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Quotes: Jay Gruden And Kirk Cousins (9.30.15)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

Opening statement:

"Did not participate were D-Hall, obviously, DeSean Jackson, Perry Riley with his calf. Limited were Kedric Golston, Josh LeRibeus and [Chris] Culliver. Full were [Kory] Lichtensteiger, [Morgan] Moses and [Colt] McCoy. Then, we put [Shawn] Lauvao on IR. He's having season-ending ankle surgery to repair some torn tendons and ligaments in his ankle, and Justin Rogers with his plantar [fasciitis]."

On how disappointing the injury to G Shawn Lauvao is:

"It's disappointing. He was playing well. We've had to deal with this sort of thing for a while now. I think we've got eight or nine guys on IR already. They're all quality players. You hate to lose anybody, but Shawn was playing extremely well, brings a sense of toughness that offensive line room and he'll be missed. But luckily, we have Spencer Long and Arie Kouandjio ready to roll."

On if he has named a starting left guard for Sunday:

"Not yet. We're going to let them compete this week, let them get a lot of reps and see how it goes. Right now, I'd say Spencer Long has probably got the leg up, but we'll see."

On if WR DeSean Jackson will play Sunday:

"He's still day-to-day. He didn't do anything out there today, so we'll have to wait and see how he does tomorrow if he's going to run any tomorrow."

On the players who played in place of LB Perry Riley, Jr. last week:

"Will Compton played well. [Terrance] Plummer didn't play much except on special teams. He did OK. We obviously added Mason Foster, a veteran linebacker, who's played a lot of football to help out. We only dressed three inside backers last week. This week, we'll have the ability to dress four if Perry plays or not. We have four in the building – five now – but they're doing well. We need them to all step up if they're not a starter on special teams because this is a great special teams unit we're playing in Philly."

On if the timetable for CB DeAngelo Hall is still three to four weeks:

"Yeah, that's what we're hoping. We're hoping, best case scenario, it'll be three weeks. You know, with a toe injury for a defensive back, it could be longer. If he was a quarterback or an offensive lineman, he probably could get in there a little sooner, but the way defensive backs play and use those toes, it could be a little bit longer. But we'll wait and see. He's a fast healer and hopefully he'll be good."

On what improvements Spencer Long and Arie Kouandjio needed to make after the offseason:

"Well, Spencer has had to work on everything. And like I said, when we got him out of Nebraska, he didn't play his senior year that much. So he's playing left guard, right guard, now he's playing a little bit of center out here, he's working on everything. Coach [Bill] Callahan has been grinding him on everything — pass protections, footwork, his pad level, everything, passing off stunts — he's doing better and better. Obviously, Brandon [Scherff] was playing well at right guard. Obviously, Shawn [Lauvao] was too, but now he's got a golden opportunity. We don't have any problems with Spencer Long in the lineup. That's for sure. We feel very good about him playing. He's done a good job and improved his total game. But going out there and playing against a live first-string defense like Philadelphia, who does a lot of stunts and a lot of movement – Fletcher Cox, I mean, he's a heck of a player – it will be a great challenge for him. And, Arie, same thing. He came in as a rookie. He was well-coached at Alabama, obviously. But still there's some fundamental things that he's had to work on and he's improved on every part of his game."

On CB Chris Culliver:

"He just has a sore knee. He started practice out fine. He has some soreness in his knee and his quad and a little bit in his groin, just a little bit of stiffness. More so precautionary, I believe, I'm hoping."

On Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly's offense and his influence on other NFL offenses:

"I think a lot of NFL offenses have implemented those type of elements. Really, it's inside zone. They don't do as much zone-read anymore, obviously. They don't have [Michael] Vick back there or [Mark] Sanchez did a little bit more, but mainly it's the tempo that you have to deal with – the formations, some unbalanced here and there. Just the idea of having to hurry-up and get lined up and get the call from the sideline, it limits you as a defensive coordinator sometimes with the calls that you can have. As far as the actual plays they run, we've seen them all. It's not like they're doing anything that's brand new to the world. It's just a matter of they do a great tempo and when they're clicking, they're doing it effectively. They're mixing the inside zone with the outside zone out of the gun. They're sending [Darren] Sproles on the rail route. They're doing shallow crosses. They're doing good play-actions with the three verticals. But, you know, like every offense, when they have their running game stopped, it becomes a problem. We've run into the same thing also. It's our job to make sure we keep them in second-and-long and third-and-long and then we can rush the passer."

On the challenges Darren Sproles and the Eagles' special teams unit present:

"Well, it's a great challenge. You know, I showed all the touchdowns on the film today from last year and this year and it seemed like it took forever. They had a lot of them – punt blocks, punt returns, kickoff returns. Great special teams unit over there. Sproles, as a punt returner, is very dynamic. He's already small in stature, but he's big as far as making people miss, finding lanes. He's hard to find to find sometimes when he's behind the blockers and he gets a wall and he's gone. He's got great speed. It'll be another great challenge. Tavon Austin is very similar. Tavon, probably got a little bit more long speed, but Darren Sproles has great quickness also. Another great challenge for us. If the weather is going to be bad, like it might be, it'll be very, very important for us to do good in the punt game and the punt-return game, so it's going to be a great challenge for us."

On how difficult it is to coach special teams consistently with injuries and the changes in personnel:

"Yeah, that's the hardest part is the injuries. You can coach them up. People don't understand the effect that the injuries – the Niles Paul injury has, the Adam Hayward injury has on special teams. Then when you lose starters on defense and then the core special teams guys are moving up to starters on defense, then you're having a brand new special teams unit. That's tough for Coach [Ben] Kotwica. We're having a different flyer outside every time. We're having a different punt protector every week. And those guys need reps like a quarterback needs reps, like an inside linebacker needs reps. We've got to try to get these guys up to par, up to speed as quick as we can because Philadelphia will make you pay. It changes the course of a football game like we learned last week against the [New York] Giants, but we just have to do our job as coaches to get our guys ready and our players have to do their job of getting themselves ready."

On the plan for Long and Kouandjio:

"We're looking at both of them in practice, and then we'll make our final determination on game day or Saturday, probably. They're both getting some work."

On if anyone else is in the mix to start at left guard:

"For left guard, no."

On if he looks at doing something different schematically this week to improve the running game:

"I think you do a little bit of both but mainly it's working on technique. Philadelphia gives a different style of defensive line. They play similar fronts, but they have a lot of movement, a lot of moving parts. Their defensive line does a lot of stunting and how we pick up some of these stunts and eliminate the quick penetration that they have will be crucial as far as how we run the ball. They have a lot of tackles for loss. They're a very disruptive defensive line but if you get them blocked, we feel like we can get to the second level make some good hits, but it's tricky, man. Every week is tricky, especially with you've got a rookie right guard, now you've got a second-year left guard, second-year right tackle to deal with all these different defensive line spots and movement. It's not easy. We'll grind on them and give it a shot."

On if there is more time devoted to special teams this week:

"No, we've got the same allotted. I think it's plenty. They have meeting time. They have walk-through time. They have time in practice. I think they're getting their work. We understand the importance. We've made a big deal about it the last couple — really the whole offseason --- we made a big deal about special teams and turnovers. So far, it's gone on deaf ears, I guess, because we're minus-five in turnovers and actually, we had a kickoff return which was great last week, but we've got to do better in both areas."

On what QB Kirk Cousins needs to do to restore Gruden's confidence:

"I have confidence. You just look for gradual improvement, man. Run the offense, really. Like I said before, every play is not a touchdown. I wish it would be, I wish I could draw up 60 touchdowns in a row. But every play is not going to be a touchdown. The defense has coverages and pass rushers. They get paid a lot of money also. They get coached well. Stick with the plan, let the players around you help you. If it's not there, throw it away."

On the pressure on the veteran offensive linemen to communicate to the young linemen:

"Huge, that's why I've said all along that Kory [Lichtensteiger] is our most valuable player on offense. He does a great job of keeping everybody intact, getting to the right people, making the communication calls, protection calls, all the different calls that we have in the run game. He's done an excellent job. So we're leaning heavily on Kory to help the two young guards. Trent [Williams] will do a great job with Spencer [Long] or Arie [Kouandjio], whoever the left guard is. Those two guys are our leaders on the offensive side of the ball and they've done a good job. I expect that to continue."

On the pressure on Cousins to prove himself on a weekly basis:

"Well, we're 1-2 right now. We're one game out of first place. He's done some good things. I don't know if we're all expecting him to be 25-for-30 and 420 yards and five touchdowns every week. We're hoping for gradual improvement, like I said. I think he's shown enough in the first three games so far that he is improving. Now he had the one bad pass across the middle. You look around the league at starting quarterbacks other than probably Aaron Rodgers, guys are throwing interceptions from time-to-time. We just have to make sure we recover, correct them and hopefully we see gradual improvement. He does enough at practice and in games that I think he's done some good things and we've just got to try to grow with him."

On QB Colt McCoy's injury:

"Monday, he had a cut on his foot. He tried to take some tape off his foot, I guess, and the scissors got him a little cut and he couldn't stop the bleeding. He didn't want me to tell anybody that, but he's OK."

On how to coach mental toughness:

"That's a great question. That's something that we have to figure out. We haven't figured that out yet since I've been here. I don't know if we've had a come-from-behind victory yet. We may have, I can't remember. It's very important for us to be resilient. We preach it all the time. When you play in the National Football League, you're going to have your good plays and your bad plays, your good series and your bad series, your good quarters and your bad quarters, your good halves and your bad halves, your good games and your bad games. How you bounce back from these down moments is how you are as a person, as a team. We have to be mentally tough. We have to understand that we're all fighting together, fighting with each other. As long as we understand that and do that, then we will dig out of some of these holes. I think we do have that belief. We've just got to have some results. When we do get down, have a great come from behind win, have a big play. If we fumble a play away on offense, maybe defensively make a big play to get the momentum back. It's a work in progress but I have confidence that these guys are working together and they are on the right path to being that type of team – resilient."

On if the weather could lend itself to running the football on Sunday:

"Yeah, you're right, if it is what they say it is then there won't be many balls in the air, that's for sure. That is what we want to be. We want to be a physical football team, obviously. Understand I still think that for us to come out and say, 'We're going to run the ball 65 times and win a football game', I don't know if that's realistic or not. I think we have to be diverse in what we do. I think we still have to stand on our beliefs and we believe that Kirk can throw a forward pass and we can make people pay with the deep passing play-actions and the quick game and some of our drop-backs that we have. Ultimately when your back is against the wall, we need to be able to run the football. That's something we are trying to preach."

On if the quarterback or offensive line deserves the credit for only allowing four sacks in three games:

"Both. You know, I think when you're talking about sack numbers, a lot of people want to point just to the offensive line, but really it's the quarterback also. It's throwing the ball on rhythm. It's getting the ball out of your hands when there's pressure. It's tight ends in protection if need be if they're chipping. It's the running backs in protection. It's the receivers going to the right depth and being in the right spot. So when you're talking about a rhythm-type offense like we like to run, it's three-and-out, one step and throw, three steps and throw. It's important for everybody to be precise and the quarterback to make quick, sound decisions and be accurate. But I think the offensive line has done an excellent job of protection and I think Kirk [Cousins] has done an excellent job as far as getting the ball out of his hands. Only four sacks in the amount of times we've thrown it is pretty dang good."

Quarterback Kirk Cousins

On how he can make it easier on new players along the offensive line:

"I don't that you have to do too much differently. I think we have a lot of experience upfront. I think Josh LeRibeus and Spencer Long are really smart guys and have played a lot of football. So, I trust them and we'll just go on business as usual and just keep working. That's kind of part of playing in this league and going through a long 16-game season."
On his performance against the Giants:

"You know, I felt like we did a lot of good things. I felt like we moved the football. I was disappointed with – I would call it situational management. The second interception, it's first-and-10, just throw the ball out of bounds. You don't have to try and put it on Derek [Carrier] there at that moment. Play for the next play kind of thing. To throw the ball 49 times, I felt like we did a lot of good things – only took one sack. We moved it up and down the field. If we didn't fumble on the goal line there, we come away with more points. So, there were a lot of positives to build on and that's what I like to focus on. But certainly that were two or three plays that really can change the course of the entire game and those are the ones you have to go look back and correct and make sure don't repeat themselves."
On not connecting with TE Jordan Reed on a long pass attempt last week:

"Yeah, I thought the first one Jordan beat him so much that a part of me said, 'Don't overthrow him. Just give him a chance,' you know? When you win that much at the line of scrimmage, you start to try to aim it and try to give him a chance to just make sure it's not overthrown. As a result, sure enough, when you start aiming it and not throwing it, it gets underthrown and the guy was able to recover. So, that one was one we felt we left on the table and then other one to Jordan was a tough deal where the protection, the safety blitz got on me quickly and I wasn't able to set my feet and let it go. And that was another one where you felt like Jordan had beat his guy and if the ball had been able to be thrown further out potentially could've been a touchdown as well. And that's where you walk away and say, 'You know, we have the talent to make the plays. The plays are there to be made. We've just got to make them.' We've got to be play through these things and work through them and hopefully, like I said, not repeat the same things over and over."
On the first interception:

"I think anytime you throw an interception, you're always going to say, 'What can I do differently so it doesn't happen again?' I don't want to sound like I'm shrugging my shoulders and not taking it seriously. On the other hand, if I don't trust those throws and let them go at times, I'll probably never be able to make consistent completions in this league. So, there's a balance there. I've got to trust what I see. I've got to let the ball go. I've got to throw with confidence. I can't get gun-shy. The other side of it is, in that specific play looking at it and being hard on myself, saying, 'Hey, is there a way maybe I can take a hitch and let it declare? Is there a way I could progress?' And so, I try to look at it both ways. There are going to be plays where the guy makes a good play. I think that's certainly an example of the other guy made a really nice play."

On if he has a different sense of stability or security as the starting quarterback this season:

"I think* *it's something we've talked about through training camp and when Jay [Gruden] made the announcement several weeks ago. I think it's just a good thing to be believed in, a good thing to have that support. It's always been my focus to just try to make good on it and take advantage of what is a great opportunity."

On what lessons he took from last year about putting a bad game behind him:

"I think I've been much better and feel much better about that this year. Feel more confident and that experience is so valuable. That's the great thing about the NFL is that you're going to have setbacks, but when you do, the next Sunday is coming soon. We're excited about the opportunity to go out and put a much better product on the field this Sunday."

On his memories from his start against the Eagles last season:

"I watched that game film this week and really it was I guess a pleasant surprise to see how far I've come since that game. It was a productive game offensively, but, boy, we left a lot of plays out there. I thought my footwork was pretty inconsistent. I thought some of my decision making or just my overall procedure of playing the quarterback position was inconsistent at times. I came away from watching that film saying, 'Wow it's encouraging to see how far I've improved.' It takes going back and watching that game to really be able to see that. There were a lot of good things in that game. I remember it being a competitive game, a battle down to the finish, one that when you get in those situations going forward you want to be on the other end and be able to make those plays at the end that can get you the win."

On how the rain affects his throwing:

"I have done it in the past. Rain affects it, wind affects it, how much we get of each of those. When they start to combine and be a lot of both, it can be really difficult. Temperature also starts to change things. I've always been able to throw a wet ball pretty consistently. I don't feel like it takes me off my game too much. That being said, it is a wrinkle and a challenge. More than anything throwing is probably a little easier than just the center-quarterback exchange, just getting that snap. Because it comes up quickly and if you don't get a clean grip, it can slip right through your hands. So center-quarterback exchange is probably just as big of an emphasis as the actual throwing and catching."

On if the offense played with enough urgency in terms of pushing the ball downfield last week:

"Yeah, I think you've got to take what the defense gives you. You can always look back and say, 'Could you have done this or that?' Well, if we had pushed it down the field, who knows -- there would have been more turnovers or more incompletions or more inability to move the football. I mean, we went down the field, it's just that we didn't finish the drives at the end. I think we did good things moving the football in the second half of that game. If we protect the football better, I think it will show on the scoreboard."

On if there was more pressure after falling behind last week:

"I don't think so. There were just a couple throws that you want to have back. Whether you throw it 49 times or throw it 14 times, you're going to have a couple throws that you wish you could do over. I don't think it was anything related to pressure or the lack of running the ball. It's just I've just got to settle in and throw the football."

On what he expects to see from the Eagles' defense:

"Well, I have a lot of respect for what they do, for the talent they have, for how active they are. They have got a lot of players that are not just good athletes but smart players and experienced players. I have a lot of respect for what they do and it'll be a great challenge."

On how he practices to prepare for throwing a wet ball:

"If it's going to stay dry out here the next couple of days then really the best strategy is to literally dump it in a bucket. It's kind of overkill, but it's probably your best option, if nothing else to just get center-quarterback exchanges with Kory [Lichtensteiger] after dunking it in a bucket. If nothing else, potentially even filter some of those footballs into a period here and there to get that practice."

On if he would start practicing with the wet ball on Friday once he knows the forecast:

"Until today, this was the first I've heard how serious it might be. I just kind of checked my phone and you can never really tell this far out. But with the reports that I've gotten from coaches and now what we're talking about, probably tomorrow would be good to do it as well."

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