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Quotes: Head Coach Jay Gruden (09-28-2016)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On the injury report:

"Did not participate- [Bashaud] Breeland, ankle; [Shawn] Lauvao, ankle; [Josh] Doctson, Achilles; [Dashaun] Phillips, hamstring; DeSean Jackson, knee and ankle. Limited were [Chris] Baker, elbow and toe; [Trent] Murphy, elbow [and] shoulder; [Kendall] Reyes, groin. Full was [Deshazor] Everett, knee; and [Ty] Nsekhe, foot."

On the addition of C John Sullivan:

"We're going to get him ready to play. We like that he's played center for a long time and has been very successful, that's number one [for] a true center. If need be, when he comes in there if something happens to Spencer [Long], he'll be ready to go. He's a very bright guy and I think he will help this football team in the long run."

On G Arie Kouandjio starting at LG this week:

"We're looking at Kouandjio at left guard. Obviously Trent [Williams] finished the game at left guard – that's an option. We have a lot of different options. That's the good thing about our line, they're pretty flexible. I'd like to get Arie a taste of it, see how he does this week."

On Sullivan catching up on the playbook:

"I think he's a pro. He's been in the league for a long time. He knows what football is all about, knows the detail that has to be accomplished at the center position. He'll go through the process with Bill [Callahan] and get up to date, no problem. He's meeting extra and he'll be ready."

On weighing options for offensive line positions:

"Yeah we're looking at a lot of it. We have to prepare for all of it because you never know. You know, how we're going to start the game yet is to be determined but it's very tempting to move Trent [Williams] back inside and Ty [Nsekhe] at left tackle. It is a tempting deal. But Arie [Kouandjio]'s played a lot of snaps at guard. That's what he's played the whole training camp and OTAs and he's ready to play guard, if need be, too. So, those are the options right there. And then [John] Sullivan's a center and Spencer [Long]. You know, if Sullivan picks it up quick we move Spencer to guard if need be. A couple good options there. We'll make that determination later."

On the challenges to keep offensive line momentum with new additions:

"Well that's the responsibility of each individual player. You know, we tell them all the time you got to be ready, you got to be ready to go when your number's called and you never know when. Injuries [are] a part of the game and we just have to deal with it and we feel like Arie's mentally ready to play, physically ready to play if his number's called. Ty Nsekhe's proven that he's ready to play whenever his number's called and we just got to get Sullivan up to speed."

On G Spencer Long's knowledge of protection calls:

"I think he's in a good spot, I really do. I think not playing the first couple of games has helped him sit back and learn and take it all in. You know, he's shown out here today and yesterday and really the last couple of weeks that he's ready to go from a mental standpoint. Just playing center full-time for the first time in a game we were a little concerned, but he finished the game and did extremely well for us at the Giants. So we don't have any concern there as far as him picking it up or making the calls."

On where red zone efficiency is on his list of concerns:

"Oh it's very high, very high. There's a positive that we're getting down there. We have some great drives. I think we're tops in the league in drives without three-and-outs. You know, we're doing very good on first down, second down, we're doing good moving the ball down the field. Third down efficiency in the regular field is very good. When we get down in the red zone, our third down efficiency is terrible and that's something we have to really look at. You know, first, second down is one thing; but we have to make sure that we keep the drives going or get the ball in the end zone on third down. It's a concern, we have to address it."

On what he looks at to improve the red zone efficiency:

"Oh yeah, a little bit of everything. Different play calling, you know, if it's work with a quarterback, maybe implementing more runs down there, whatever it is. But, I think each week poses a different game plan type of way you want to attack the defense. We haven't been very good the first three weeks, but we feel good about moving forward that we'll do better against the teams coming up on our schedule, hopefully. We have to."

On the personnel options in the secondary:

"Yeah, we got options. [Greg] Toler has done a good job and [Quinton] Dunbar filled in and made an interception, did a nice job. [Kendall] Fuller is ready to go. So, we have a lot of good options out there. Not overly concerned about the defensive backfield and Will Blackmon proved that he can play nickel still. He has played safety, he can play safety, so those guys are gonna step up and play."

On the status of WR Josh Doctson after his last minute inactive this past Sunday:

"We don't know. It was actually last minute. It was 11:30 a.m. and he just got it in so Tony Wyllie did an outstanding job with his eraser, put [Rashad] Ross on the thing and took Doctson off. He just didn't feel comfortable, couldn't push off the way he wanted to so we had to make that last minute switch. We don't know. We are trying different treatments for him to try and get him back in action as soon as possible but take it easy this week, next couple days, see if he can do anything Friday and see where he is at. But, it is kind of a wait and see type thing."

On the level of concern with WR Josh Doctson's injury:

"Very, very. I am concerned. We've had all of the tests and there is really nothing there that we should be concerned about from a long term problem, it's just he is dealing with some pain. We don't know why it is but we have to try and figure out what it is and get it fixed."

On defenses paying more attention to TE Jordan Reed in the red zone this year:

"Yeah, we are seeing a little bit more zone probably and when they play zone, sometimes they bang him when he gets off the line of scrimmage or they send an extra guy to him which is good. It should open up some other people but we just haven't found the open guy consistently like we wanted to or guys didn't get open or they played good coverage against the plays that we called.  There is a combination of things that make it go astray but he has to be a big part of the red zone moving forward but, if he does get doubled someone else has to win."

On lining up TE Jordan Reed differently:

"Yeah, both. We can move him around a little bit more and have other guys contribute, especially in the running game. It's just a matter of how to skin a cat, a lot of ways to skin a cat. We gotta pick the right ones, we just haven't done that yet."

On CB Kendall Fuller being an option in the secondary:

"That was a big thing. I think once we got him at rookie minicamp he was very limited coming back from the injury. He came back probably a little bit quicker than we anticipated. We hadn't anticipated him until training camp, but from OTAs he did a little bit and then training camp he continued to progress along. In the last couple preseason games he played extremely well we thought. We feel good about his growth. We didn't want to rush him back but I think he's ready. I think he was ready in week one, actually, to play. We just thought [Dashaun] Phillips had earned the right to play to start the season. If he's banged-up we don't have any doubt that Fuller can fill in. [Greg] Toler can play nickel, [Will] Blackmon can play nickel, so we have a lot of good options to deal with and we'll see who's ready to go come Sunday."

On CB Quinton Dunbar's growth:

"I think he would have played a lot more, the addition of Josh Norman probably set him back a little bit and [Bashaud] Breeland was playing extremely well in training camp and preseason. He just happened to be the odd man out. He's not really a nickel, he's more of a corner. He just had to wait his turn. He's very patient and he got his opportunity Sunday and made a couple big plays for us so, he has made significant growth. He's just a long, raw corner that can run. He's very disruptive at the line of scrimmage, plays excellent in bump-and-run, off-coverage is where he's getting a lot better. That's where you see the growth. He'll get more and more reps as the season goes on and he'll continue to get better."

On the decision to practice outside in the rain:

"I did think about [the rain], I got quite wet. But I was already wet, I didn't want to go standing there all wet in the bubble. Once we were out there, the heck with it. I got a bad weather report from Paul Kelly [laughter]. I'm not pointing fingers, but Paul did it [laughter]."

On the run game:

"That's something that we've addressed here for sure. We don't want to rely that much on our passing game. We feel like we can, if need be. I think the Pittsburgh game was different because we got down there late in the third quarter – the whole fourth quarter was all passes so it really skewed our numbers a little bit. We were definitely pass first, that was our game plan against Pittsburgh. Then against Dallas, we thought we had some really good looks in the passing game also. Each opponent is going to be different, but we do want to have some kind of balance. We want to get Matt [Jones] going. You saw what he can do once he gets going in the fourth quarter, he can wear people down and he can move the chains, and we eat up some clock and keep our defense fresh. That's a very important part of the game for us. It's something that we have to address and continue to work on. But there will be games where we feel like we can move the ball through the air, we just have to find a good balance and that's what we're trying to do."

On the importance of getting WR Josh Doctson involved:

"That's a good question. The thought was that he keeps showing a little bit of progress, we keep thinking he's getting better and he keeps teasing us running out there making a great catch and looking good and then the next day he gets sore. We've done all of the tests we just haven't really found out the issue, what it is, why it's sore and that's something we're continuing to work on there. It could be a possibility or a time that we put him down for a couple more weeks or a couple more days like we're taking him off today, probably set him down tomorrow, see if that helps him a little bit. But, this is new to everybody I think and the key is to get him healthy like you say. We are not trying to rush him, we are just trying to see how he feels on each given day and if he can go, he goes and if not, he doesn't. So we just don't know what tomorrow will bring."

On CB Josh Norman following around Browns WR Terrelle Pryor Sr.:

"It'll be hard to follow him when he's playing quarterback. So, I don't know, we'll have to wait and see.  We're still working on our game plan now and he's all over the place. He's been a dynamic player in the NFL, one of...probably the biggest surprise in the league so far how productive he has been at both receiver and at quarterback, obviously last week. He's a great athlete, got a chance to meet him once, he's big, he's got great ball skills, so we will have a plan for him but, when you move him around from quarterback to receiver to slot whatever it is, we'll just have to know. We have to – team defense is gonna have to take him away, somebody different every time possibly." 

QB Kirk Cousins

On the reshuffled offensive line playing a factor Sunday:

"It's definitely something we have to prepare for but that's what practice is about. We're out there today getting snaps and talking through the role of the center and making sure that we're all on the same page. Come Sunday, no one is looking for excuses. We have to go out there and be productive as an offense no matter who's in what positions and that will always be the expectation."

On if the team needs to try new plays in the red zone:

"I think we can certainly try some different plays, but we often try different plays every week. We're trying to game plan specifically for the defense we're facing, so we haven't carried carbon-copies of our red zone plan week, to week, to week. It changes every week, whether you're playing well, or struggling, you're going to make adjustments and do whatever you think works best that week. It's certainly something we want to be better in. We're working hard at it to improve it."

On defense's throwing new things at him:

"We've said it for a while now -- there's still five eligible, so if you're going to take Jordan [Reed] away, there's four other guys who are eligible to catch the ball and then I can always run too. You can't take away Jordan without giving something else up in a way. It's just a matter of finding that and getting them the football. Defenses are going to do different things. They're going to game plan for you, they're going to make adjustments in-game. I'd be hard-pressed to find something that defenses will do that we haven't seen at some point, it's just a matter of in the moment recognizing it and making the right decision accordingly. It's not like you're saying, 'I've never seen that coverage before. I've never seen that alignment, or that blitz.' It's just a matter of when you do see it, reacting accordingly in the split-second, in the moment, and that's something that we'll be working on for as long as I'm playing football."

On making adjustments at the line with a new center:

"Spencer's [Long] pretty on it. He's, first of all, very intelligent, he's very conscientious, he has a sense of urgency. So although he doesn't have a lot of starts at center under his belt, the ability to make the calls, the ability to run the show – he's very capable. So I don't see myself having to carry a new role or an added weight with Kory [Lichtensteiger] being gone  because Spencer's pretty on top of it."

On getting in sync with a new center:

"There's a rhythm there – but like today at practice – I felt like it was already pretty well-established with Spencer because he's been playing center all the way through the offseason program and training camp and he's been here now for a few years. We played with Josh LeRibeus, I think, for about 10 games, 11 games last year and we played pretty well. It's just a part of the process, I think. What we always worked on with Josh was just the snaps because he had been a guard through his past, so the shotgun snaps would occasionally be off-mark a little bit, but it didn't derail our offense – we were still very productive. So if that's the worst thing you can come up with, then it's not the end of the world. We'll be fine."

On how often he sees defenses cheat towards TE Jordan Reed:

"Yeah, I think each play, each snap is different – each situation. I noticed a couple of times where maybe they're more conscious of him. One time, right before the half, they more-or-less doubled Jordan [Reed] and we were able to find DeSean [Jackson] in the seam right behind them. We didn't make the connection on the play, but that's an example of…you still have to go 11-on-11. So you can be more aware of one of those 11, but there's still 22 guys out there and you still have to find the other eligibles. If you can find a DeSean Jackson in that moment and complete that, then you say, 'We love having Jordan there and even if he didn't catch the football, he's helping our offense.' It's an ever-evolving game, an ever-evolving process, and we just have to continue to try to be one step ahead of our competitors to find the best way to move the football."

On the final takeaway from the drive at the end of the first half:

"I think the final takeaway is I just have to put the ball out of the end zone. Obviously you want to score a touchdown, if someone's there in the rhythm of the play, great, but the second that it's determined that it's not there, you can't even hesitate, the ball has got to be gone. It's got to be thrown at their feet, thrown right over their heads – you don't want to get an intentional grounding, but you need to throw it away. As much as instinctively you may think 'six seconds, I have a little bit more time,' don't even think about it. Just ball out and move on. Again, that will be one of those things where as long as I'm playing football, I'll always be trying to master a situational awareness and become a master at different situations. The good quarterbacks, I think, are automatic in those moments. Not just like that one, in an infinite number of situations they're just very automatic. That's where I'm going continue to try and get better and better."

On his thoughts of having potentially played against former Redskins QB and now Browns QB Robert Griffin III at home:

"You know just another opportunity to try to get a win. I really focus on the defense and I have a little bit of a narrow focus. You know, I don't worry about special teams, like I said, I didn't even know we had a fake punt on or had carried a fake punt last game and so, I have a little bit of a narrow focus of 'let's focus on their defense.' They've given me enough to worry about and all the other things that go on, it just doesn't do me much good or benefit me much to spend energy or time thinking about it."

On if he's on the verge of scoring more touchdowns with the offense moving the ball so well:

"I don't know. Whether it's a passing touchdown or a rushing touchdown we just want to come away with scores. If we throw the ball to get down to the one-yard line and then pound it in with Matt Jones then so be it, that's great. I think the key is though to come away with more production in the red zone. What's, I guess, comforting but also troubling is that we were so productive in the red zone last year, so we know we can do it, we know we should be doing it, and when it's not happening that's when you feel like you know, we've got to be better because we can be. And we're capable of being better. And that's why this is an ongoing challenge. We just got to keep going back and working and always challenging ourselves to be better and better and hopefully get a better result going forward."

On what he's seen from the Brown's defense and how to avoid a "trap game":

"I just don't see it as a trap game. I don't see any game in the NFL as a trap game, I mean we're 1-2. What are we feeling comfortable about, I mean we have to win in the sense that we want to get to 2-2, and we got a lot to play for. We're at home. So, I think those words just don't even enter my, or our, vocabulary. I think if you watch the film, right, the Browns are like two plays away from being 2-1, or who knows, they could be 3-0. I think most teams in the NFL that's the case. So, I see a very talented defense. Guys that play really hard, they play together, they play inspired. They're smart, aware players; athletic. Much like every other NFL defense I'll face and it's going to be a challenge every single week, and they're going to bring it and we better be ready."

On balancing getting a completion versus waiting for a play to develop:

"Yeah, one of the plays I think you're referencing—it's Cover-0. They're bringing more than we can block. You know, I'm going to where my read is, I've got to get the ball out of my hand. So, in that sense my read didn't take me to the guy who was running by himself and then secondly, in those Cover-0 type looks, some guys do get turned loose. So, in that defense, in the way they pressure, in the way they try to disguise looks, that's going to happen from time to time. But, you got to stay true to your leads to avoid the critical errors that could happen if you say, 'that guy's open but I'm going to start seeing what else is over there.' I mean the pass rushers are just too good to start doing that."

On the improvements he's seen in WR Jamison Crowder:

"I think we're always getting better, but I think it would be selling him short to say he's a better player now then he was last year. He was really good last year, I mean he's just—he's a rookie, he's a fourth-round pick. We're trying to find out how he fits. We're thinking that Pierre [Garcon] and DeSean [Jackson] and Jordan [Reed] are going to be the guys that we get the ball to, and then suddenly he just starts showing up time and again in training camp last year and early in the season and we started saying, wow, we've got to get him more involved. So, it might've been too little, too late. But, he's a special player and he's going to continue to be productive for us. We've got find ways to get him on the field more and more."

On if he senses that defenses underrate Crowder's contributions:

"Yeah, I think it just goes back to that ultimately it's 11-on-11, and if you're going to worry about Jordan, or you're going to worry about Jamison Crowder or DeSean; we got to exploit something somewhere. You know, if you're going to try to stop the pass, let's run the ball. If you're going to try to load the box, let's throw it. If you're going to double Jordan, let's find the other guy who's one-on-one and isolated. That's the constant chess match. Sean McVay's doing a great job at play calling. The tunnel screen to Crowder that scored is a phenomenal play call. And that's great play design and great coaching to get those guys in their blocks and put Jamison in the position to then do what he's able to do, so it takes everybody. Coaches are doing a good job of putting him in a position to make plays and we've got to continue to do that week-in and week-out. Give guys opportunities to show what they're capable of."

On if he notices when players change position in the huddle: "Yeah he took out two on the one play which is pretty good when one guy can get two people. Yeah you do, you're aware of it but it's sort of like a shrug your shoulders, what are we going to do about it, you know let's just go. So, my big thing is I've got to go get snaps with the center because a fumbled snap can change an entire course of the game. So we've got to get snaps, we've got to make sure that we're on the same page and there isn't any fumble exchanges and we avoid those critical errors. But, welcome to the NFL with guys having to move around and play different positions. We've always got to just keep finding ways to still produce no matter what."

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