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Quotes: Jay Gruden And Kirk Cousins (8.31.15)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On if he has news regarding the quarterback position:

"Yes, we do have news. We have announced that Kirk Cousins will be the starter for 2015 moving forward. And I think all three quarterbacks should be commended for their efforts, their willingness to get better, but when it's all said and done, after all the film that we've gone through, after all the offseason activity, all of training camp footage, we feel like at this time Kirk Cousins gives us the best chance to win. That's where we're going."

On saying quarterback Kirk Cousins will be the starter for 2015:

"It's Kirk's team."

On Cousins earning the job:

"I just think that it's not so much what somebody didn't do, it's just what Kirk has done. I think what he has done in practice and at OTAs has really opened our eyes and he's proven to be the best quarterback on our roster at this time. Really, it's a compliment to Kirk, not so much the other guys didn't do this or didn't do that. I just think Kirk has played so well that he has earned the right. When we announce a starting group – a first-team offense, a first-string defense – there is still competition there. It's linebacker, defensive back -- it doesn't matter. You still have to perform at a high level to keep your spot and if you're a backup and you perform at a high level, you have a chance to take a spot. That's basically what happened. Kirk has done an outstanding job. Robert's done some great things, no question. We have total faith in all three of them, but moving forward, with all the things that we've studied over the course of training camp and OTAs, we just feel like Kirk has earned the right to be the starting quarterback for 2015."

On quarterback Robert Griffin III:

"Robert's on our football team and he's a Washington Redskin. We believe in Robert. It's a good problem to have to have three quarterbacks that are competing and working their butts off. I feel like all three of them are capable quarterbacks. Some people say, 'When you have three, you don't have one.' I disagree with that. We have three good quarterbacks that I feel good about. I just feel like Kirk right now gives us the best chance."

On Owner Dan Snyder's stance on the quarterback position:

"Mr. Snyder has been nothing but supportive of this football team and everything we're doing moving forward. We kind of tell him what we're thinking, how we're feeling and he's all for it. All Mr. Snyder wants to do is win. That's the bottom line and there's a lot of things being said that he's pulling for this guy or this guy or that guy. That's never been the case here. He wants us to win football games. Scot McCloughan, myself, Bruce [Allen], we're all in the same boat. Our job is to put the best 53 men out there – our starting group, our backup group and that's what we went with. Ultimately, as a football coach, it's my call who starts and who doesn't start. Basically, it's my decision. I got the feedback from Bruce and Scot and we're all together on it."

On if the decision was made yesterday:

"It's a decision that you don't make in one day. It's a process. It's something that we've talked about and watched and seen how things are progressing, then the game tape kind of verified what we're thinking with Kirk. He's done an excellent job. He had the interception against Baltimore, unfortunate, but he came back and had the two touchdown drives. All throughout training camp, we just feel like he's the best one right now."

On the reason why Griffin received first-team reps prior to the Ravens game:

"Well, he was going to start. He was the starting quarterback at that time. We were going to bring Kirk in early in that football game and give him a chance with the ones. That was our plan and go from there, but really, like I said before, Kirk has done everything in his power to be a supportive teammate, number one. He's never done anything behind anybody's back. He's done everything right. He's moved the ball when he's in the football game and we just feel like he deserves the right. Who starts when and who does what has been insignificant. The fact is that Kirk has earned the right."

On if Griffin is the backup quarterback now:

"Well, Robert is still in the concussion protocol program, so when he gets out of that, we will make a determination."

On if he is surprised by making the move this preseason and what Griffin's reaction has been:

"I'm a little surprised, but to be honest with you, Robert is a pro and he's a Washington Redskin. We have a lot of respect for what he's accomplished here in 2012 and moving forward here with the new offense. He's done some great things here. Really this is about Kirk doing an excellent job and winning the job basically. Robert I'm sure is disappointed as I'm sure Colt [McCoy] is disappointed. Colt's done nothing wrong either. He's had a great preseason also. So like I said, when you have three good players, three tough-minded players, three great people as quarterbacks, it's hard to pick. But it's my job as the coach to make that decision. That's my decision and I feel good about it and I think our team feels good about it moving forward."

On Griffin's future with team and if Gruden believes Griffin will be on the roster next week:

"Yeah, I do. Shoot, like I said, I have nothing against Robert. I like Robert as a quarterback. There's no doubt about it and his future with the Washington Redskins is what it is. So, there's been no discussions about letting him go or doing any of that stuff. We are going to plan on playing with these three quarterbacks. Last year we used all three. We didn't want to, but we had to. I anticipate Kirk taking this job and running with it. But his [Griffin's] job as the backup quarterback or the third string quarterback, whatever it is, is to get himself ready to play and the door is not shut on Robert Griffin. He's a Washington Redskins player and he's got to come in and compete like everybody else."

On if Griffin's presence as a backup quarterback could create a distraction for Cousins:

"You know it could be, but I think Kirk has been here long enough and everyone understands the dynamic that Robert brings. He's a high-profile player and deservedly so. He's done a lot of great things in his career, but moving forward, when you're the starting quarterback, it's your job to keep that job and you can't let outside noise influence you as a football player. So, I think Kirk is strong enough to handle it and I know if there's an incompletion or interception there could be some chatter about 'Put Robert in,' or what have you. But, we're not worried about that. We're going to support Kirk every way we can. Every player in this locker room and every coach is going to do what we can to get Kirk ready to play and succeed and not worry about the outside noise factor."

On if he regrets naming Griffin the starter in the winter:

"No. I didn't want to come to every press conference and get asked who's starting. We put it to bed. We named Robert the starter, gave him the first reps with the guys. But, when you do that, you still have to compete. There's still competition. We just wanted to put all the distractions aside, play football, let these guys go out and compete and they did that. All three of them did some great things. Like I said, I'm confident with all three of them, but I feel the best with Kirk and that's where we're going."

On if there are circumstances where he may look to other quarterbacks if Cousins doesn't perform well:

"Well, they definitely have the heat on them. They're good guys to have. But we don't anticipate – I try not to think about 'What if Kirk does poorly? What if he gets injured?' We're going to do everything we can to surround Kirk the best way we can. Good strong running game, good strong defense, special teams and let him play. Let him enjoy, let him play. I don't want him to go out there and every incompletion he's going to be looking to see if the quarterbacks are warming up on the sideline. That's not the case. This is his squad. I feel confident that he's going to take it and do some great things."

On if quarterback Colt McCoy will play the entire game Thursday:


On players who did not practice today:

"Trent [Williams] was just held out today, rest mostly. Matt Jones, same thing – rest. Akeem Davis, hamstring. Corey Crawford, Achilles. Jordan Campbell, shoulder. Those guys were held out today. And Evan Spencer was held out. He is in the concussion program."

On Griffin's contract:

"I'm not even going to get into the contract stuff, the extensions and all that stuff. All I'm worried about is this season, 2015, and playing our best guys and trying to win football games."

On how Cousins has regained Gruden's his trust since Week 7 last season:

"Well, progress. We talk about a second year in a system, we talk about the comfort level for all three quarterbacks. We just feel like he's taken the biggest step as far as the comfort level in the system, making the progression from year one to year two. Obviously we're disappointed that he had an opportunity to take it and he had some interception issues and all that stuff. But we feel good about him moving forward… You know, when you get in the second year in a system, there's a comfort level. Certain quarterbacks take a giant leap, certain quarterbacks don't. But I feel like Kirk has taken a giant leap so far. We feel great about the progress that he has made. I think all that that happened last year with all three quarterbacks has been a great learning experience for them. As a quarterback, you have to be mentally tough and understand there is going to be some tough times. You have to grow from it. We're thinking that Kirk will grow from it."

On if Griffin lost his job because of performance:

"Correct. Well, it's because of Kirk's performance."

On if he would consider signing a fourth quarterback:

"Not right now, no. We have plenty for me [laughter]."

On what the plan for last Saturday would have been if Griffin had been healthy:

"It doesn't matter now. We had our plan in place, but what happened, happened. It's unfortunate that there was a lot of confusion there but that's all in the past right now. We're talking about moving forward and getting ready for obviously Jacksonville Thursday and then Miami."

On if the team was encouraged by Cousins' performance against Baltimore:

"I think they were. Whatever happened, the fact of the matter was that Kirk produced there. We struggled a little bit the first couple drives and then we put a couple in the end zone against a very good Baltimore team, which is impressive to me. I think everybody responded. I think a lot of it too is responding from the last week's [performance]. The first unit was so poor the week before, and it's nobody's fault. It's just all together – the offensive line protection wasn't very good, they were up to the challenge. We didn't give up one sack against a very good Baltimore defense. We gave up three in the first four drives against Detroit. I think the improvements they made – Coach [Bill] Callahan challenged the line. When it's all said and done after three preseason games, we have the most rushing attempts, the second-most yards, and I think we've given up the least amount of sacks. I'm happy with the production of our offensive line and them getting better and of course the quarterback play."

On the quarterback rotation for the fourth preseason game:

"Colt will play the whole game."

Quarterback Kirk Cousins

On how gratifying it is to earn the starting job:

"It's a step in the process. It doesn't feel like a finish line by any means. I think the work is still ahead of us, obviously. Just a step in the process and it's one more reason to keep working."

On how he found out that he had been named starter:

"This morning, Jay [Gruden] just told me and that was it."

On if anything has changed for him mentally in his approach to the competition:

"You know, I'm going out and trying to prove myself every time I go out there – practice, game, preseason, whatever it may be. I'm going to do all I can to take this opportunity and run with it and hopefully provide great quarterback play all season long."

On if he felt he had a legitimate shot to earn the job entering the season:

"I think you can look at it both ways. Number one is you're always competing, you're always fighting for your spot, you're always trying to prove yourself. I never felt like I've been comfortable in any specific role. So that's what I've learned since I was drafted. On the flip side, I did feel like the roles were defined and I was competing for the backup role and that was where I was at. But like I said, you also understand you're always battling for every spot and nobody's job is safe. So you can look at it both ways."

On if he remained confident he would get another chance to start after last season and the role his faith played in that confidence:

"I certainly had some nights where I wasn't sleeping well. My wife would tell you I was a bear to deal with. It was a tough experience. Certainly it made me stronger going forward. I look back now and I feel like that experience will make me a better football player in the future. To answer your second question, I do believe from 2012 – the day I was drafted – that God brought me here. He's got a plan for me. The plan may not be to win Super Bowls and throw a bunch of touchdown passes and win a bunch of games; I hope it is a part of the plan, but I just trusted that he had a plan for me and that he was going to work everything out. Time will tell. Stay tuned. It's going to be an interesting ride."

On how he has tried to improve his interception rate:

"I think it's a combination of things, but certainly just trying to see the field better, recognize defenses better, recognize coverages, blitzes, pressures, my movement in the pocket needs to be better. All those things contribute to being able to protect the football. The longer I play, the more reps I get, the more practice and game experience I gain, I'll become a much better quarterback when it comes to protecting the football along with a lot of other areas of playing this position."

On if he feels like he has "won over" his teammates with his performance:

"I feel like I've always had good respect from my teammates. I've always felt like I've had good rapport from them. You'd have to ask them, I guess it's not for me to say what they think of me. I've always tried to do things in a way that would give them reason to want to rally around me. That's a question that would be better addressed toward them."

On if he was surprised by the news this morning:

"This is the NFL. I've learned not to have preconceived notions or to walk in here and say, 'Well, this is how it's going to play out. I've got it figured out.' When you do that, you put yourself in trouble. So I walk in here every day trying to get better, understanding that I should take nothing for granted and just accept whatever challenge comes my way. That perspective I think will serve me well."

On if it has been "a wild few days" for him:

"Welcome to quarterbacking in the NFL. I walked in the Jacksonville game last year Week 2 and was in the first quarter. You just don't know what's going to happen. The minute you try to start to predetermine things and have preconceived notions, you're putting yourself in trouble. So I come in here with an open mind and all I know is I need to control my attitude, my preparation and my effort. If I do that, the rest will take care of itself."

On if there is value to hearing Jay Gruden's confidence in him:

"There's something powerful about feeling believed in, and there's something powerful about knowing where you stand. I feel like Jay has done that today. We'll go from there."

On his relationship with Griffin:

"I can't say enough about the class act Robert has been from the day I was drafted to now. The way he has treated me, the way he has handled a lot of adversity, I have marveled at his ability as a rookie to never flinch, to compete as a young player in this league and win Rookie of the Year and taking our team to the playoffs and winning the division. I marveled at that. The way that he is a fierce competitor, I've always respected. He's continued to operate that way no matter what has been thrown at him. He has always been a guy who remains classy, works very, very hard, and I've learned from that example."

On upon what specifically he has improved:

"I think being in the system a second year gave me an ability going into the offseason to know what to work on. To say, 'I was deficient in this area' or understanding that protection or knowing how to make that audible check, I was deficient in that area last year. So it gave me chance in the offseason to really look at my weaknesses, be critical on myself and improve those areas. I think in doing so, along with the OTAs and the practices, training camp and the summer break, I was just trying to maximize my time. Keep improving and keep building. I heard a quote from Bill Walsh awhile back that said, 'The accumulation of knowledge is a powerful thing.' It's all about the accumulation. It doesn't happen overnight, it doesn't happen your first year in the league. Gradually you accumulate knowledge, you accumulate experiences and as you accumulate it, it becomes a powerful thing. I'm hoping to be able to tap into that power starting this year."

On what Griffin and Colt McCoy said to him after the decision was made:

"Nothing that should be noted or stated, anything over the top. They were classy, as I said. I love the fact that they're competitors and you would want nothing less from them."

On if he will dress Thursday night against Jacksonville:

"I think all, whatever number of guys are there – 75 guys – will dress."

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