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Quotes: Jay Gruden (10.26.15)

Head Coach Jay Gruden* *

Opening statement:

"Alright injuries. Ryan [Kerrigan] had his surgery today. It went well. It was his third metacarpal fracture and he'll see the surgeon again next week to determine whether or not there's a chance for him to play or not. [Bashaud] Breeland has a hamstring [injury]. There's concern there. We're just going to have to monitor day-to-day, like all hamstrings. I'm not sure how long he'll be out. Perry Riley had a bruised lower leg strain. It looks like he'll be OK. He'll be day-to-day, and Keenan Robinson came out with a slightly fractured rib and oblique strain. I think he'll be OK. Jordan [Reed] came out okay and Trent [Williams] came out okay. DeSean [Jackson], [Chris] Culliver and D-Hall [DeAngelo Hall], we're just going to continue to monitor them, have them go through treatment this week and hopefully get them ready for practice next week."

On if there is a possibility that LB Ryan Kerrigan will not miss any playing time:

"There is hope, yes. Like I said, he'll see the surgeon again next week and see where to go."

On if Kerrigan would play with a cast or protection on his hand:


On if he "liked that":

"Yeah [laughter]. I liked it a lot. It was a good performance by a lot of guys."

On what the win says about the team:

"Well, it shows their character. You have to have strong character and will to come back from something like that. To get your teeth knocked in for a whole quarter — a little bit over a quarter, I think it was, like I said, 230 yards to 20 – it was total domination by them. It was a great plan by them coming out. We took the punches and came out swinging in the second half and made it a game. Obviously got the victory, it was a great sign of resilience for our guys and them sticking together. It was nice."

On if playing from behind factored into the struggles in the running game:

"No, no, unfortunately. They just have some big bodies in there. Gerald McCoy did a nice job in there. Their linebackers are fast flow-ers. We just didn't get very many good looks unfortunately. We tried some outside zones. We tried some gap runs. We tried a couple counters and they did a nice job stopping them."

On how important it is to stick with the running game to set up the passing game:

"Yeah, it's important. It's important for us to have that element of our game in there, even if the running game isn't successful like we want it to be obviously. It's important to have those actions because it gets the quarterback off his launch spot. You know, we can get him outside the pocket, we can do some play-actions, get him a little bit deeper, work some deeper-breaking routes. Kirk [Cousins] is very comfortable with those also, as opposed to just dropping back every time. It's a good changeup for us and it's very necessary."

On if it's good to know that QB Kirk Cousins can win a game with his arm:

"Yeah, we feel like he's capable, but we just don't want to put that much pressure on him. We'd like to have the balance with the play-actions and the keepers and all that stuff off of it [the running game]. We have some passes that are extensions of the running game, some screens of that nature that don't count as a run but they really are runs. That's another way that we can take the pressure off of the quarterback. The objective of this offense is to get the ball out of the quarterback's hands and let the playmakers make the plays. Whether it's a short pass or the running game, I think it's very, very important. I think Kirk has the ability to drop back and throw it as many times as you want to, but we don't want him to do that. We want to make sure that everybody gets involved – the running game, obviously – and everybody gets their touches."

On if there is a common theme against the run the last few weeks:

"Those are excellent backs that we played. You know, [Devonta] Freeman, obviously [Chris] Ivory and Doug Martin, those are three outstanding backs and every team has got one it seems like we're going to have to deal with, so we have to tackle better. We missed a lot of tackles, a lot of tackles in this game. So, that's going to be point of emphasis obviously. We come out to practice tomorrow. In individual, we'll work on our fundamental tackling skills, because if you miss tackles in the hole, instead of a two-yard gain it's a 30-yard gain and that's killing your numbers. A lot of it had to do with missed tackles. Some of it was great runs by Doug, well-blocked plays, but I think we're going to see teams continue to pound it because teams have had success three weeks in a row. We're going to have to stand up and do something about it."

On if the performance was validation for sticking with Cousins:

"You have to see results, obviously, and he's had three wins. He's 3-4right now. Now you're looking for some consistency. We had a great win against St. Louis. We laid an egg against the Giants. We had another big win against Philadelphia. We played poorly the next two weeks against the Jets and the Falcons. Now to have the big comeback victory against Tampa Bay, we'll see what we can do after the bye week against New England. That position is all about consistency, but it's all about getting better-and-better-and-better and showing us that he has the right to be a starter. I think he's done that over the first seven games, but we still need to see more consistency from him and everybody for us to be where we want to be."

On how he evaluates where the team is at right now:

"I think what we're going to do in the bye week is self-evaluate. The coaches, we're going to do a lot of self-scout, what we're doing, personnel packages, where we can improve our football team, what areas we need to improve the most on, whether it's third-down conversions, red zone, our first-down play calling, our red-zone defense, our third-down defense, all that stuff. But as a whole, I look at our first seven games and we are 3-4 and that's where we are. We could be better in certain areas, obviously, we could be worse. I like to see the progress that we're making. I like to see the attitude the players have. I like to see the resilience — the ability to come from behind, to not let the outside forces get in their way of their production and not have any problems with them on the field. I think we've got a long way to go obviously, but I think there is progress being made and I think we can make a lot more progress you know after the self-scout, get these guys healthy, get some of our guys back – [Chris] Culliver, DeSean [Jackson] obviously would be huge, get DeAngelo Hall back possibly. Obviously having Jordan Reed back was huge for us and Trent [Williams]. So I think there are a lot of positives we can build off of and we have to clean up some of the things we need to clean up."

On what TE Jordan Reed brings to the offense:

"Well, he's a great pass catcher obviously. You know, we line up in our two tight-end sets, keep them in their base personnel, it's a matchup issue for the defense. He's very good in zone coverage and he's excellent after the catch. He's also improving on his blocking skills, which is huge, so the defense just can't count him as a receiver all the time. I think his game is coming a long way from training camp from last year to this year. I think he's understanding the route concepts, his route discipline is getting much better. He means a lot to this offense. We get into formations, we get tells on what the coverages are with him. He's a major weapon for this offense and obviously you can see the production that he has."

On Cousins:

"He's obviously shown flashes of being one heck of a quarterback. He's had some times where you like scratch your head sometimes. That's what a lot of quarterbacks go through from time to time. You know, it's not always going to be perfect. They're going to make a bad read, maybe a throw from time to time. You just have to bounce back from it and that's what we're hoping Kirk does in the long run. He's going to learn from every one of his mistakes and he's going to make more, but he's just got to continue to bounce back and go through his progressions. I've said it a million times, 'Take each play for its own entity for what it is.' You can't assume that what happened on this play last time you ran it is going to be the same thing that is going to happen the next time you run it. You might get an entirely different defense, a different rush or what have you. He's just going to learn and we're going to bear with him. I think you're going to see Kirk get better and better as the season goes on."

On the offense's success in the red zone:

"It's always an emphasis. Red zone, it is a very important part of football obviously. Third downs and red zones have been a huge emphasis for us in training camp and all the way throughout the season. We got some matchups that we liked, obviously Jordan Reed on a safety or a linebacker is outstanding. Obviously [Jamison] Crowder made a big play down there on the wheel route. It's a matter of completing balls in tight windows, winning the one-on-one match ups and obviously getting good pass protection and that's what we got."

On RB Alfred Morris:

"We've got to get Alfred going, no question about it. He didn't get many looks again yesterday. The last three weeks, like you said, has been rough outings for him as far as the touches that he gets haven't been pretty. I still intend on using both of them though. I think Matt [Jones] does a great job of coming in here and giving you a different little flavor as far as the running backs. He's a little bit bigger. I think both of them will get their touches but we do have to get Alfred going. But we're not giving up on Alfred just because he's had three tough weeks in a row. But it's not all on Alfred obviously."

On C Kory Lichtensteiger:

"Kory is getting stronger. He's getting closer, so hopefully after the bye week we'll be able to get him at practice on Wednesday when we come back. There's a good chance for that. We'll see where he is but it's just a matter of getting the strength back on his left side. He's getting closer to 100 percent. He's probably right around 60 percent right now. We feel good about his progress."

On C Josh LeRibeus' performance:

"Josh did some good things again. I think filling in at center, like I said, this is new to him. He's had a lot of practice in training camp obviously but to start in a game and make all the calls, he made a couple wrong calls here and there but for the most part I think the entire offensive line protected excellent. With the exception of Morgan's [Morgan Moses'] sack fumble, I think the offensive line did a great job in known passing situations. It's not easy to block those guys. They did a great job and Josh was a catalyst in there making the calls and getting everything right. The running game obviously, I think all five of those guys can improve, without a doubt, for our running backs… and the tight ends included."

On if he had seen much of Cousins' fiery side before Sunday:

"Not a lot right now, I still think he's trying to find his way. He's just been announced the starting quarterback this year for the first time in his career. I think he feels like he needs to earn the respect first before he goes hog wild. He was very excited obviously after the game, as we all were. I think you'll see more and more of that passion come out the more success that he has. We're happy for Kirk, and he got the big win and the comeback. He played extremely well. To complete 33 balls, I think it was, against a good Tampa Bay defense says a lot."

On how different things would have felt had the second half been like the first half:

"I'll try not to think about that one. I probably wouldn't be standing up here today [laughter]. I might have done something crazy. It was a terrible start to a football game, it really was. That's what makes the victory all the more sweeter. Because you come out and you just get absolutely…  It wasn't like we came out and just didn't try or were lazy or lackadaisical. We came out, I think we had good energy, we were ready to play. They just took it to us. Like I said, to come back from that whooping in the first quarter and put three good quarters of football together and get a comeback victory – the biggest comeback ever in Redskins history – it's just awesome."

On the story behind the 'Make Them Like It' sign in the locker room:

"I think it's just we want to do things our way and we're going to make them like it. I think one of our defensive linemen – Chris Baker or Terrance Knighton – came up with that, one of them. Paul Kelly put it up there, so it's kind of our slogan once we started running the ball extremely well and pounding it. It was just, 'Make them like it.'"

On if there is a strategy to bringing a young quarterback along by slowly expanding the playbook:

"Oh, yeah, absolutely there is. It's a matter of getting the quarterback comfortable in your system, your terminology, and then you just keep progressing. You just keep adding layers and layers and layers onto your playbook. The better feel we get for Kirk as a player, the more plays we can make that are conducive to his success, we think. We can let him audible at the line more. He's a smart kid. He can handle a lot of football, man. He loves it. He's a gym rat. He's in the office all the time and I think we can add more to it. But, you don't want to just throw everything out there in his first year as a starter. You build up to that and he's coming along at a good pace."

On if he thought about risking momentum with the onside kick attempt:

"Yeah, a lot. That's a risky call, I guess. I just felt like the look was so good there that we practiced it. I hate practicing plays like that out here and never calling them. You have to call them, you've got to show the courage, the team has to see it. I think the team was excited for it. If it doesn't work we prepped our defense up. 'Hey we're going to do this, if it doesn't work be ready for a sudden change. They're going to have good field position and you're going to have to get a stop.' So the defense was ready for it, Joe Barry was ready for it. If it didn't work, I had faith in the defense that we could get the ball back anyway. The look was great, [Dustin] Hopkins did an excellent job during practice of executing that kick. Staying onside was very, very important. The coaches did a good job of making sure they did that. The execution was nice. In my mind, if you have faith in your defense, there's really not a lot of risk other than a few yards of field position. The look was too good to pass up."

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