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Quotes: Jay Gruden And Kirk Cousins (12.09.15)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

Opening statement:

"Out is Perry Riley, foot. Did not practice would have been Stephen Paea, Jeron Johnson, Jason Hatcher, Chris Thompson — shoulder — and Andre Roberts — knee. Limited would have been [Derek] Carrier, ankle; Will Compton, shoulder; Keenan Robinson, shoulder; and D-Gold — Dashon Goldson — hamstring, knee, wrist. Full would have been [Deshazor] Everett, [Quinton] Dunbar and [DeAngelo] Hall."

On holding a walkthrough instead of a practice today:

"We're a little banged up right now, obviously, and I thought it was important for our staff to be able to have a little extra time to get a good plan together. Players get an extra day of rest and then come back tomorrow with a plan in place and a good day of practice."

On if they will install the game plan tomorrow:

"We would have normally did that today. We did a little bit of it today. Tomorrow, it will be an actual practice and the game plan."

On the challenge presented by the limited time to prepare for the next game:

"Well, it's a good challenge but we are late enough in the season where a lot of these guys know the system. We're just going to just adjust and tweak a few things defensively and offensively — game plan-specific things. But I think the guys are at a stage now where I thought the day of rest — extra day of rest — was going to be more beneficial than trying to force-feed them out there some reps and grind on them, grind on their body. I thought they needed the rest."

On the pros and cons of not calling a lot of blitzes:

"I think we actually had a pretty good combination last week. We did blitz a little bit last week. We have a lot of five-man pressures, but, you know, I think the more confident we are in the secondary getting the guys healthy and guys back there that are familiar with what we're doing, I think you might see more and more blitzes as the season goes on. But the big thing is just making sure everybody is on the same page. With all the changeover and turnover we've had in the secondary, it's hard to say, 'OK, we're going to blitz six guys and leave our corners on an island or our safeties on an island.' There's a combination there. Hopefully, we'll keep them guessing."

On what he thought of QB Kirk Cousins' decision-making on Monday night:

"Well, it's something that we go through the tape and we critique and coach and correct and move on. But, you know, there are some plays in the game and I think he wished he had back, I know he wishes he had back. He might have been able to take a few shots. There were some other plays where there's some color right in front of him where he couldn't see down the field where he had to check it down. He's trying to avoid sacks and negative plays, which are understandable. It's all a growing process for the quarterback. It's easy to have the clicker and say, 'Hey, you should throw the ball here,' but you don't feel that guy right in your face with the clicker. Just understanding the concepts and where we're trying to go with the ball, the shots that are there, try to take a couple more a game and we'll go on from there. But overall, he played OK… Nobody really on offense had an exceptional game. Internal pressure was an issue and it made it hard on the quarterback."

On if he wishes the running backs would follow the play design more or cut back on certain plays:

"Yeah, both. There are times throughout the season where they have probably cut it back too quick and there are times where the penetration has made them cut it back and they have made the correct read. But, it's something we work every day. We run the outside zones, the different types of schemes trying to press the point, trying to press the line of scrimmage and make your cut necessary, based on what they're doing. Sometimes, it's too quick. Sometimes, it's not quick enough. But, overall, I think the backs are running hard but we've just got to do a better job of blocking — the point of attack — and getting the backside cutoffs, too."

On the team running the ball '75 percent of time' when T Tom Compton is in the game and what that means for the passing game:

"Well, the 25 percent makes it very good then [laughter]. You know, it's hard. It's hard. You lose Niles [Paul] and Logan [Paulsen] and they are our blocking tight ends, so to speak. We didn't get Derek [Carrier] until late. If you want to run the ball, you need a tight end a lot of times. There are some plays we don't have to have a tight end. We can split out the tight end and try to get the box in our favor — count-wise — and try to gut the defense that-a-way, but when we need a tight end at the point of attack, some of the runs that we like to run with the double teams and all that stuff, you need a tight end that can hold it and Tom's proven that he can do that. But it is tough because you lose an eligible receiver and it's not something we want to feature but I think 10-12 plays a game, I think, would be a good number moving forward either with him as a tight end and DY [Darrel Young] as a fullback or with him as a tight end and Jordan Reed or Carrier now as a tight end. We can utilize different personnel groupings. It's just a matter of how much and we don't want to be too predictable thought like you say."

On C Brian de la Puente:

"Well, he's a backup center right now. He's pushing Josh [LeRibeus] but Josh is our starter and he's going to continue to be our starter. Obviously, if an injury happens, de la Puente will be in there, but right now, we're still working with the offensive line — all of them, the internal offensive line, both guards and center. We've got to continue to get better with them together — getting the calls and the right people and being a little bit more firm inside. It wasn't all on Josh. You know, some of it was left guard, right guard, right tackle, back, whatever but I think Josh is doing OK to keep his job."

On the communication with C Josh LeRibeus on the road:

"I think the communication is getting better the more he plays. I think he's doing a much better job with communication part of it. The snaps haven't been an issue, were not an issue Monday night, so that's a good thing. But on the road last time — the last time we played on the road — he had a couple bad snaps but we don't anticipate that happening again. He's improved his snaps quite a bit. Communication has been good. It's just a matter of we've got to get more better protection from all of our offensive linemen and everybody involved."

On if this week is a 'make-or-break' road game:

"I'm not going to be that drastic and say 'make or break' but it's obviously, you know, all these games are important. We're 5-7. Giants are 5-7. Eagles are 5-7. So, obviously, the importance of this game is big for all teams involved in this race. We understand our struggles on the road and we have to address them. We have to address them head on and go compete against Chicago."

On the MRI results for DE Jason Hatcher and RB Chris Thompson:

"Hatcher's MRI [outcome] was positive; it's just a matter of getting his strength back. That's the issue he has. Thompson had a tear in his labrum. That's a concern. He can play with that, possibly, if he has enough strength and the swelling and the pain goes down. So we're concerned about Chris a little bit."

On if Thompson is expected to practice:

"Probably not tomorrow, maybe Friday. We'll see how he's feeling."

On the alternative if Thompson is unable to play this weekend:

"That's a tough position, you know. That's a guy that has to know all of the protections and obviously be a force out of the backfield winning one-on-one matchups. We have Christine Michael in here. He's a possibility on the practice squad. There might be some other options. Matt Jones actually did a good job on third down last week in the blitz pickups. He had some excellent blitz pickups, so he's an option."

On if Thompson's shoulder injury got worse on Monday:

"Yeah, it was a different injury… He had the AC [joint injury] and he did the labrum, I guess."

Quarterback Kirk Cousins

On handling the blitz last week:

"Each play was its own entity and each play had a different reason why it worked or didn't work. I thought we moved the ball well at times. A couple of drives stalled because of penalties. Other drives stalled for different reasons. We always go back and watch the tape and are critical of ourselves and say on each individual play what needed to happen for us to have a better result. We'll be much sharper in our preparation now and try to get better results on Sunday."

On if there were more deep shots to WR DeSean Jackson available last week:

"We took a shot early on third down and I think the throw was just a little long. Threw it up and he was running underneath it and the ball was just a little bit out of his grasp. So that was a chance where we did take a shot, we just didn't connect. Later in the game did the same thing and hit it. Then we did one as well to Pierre [Garçon] down the sideline and it was a little long as well. We definitely like to take those shots when we get them and we have a favorable matchup. I think our receivers – not just DeSean but our receivers in general – have proven that they do a great job of winning down the field on those routes."

On the attitude in the building today:

"It would be what you'd expect. There's a balance of frustration over what happened on Monday night and a bit of a sour taste in our mouths. Then there's also understanding that in the NFL it's next week and you get your focus on what is up ahead. We've been here before off a tough loss just regrouping and now saying we've got a job to do and a lot of games that are still important to go win."

On what he saw when he checked down to Jackson instead of hitting Jamison Crowder over the middle:

"In hindsight it would've been great to give Jamison a shot there. I looked and I couldn't find him and rather than hang on it I decided to progress to DeSean. But definitely in hindsight you'd like to put your eyes there if you can't find him, in hindsight, hang on a little longer, see if he shows, which if he had the ball definitely would've gone to him and in hindsight should have gone to him."

On preparing for the possibility of rain in Chicago:

"Conditions are always a factor and something you pay attention to and prepare for… If there's a strong possibility of rain – which it sounds like there is – we will prepare for that."

On if the team needs to change anything schematically to avoid offensive pass interference calls:

"I don't think so. On the specific one from that game where Pierre ran his route, it just seemed like he's trying to get to his spot and the guy is playing bump coverage and it's football. If it gets called, it gets called. I don't think there's much to change on that specific one."

On the message to his team to make sure they stay focused after struggling for the first three quarters:

"I felt like we moved the ball, we got down into field goal range. I think we had a chance at four field goals and a couple other times we were across the 50 and didn't get into field goal range and had to punt but we were right there. It felt like we moved the ball, got down into plus territory, but again when you have first and 10 on the 25ish-yard line twice and then a penalty puts you back and when you add the gain on the play, sometimes those penalties were 20-25 yard penalties because of the result of the play that is now wiped away on top of the yards that are added. Those penalties really put you in a tough spot. It's not so much play calling or scheme or executing plays, it's just, 'Hey the penalty...' It's hard to win when you have those kinds of things stacking up."

On if he said anything to the team about the penalties:

"Yeah, we talk about playing with more discipline and making sure we're attentive to our role and our responsibilities so that everybody is executing the plays. If you do that then better results... But, yeah, we addressed that. But again, I felt like we were moving the ball well and so good things were happening too at times."

On playing on the road:

"I think we definitely need to win on the road. We have experience playing on the road. It's always a challenge but we have confidence in our teams and our offense's ability to go out there and have success. We had halftime leads in two of the games that we ended up losing on the road. We just have got to come out, play our brand of football, play as mistake-free as we possibly can and, if you do that, you give yourself a great chance."

On the challenge of not having TE Derek Carrier available last week:

"It's never easy when you have injuries, definitely some adversity thrown your way and we've had our fair share this year. I think it's part of playing in the NFL though. You realize after – now I'm going on four years – you realize by the end of the season usually you lose some key players along the way and you have to do your best with what you have. Is it a little more challenging? Sure. But we feel like we can always come up with a plan and have an answer to whatever comes our way. We hope to get Derek back as soon as possible. When we do, I think he'll really be able to help our offense."

On if Dallas was able to key in on their play calls based on formations:

"I don't know. I think that you certainly can formulate some educated guesses about what Ty [Nsekhe] or Tom [Compton] are going to contribute or not contribute. You can still throw the ball out of those formations or those personnel groupings. There's no reason you can't. They've still got to play it honest and handle their gaps and play their responsibilities. We still have a job to do to."

On what makes play-action bootlegs successful:

"It's a combination of factors. When you run the ball and commit to running the ball, teams have to stop that. So when you do anything that looks like a run and then you pass off of it, it's going to keep teams guessing. Defenses have responsibilities and you kind of put them in a bind when you run a play like that and make them have to honor the run while also having to honor that bootleg. There are times when a defense will play it really well and then it's not the best play to run and you've got to get away from it. Those plays are week-to-week, game-to-game, quarter-to-quarter. Depending on how guys are playing it you've got to be able to adapt and adjust as in anything."

On how he handles input from receivers during the game:

"I really appreciate the input that I get back from the guys. If they're not telling me on the sidelines after a series, I'm usually asking, 'Were you open there?' or 'I heard you were open there,' or 'I looked at the picture and you were open and I should have gotten you the football.' These guys, they're professionals. They know when they should be getting the ball. They know when it probably isn't coming their way. A lot of times, they know my reads. You know, there is no doubt that I value their opinion and they've done a really good job of giving me input about when to get them the football. Like I've said, they've made me right, many, many times. I'm going to need them to continue to get open and make plays for us here down the stretch."

On the Bears' defense:

"I think they have a very, very good D-coordinator [Vic Fangio]. They're very well coached, very sound. I see them play with really good effort. And I think that, first and foremost, if you've got a sound scheme with smart players who play with great effort, I have a lot of respect for them. They've got players. I mean, they've got guys, you know, one of them was here last year — Tracy Porter – is an outstanding player. Jarvis Jenkins, we know as well. So they have good football players. It's going to be another NFL matchup with a great defense and a great challenge for us."

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