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Quotes: Jay Gruden (12-1-17)

Posted Dec 4, 2017

A transcript of Redskins head coach Jay Gruden's press conference Dec. 1, 2017.

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On injuries:

“Yeah, only two really were Morgan [Moses], he has an ankle sprain, it’ll be a day-to-day once we come back; and Mo [Maurice] Harris is in the concussion protocol deal.”

On if he’ll consider sitting starters to get them healthy:

“I think it’s going to be a player-by-player basis. I think if they’re good enough to go, they need to go. But we’ll see how they’re doing from a longevity standpoint. We obviously don’t want to hurt anybody’s future – if it’s a chance to injure themselves long term. But, you know, if it’s just a nagging ankle sprain or something like that where they just can play through it, then they’ll play through it. We’ve got to dress 46 guys out there and we’ll dress the healthiest guys we can.”

On what went wrong other than the turnovers:

“Well I think, glaringly, I think the dropped passes, No. 1 we had a couple big drops early in the game offensively. Defensively, we Redskins had four three-and-outs in a row. They came out ready to play, without a doubt. So I was impressed with the way they came out and played. Offensively, you know, the drops hurt us. And then the fumbled punt and then the punt return for touchdown. We just got behind the eight-ball and couldn’t dig ourselves out of it. Once we cut it back down to 10, we fought back down to 10, then they had the long drive for touchdown to seal the deal that held the ball for six minutes in the fourth quarter. So, lot of factors involved. I was impressed with the way our defense came out, but obviously the dropped passed and turnovers killed us.”

On the team’s readiness to play:

“I think we were ready. I just said we had four three-and-outs in a row. Our defense came out ready to play. I mean we had four three-and-outs in a row, that’s not easy to do. And we had big field position; couple key drops hurt us, which are uncharacteristic. Then we fumbled a punt. Actually we had the dropped pass that resulted in an interception then we fumbled a punt and they had a punt return for touchdown. I wouldn’t say we weren’t ready to play. I think, one, they made a couple plays and, two, we didn’t make the plays we normally make, you know?”

On his assessment of special teams’ performance this season:

“Well last night, actually the last two times we’ve played Dallas, they had the blocked field goal that resulted in a touchdown at the end of the half, which killed us. And then last night we had a couple major FUBARs – the dropped punt, the punt return for touchdown, the kickoff return we might’ve been able to let out of bounds, we returned it, resulted in a concussion for Mo [Maurice Harris] – so there were three or four instances on special teams that, you know, wasn’t up to par for us. But overall I think our special teams has been OK, we just haven’t had the splash plays on special teams, the momentum-changing plays that you look for on special teams. Especially in these close games, I think when you have as many close games as we’ve had, sometimes it’s a special team play that’ll put you over the top, we just haven’t had many of them. So we’ve just got to figure out ways to change the momentum on special teams that we haven’t done other than the New Orleans Saints fake punt there backed up.”

On how he assesses the team’s effort:

“Well I look for, you know, guys running to the football on defense – which I think they were doing, I really do. I think these guys are hustling on defense, they were getting off blocks, we were gang-tackling, we were tackling well for the most part of the game. You know, exception of that last drive there, they had two key third-down conversions, and then the [pass interference] call that gave them the ball first-and-goal at the one. Which, you know, is a questionable deal. But I think our defense played extremely hard. Offensively, you know, guys are playing hard. We just missed a couple TE stumps, dropped a few balls here and there, it’s not because a lack of playing hard, it’s just [that] we didn’t make a few plays that we normally make.”

On if he feels limited on special teams because of injuries:

“Yeah, a little bit.  Last night we had to dress eight offensive linemen and that takes away from somewhere. We only dressed three safeties and one of them is D Hall [DeAngelo Hall] who doesn’t do much on special teams. Then Mo Harris got hurt early in the game, which was going to be a special teams player for us. We were down to three receivers. So we were kind of short in a lot of departments there. Unfortunately for us – special teams and that has a little bit to do with it. [Deshazor] Everett, who is starting at safety, is also playing all of special teams. [Quinton] Dunbar and Fabian [Moreau] played pretty well on special teams. Our outside backers have to perform better – [Ryan] Anderson, [Chris] Carter and Junior [Galette] doesn’t play special teams. So we were a little bit thin there. Josh Harvey did OK on special teams, Josh Harvey-Clemons. Zach Vigil is starting at linebacker and had to play some special teams so we were a little bit thin from a personnel standpoint just because of who we had dressed and a couple of the injuries in the game. Zach Vigil missed some time with an injury. Obviously I said Mo Harris. So we were a little bit thin.”

On what happened on the Dallas Cowboys punt return for a touchdown:

“I think first of all, it starts with the punt. The actual punt, it wasn’t Tress’ [Way] best punt. The hang time was poor and it was right in the middle of the field. That’s number one. Then number two, we didn’t get off blocks good enough. They did a good job blocking our flyers, our gunners so to speak, and then we didn’t get off blocks and missed a tackle there in the hole.”

On having the long weekend:

“That’s going to be a big benefit, a really big benefit. To get people out of the building for a couple days to refresh, refocus and get ready for the fourth quarter of the season. One, hopefully we will get some guys back. Hopefully Chase Roullier comes back with his hand. Maybe we will get some other players back like – get guys back healthy. Matt Ioannidis, maybe get that cast off his hand and get Terrell McClain back possibly. Hopefully Morgan Moses gets good news on his ankle and can come back. So, hopefully we will get some healthier guys, some refocused guys and finish this season strong.”

On if he will look at players at different spots for the last four games of the season:

“We’ve been doing that all year. So I think it is a matter of trying to get these guys ready to play, number one. We want to finish strong. We want to finish with a winning record. We want to get to 9-7. We want to get to 6-7 first. We are going to play a really good San Diego team, or sorry a L.A. team. They are battling themselves into the playoff race and it’s going to be a great battle. But we definitely want to finish strong.”

On the run defense:

“They did pretty good job for the most part. It was towards the end of the game, the fourth quarter, where they got some big hits. They [Dallas Cowboys] wore us down just a little bit. We didn’t do a good enough job on offense to possess the football, but for the most part they stuck with the running game. They have an excellent tight end and very big offensive line and Alfred [Morris] was able to find some holes there later in the game. But it wasn’t anything schematically. It was just a matter of us getting off blocks, maybe wearing down towards the end with the defensive line - were a little bit banged up there towards the end. And obviously our linebacking core, with Zach Vigil coming out of the game. You saw Zach Brown kind of limping around out there. He wasn’t at his full bill of health. They competed and battled and did the best they could, but wore down a little bit towards the end.”

On LB Zach Brown’s injury:

I think Zach will be fine. He is beat up, but hopefully these couple days will be a big help for him.”

On LB Martrell Spaight’s ankle and if it is still bothering him:

“Yeah, there is no doubt that it is. That’s another part of the special teams deal. He was beat up a little bit and like I said, Vigil went out there. He was beat up a little bit. Zach Brown was beat up a little bit. So that whole linebacking core was not doing too well - health wise.”

On deciding whether T Trent Williams will continue to play or have surgery:

“I think the big thing is the timeline. Let’s find out what the timeline is for the surgery if he has to have surgery, number one – what type of surgery it’s going to be and how long it’s going to put him out.  We’ll take all those and then figure out what we’re going to do with him. If he’s good enough to finish the season, he will finish out the season. We need him and Kirk needs him. We’ll go by what the doctors say and how Trent feels and make our decision with Trent.”

On if TE Jordan Reed has a similar injury timeline situation:

“Yeah, same thing. Very much so. We’ll talk to Jordan about how he’s feeling and get the doctor’s opinion on everything and that’s really all we can do at the end of the day. Talk to the player, talk to the doctor and then we’ll make a decision moving forward on a week-to-week basis or a season-basis.”

On how he would evaluate QB Kirk Cousins’ performance:

“I think Kirk competed. You saw him take some big shots in there. He scrambled – made some big throws down the field under duress. Obviously when you lose the way we lost, it’s hard to give anybody a ringing endorsement. But for the most part, I think Kirk competed and really did the best he could with the situation he was in. Coming from behind, two-minute drill … they knew we were going to pass. He was stepping up and making some throws. There was some throws I’m sure he wish he had back, maybe some reads, but for the most part, I was happy the way Kirk played. I wouldn’t say happy, but I was impressed, I guess, is the word. Whatever.”

On the status of DL Jonathan Allen:

“No, nothing really. He’s free to start practice next week and we’ll take a look at him and see where he is. He’s a guy that we may not rush back. We may just want to get him fully healed before we even think about putting him out on the practice field. That’s going to be up to the trainers, again, so we’ll wait and see on that. But he is making great progress.”

On why OL Ty Nsekhe struggled playing right tackle:

“Yeah, I think there were some. For the most part, when you’re playing ever y snap at left guard and getting ready to play left guard during the week and then all of a sudden, the second possession or the third possession, whatever it was, you’ve got to go play right tackle. It’s a totally different technique and all that stuff. I think it was just him not playing right tackle for some time. He’s been on the left side and spelling Trent at left tackle and then he obviously tried to play left guard and then to be thrown in at right tackle, I think he had a few issues there. I thing moving forward, we’ll try to get him in a spot where he can play and focus and play that spot. Unfortunately, he’s had to play all three – left guard, left tackle and right tackle. It’s easier said than done for these guys. It’s a different stance. It’s a different technique.  It’s just totally different to be a left guard, left tackle, and then all of a sudden play right tackle. So, naturally he’s going to have some plays where he struggles, but for the most part, he played OK from time to time.”

On if he will use Nsekhe as a left guard or swing tackle:

“That’s a good question.  I think we’d like to put him at left guard. I think we were excited at the thought of having him and Trent on the same side. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to keep them both on the field for very long and see how that works out. Ideally, if Trent is able to play the last four games and Morgan gets healthy, I’d like to leave Ty at left guard and see how he does – see how he progresses at that position. But in the meantime, until we get Morgan or Trent back healthy, he’s going to have to be the swing tackle or play one of the tackle spots assuming one of those two guys can’t play. But if they both can play, then he’ll play left guard. [Laughter] We just don’t know.”

On the challenge of getting RB Samaje Perine more carries:

“Yeah, we tried to get him going and then he went out of the game for – I think it was two or three series, he was out. He was getting checked out on the sideline for an injury so we had to wait a couple series for him to get back and cleared, so that was an issue there. We tried to get the running game going and unfortunately, I think we had four or five first down runs that were zero or less yards which obviously put us behind the 8 Ball as far as down and distance is concerned and it wasn’t quite good enough. We’ll continue to keep trying and get the running game going because we desperately need it to get going to take some pressure off the quarterback and the pass protection.”

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