Here's five takeaways from Redskins head coach Jay Gruden's Nov. 2 press conference at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.*
1. Monday was a "bonus day" of practice to get "a nice, little sweat," Gruden said, so any official updates on the team's injured players will come after Wednesday's practice.
Those wanting official updates on the status of DeSean Jackson (hamstring), DeAngelo Hall (toe), Chris Culliver (knee), Kory Lichtensteiger (neck), Ryan Kerrigan (hand), Bashaud Breeland (hamstring), Chris Thompson (back), among others, will have to wait.
Speaking mostly in generalities about injuries, Gruden did say the team is "concerned" about Breeland and that Culliver and Hall are "still on the fence a little bit."
Brandon Scherff and Terrance Knighton, meanwhile, missed Monday's practice "for personal reasons."
So, in other words, stay tuned Wednesday after practice — the Redskins are off Tuesday — for a full participation report.
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2. The Redskins want to continue to push their identity as run first on offense and stopping the run on defense.
Gruden said that approach "does matter a lot," especially in the division and later down the road in the season.
"When the weather gets bad, it matters, and that's something that we really have to talk about and focus on," Gruden said. "Our run defense has not been very good the last three weeks and our run offense has not been very good. That's going to cost us football games later on in the season, so it's a focal point."
The past three weeks — an overtime loss to the Falcons, a road loss to the favored Jets and a dramatic, come-from-behind victory against the Buccaneers — have seen the Redskins allow individual rushing performances of 153, 146 and 136 yards. Washington's leading rusher in those games were performances of 20, 21 and 29 yards.
Defensively, Gruden said some of the issues against the run are "game-plan specific," but they must shore up the major problems. And, offensively, he said "we should always focus on getting better run looks than we have the last three weeks."
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3. Sustaining the excellence that New England has had the past 15 or so years is "very difficult."
Since 2001, the Patriots have won four Super Bowls and won the AFC title in two other years. In all, they have made the playoffs 12 times during that span.
"You look at the other 31 teams, everybody is trying to emulate the success that they have," Gruden said. "There's no question about it. They've been consistently good and that's obviously the goal of this franchise here, to get back to being consistent, being relevant consistently, year in and year out."
Gruden said that's "easier said than done," however.
"It takes good drafts. It takes being sound in your free agency, your spending. Key positions staying healthy and playing for a long time and obviously great coaching, which they have," he said. "t is a challenge for every football team to try to be consistent like that but it is very, very difficult obviously but that is our intent."
4. Though Sunday's contest "on paper" looks like it will be a "romp" in favor of the Patriots at Gillette Stadium, Gruden said the Redskins will only slightly use that as motivation.
Check out these photos of the Redskins' offense preparing for their Week 9 match up against the New England Patriots Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
"Really anytime you have a chance to play a football game on Sunday in Foxborough, you've got to be ready to play, mentally and physically obviously," Gruden said. "heir record with Tom Brady starting at Foxborough is 76-15 or something outrageous like that."
Gruden said: "We know what's at stake. We know how good they are, how well-coached they are, how well-prepared they are.
"We just have to be as prepared as they are and play harder and make some things happen, protect the football," he said. "They put on their pants just like we do. We're going to go out there and compete our butts off and play."
5. Gruden used the Bye Week last week to do a good amount of self-scouting.
Check out these photos of the Redskins' defense and special teams preparing for their Week 9 match up against the New England Patriots Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
The second-year head coach said he "looked at all our positions" and mainly at the "self-scout of what we've done in all situations."
"Key football situations, red zone and third down by personnel groups, all that stuff," he continued, "then how we can make our team better — if there is a substitution change or not,"
Gruden said he's considered "maybe moving people around defensively," and on the offensive side of the ball, he wants to be "getting other people involved more" and "fixing the running game."
"We're always looking to improve our football team, making sure that we don't have any of the tendencies out there that teams can really exploit on us," he said. "We're always looking to improve our football team, making sure that we don't have any of the tendencies out there that teams can really exploit on us."