Head Coach Jay Gruden
On what went wrong for the defense in the second half yesterday:
"Well, where do you begin? In football, obviously as you guys know, it's hard to pinpoint one area sometimes. Sometimes it's a lack of pass rush, sometimes it's poor cover, sometimes it's the linebackers not hitting their gaps. It's a combination of a lot of things. Defensively, just like the running game we talk about all the time, it takes everybody to be on the same page and be in concert. Same thing with defense. The gaps have got to be secure, the rush lanes have got to be up the field and the gaps have got to be secure and keep Teddy Bridgewater in the pocket. We lost contain a couple of times, lost coverage a couple of times, and obviously our running game gaps were jeopardized a few times. So, it wasn't one guy, unfortunately. We would've been able to fix that. It was more than one, it was a combination of a lot of guys."
On the decision behind the two-point conversion:
"Yeah, we lined up in a little slot formation, motioned to try to get DeSean [Jackson] one-on-one against the corner, and they ended up playing zone. So, DeSean was covered and then Pierre [Garçon] had the one-on-one on the backside, he kind of got grabbed a little bit, didn't get open, and by the time he [Robert Griffin III] got back to Pierre to give him a chance to catch it, ball came out. They had a good pass rush. It was not the greatest choice of two-point plays, but they had a good pass rush and good coverage."
On if the defense brought less pressure against the Vikings than it did against the Cowboys:
"They tried to bring some pressure a little bit. It was just different kinds of pressure. They brought five-man pressures, they overloaded some sides a couple of times, they brought some Cover Zeroes down in the red zone a few times, we did. So I wouldn't say it was totally a passive game plan. They did try to mix up some coverages and see if Teddy could read them and make the throws and hopefully our four-man rushes would get home… In the first half, our four-man rushes got home. In the second half, they didn't get home. We lost contain and let Teddy out of the pocket and he found some guys down the field. In the red zone, we did try some Zero pressures, he drifted back and hit a crossing route to [Greg] Jennings I think on one for a first down at the six [yard line]. Then they hit a running play up the gut on one of them for a touchdown. So, they did try. They just were very effective and whatever they called seemed to be working there in the second half – the last two drives."
On if quarterback Robert Griffin III could have audibled on the two-point conversion:
"No, the way they play their zones, we knew that one of the corners would be in a man technique and that was Pierre's corner. On the other side, we were trying to get lined up in slot and try to get DeSean over there and work DeSean one-on-one and then if he was covered we were going to come back to Pierre, so it was a nice two-man concept, it just… They covered it very well. They kind of latched onto Pierre and he couldn't get off and by the time he would've gotten off, that's when the ball came out."
On his thoughts on Griffin III after watching the film:
"You know, Robert did some good things. Obviously, we gave up the lead and he comes back down and leads a drive to score and take the lead and then we give up the lead again, and then he leads another drive to go down and score and take the lead. The two-point play wasn't very good on my part or schematically, but I think there's some promise there. You know, over the course of a football game, I'm sure there's a lot of plays that he wishes he had back. There's some pocket issues where he stepped into pressure a few times and maybe could've run for more yards or whatever, but that's just something we've got to continue to watch and monitor and try to coach him. Overall, for his first game back in quite some time, I think he did some good things that really, ultimately should've helped us win that football game."
On if he will make any changes defensively:
"We've got to look at our scheme but obviously against Tennessee and against Dallas, we were very good. I gave [Defensive Coordinator Jim] Haslett one of the game balls against Dallas in our team meeting. I thought he did a great job against Dallas. There's some things we're doing well but you have to understand, you know you lose your No. 1 corner in D-Hall [DeAngelo Hall], you lose your pass rusher [linebacker Brian] Orakpo and you're playing with a rookie corner [Bashaud Breeland] and [linebacker] Keenan Robinson is the Mike and a rookie outside linebacker [Trent Murphy], there's going to be some lumps to be had. A lot of these guys are going through some learning processes, but I think from a schematic standpoint we could've done some things better, obviously. But from a player standpoint, they could've done some things better, too. We could've had better contain on the rush lanes. We lost contain and that's inexcusable from the player standpoint. We could've called different coverages, yes, but overall you can't point your finger at one person. You can't point your finger at one coach. When you give up those two drives in the second half, I think it's a total team effort and I'm included in that."
On if going into the bye week at 3-6 instead of 4-5 changes anything about his goals and the direction of the team:
"Same goals. We really want to look for guys that compete every day and we're not going to stop competing. We're going to preach competition every day. We're never going to give up. We've got to claw ourselves out of this thing and we've got a good group of guys. I don't feel like the effort was in doubt in the game. I just think the execution wasn't very good in key situations when we had chances to put the game away, had chances to get stops – third-and-10, third-and-eight. We had a chance to get a two-point play. We had a chance to put the game away in the first half. It just didn't happen, but I want to stick with our guys. I want to see them fight their way out of it, see who the competitors are and try to get this thing turned around."
On teaching quarterbacks to be decisive and not hold the ball too long:
"Yeah, you talk about it all the time. You've got to have a clock in your head as a quarterback and sometimes he [Griffin III] gets locked in somewhere and by the time he comes off to his secondary receiver, he feels the pocket closing in on him and doesn't have time to move. We can help him… The [offensive] line can help him a little but, I can help him with the drops of the quarterback to maybe get it out quicker or what have you, but for the most part he's just got to continue to play and learn that and play with that feel in the pocket. Sometimes that comes naturally, sometimes it doesn't, but it's something he's going to have to fight through and abort mission when he has to and step up and throw it away when he has to and get it out of his hands when he has to. It's hard to coach that. It's hard to simulate that on the practice field and it's just something he's got to go through."
On tight end Logan Paulsen and how Griffin III emerged from the game physically:
"Yeah, Logan has plantar fasciitis… He's got a chance to go against Tampa Bay. And then when you play quarterback and you take some hits in the game, you're going to be sore. He's got a little soreness. His ankle held up great. He had a really low hit early in the game. It was the knee/ankle area on the same leg and he limped around for a minute but it went away right away, so he was fine. I think from a physical standpoint, he will be sore. He did take some shots, but there's no reason for concern."
On what he learned about the defense's miscommunications from reviewing the film:
"That there were some miscommunications [laughter]."
On if the miscommunications are a function of youth:
"Yeah, sometimes. Sometimes it's the youth, just they line up in formation and motion and the communication doesn't take place when they're switching coverages – sometimes it's the safety, sometimes it's the corner. It can't happen, though. This is pro football. These guys practice long enough, they watch enough film where that can't happen. Whether you're a second-year corner or a first-year corner, we have two veteran safeties back there that should be taking charge and we can't have that. We've got to get that communicated because that happened I think twice in the game."
On Griffin III sliding on third-and-20 and if that is a situation he wished Griffin III would have fought for more yards:
"Yeah, that would be, but the play before he got hit in the chest and it was a little bit sore, so I think when he was running he didn't have the same burst that he normally would have had so I think he felt the players around him and got down. But definitely – third-and-20 with the game on the line – you would like him to try to fight for some extra yards, but being that he was sore from the play before, I think he was a little winded and sore in the chest so he chose to get down. But we still had two great opportunities on fourth-and-six to get it and unfortunately it didn't work out."
On if safety Brandon Meriweather's role changed from Dallas to Minnesota:
"Well, he was playing some coverage last week. He did a good job in coverage actually, he made some good plays. Tight end made a great catch on the sidelines where had two feet in but Brandon had a couple knock-aways. But he can cover. I mean, we play some of these blitz, five-man fire zones, he's got to cover. We blitz the linebackers instead of him and we just didn't get enough pressure with our linebackers yesterday for whatever reason. Usually they do a better job blitzing – Keenan [Robinson] and Perry [Riley, Jr.] – both, but it didn't work out. They did a good job with their blitz pickups and when you do blitz five guys, you have to have your safety in coverage and Brandon was in coverage. He did actually pretty good, except for one time, I think."
On what he has learned about the defensive backs, the pass rush and the quarterbacks this year:
"Yeah, it's hard to because you look at the defensive backs No. 1 and your key guy gets hurt – DeAngelo. Luckily, we got Breeland in the fourth round and he had to play a little bit sooner than later and Tracy Porter, who is another key acquisition, has been hurt pretty much the whole time. Then we've got Meriweather and [Ryan] Clark and we were hoping Phillip Thomas and [Bacarri] Rambo and some other guys were going to step up and we chose to go with Clark and Meriweather. From a secondary standpoint with the injuries, obviously not as good as we thought, maybe, but I am happy to see Breeland emerge and [David] Amerson continue to get better, because those are two corners that can play here for a long time and that is a hard position to find moving forward. You know, from a safety standpoint, Meriweather has done some good things, missed the first two games obviously from some play in the preseason – which I don't want to talk about. And Clark has been what we thought he would be. He is a veteran guy who knows the game and is a great leader but obviously there are some things that he lacks right now at that age but he is still playing at a pretty good level for us. Pass rush wise, [Ryan] Kerrigan started out pretty good and then [Brian] Orakpo gets hurt. We have [Jason] Hatcher and Hatcher is playing pretty well but he is not playing at the dominant level we need him to play at. When we have third down and five and six and seven, we need him to get pressure in the quarterback's face consistently and that hasn't been the case. That is not to say that he has been playing poorly, it's just we need him at a dominant level, that's why we brought him here from Dallas. And then obviously Kerrigan has done some good things. [Trent] Murphy has got to continue to grow. He is a young kid and he has had some good – he had a chance to have three or four sacks yesterday and just missed a couple of them and took the inside route when he shouldn't have a couple times and he is going to get there. He is a very talented kid. He just has to continue to play himself. And then the quarterback, what can you say? You start out with Robert, you give him all the reps in training camp and then he hurts his ankle and then he misses five or six weeks. We get a good look at Kirk [Cousins]. We get a good look a Colt [McCoy] and now it's back to Robert. So, the jury is still out on that position. But we feel good about Robert's progress so far and we've just got to continue to build and see how he does from week-to-week-to-week and hopefully we can see that here at the end of the season. That's what we have to see and that's what we have to find out."
On what grade he would give the team so far this season:
"Well, when we are 3-6, the grade can't be very good because we are judged on wins and losses. You know, from a personality standpoint, from an effort standpoint, from a human being standpoint, I give them an A. I think we have a lot of good guys in our locker room, so that's a good thing. Bad thing is we don't get credit for being good guys. We get credit for wins and losses and that's not good enough. So, the grade is 3-6, whatever – that is the lower half of the league, bottom half of the league so that is probably a D or an F-plus, maybe. So, from a football standpoint that is not very good – you know, we are only judged by wins and losses. But I do feel good moving forward that we have the right type of guys in here. We just have got to play better and coach better and we are going to continue to compete. That's what I'm looking for, competitors, guys to compete."
On how he feels physically following yesterday's bus accident:
"Physically, I'm OK. My neck is a little stiff. But that was one unique way to start the day, that's for sure. We're five, we're four tire rotations from driving off a cliff, but we're OK. Thanks for asking."
On if the players are OK following the accident:
"I think everybody is OK. Silas Redd is the only one. He went to the MRI and he had no structural damage, so he is OK from the accident. And there was a couple bumps, guys bumped their knees and stuff like that but everybody seems to be OK."
On replay challenges:
"Yeah, we send them all to the league office and we are not supposed to question them up here, the referees have got a tough job, but I don't know what the deal is. I thought that for sure was an interception. All I can do is challenge them, man. I'm going to start begging here pretty soon, man [laughter]. I'm 0-8. Please just reverse one for me, good golly, but I thought for sure that was an interception."
On why defensive end Jason Hatcher hasn't been as dominant as he expected:
"Well, you know, it is a combination of things. We have got to get better, consistent pressure from the edges, you know what I mean? He is an inside player and if we can get the pressure on the edges, the quarterback to step up, that's when he is at his best. And sometimes some of the games that we are doing we are not getting off him good enough. And then those one-on-ones – we probably not creating enough one-on-ones for him perhaps, but when he does have the one-on-ones, he is not consistently winning. So it is a combination of things. I am not saying that he is playing poorly by any stretch. His effort is outstanding, he is a great team leader out here. It's just not the dominant player that we need him to be, but that is not a negative, necessarily. That is just, you know, we need a little bit more from him. We need a little bit more from everybody. When you are 3-6, you need more from everybody, coaches included."
On wide receiver DeSean Jackson and having the deep ball factor prominently in game plans:
"Yeah, it's been pretty good. We had a couple other great opportunities to hit him deep, also might have been pressure-related why we didn't get it to him, but the guy is playing at a level that I haven't been around. The guy gets downfield and can adjust to the ball like nobody else. So, we have to give him more chances. He is averaging 22 yards a catch, I think, which is unheard of. But he is a great player and we just have got to give him the ball more downfield. But overall, I think we are doing a pretty good job of being consistent with our running approach and the play-actions are working good off of them, it's just our third down conversions yesterday were a little bit better. But there are things we can do to get DeSean more involved, get more catches, get more touches."
On balancing Jackson's touches:
"You try to come up with some plays that he's the feature guy, and if they double him or what have you, then you still have some viable options with the guys that you have. That's the beauty of it. We have some really talented receivers, obviously. We've just got to do a better job of getting the ball to them and mixing up the run and pass. Overall, offensively, I think you see our talent. We have some great, talented skill guys. We still want to run the ball with Alfred [Morris]. We've just got to get our quarterbacks playing at a consistent level and things will be good."
On if he has learned anything about Jackson that he didn't know previously:
"No, I think what we've seen is what we've gotten – a dynamic playmaker. That's why as soon as he came available we went after him full-throttle. He's been a great guy in the locker room, no problems. We bicker here and there on the practice field and in the meeting time, but we do that with everybody. But he's been outstanding. He runs his routes excellent and the quarterbacks all like him, the players seem to like him. I don't have any issues with him. But he's been the player we thought he would be."
On handling yesterday's media reports:
"Well, you try to tell your team the very first day that what goes on in here stays in here, and you don't know if there's leaks or what's happening. But the fact of the matter is whatever people want to write about, it's their right to write whatever they want, but we've just got to make sure that we stay together and don't pick sides and believe everything that we read because some of those reports are just false – they're just outright false. We just can't let them get to us. We have a young team, we have some fragile egos here. These guys are young guys trying their best and they read in the paper that nobody likes them and they're 'alienated' and 'blahsy blahsy.' As a football player, as an NFL football player playing here, you have to expect it, and I said all along that a quarterback's No. 1 trait that he has to have – or any football player's trait that he has to have – is you've got to be thick-skinned. You have to be tough-minded, tough-willed, and accept the good and the bad equally. So we just can't let that get to us. The big thing is we can't let anything tear the locker room apart. We've got to stick together and I think our guys have done that so far."
On his message to the team for the bye week:
"Enjoy their time off, you know. Get their minds right and their bodies right and get ready for the seven games to really compete their butts off, man. That's all there is to it. I wish we didn't have a bye this week. I wish we could play tomorrow – to be honest with you – the way we played that game and left one out there. It is what it is. But I think sometimes getting away for four or five days will be good for them, get their families and really think what's important from a football standpoint and come back here and get ready to compete because we still have a lot to play for. Whether it's for the playoffs, whether it's for the Super Bowl, whatever, we're playing for the Washington Redskins and the city here and we're going to go out and compete and we're going to go out fighting, that's for sure."
On how challenging it was to focus the team yesterday:
"From a mental standpoint, you want your team to be thinking about the Minnesota Vikings, period. I want Robert and I want the offense to be thinking about Mike Zimmer's Double-A package and his blitz package and how we're going to attack, and I want the defense to be thinking about Teddy Bridgewater and their zone checks and what they have to do instead of reading tweets about 'There's locker room separation' and whatever and having bus wrecks and all that stuff. So there was a little bit of things that might have took our mind off the important thing, which is the Minnesota Vikings, but we can't let that be an excuse. We have to make sure that we control what we control and play the game of football when it's time to play, and we just didn't play good enough the other day. No matter what's written about us, no matter what's said about us, we've just got to go out and play."