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Quotes: Head Coach Jay Gruden, Quarterback Kirk Cousins (10-12-2016)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On the injury report:

"Did not participate: Josh Doctson, Achilles; [Jordan] Reed, head, he's being evaluated for a concussion. Limited were [Bashaud] Breeland, ankle; [Su'a] Cravens, concussion; [Dashaun Phillips], hamstring; [Trent] Murphy, shoulder; [Trent] Williams, knee; [Chris] Baker, foot and wrist; and [Josh] Norman, wrist. Full were [Mason] Foster, toe; and [Ryan] Kerrigan, elbow."

On when TE Jordan Reed began experiencing symptoms:

"He came in Tuesday morning with some symptoms and we take the cautious approach and [are] getting him checked out."

On S Su'a Cravens' progress:

"Those glasses are just part of his rehabilitation. He's coming along pretty good, so we understand. He's still in the program and we're hoping to get positive results here shortly. As far as his Snapchat is concerned, I think he deleted his account, hopefully, for a week or so, I guess."

On QB Kirk Cousins:

"I'll tell you what, you win three games in a row – two on the road – is pretty impressive when you're the starting quarterback. So there's always room for improvement for everybody – offense, defense, special teams – and that's what we're striving to do. I'm sure he'll be the first to tell you that he missed a few throws that he wished he had back. But he also made some great throws that helped us get in the position we were in. I like where we are at. We started out poorly. We won three in a row to get us in a good position right now after five weeks and now we just have to continue to get better."

On if there is anything specific he wants Cousins to focus on this week:

"No, I think every week is different, and they present different challenges. The Eagles will be different with their wide-nine techniques, their pass rush, Fletcher Cox and Nolan Carroll. They're going to have different challenges for us. And we just have to continue to study our opponent and each week is a new week with high hopes and we've just got to get better."

On if Reed is in the concussion protocol:

"Yeah, we're in the program. Yes."

On if a repeat concussion for Reed would be more concerning than a first concussion:

"I don't think in those terms and I'm not considering it a concussion until we get all the results right now. You know, he just had some symptoms, it doesn't mean it is. We just want to make sure we take the right steps."

On how rookie QBs Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott have changed the dynamic of the NFC East:

"Well, they've been very dynamic in their play for sure, especially their ability to not turn the ball over. I think both of them have done an excellent job. I think Wentz threw his first pick last week and I think Dak finally turned the ball over against Cincinnati last week for the first time. So, when you have a rookie quarterback, that's the biggest thing you worry about are the rookie mistakes that are the fumbles, the interceptions, but those guys have protected the ball extremely well. They made plays with their feet and obviously they both have strong arms, can make all the throws. So they've been both very, very impressive and are going to be tough to deal with for a lot of years to come."

On if there is greater concern about Cravens' concussion:

"I think anytime you're talking about concussions nowadays with what we know about them, you're going to have some concern. That's why we take the necessary steps to make sure they see the right people and we don't put them back on the field until they've been clarified as OK. So we just have to play it by ear. You know, we take the players best interest, number one, as far as getting better. And when they are better, we get them back out there."

On if Cravens had to leave practice to see a doctor:


On why young quarterbacks have been able to have immediate success in the NFL in the past few years:

"Well, I think it depends on the quarterback, number one. Each quarterback is different and it depends on their makeup and their ability, quite frankly. Some quarterbacks can handle the pressure and all the things – the challenges – that the quarterback positions brings, they can handle it a little bit better than others. And of course, coaching helps a little bit, too. You know I think you look at the rookie quarterbacks in our division, I think the coach has done an excellent job down there in Dallas and Philadelphia, putting them in good position, plays that they can handle, they're comfortable with and they have good success. So there's a lot of things that make a good quarterback, rookies especially. But mainly it's the actual players themselves, they're good players."

On Cravens appearing to want to do more in practice:

"Yeah, I think part of the concussion protocol is being active a little bit more so than inactive, but we obviously don't let them be in a position to get hit. But to try to get them out there, see what they can do, try to get to meetings, see what they can handle, and obviously if they have any drawbacks or setbacks, then we rest them or take care of them. That's just part of the program. I'm not really involved with that. That's up to Larry [Hess] and the independent doctor, and our doctor, and we just have to play it by ear and take each case individually."

On how Cravens felt today:

"You know, I've talked to him a lot and he said he feels good, but he still has to take the necessary steps. And the tests that they take before they have the concussion and then after, they see the doctor and they've got to make sure there's no recurring symptoms and all that. It's a tricky deal, it really is. It's good that we're more careful than just throwing them back out there when they say they're OK because they have to make sure they pass all the necessary tests."

On if CBs Bashaud Breeland and Dashaun Phillips will be active Sunday:

"Yeah, we'll see. I think Breeland looked good, I think Phillips is doing more and more, so you know, it's a good problem to have when you have guys that can cover – a lot of them. We've been on the other side of that where we haven't had enough. Now we have a lot of healthy bodies that are good players that can cover, and I don't mind putting anybody out there at any given time. Whether it's [Greg] Toler, [Quinton] Dunbar, Breeland, obviously Josh [Norman], Phillips, [Kendall] Fuller, they're all good players. So, the more the merrier from what I see. We'll make that decision come Friday or Saturday."

On Cousins' past success against the Eagles and how different they are this year defensively:

"Well, they had a different coordinator, so they're considerably different techniques. Defensive line, secondary, everything, they're different. Some of the same players that are good players, but their scheme is totally different. It'll be a different approach, how you attack them, how you get after them, and we'll see how we do. But he has good success against Philly last two or three times, which is a good thing, but this a different deal."

On his reaction to Cravens and if there is a team policy on sharing injury information on social media:

"Yes [laughter]. He understands now fully what not to put on Instagram and Twitter and what to put on there. You know, he just… I don't think he meant anything by it. But, it wasn't the right thing to do at that time. He's learned, young guy. He'll make another mistake I'm sure before his career's over here."

On if he enters games with a plan to get players a certain number of targets:

"You know, I've said it before, that's the hardest thing – to try to get everybody happy and get everybody the necessary touches to make them happy. It's a great challenge for the coordinator, the play caller, quarterback, you know what I mean? And then you've got to factor in the running game, you want to stay balanced. So I think we just have to let the play be its own entity and whoever gets the ball, the coverage will dictate it. And if we get one-on-one matchups, man-to-man across the board, then the quarterback's got to pick his best option. And it'll be different, it could be Jordan [Reed], it could be DeSean [Jackson], it could be Jamison [Crowder], it could be Pierre [Garçon], it could be Chris Thompson, Matt Jones. Each play is its own entity and we've just got to make good, sound decisions with the ball. And hopefully everybody stays patient and runs their routes fast and intending on getting it because you never know who will get it on each given play."

On the Orlando Predators folding:

"Yeah, it's a bummer, it is. It was a fun league. It gave a lot of people a lot of enjoyment over the years, opportunity both playing-wise, coaching-wise. Fans had a great time. It was a very fan friendly league, opened a lot of doors for myself, met a lot of great people, coached a lot of great people, played with a lot of great people, great experience, great place. Sad, sad day for Orlando Predator fans and players, past and present." 

On if he wants to get the ball to WR DeSean Jackson more:

"Yeah, we have to. We have to try to get our playmakers the ball a little bit more, there's no question about it. But, we can't force the issue either, you know? But when I wake up at 5:30 in the morning or 4:00 and he is standing outside my garage with a baseball bat, I think I better get him the ball, you know [laughter]. He deserves the ball a little bit more, but I'll tell you what, he does do, he dictates a lot of the coverage, which does open it up for other people. And even against Cleveland, I mentioned those two pass interference calls that don't hit the stat line, those are big plays. He had a couple opportunities last week against Baltimore. We didn't hit him, but he's still a major, major threat out there that doesn't go unnoticed by the defense, I promise you that."

On if it is difficult for Cousins to spread the ball to multiple weapons:

"It's tough. You know, he's got enough pressure on him as it is, reading the coverage and dealing with the pass rush and dealing with the pass concept and the protection and all of that stuff, let alone trying to make everybody happy and that's not his job. His job is to deliver the ball to the right person, get it out on time, throw it accurately and let the play concept take care of itself. At the end of the day, we'll worry about that who needs the ball more and who gets the ball more and all of that stuff, but it's going to be impossible. It's never ever been easy to keep everybody happy and make them the No. 1 stat guy that they want to be, unfortunately. We have a very good offense. We spread it around and we're always going to spread it around. They're all a major part of this offense, they're all big reasons why we've won three games in a row and they're going to be the reason why we continue to do better and better throughout the course of the year. Whether they catch one ball or 10 balls, it doesn't really matter."

On living with mistakes made by younger players:

"Yeah, it's part of developing players. You know, sometimes you have to throw them out there and let them play. It's hard to develop players when they're on the sideline. So you have to put them out there and let them fight through some growing pains but you let them sink or swim, and a lot of our guys are swimming pretty good right now. And they're going to make a mistake from time to time, but over the long haul it's going to make them better players. It's going to make our team a lot better when you play some young guys and they're able to develop in your system. So, I am happy that guys like [Kendall] Fuller and guys that are playing right now at young age and doing good."

QB Kirk Cousins

On how much it would hurt if TE Jordan Reed is unavailable on Sunday:

"We'd love to have him out there. He's obviously a great player for us. We've talked about it all year long how depth is going to be important and we're going to need other players to step up. It's kind of part of the way the NFL season works and how long of a year it is and how much of a grind. That's where we've just got to have other guys be ready to go."

On how he feels he is doing compared to his statistics:

"I don't know. I guess I don't really look to try to tell a story until the end of the season when it's all said and done. But we're just going to continue to try and play. Each game brings its own challenges and own situations. There's certainly a lot of times or places where I can be better, but I think I'm always going to say that, regardless of what the game was or the final outcome. We'll just keep taking it one game at a time and try to stack up as many wins as we can."

On the added comfort of having Reed at tight end:

"Yeah, I mean he's a very talented player. He's shown that. We love to have our best players out on the field with us. But like I said, you understand that it's a part of playing in this league that injuries are going to happen. Guys are going to be in-and-out and it gives a great opportunity for other players to step up. As we've said all along, we have several talented players who can help fill that gap."

On the transition of going from the backup role to the starting role:

"It's just the life of a quarterback in the NFL. You just always stay ready and you keep learning and you take advantage of the reps you get. The reps you don't get, you try to take mental reps. Clearly he [Wentz] has done that and has played at a high level. It's the life that all of us go through, just trying to always be ready and take advantage of whatever opportunity we get."

On what stands out about the Eagles' defense:

"I think [they're] very talented – a lot of good, individually talented players. There has been some turnover like you'd expect in the NFL, but they still have a lot of the same pieces back that were very good players for them last year and years before that. I have tremendous respect for the talent level, for the scheme, the coaching staff that they have, and it will be a great challenge for us. Statistically, they have been playing as well as anybody in the league."

On if he feels pressure to get the ball to a target like WR DeSean Jackson more:

"I just go where my reads take me, and I'd say on those two plays [against New York], my reads took me to him. You go back and you say based on the coverage and the concept and the way we're coached to read it out, that's where the ball needed to go. I think there were times in the previous games where you say my reads took me to him, but we didn't connect. That's the plays where you say you want those back. I've said it quite a bit that he's a talented player and we get him the football, good things happen. Very rarely do I… I've never really wished I got it to him less. I always come away from games saying, 'If we had just gotten him the football more…' But at the same time, I've got to go where my reads take me and stay disciplined to that, otherwise I'll get myself in trouble in the long run. But we're always going to find ways to get him involved."

On RB Robert Kelley:

"He's, I think, a talented running back. He seems to always make productive runs and rarely has negative runs. I think he's stepped up well each time he's been in there. As a rookie, you kind of take big steps forward each time you get out there because it's such a new challenge. I have a lot of confidence in him and he continues to seem more and more comfortable each week."

On how well he feels he is extending plays:

"I don't know. Each play has been different. I don't know, I can't even remember last week if there were a lot of off-schedule plays – I don't really think there were. Try to avoid sacks – I don't think I'm taking a lot. I don't really know statistics on that one. Just try to go to the open guy and go where my reads take me. If nobody is open, try to keep the play alive and always continue working on finding that balance."

On if defenses are baiting him into throws and how he can avoid that mistake:

"I think you just take the underneath coverage. Zone droppers, with their eyes on you, there are going to be times where you can throw the ball over them and we've done that, and there's going to be times where you can't. You have got to continue to play and get a feel for when you can and when you can't. Each time, each play, each situation can be a little different, but you learn from each one. That one obviously was a time where you let it go underneath. So that's what you take away from it."

On if there is potential to play better despite winning three games in a row:

"I think we're always going to be looking for what we can do more-and-more. I think when we've played at a very high level, looking back, we've still come away from games and we aren't patting each other on the back and saying, 'Boy, how great was that?' We're always saying what can we do better? How can we play sharper? What plays did we leave out there? So whether it's a win like last week – a loss, a big win, an offensive explosion or a win where we didn't light it up – we're always going to be hard on ourselves and try to find ways to improve. So last week is no different."

On what stands out about Cowboys QB Dak Prescott and Eagles QB Carson Wentz as rookies:

"They've done a great job. I haven't studied them but I've been able to watch only a little bit… the Cowboys' offense against the Giants' defense going into the Giants game and I think the Eagles' offense going against the Browns and maybe one other team. So I haven't watched them a ton. Clearly doing a solid job and playing well and leading well and I know that that's challenging to do. So my hat's off to them and the way they're playing."

On what helps guys start their careers well:

"I don't know, I think it can be a combination of factors, but I think ultimately it comes down to them and their preparation and their work ethic and just being ready to go and thriving in the moment. And they've done a good job of that."

On getting the ball to Jackson vs. balancing the offense:

"I think I balance it by running the offense. I mean, I'm going to go where my reads take me, but you know, it's not always just that simple. You know, there are in the heat of the moment decisions you can make and 50/50s and different things like that. I'm just going to keep going where reads take me but there's no doubt when we get him the football good things happen. And he's just so talented and so capable of taking over a game and making an enormous difference in the outcome of the game that I want to be continuing to look for him and give him opportunities. And he knows it better than anyone that he can help us win and he can make a big difference in the outcome of a game. So we're going to keep trying to find ways to get him the ball and make sure we don't miss opportunities that are there or were there."

On his role on the sideline during the game:

"I think my role is to keep everyone engaged, right? And try to be positive. I'm not going around the sidelines being negative or trying to make guys disengaged. I think the goal is to be positive, encourage guys, talk about plays that happened, communicate. Say, 'Did you feel like you were open there? Here's what I was thinking.'  You know, I want to tell guys when something isn't right, that it wasn't right so it doesn't happen again, but I also want them to do the same for me. And that constant communication I think is what makes any organization work well. So we'll always try to have good sideline mechanics and dialogue and I think we have. I think we've done a good job in staying on the same page in between drives, you know, getting ready for the next one."

On if receivers always think they were open:

"Well, at this level, these guys… This isn't backyard football in third grade, you know? These guys know coverages and they understand, hey, it was Tampa 2 there, the ball's not going to go to me here, but I still have to run my route to occupy it so it can go to someone else. So we have those discussions and talk about it and make sure they're aware, but if they say, hey, you know in Tampa 2, I came open that time, the corner didn't sink like we thought he would, and that's the kind of conversation you want to have and make sure we're on the same page."

On what it's like to be part of an organization that provided humanitarian support in Haiti:

"I have said it many times, as an NFL quarterback, this platform is not ultimately for me. It's not about just throwing touchdown passes and trying to earn a living, it's about this platform, being able to make a positive difference and impact people in a positive way. And the fact that I can be a part of – we can be a part of – a team and organization where people are doing that outside of just football says a lot. I'm proud of the guys who went down there and the fact that our owner gets behind that and makes that possible. Thrilled to be a part of a group of guys who can do that and make that kind of a difference."

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