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Quotes: Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins (12-13-2017)

Posted Dec 13, 2017

A transcript of Redskins head coach Jay Gruden and quarterback Kirk Cousins' press conferences Dec. 13, 2017.

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On injuries:
“Did not participate: Zach Brown, illness/toe/Achilles/hip; [Morgan] Moses, ankle; [Montae] Nicholson, concussion; Josh Norman, knee; Trent Williams, knee. Limited were: [Chase] Roullier, hand; [Ryan] Grant, ankle; Ryan Anderson, ankle; [Terrell] McClain, toe; [Maurice] Harris, concussion. Then full were [Martrell] Spaight and [Matt] Ioannidis.”

On if the decision to place TE Jordan Reed on Reserve/Injured was related to his hamstring:

“Yeah, that, and I mentioned his toe [injury] that he had before training camp, which kept him out of the OTAs and he tried to play with that thing and, in turn, hurt his hamstring. So we’re going to try to get his toe fixed also and make sure his hamstring is better.”

On if surgery is required for Reed’s toe injury:

“Could be, yeah. They’re looking. He’s going to go see Dr. [Robert] Anderson here. I don’t know if he went today or tomorrow or whatever.”

On the severity of RB Byron Marshall’s injury:

“Pretty good hamstring [injury]. You saw he couldn’t hardly walk off the field. Anytime you see somebody get carried off almost, with a hamstring, you know it’s pretty bad. It’s a three-, four-week deal. We needed to get Kapri Bibbs up.”

On if Reed’s surgery is needed for his toe injury:

“Yeah, possibly. He’s going to see Dr. Anderson.”

On if CB Josh Norman’s injury was a result of the game:

“Yeah, I think so. Maybe a little wear and tear, too. I don’t think it’s anything serious. More of a rest day, so to speak. But he is a little sore.”

On if K Dustin Hopkins could return this season:

“Yeah, it’s a possibility. We’ll take a look at him, see how he’s feeling, make sure he’s got his strength back and his motion and timing and all that.”

On if K Nick Rose’s performance this season could competition at the position:

“Yeah, you know, we’ll see. I think injuries happen, you have somebody come replace you, then when you come back off the injury, there’s going to be some competition there. That’s what it’s going to be like.”

On if S Montae Nicholson returning late in the season would be worthwhile:

“No question. He’s obviously showed a lot of promise and we love him as a player and an athlete and the more we can get him to play this year, the better. We’ll be patient with him, obviously his health is number one, and we want to make sure he’s 100 percent. We have to make sure he’s 100 percent, and he has to feel right for him to be comfortable out there. But if he is by Wednesday, by Thursday, he’ll play this week, or next week, we’ll play him next week.”

On how difficult it is to stay committed to the run game with the injuries at running back:

“Well it’s tough, tough… it’s very tough. That’s a great question. We’ve got a lot of backs in here, a lot of linemen. But I think the one thing you just want to try to get, try to stay a little bit balanced. You can’t be throwing it 100 times a game, although sometimes you want to. But I think [we’ll] try to get some Samaje [Perine] some looks, try to get our offensive line to come out of their stance and try to get some movement on the defensive line – it’s necessary for us to be successful. But last week, for instance, we had five or six negative runs on first down, left us in second-and-long, and you know, in the NFL, second-and-long is not good. So we did not overcome our horrific early-down struggles. It is something that has to be looked at.”

On CB Bashaud Breeland today:

“Yeah, he was good. He started. He did a good job today.”

On addressing the team’s preparation last week:

“Well, we didn’t spend all week last week playing checkers. I mean, we have a lot of meeting time, a lot of practice time, a lot of walkthroughs. They have iPads. They are prepared. They are mentally prepared, physically prepared, they should be. They have a weight room in here, plenty of water to drink. We just didn’t go out there and perform in a way we would like to have. And a lot of that has to be… give credit to the Chargers, too. You know, they played extremely well, Philip [Rivers] did. But as far as being prepared, I don’t really buy into all that. I think it’s my job to make sure they’re prepared and obviously they didn’t look prepared, so that’s on me. We have to do a better job to give them a better game plan to sink their teeth into. What we did last week didn’t really work that well, but it’s not because it was a lack of preparation.”

On successfully translating preparation to the field:

“Well, you have 16 winners, 16 losers every week. The losers did not successfully transfer the preparation to the field, and we did not. We were one of the 16 and that’s unfortunate. In a way, we got beat, too. You know, I think that really looks… a negative light on how we prepared because we got beat pretty handily. It was 30-13 or whatever it was, and the week before wasn’t very good either. But, you know, I do feel like we’re giving them enough to get themselves ready to play from a mental standpoint. Got enough plays, enough defenses. We’ve just got to do a better job of coaching them and making in-game adjustments and go from there.”

On if he spoke with S D.J. Swearinger about his comments:

“Not really. I felt like everything that’s been said has been said already and we’re not going to hit the rewind button. So we’re just going to move forward and try to prepare the best we can for the Arizona Cardinals. Got a whole new game plan and we’re fired up to play the Cardinals in front of our home fans and go from there. Put the last two games behind us and the reasons why we lost, you know, there’s millions of them we can point to. But the fact of the matter is that we’ve got to let it go and move on.”

On DL Jonathan Allen:

“I think if he’s got any kind of doubt or the doctors have any kind of doubt whatsoever, we’re going to hold him off. So we’ve got to make sure that they’re sure, and they’re not quite sure yet. They want more time.”

On if it’s a matter of balancing a desire to play Allen versus wanting to make sure he’s healthy moving forward:

“Without a doubt.”

On Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald and the numbers he posts despite people thinking he’s going to retire:

“I wish he would retire [laughter]. He’s a great player. The thing you like about Larry is obviously his production and stats, his hands, his clutch plays, but he’s one of the best blocking receivers I’ve seen on tape. He goes in there, he blocks defensive ends, he blocks linebackers – very physical. It’s just great when you see a Hall of Fame-type player like that put that kind of work in in the blocking when he doesn’t have the ball. I think that’s the most impressive thing, personally, about Larry. Aside from all the stats, he’s a very unselfish player and a very physical player in the running game. He obviously paved the way for a lot of yards for Chris Johnson when they had him and David Johnson when they had him and [Kerwynn] Williams they’ve got now, so he’s a big reason for their running game success.”

On how to play defensively against a receiver like Fitzgerald in the run game:

“You’ve got to match physicality with him. He’s a big, strong guy and if he gets his hands on you, if you’re a little defensive back, you better be ready because he’s… and if you’re a linebacker, he blocks linebackers and defensive ends, so he’s just a guy you’ve got to match physicality with. He’s a very big guy.”

On the current mentality of the team:

“Mentally? Well, after a game when you lose 30-13 or whatever it was, you feel like the world’s going to end. But come Monday afternoon when you watch all the film, you move forward and you try to be positive and look forward to the next game and that’s what we’re going to do. We have three games left. We’re blessed with three games left and we’re going to coach the heck out of these guys and I know they’re going to play hard. It’s our job to make sure that everybody’s positive and moving on. We cannot – cannot – dwell on the past of the last two games. We can’t. You’re going to wallow in it and you’re going to continue to suffer. We’ve got to move on and we will.”

On if Swearinger’s comments show leadership:

“I think sometimes, after a loss, you get a microphone stuffed in your face and sometimes you get emotional and say some things that kind of you mean well, but they get taken out of context from time to time. It’s happened to me once or twice, by golly. I mean, I can’t even believe that. I don’t really see a whole lot into it. I know that D.J. plays his heart out out there. He’s not perfect, nor am I, but I love his passion for the game.”

On offensive struggle beyond first down:

“Second down and third down we’re struggling too. Red zone, short yardage, goal line – we’ve just been struggling. I think, not to make excuses, but we’ve had so many different line combinations that we’re almost back to the OTAs fundamental-wise. Some of these guys we’re trying to teach certain aspects – the backs, the pass. You lose Byron Marshall, your third-down back, which you have a lot of plays for on the second kickoff of the game … he doesn’t even play any offensive snaps. It makes it hard. Samaje [Perine] is not a third-down back. He’s never been a third-down back and he’s running stuff out of the backfield and a very integral part of our offense was gone. We have to just make sure we get the guys up to speed and coached and they are ready to play – the guys who are available – and we’ve got [Kapri] Bibbs up. He’s more of a third-down back hopefully for us. LeShun [Daniels] – he’s more of a first- and second-down back along with Samaje. As far as pinning down what went wrong, just pretty much everything. We didn’t do really anything that well. We had some opportunities to make some big plays, we just missed them and we didn’t capitalize on the opportunities. That’s the big thing. We had protection from time to time and we missed some throws. We didn’t have protection and we had guys wide open, so it’s just a matter of taking advantage of the opportunities and we failed to do that last week."

On the most reliable offensive playmakers available right now outside of WR Jamison Crowder:

“Yeah, I think it’s up to everybody else to step up. Ryan [Grant] got hurt a little bit, but Ryan’s been playing pretty well. Josh [Doctson] has done some great things I think from playing his first full year with us. Vernon Davis still is a great weapon for us. Niles Paul is still a great weapon for us. So we have some weapons. We’re not totally deficient in the talent area. We have some good players. Kirk Cousins is a heck of a quarterback and we’ve just got to utilize them a little bit better and try to stay in positive down-and-distances and stay somewhat balanced. Last week, we were down 10-0, 17-0, 17-6, got a little bit of hope and then it was 24-6 like that. The second half, we got down 30-6 and it was just pass, pass, pass, pass and that’s not how we’re built. Stay close in the games and stay balanced and I think we’ll be OK. We have enough weapons.”

QB Kirk Cousins

On his performance last Sunday:

“Well, I just felt like third downs were tough. We didn’t convert enough and only ran 51 plays. It’s hard to have a very productive game as an offense when you only have 51 plays but we have no one to blame but ourselves because you’re not going to run many plays if you’re not staying on the field and you’re not converting third downs. I think that was the challenge and that has been a bit of a challenge much of the season and we are going to have to be better these last three games in situational football in order to have a chance to win and come away with a better feeling.”

On the protection on Sunday:

“I thought protection was pretty good. I thought… I can’t remember all the hits or sacks. I know that there was a sack late in the game that I was trying to find a play down the field. I had Niles Paul open over the ball and in a tighter game you probably just take him for a completion, but at that point you’re down. I’m looking for something else and ended up taking a sack. The point is that the protection didn’t break down. That was more me holding onto the ball a little too long. I thought they did a good job and they held up pretty well.”

On negative plays on first down and how they can avoid them:

“When we run the football on first down, it would help to be able to get to second-and-five, or like you said, second-and-four and more manageable situations. It doesn’t always happen and that’s OK. But we just didn’t have a lot of productive runs, a lot of runs that got us into better situations and we need more of those going forward. Whenever we call play-passes on first down – drop backs, screens, whatever it may be – we want productive plays. I just think it comes down to execution. The plays are all designed and have a reason for why they are being called. All 11 guys have to go out there and make their block, do their assignment, all fire off at the same time and be on the screws. It doesn’t take much for a play to not work. If we miss one detail it can be the difference. We just have to be very locked in and I think that’s where the challenge lies because you have got a lot of new players, a lot of new guys who haven’t been playing together for a long time and it can be tough to all be together at all times. But that’s what we have to work towards.”

On the challenge of getting new players up the speed:

“I think the challenge certainly lies with the position coaches trying to get those guys ready as well. Just communicating in the huddle is key to make sure everybody knows what they are doing, but I found during the Chargers game that any new players who came in, if I did communicate and over-communicate they nodded back that ‘I’ve got it. You don’t have to tell me.’ So they were on top of it and some of it is just that familiarity. You can say, ‘Run a choice route,’ but if you haven’t banked 100 reps of choice routes it’s hard to really… They can still run a choice route but the difference between running a choice route after doing it 100 times and running a choice route doing it for a second or third time, there is certainly a big difference. So get as many reps as we can, get as much familiarity as we can and then go play. It’s part of the game. It happens.”

On Head Coach Jay Gruden saying the team cannot dwell on the past:

“I agree. I believe that you learn from the past and you certainly want to make sure it doesn’t repeat itself but there is no doubt that you do need to wipe it, you need to hit the reset button a little bit. You need to just move forward and not allow anything emotionally to linger and that’s where we talk about being mentally and emotionally tough. Mentally and emotionally tough people are able to do that. It’s human nature to kind of let stuff linger or get yourself in a pattern that’s negative and we can’t just do that. We have to rise above it and I think that is why we are professionals is because we have to be able to do that and it is not easy.”

On determining his comfort with newly installed plays going into a game:

“Hindsight is always 20-20 because there are times where I’ll say to Jay before a game that he’s put in a play that’s in the top 15 plays called in the game and I’m still kind of uneasy about it. Then we’ll run it and we’ll hit a big 30-, 40-yard gain or a touchdown and I’ll kind of laugh at him the next day on the sidelines saying, ‘I doubted you and you proved me wrong that that was a great play and I’ve just got to trust you and go play.’ There are many times where you may not feel totally comfortable with it, but it’s still a great play and you just have to go play. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to ask questions and come to own it, but I just found that the way that I read the play and then coming off the field, I realized that, ‘Aw, man. If I had just read it differently or had a greater mastery of it, I don’t think I would have just thrown it there.’ That’s what I was trying to say after the game, but I still would say you’ve got to have your eyes down the field. You can’t allow a defensive back to fall off like that and make that play. You learn from it, move on and there’s always that constant dialogue throughout the week with every play and the game plan about, ‘What are you comfortable with, what do you like and what do you want called?’”

On moving forward with the season while processing criticism:

“I move forward with the season regardless. I don’t really know that I need to process it. We just go to work every day. I still enjoy playing football and I’m having fun regardless, and a win on Sunday at FedExField will be a great feeling. That’s what we’re shooting for, and I feel just fine about where we’re at as a group and where we’re headed. Though we’ve had some close, tough losses this year and the results may not be what we wanted them to be, I think there’s brighter days ahead and I’m excited about that.”

On if negative reports bother him:

“I don’t read it enough to know how much is out there. It doesn’t bother me because probably I’m not aware of how much really is out there. People can say what they want to say. If it helps them and gets more clicks and gets more traffic, then great. That’s good for them and that helps them and I’m not going to lose sleep over it. We’ve got to win football games. That’s our job and we haven’t done that enough this year and so hopefully these last three games we can do that.”

On the Cardinals’ defense:

“Very good defense. Patrick Peterson is a Pro Bowler, I think six times and counting. Tyrann Mathieu is one of the better safeties in all of football. Chandler Jones is an outstanding pass-rusher. They’ve had some injuries on the defensive side much like any other defense, but still a lot of good players out there that are making plays. I think there’s a lot of smart players – crafty guys – and they’ll provide a good challenge.”

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