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Quotes: Jay Gruden (01.04.16)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

Opening statement:

"Dashaun Phillips looks like he's going to be OK. Everything came back positive, looks like a stinger, quite frankly. We'll see how he's doing tomorrow when he comes in here and we'll see if he can practice Wednesday. Kyshoen [Jarrett], the neck and spine, everything came back in a positive way. We're concerned about the nerve that affects his right arm. We're going to do more tests on that and go from there."

On his message to the team after the win:

"I think you finalize a season. The way we ended, we're excited about that. A lot of good things that we accomplished there towards the end – finishing 4-0 in the fourth quarter obviously and winning three games in a row on the road, winning the division, big game at Dallas. But now it's time to focus on our next opponent and get ourselves ready to go. We've said it before, you have to continue with your consistent preparation. It's got to be your best preparation of the year against a very good football team. It's going to be Green Bay obviously. Aaron Rodgers and Coach [Mike] McCarthy, obviously a proven football team over there with a lot of playoff experience. We're going to really have to up our game and play well together."

On potentially having four running backs and a fullback available next week:

"We're going to have to wait and see, check out the injury report. Chris Thompson has a little bit of an injured toe. See how Matt Jones is doing with his hip, make sure he's 100 percent. We'll probably have to make a tough decision if we're only going to go with four running backs. DY [Darrel Young] will be one of them and then we'll decide on the other three later on."

On if not beating a team above .500 in the regular season makes Sunday's task 'more daunting':

"Not really. We've been putting a lot of challenges on these guys what they haven't done. We've accomplished a lot. We've put to bed a lot of demons around here. I guess this is the last one, winning a playoff game obviously is our No. 1 objective. Some of the teams we've beat would be over .500 if we didn't beat them, so you have got to look at it like that. We just play who we're going to play on the schedule. We understand the importance of this football game and how good these teams are. If you make it to the playoffs, no matter who you've beaten, it's a hell of a feat in my opinion. We've got to get ready."

On how much he has grown as a coach:

"I've grown a lot. I think that's a process that you're going to have to go through as a football coach. Your first year, you're going to have your ups and downs. You're taking over a football team that wanted to make a change. There's obviously some holes that need to be filled. It's a process. Every day, every year you have to grow as a head coach. I feel like number one, the most important thing that I have to do is surround myself with good people, good coaches and good players. Our players have gotten better, our coaches have gotten better, all of us have gotten better together. Obviously having Scot [McCloughan] has been a big help. I think this organization has grown, not just myself, so it's been a good thing."

On quality quarterback play making a head coach's job easier:

"Obviously in pro sports the quarterback is one of the important positions in all of pro sports. You've got to have a good one, one that can function, one that can lead your football team. Obviously Kirk's development has been a huge reason why we're in the position that we're in. But it also takes a lot of growth from a lot of other players. Offensive line, they played great. Jordan Reed growing into a dominant player.  DeSean Jackson getting healthy, the receiving corps being consistent. The running game doing what they're doing. The defensive line playing well. Linebacker play, [Will] Compton stepping up, Mason Foster stepping up. The secondary hanging in there despite all the injuries. Special teams obviously had a great year. When you're talking about making the playoffs at a consistent rate, it's not just the quarterback position because you see a lot of quarterbacks that are very, very good sitting at home watching the playoffs on television. It takes a total team effort, we've gotten that so far."

On the positions QB Kirk Cousins puts the team in when he's sharp early in the game:

"It puts you in a great position and it's great for the mental state of mind for the football team – a confidence booster, you know, energy. When you start out with a 7-0 lead, 14-0 lead, it just gives your team a lot more energy. Like I said, starting the game with a lot more confidence going into the game that you can get this thing done as opposed to starting out in a 14-0 hole. It makes it a lot more difficult. I don't have reason behind it. I just think we've been very good at both in the run and in the pass being versatile at what we've been doing, being effective and guys making plays. Of course the defense getting the ball to us in good field position, that's helped a lot also. So that works in hand-in-hand. Fast starts are very, very important to this football team moving forward also."

On the game planning meetings in which they script the opening stretch of plays:

"We spend a lot of time. Sean [McVay] does a great job with Kirk [Cousins] previewing the first 15, so to speak. They usually don't hit in exact order, but they are plays that we are going to hit early in the football game that we like during the week that we've practiced and repped against what we think we are going to see. The execution has been excellent by the football team. Like I said, the variety of plays that we are running have been great and keeping defenses off-balance is the main thing with short passes, deep passes, play action, the running game, draws and screens. All those are very, very important, and Sean and Kirk and the rest of the football team has done great job."

On if his message to the team and/or his focus changes this week:

"I don't know how much it can change. Obviously the height of the game is very, very important. But if you start saying this is the biggest game of your life, you don't want people to get too tense around here. I think you have to prepare like you've been preparing. We've had a lot of big games that have been very, very important. You can go all the way back to Tampa [Bay] when we were 3-5 and we had to win that game. You go back to the Giant game, it was a huge game for us. The road game against Chicago was a must win for us basically and Philadelphia was a big game for us to win on the road to win the division. So we've had games that are very, very crucial to us moving on in the playoffs. I think our approach will be the same. These guys approach practice, approach meetings with great focus and great attention to detail and that's going to have to carry over." * *

On if the playbook opens up if a player gets off to a hot start:

"As a play caller, it is so much easier to call plays with a lead. When things are open in your playbook, then when you're down 14-0 and you become one-dimensional… When we have the three dimensions going in our game, the run game, the play actions, the drop backs, we're pretty good on the screens, we're pretty effective. We get everybody involved. Kirk [Cousins] has done an excellent job of getting everybody involved. Everybody wants to talk about Jordan Reed, but Pierre Garçon showed up and had a big day. Jamison Crowder had a big day. Ryan Grant had some catches. Pierre Thomas had a couple of catches again. Chris Thompson had a couple looks. We have a wide variety of weapons that can hurt you and when we have that ability to stay balanced, stay on track with our play calls, we have a chance to be pretty good."

On his initial thoughts when finding out the team would play the Green Bay Packers:

"All three teams [Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks] pose different problems to you and have different weapons that can hurt you really bad. Green Bay obviously with Aaron Rodgers at the trigger is a very good football team. Coach [Mike] McCarthy, like I said, has won a lot of football games and a lot of big football games. They have some good personnel over there – Randall Cobb. A very good football team that has had a very couple of rough games as of late, but they've had the ability to turn it up come playoff time. They have the experience and that's something we're going to have to deal with."

On if he is pretty happy with the team's overall health:

"Yeah, I think so. I think getting Trent [Williams] back will be huge, obviously, and Dashon [Goldson] at full strength. I think some of these guys were able to rest, getting them off a week going into the playoffs will be very, very beneficial to us. But, obviously, the loss of Kyshoen [Jarrett] is very important because he played safety, nickel — did a little bit of everything — special teams. That'll hurt us. Hopefully, we'll get Dashaun [Phillips] back where he's a special team guy and can play some nickel. But, overall, I think the health of our football team is pretty good this stage of the year."

On RB Alfred Morris' 100-yard rushing performance:

"Well, he had some good runs in traffic, number one. He had that 23-yard run where we didn't block anybody at the point of attack. He made a couple of people miss and then hit the sideline for 23 yards. He made some runs on his own, which are big. Then, he moved the pile on some of our inside-power plays, which is good to see his feet moving and churning and getting the extra two or three yards. Obviously having a lead, the ability to eat up eight or nine minutes in that one drive in the fourth quarter or third quarter — can't remember — was very, very good just watching him run and move the pile. He was very efficient, had great vision, obviously protected the football and had some big runs."

On preparing his team for the playoffs:

"Yeah, I mean that's something that you hope come Sunday afternoon that it won't be that much of a factor but there's something to be said about that. We've just got to get our guys ready and get them focused and honed in on their assignment, number one, and continue with great fundamental football and play to their strengths and just play the game and not worry too much about all the other outside noise as far as the pressure and the impact and the experience and that all stuff. We've just got to go out and play within ourselves, protect the football and get after the ball like we've been doing."

On if DB Kyshoen Jarrett will be out for Sunday's game:

"Yeah, he'll be out. Yeah. We haven't announced that, but he's going to be out."

On how much the team will rely on the veteran leadership of players who have playoff experience:

"That's part of the reason they're here is for their experience – their playoff experience. We have veteran guys that have been through it. DeSean Jackson, [Dashon] Goldson's been through it. A lot of these guys have been through the playoffs and been to the playoffs and they've actually helped this team along — the young guys along — all season long and that's a big part of why they're here and the success we've had is because of the veteran guys that we've got to help these guys along. So I'm not too worried about the playoff experience. The big thing you worry about is your opponent and we just have to focus in on how attack them and how to get after the quarterback on Sunday."

On if C Kory Lichtensteiger will take over first-team reps at practice:

"We're going to talk about that here this afternoon but Kory's back and he's able to be activated from his injured reserve, which is a good thing. He feels really, really good. We'll talk to [Offensive Line Coach] Bill [Callahan] and Josh [LeRibeus] and we'll make that announcement soon."

On how Jarrett's absence affects the secondary:

"It has an effect. It really does because he's so versatile, like I said. Coach Barry [Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry], [Defensive Backs] Coach [Perry] Fewell are up there right now coming up with a plan on who's going to play where and how."

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