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5 Takeaways: Dec. 21 Jay Gruden Conference Call


Here's five takeaways from Redskins head coach Jay Gruden's conference call with local media members on Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014:

1. Winning is most important when it comes to evaluating of the quarterback position.

After earning his first victory in which he completed an entire game since last November, Robert Griffin III was clearly relieved to have finally gotten another victory on his resume Saturday vs. the Philadelphia Eagles.

It was technically his second victory of the season, as he's credited with defeating Jacksonville Week 2, but after dislocating his ankle in the first quarter of that game, Kirk Cousins came in for Griffin III and led the Redskins to a 41-point performance.

Since that time, including Colt McCoy, all three quarterbacks on the roster have attempted at least 125 passes.

While its unsure of where exactly the Redskins will go with the position after the season, Gruden believes winning is the most important evaluator for quarterbacks.

"That's the biggest factor, that is the No. 1 factor and that is it," he told the media Sunday via conference call. "Obviously, you look at the production and all that stuff and what he could've done maybe, but winning football games is the only thing that matters to me for a quarterback."

Gruden also explained that he isn't worried about their final stat line for the quarterback, as long as he's led the Redskins to victory.

"It doesn't matter, like I said, if they go 12-for-24 for 80 yards and we win or if they go 28-for-35 for 400 [yards] and we lose, you'd rather have the 12-for-24," he said. "So I think the ability to manage a football game, stay away from the big turnovers and get the W is all that counts and that's the first objective."

2. Carrying a two-game winning streak into the offseason would be huge for both confidence and off-the-field work.

From both a team and individual standpoint, Gruden believes that if the Redskins can score a season sweep over the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday, after defeating the Philadelphia Eagles last Saturday, it will really boost the team's mindset heading into the offseason.

"You don't want to have a 10-game losing streak going into the offseason and then you're not sure what you are doing is right and there's question marks going in," he said. "But if you have a couple-game winning streak here and you see some results from your hard work and the things that we are trying to accomplish offensively, defensively and on special teams, then I think people buy in a little bit more."

If they do accomplish the two-game winning streak to end the season, Gruden also believes that the players will "come back here with a little bit more confidence, a little bit more excitement to get back to work."

"I think when you see results based off your preparation and your work, I think it will entice people to work a little bit harder in the offseason and get back to work," he said.

3. Gruden likes when his defensive backs don't worry about any bad plays that happened in the past, and instead focus on what's next.

The defense as a whole this season has had both its positive and negative performances, especially in its secondary.

While rookie cornerback Bashuad Breeland has justified his decision to leave Clemson early -- recording both a game-ending pass defensed against Dallas in the first meeting of the season and Saturday's game-changing interceptions -- Gruden said second-year cornerback David Amerson has struggled in certain situations, most notably against slants.

Against the New York Giants in Week 15, Amerson gave up a touchdown to Odell Beckham Jr. on a slant, and then did the same against to Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper Saturday.

Gruden said he wants Amerson to get more aggressive on those plays, but likes where the second-year player's confidence remains.

"I don't think David's ever going to lack confidence, and I don't think any of those defensive backs that we have on the field will lack [it]," he said. "What makes a defensive back good is their ability to forget, and both those guys – Breeland and Amerson – do a good job of forgetting their bad plays and going on to the next one."

4. DeSean Jackson has been that vertical threat Gruden desired him to be when he signed with Washington.

While a lot has been made of Jackson's performances against his former team this season, the seventh-year veteran has come to play against all competition.

In crossing the 1,000-yard mark in his first season with the Redskins, Gruden has gained a lot of respect for Jackson both for his play on the field while battling injuries, as well as his leadership in the locker room.

"He's been great, man," Gruden said. "I gained a lot of respect for DeSean. Whatever happened in the past in Philadelphia I don't know, but I know since that he's been a Washington Redskin, he's been solid to be around. He's been a good worker and obviously he's a big-time threat all the time."

While it's difficult at times to build a rapport with one quarterback -- let alone three -- Jackson has been able to carry over a sense of continuity with every Redskins quarterback, logging 50-plus-yard receptions from Griffin III, Cousins and McCoy.

"He's a huge play waiting to happen and luckily we were able to use him and get two 50-plus yard gains [vs. Philadelphia] because of his speed," Gruden said.  

5. Dallas Week Round Two Is Upon Us.

There's always an added sense of importance when it comes to facing the Cowboys.

And while the Redskins' rivals may have already clinched the NFC East, this game still has quite a lot of significance. Dallas, currently the No. 3 seed in the NFC, has an outside chance of clinching a first-round bye in the playoffs. The only way they can remain alive in this scenario, though, is by defeating the Redskins. 

Regardless, Gruden knows the team will come out ready.

"Anytime the Redskins play the Cowboys, it doesn't matter what your record is, it should be great motivation and that's definitely going to be my No. 1 tool this week for motivation is just beating the Cowboys," he said.




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