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Quotes: Jay Gruden (12.3.14)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On the injury report:

"Did not participate was [Kedric] Golston, lower back/foot; [Jason] Hatcher, knee; [DeSean] Jackson, fibulas; [Brandon] Meriweather, toe; and [Chase] Minnifield, concussion. Limited were [Will] Compton with his neck, [E.J.] Biggers with his concussion, Keenan Robinson with his knee, Chris Baker with his SC joint, Ryan Clark with his neck stinger. Full was [Ryan] Kerrigan – wrist – and Silas Redd."

On tackle Trent Williams is listed:

"No, [Trent] Williams is OK."

On if quarterback Colt McCoy is settling into the starting quarterback role:

"Yeah, with more reps comes more confidence and he is obviously gaining a head of steam right now and that's important for the quarterback position. You'd like to have stability there obviously and he has had limited reps all through camp and he had the majority of the reps just before the Dallas game – was really the only time he got a full load of reps – now last week and this week of course. So you could see that he has taken ownership of the position and that's what he has got to do to be successful. He is doing a good job."

On if McCoy now has the ability to be more of a vocal leader:

"Well, I think first you have to back it up with your play before you start talking. I think people respect the way he has been playing and competing, and with positive play comes positive results and then more leadership. Leadership is something that is earned, not something that's given, so he's still got to earn his role and I think he will when it's all said and done."

On how he handles a specific unit after a bad week:

"Yeah, we try to go back to basics and you try to just – you do a good job of correcting mistakes, you've just got to continue correcting and trying to figure out why there was confusion and letting them be participants in the meeting instead of doing all the talking. You have got to find out why, what was the confusion here and find out what's going through their mind and pick their brain a little bit. I think just a matter of continuing doing what we are doing, but maybe taking a step back and simplifying some things for them and trying to let them play fast, get the calls out sooner to them so they can communicate and then when it's time to play, play fast and do the right thing. But there is nothing really different you can do. You've just got to keep coaching them up and hope they don't keep making the same mistakes, which I have."

On simplifying the schemes:

"The issue was the schemes we messed up were the simplest ones we've got. You know, that was the problem. It's not like we were running around playing – buzzing and 'You take that guy if he goes here, I'll take that guy.' You know there wasn't a lot of combo in-and-out coverages and all that. It was simple type coverages that we messed up so that's the part that is disturbing. But like I said, they're all pretty young back there other than Ryan Clark, who is ancient, but we've just got to keep coaching them and not lose faith. You just can't lose faith in them, man. I really think we have some talent back there, we just have to get it out of them the best way we can."

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On what he can do to get wide receiver Pierre Garçon more involved:

"Well, he's trying. You know we gave him I think nine targets and only three of them were complete. We overthrew him a couple times, underthrew him once, so it's not for a lack of trying, it's just a matter of taking advantage of opportunities is the only thing I can say. And he's going to continue to compete and play hard and you just can't worry about the stat numbers. You just have to go out and play your position and do your job and when the ball comes take advantage of them and hopefully the ball is thrown accurately to you. A couple times they weren't, a couple times he was covered pretty good by Vontae [Davis] but we've just got keep grinding with our offense and stick with our plan and not forcing in the ball to anybody. If the coverage dictates it, he will get the ball."

On McCoy battling his way through the NFL:

"I've talked about the mental toughness, No. 1, you've got to have. You've got to have the talent obviously, but you've got to be mentally tough because you're going to have some rough patches. You're going to have some ups and downs. You're going to have games where you have a 20 passer rating or whatever it is where you get booed and you get bad articles written about you and you get cut possibly. You've got to be able to withstand all that and continue to believe in yourself, No. 1. Have confidence in what you are doing and then continue to work on your craft, like Colt has done. He has not given up, he has continued to work. He went to San Francisco last year and battled for a backup spot and then this year he came here and just accepted the fact that he was a No. 3 but worked himself into a spot where if given an opportunity he was ready to go. And that's what we try to preach to all our guys is once you get the opportunity you have to make something of it. So that's what he has done, he is a resilient guy that works hard and now it's his opportunity to take this job and what he does with it is up to him."

On punter Tress Way:

"Am I allowed to talk positive on this? Tress has been outstanding. Obviously he was a great find for us. He has been everything more than we expected. He has changed field position, he's great as far as backing people up and getting the ball downed inside the opponent's 10-yard line. When we are backed up, he gives great hang time and gives our punt team a chance to cover. Been an outstanding guy for us and he's got to be – got to have some consideration for some Pro Bowl votes if you're looking at his stats and his numbers and what he has done for this team."

On linebacker Ryan Kerrigan:

"Yeah, we just need Ryan [Kerrigan] to continue to keep developing and then he needs to just take a leadership role up to another notch. He is a quiet kid, he does everything you ask him to do, he plays hard. He's just got to continue to keep working. He has got a chance to be one of those guys you talk about at outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. He is solid at the point in the running game and then he's just got to continue working on his pass rush, which he has been very productive, but you can't say enough about what he has done for us so far. With [Brian] Orakpo going down and we just have got to get a little bit more from him – he needs to almost be Superman for us, but he has been close to it. We love the way he plays and the effort that he brings."

On if there is a lack of effort for which he has to punish the team:

"I don't think it's effort, really. I think effort-wise, I think our guys are still playing at a pretty high level. They do compete as far as effort is concerned, running to the football on defense. It's some of the mental lapses that we have had is frustrating for everybody, the easy plays that we are giving up that we shouldn't be giving up, some of the mentals that we have and that goes coaching and players alike. We both have got to stand up and take responsibility for that but when the same plays happen over and over again then you have to think about changing the players out or changing the scheme, one or the other. The problem is there are not a lot of players available at this time a year when you can just, 'OK, let's go bring him in here and play.' You know, you just have to continue to coach these guys up and hope to goodness that it clicks for them someday where they can play fast and be the player we think they can be because I think we have a lot of talent on this roster still. We just have got to continue to coach them up and try to get the most out of it so by the end of the year we have a good feeling of what we have in store for next year and the year after."

On if he is concerned that veterans will not give effort down the stretch:

"No, I don't have that concern whatsoever. If I had that concern, I wouldn't be here. I think these guys are playing very fast and playing physical. They all want to win. They care. They care about this team. They care about this city. They know they have not put their best foot forward. We've got four games left, three of them are at home. We are excited to go out there and compete and hopefully show that the first 12 games are not what the Redskins are about, hopefully finish this thing on a high note with some great energy and great competitive spirit and give the fans something to cheer about finally."

On if Phillip Thomas would start at safety if Brandon Meriweather is unable to play:

"Yeah, he probably would right now. We don't know where Meriweather is at right now. He is a little sore still but Phillip has got to step up and play. All these guys do, some of these young guys, they have got to step up and play and know what to do, No. 1. Phillip has got good ball skills and he is a good tackler, just sometimes he just gets a little out of whack sometimes. So we've just got to make sure he knows exactly what to do and how to do it. He should be more than ready. He has been here for a couple years now so he should be ready to roll, so we expect good things from Phillip."

On the difference it could make with McCoy knowing he is the starter:

"Well, it shouldn't change his approach to the game. I think it should rev him up obviously a little bit but his approach, Colt's a pro and his approach has not changed since he was the No. 3 quarterback to No. 1. He has put in the time. He wasn't even active the first couple weeks and he was still one of the last ones to leave the building as far as watching tape and coming up with ideas and things of that nature. So I have been impressed with Colt all the way through and I'm happy he has got this opportunity. He just has got to continue to do what he is supposed to do and not put too much on him, you know not put too much pressure on himself – relax, play the position like he can and let the game come to him and he will be fine. You've just got to relax and do it. But from a preparation standpoint, he has always been that type of guy that as far as he's going to do everything he can to get himself better."

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On how hard it is to find players with high football IQ:

"That's the hardest thing. That's why in the draft there's a lot of misses from time to time in first, second, third rounders because you can't judge that until you actually get them in your building. You can only see what they do on tape and the 40-yard dash. Football IQ and the Wonderlic test are two different things. I've seen guys with great Wonderlic scores that have the dumbest football IQ I've ever seen and vice versa. You've got to get them in your building and work with them and find out their strengths and weaknesses and really cater to their weaknesses to get them stronger and strengthen their strengths and move forward. But there's no exact process as far as evaluating that. If you can figure that one out, you'll make a lot of money."

On how much of McCoy's future remains ahead of him and if there is an optimum age for an NFL quarterback:

"He's got a ton of his career ahead of him. I think there's really not an optimum age. Obviously you'd like to – I think quarterbacks get better with age, better with time the more time they see, because the speed of the game is so different from college to the NFL – you really can't compare. There's been a couple very successful quarterbacks at a young age, but very few and far between. You don't get to be a dominant quarterback until your mid 20s – 26, 27, 28 – and then you can keep that going until your mid 30s and late 30s. I've seen some guys do it. But this position takes time. To see the concepts, the speed of the game, get used to players around you, snap count, I mean, there's so many things, so many variables that go into playing the position of quarterback that you can only get better with time, and it does take a lot of time to do that."

On why he decided to target McCoy in the offseason:

"Well, I've seen him at Texas. Obviously he's one of the winningest quarterbacks in college football history. I remember him playing at Cleveland and had some rough patches there, but he was always a tough, competitive quarterback. Anytime you get that type of gritty, tough competitive quarterback, you want him in your building. We needed a [No.] 3, and we also liked his accuracy and he had some good movement skills also. Plus, he was in the West Coast system, so he should have been familiar with our concepts and what we were trying to do offensively. It was a no-brainer. He's a great kid. He's smart. He's tough and he throws an accurate ball. Those are four very key elements to being a good quarterback. Now, he hadn't had the success obviously, which is a negative, but we thought we'd take a chance on him and give him a shot."

On if this job was tougher than he envisioned:

"Training camp, we had high hopes, man. We really did. We thought we had some pieces in place and then we just hit the injury bug. A lot of the free agents that we signed and counted on – even you talk [Darryl] Sharpton and Akeem Jordan, they're out, Tracy Porter never practiced – and we lost D-Hall and [Brian] Orakpo and our depth was really tested early. That was something – we didn't have great depth to start with anyway. Then we lost a lot of key players at key positions, especially on defense, and that hurt us a little bit. We had high hopes going in, but now that we are where we are, now we're just trying to finish out strong to give us something positive to build on, really get to know what these players are made of, not only from a physical standpoint, but from a mental standpoint, what they're made of as far as how they like football – Do they like to compete? – and what type of guys to move forward with. So this is great chance for us to really see what type of players we have, what type of men we have as far as their competitive nature. I've been impressed so far, just out at practice today the guys were moving around pretty good. There's not any bickering or griping right now so far, so I'm impressed with that. It's just a matter of finishing the season and seeing what we have for the future."

On how frustrating it is to frequently face third-and-long:

"It's hard, but we have to do a better job of converting. There's no reason we should be this bad on third down. It's a little bit of everybody [that] has their hand in it. Sometimes the play calls, I give us no chance, should maybe play field position and get a punt. I don't want to take a sack or a loss, but maybe I'll call a screen or a draw or something like that. And other times, we've just got to make some plays. Quarterback has got to step up, move around and find some open receivers and the receivers have got to do a good job of finding holes in zones. It's a grind of a down but there's no reason we should be as bad as we are, but you're right, the third down and longs, we've got to find a way to stay out of those. You want to be a running team, you want to take the pressure off the quarterback, but if you lose two yards on first down, you've got second-and-12. OK, you pop a draw here, now it's third down and 8. What have we got? So we've had some tough situations, but still, we've got to find a way to convert on offense and then conversely on defense, for whatever reason, third down and 10, we're not very good. We're much better third-and-2-4 than we are third-and-9-plus, I believe. I could be wrong. It's something that we've just got to continue to work and concentrate on, but I have no reason why we're so bad on third-and-10-plus. I think we're 2-for-50. I think Andrew Luck completed four third-and-10s in the game last week. So we've just got to keep grinding and keep working the concepts. Protection is harder. Route concepts are harder, they're deeper. It's a great challenge. We just haven't been up to it this year."

On how much a change of environment can help quarterbacks:

"It depends on the environment. If it suits the quarterback… I've seen other quarterbacks go somewhere and it doesn't help at all. But change of environment, change of system could help a quarterback immensely. You've seen that happen to a number of guys throughout the history of the NFL, just a matter of A) the player – is he willing to adjust and adapt to a new environment and continue to work—and B) does the system fit the quarterback? So all that takes into account and how good the team around him is."

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