ability out in practice. You just never know how that translates into games and situational football and pressure. I think he handled a lot of key situations well, some two-minute drives, obviously some third-down conversions he was very good at, the red zone he was very good at. Those are key situations in the game of football and to watch him get better throughout the course of the season, stay humble, continue to work and prepare was fun to be a part of. Moving forward we’re excited about the thought of him being our quarterback.”

On what Cousins can accomplish with a full offseason and training camp as the starter:

“Just continue to build, man, just continue to work on his fundamentals and continue to study the game and get better. Every day is a new entity and he’s just got to study the game and we’ll continue to build our game plan and our offense around his skillset, which is going to be good. We’ll just go from there. Starting from ground zero again. We’ll have new rookies, we’ll have some new free agents in town, so we’re going to have to start slow but we’ll be able to build fast with a quarterback that has been here.”

On the timeline for getting a contract finalized with Cousins: 

“I don’t know, I think that’s a question for ‘Coach’ Scot McCloughan. I think we should ask him that and Bruce [Allen]. Right now we’re just finishing the season. The coaches right now we’re going to evaluate our players, do some reports, talk about them tomorrow, Wednesday, Thursday and then take a little vacation, the coaches will. We’ll go through that process soon.”

On what he saw after watching film of last night’s game:

“It’s frustrating, obviously. You feel sick for obviously the players, the fans, the organization. A lot of opportunities we didn’t take advantage of, quite frankly. It’s unfortunate, plays that we normally would make and had been making in our win streak, we just didn’t make for whatever reason. Hats off to Green Bay, they played well, they played fast. They made plays when they needed to and we didn’t. I think overall when you watch the film, I think the effort was there. Like I said, there were some things we normally do that we didn’t do in this game.”

On the run defense:

“Yeah, you know, they averaged I think 4.8 yards a pop. We did very well early in the game. We had great energy early in the game getting off blocks and stopping the run. Had some three and outs, got a safety. But we couldn’t maintain our run gap discipline and we missed some tackles. They had a good scheme. Their backs ran hard, good slashing backs – [James] Starks and [Eddie] Lacy had some good hits. It was just unfortunate, like I said, we didn’t get off blocks as good as we normally do. We missed some run fits." 

On his message to the team today:

“It was a very brief meeting. I talked to them last night after the game and obviously today very briefly. You know, I think, one, there’s a lot to be encouraged about – the way they worked, the way they overcame some stuff throughout the season obviously. Being NFC East champs is something to be proud, really. Obviously it’s not our ultimate goal, but it’s something to be proud of and something we can build off of. Moving forward the guys that will be in that room next year starting the season, we know how to work, we know how to prepare, we know we need to get better and we’re going to continue to do that. That’s basically the brief message I had for them. Unfortunately in pro football nowadays, that room will be different, you know, with the draft picks and free agency when it hits. A lot of guys won’t be here next year. We’ll have some news guys in here, but the core people that we can count on I think moving forward and build this team around, I feel very good about and very strongly about. I’m very confident that we can be successful.”

On how the season played out for QB Robert Griffin III and how Griffin handled his role:

“It played out based on a decision that I made as far as who I thought gave us the best chance to win and somebody who I wanted to give the opportunity for the season with and see how he [Cousins] could take the position and run with it and if he can improve. Robert handled it very well. Obviously he wasn’t happy. He’s a great competitor. He accomplished some great things in 2012, he really did. But he handled it like a pro. I think in the long run hopefully it will make him a better quarterback. I know he grew a lot being a third-string quarterback here. A different system, different terminology and things that were new to him, but I think with the skillset that he has and what he learned from the Shanahans and the new stuff that he learned from us I think will make him a better quarterback wherever he goes, however it works out for him.”

On his overall assessment of the defense:

“I think schematically I feel good about where our defense is at especially with all the turnover that we had in the secondary and all the issues that we had. So I think moving forward, when we get our guys back off of IR –some key players there and we’ll add to our depth with the draft and maybe free agency – I think we have a strong unit in place. You know, there’s some things we need to address obviously schematically and player-wise. We will address that, but I think overall I feel good about where the defense was and how they played.”

On how things will change for him this offseason:

“Well, it gets harder. This is something… We demand more of ourselves than being ousted in the first round of the playoffs and we have to get better. We’re happy we won the division obviously but anytime you lose the last game it’s not a fun feeling obviously to stand up here when eight other teams are playing. Our goal is to get better and advance in the playoffs and eventually get that trophy. It’s a great challenge because there’s 31 other teams that are saying the same thing right now. They’re very good, very competitive league obviously. We have a lot of work to do. We have to challenge ourselves as a staff to make sure we get the right pieces in place and coach the heck out of them. Like I said, I feel good about the nucleus. I feel good about the coaching staff that we have. If we can keep everybody moving forward, have some stability there, go from there."

On if he expects any members of the coaching staff to receive calls about other openings and if he would grant them permission to speak to other teams:

“Yeah, we’ll see. Depending on the situation obviously, we’ll see. I always want our coaches to grow and move forward if they can. That’s what this league is all about, opportunities. They’ve all done a great job. Our whole staff has done a great job. Like to keep all of them, but obviously in pro football, things change." 

On how Quarterbacks Coach Matt Cavanaugh helped the rest of the coaching staff and its workload:

“I think that’s exactly what it did. It helped out Sean McVay’s workload considerably, and myself, obviously… I think I’ve mentioned it before, I think when you’re trying to just hone in on the quarterback position as a head coach, you leave out some details with the other positions and you take it for granted, maybe. This way, I was able to be involved in other positions and hang around a little bit more with those guys. To have Matt Cavanaugh there, just focusing on the quarterback fundamentals and taking the quarterbacks and just working on that position, that allowed Sean to do more with the X’s and O’s — the game planning obviously —  the film breakdowns and it really helped out. He was excellent with the quarterbacks, non-stop every day working on their drills and fundamentals. That’s what you need at the position. You can never ever take that for granted. It was a big benefit for all of us.”

On DE Jason Hatcher contemplating retirement:

“He’s a great leader. He’s a great player. I didn’t hear about that until just now so hopefully, he’ll think about it. He’ll make a decision that’s right for him and his family obviously but we’d love to have him back. He’s a heck of a player and a force, not only on the field, but in the locker room. I think everybody is smarting after that loss a little bit, very disappointed, but he’ll make a good decision that’s right for him.”

On how he and General Manager Scot McCloughan plan to evaluate potential roster moves:

“Well, I think we do everything together. We work very closely. He’ll listen to everybody’s opinion — position coaches, coordinators, mine — and then we’ll make a decision together. I think it’ll be the right decisions that’s best for this franchise moving forward. Not all of them are going to be the popular ones but I think ultimately it’s going to be what we think is right for this organization moving forward and that’s all we can do.”

On how important it is to have this year’s leadership group stay intact for next season:

“It’s important but we have a lot of guys that have emerged as leaders. We still have Trent Williams who’s going to be here. D-Hall [DeAngelo Hall] is going to be here. We have Kirk Cousins who’s emerging as a leader. We’ve got guys… Will Compton is moving up in the leaderboard obviously. We’ve got guys that are emerging as leaders. We’ll make that decision on all the veteran guys and the free agents who we are going to try to keep here at a later time. But, like I’ve said, the nucleus of players that we’re going to keep here, we feel excellent about moving forward. We can’t keep everybody obviously. We’re going to lose some key players, some good leadership players. It’s unfortunate but it’s the way it is in pro football.”

On if he feels comfortable with how DB DeAngelo Hall played at safety:

“No question. No question. I think what he did in that role mid-season, I think he’s going to solidify himself as one of the top safeties in the league. That’s my hope for him and I really believe that. He’s got the skillset for it. He showed that he’s not afraid whatsoever to tackle, number one, and he’s got the range to cover sideline-to-sideline. He can come out of the box and cover tight ends or receivers so I’m really excited about having him there from day one in OTAs and learning the position and moving forward. I think it’s going to put a lot of years on his career if he wants to and it’s going to be a huge benefit for us moving forward.”

On the role he envisions for fullback Darrel Young moving forward:

“It’s a position that really not a lot of teams use nowadays, but there is still a need for it – goal-line situations, short-yardage obviously, then, first- and second-down stuff with the play actions and the running game. We’ll address that position but DY has done some great things for this franchise, no question, not only at fullback. He’s scored some touchdowns running the ball and caught the ball extremely ball and then, this year… his biggest impact was probably on special teams — played all four. He did some good things for us. Moving forward, we’ll see how it works out but we’d love to get him back."

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