December 20, 2016

Head Coach Jay Gruden

** The following is a transcript of a conference call with local reporters this afternoon.**

On slow starts and fixing them on a short week:
“Well, we have to adjust our schedule, number one, and A) like I said last night, we have to make sure we gauge how our football team is physically. You know, it’s the time of the year where you can’t overwork them. You still need to work but you can’t overwork them. We’ve got to make sure they have a full tank of gas come Saturday and I’ll monitor that once I get the full injury report. So tomorrow will probably be more walkthrough-ish type thing, try to get outside Thursday, walkthrough Friday and leave Friday and play Saturday. So the slow starts are a concern. You know, we pride ourselves on the first 15 and putting a good plan together and for whatever reason the last three or four games, like you said, that hasn’t come to fruition. So just keep working, keep strategizing and try to come up with plays that are more suitable for our players and try to get them more success early.”

On injuries:
“Bates has an ACL tear. [Quinton] Dunbar is still in the concussion protocol. [Ryan] Kerrigan has an elbow sprain. And then [Will] Compton will be day-to-day with his PCL. [Su’a] Cravens will be day-to-day with his upper arm.”

On the play of QB Kirk Cousins:
“I would just say overall, I think if you just want to single out Kirk, I think he missed some throws he normally makes. Our third down conversion rate like I said last night was poor and we had a couple drops, we had a couple missed throws and then they took a couple of our players away. But overall when you look at the whole big picture of it, there wasn’t really a lot of solid play offensively. It just was lackluster execution, I should say. It wasn’t that they weren’t trying. It was just we didn’t execute properly and not to our standards whatsoever. And you know obviously when you win the credit goes to the quarterback and when you lose you know a lot of blame goes to the quarterback. Sometimes it’s deserved, sometimes it’s not, but it’s just a fact of life in pro football. We didn’t do a good enough job in any area – coaching or playing – to get it done last night.”

On TE Jordan Reed’s year:
“Well, he’s obviously shown spurts that he’s one of the premier tight ends in the league, you know? Just the last couple weeks with this shoulder injury, he’s been hindered quite a bit quite frankly. And then last night I think some of his frustrations, he gave into his frustrations and he threw a punch and got ejected and cost us big time. Instead of second and goal at the nine, we got second and 25 at the 25. So I think he’s frustrated. I think he’s obviously has the makings and all the tools to be one of the best tight ends in the league, it’s just we’ve got to get him healthy. And hopefully with another week of rest and rehab, he’ll be stronger for Chicago.”

On if Cousins was focusing in on receivers early in his reads:
“Yeah, I think so. I think they gave us a couple blitzes but we picked them up pretty well and I think he’s just got to trust his protection a little bit more and trust what he sees down the field. I think there were a couple times where he got off some of his progressions and reads and looked to check the ball down sooner than we would like. But you can’t put yourself in the quarterback’s shoes and it’s easy for us to say, ‘Hey, hold the ball and wait for this guy to come open,’ when you have people breathing down your neck. That’s a feel process for him and we’ll just have to go through the film and continue to coach and teach him and hopefully we just continue to get better and learn from what happened in this game.”

On if he said anything to the league about scheduling and the difficulty of a quick turnaround:
“You know, I think the biggest challenge – no, I didn’t say anything to the league, I just got the schedule and that was it – but I think the biggest challenge is getting your team healthy. That’s the biggest challenge. As far as mental preparation this late in the year, we should be able to put a game plan together. We have enough plays that we can call and enough defenses that we can call to be successful versus any team that we play, whether it is one day or five days. The mental part of it I’m not too concerned about it. The physical part of it is what concerns me. These big guys, you know, they take a beating on a Sunday or Monday Night Football game and you need your rest, you need to recover and that’s the biggest issue I have is the recovery time going from a Monday night to a Saturday or from a Sunday night to a Thursday afternoon. It’s hard on these guys, especially late in the year.”

On the lack of a running game and how to get it going again:
“I think it’s necessary. It was a problem last night, and as an offensive coordinator, when you’re calling plays, and you call a running play that’s a gain of one or a loss of one and the back is hit before he even gets the ball in his hands, it’s hard to call another run. But sometimes we need to force the issue. We have got to target the runs better, we have got to do a better job of getting him going. Because like you said, it takes pressure off the quarterback. The line enjoys it – blocking run game, I believe – and it opens up a lot of our passes. When we’re hitting on all cylinders, it’s because of our running game and our play-action. It’s not because we’re dropping back straight drop-back and throwing seven-step drops and five-step drops down the field all the time. It’s because we have a good running game, our bootlegs are off of them, and our core play-actions are very, very good. So when we become one-dimensional, it’s true drop-back, and that’s not the way we’re built. That’s not the way many teams are built. It’s very difficult for any quarterback to succeed in that type of offense.”

On the offensive line’s performance:
“I think it wasn’t just the offensive line with the issues. We brought in a big lineman to play tight end, and our tight ends, they, quite frankly, probably had their worst game as far as the running game is concerned – so it wasn’t all on the offensive line. Spencer [Long] did OK in his first game back. He got beat a couple times on a backdoor shade or what have you, but for the most part, protection-wise I thought was pretty darn good. I thought Kirk [Cousins] had enough time to set his feet. We picked up their blitzes. Chris Thompson was involved in a lot of those, he did a great job. So we had time to throw. We just couldn’t get people open the way we normally do.”

On how CB Josh Norman handled playing his former team:
“I thought he handled the situation great. I think the big thing is that we didn’t want to make this Josh vs. the Carolina Panthers. It was us vs. them. They obviously won, but I though Josh handled himself well. I thought he competed and played a good game. He gave up a couple slant routes and we blew a coverage on the Ted Ginn touchdown. But for the most part, he almost had an interception there on a deep ball, and he was competitive and played hard.”

On if there is discussion about possibly sitting Reed because of his shoulder injury:
“There could be. I haven’t talked to Jordan yet today, but let’s see how he is. He’s such a factor in the passing game that even if he’s banged up a little bit, I think there’s some things that he can do in the passing game that can help us, so long as we have the spot available. But if he did reinjure it – he went down a little bit yesterday – if he reinjured it and it’s holding him back quite a bit, then there could be thought to that. But right now the plan is to dress him and use him the best way we can.”

On what the coverage was supposed to be on the touchdown pass to Ted Ginn:
“Well, we were supposed to have him doubled. The safety is supposed to have over the top… You know, it’s like a two-deep-type deal. He just lost sight of the receiver and Ted Ginn got behind him.”

On if the Carolina defense does anything differently to stop the run:
“A lot of the time it was the safety. The safety was unblocked. A couple of times we just mistargeted. We had another outside zone that we didn’t target it out to the outside backer. There were a couple things, schematically, that we were not sound. And then there were a couple times where they whipped us up front. Whether it was a backdoor nose guard, like I said, or maybe a crashing defensive end who spiked inside, or a 3-technique spiking inside – we didn’t handle the movement very well, very similar to when we played Dallas early in the year and we couldn’t run the ball because of a lot of the moving fronts. There were some issues there, but mainly, the main issue was that we didn’t target some of the runs correctly.”

On LB Martrell Spaight’s play:
“I think there’s some good and bad, without a doubt. I think as a first-time starter – you know, he missed all of last year, pretty much all of last year, with his concussion – and then to come back this year, he’s battled with some injuries here and there. But I think he handled the communication very well and made some good plays. I know there are some plays I know that he wished he could do over, but I think for him to get his feet wet like he did in a big game, big stage on Monday Night Football, I think he was competing out there and doing the best he could.”

On what it would mean to see players earn Pro Bowl selections:
“I’m sure on an individual basis that they’re all excited to see if they make it. I think they’ve put in the work, they’ve produced, and whoever gets it will be deserving of it. I just hope that these guys get a chance to experience the Pro Bowl because they’ve been great players on the field and good people off the field, so I wish them luck.”

On potentially taking the ball after winning the coin toss instead of deferring:
“Usually I’ll defer on the road just because of a couple reasons. I like to get the ball to start the second half. I like to send our defense out there first and let them fly around and try to make a play. Plus, the crowd is not quite as involved the first drive of the third quarter as they are in the first drive of the game. But, you know, we can look at that. If we have a slow start, going three-and-out and punting is not always the best option either.”

On how aware he is of playoff scenarios:
“Well, I’m up on it, to be honest with you. I’m up on it. I understand that we are on the outside looking in. That’s the one fact that I do understand. I understand that a couple teams have to lose and we’ll go from there. It all starts with Chicago. For us to have a chance at all, we have to take care of business. We have to play better. We have to coach better, we have to play better. We have got to do the best we can to put the best plan in place for these guys to succeed, like I said. Won’t be easy, but Chicago is playing with a lot of spirit and they’ve lost a lot of close games this year. They’ve played very well but lost a lot of close games and they’re battling. So it’ll be a tough game on the road. It always is at Soldier Field.”

On the defense:
“I think our defense did some good things. I think we were very good on third down this week. We put them in some tough situations. We gave them first-and-goal at the one. A couple sudden change [situations]. We threw an interception, gave them great field position. I think Teddy Ginn had a good punt return, gave them great field position. A couple not-great situations for them to be in but I thought they handled it well. Held them to field goals. We gave up the big run at the end, which was unfortunate, but for the most part, I thought our defense played OK. We gave up some yards here and there, which Cam is going to get, but schematically, they’ve got a good scheme, a big time quarterback. We got pressure occasionally but not consistent enough. I think for the most part, if you really break down our defense, they played winning football yesterday, quite frankly, other than not getting turnovers. We were great on third down. We handled sudden change. But we do have to figure out a way to get some turnovers, change the game.”

On the Chicago Bears:
“I think [Matt] Barkley has been a surprise for them. He’s come off the bench and gave them a spark with the injury to [Jay] Cutler and he’s played pretty well. He’s kept them in games, he’s thrown the ball. But [Jordan] Howard is a big-time back. He can run it through the A- and B-gap and he can bounce it outside. He’s a big, strong, physical back. And then defensively, they give you a lot of different looks and they have some pass rushers. They have three or four guys with seven or more sacks, I believe. So they’re a tough bunch, quite frankly, and they’ve been in a lot of games. They just unfortunately haven’t figured out ways to win them at the end, but they’re in all of them.”

On the differences in the stretch runs this year and last year:
“I really don’t remember a lot about last year, but I think really, I think we’ve talked about it here on the call here as a lot of times we’ve had such slow starts and we haven’t been able to dig ourselves out. We haven’t been able to get the momentum-type swinging plays and keep the momentum on our side. Last night, we didn’t even give our fans anything to cheer about offensively. Defensively, they tried to keep us in the game, in the game, in the game, but we just couldn’t get anything going. Seven three-and-outs and one one-and-out. I mean, we have a great crowd and we don’t give anything to cheer about. We have got to figure out ways to get momentum and figure out ways to keep momentum. It’s just tough when we’re not making any plays to get anybody fired up.”

On the play between LB Trent Murphy and Panthers QB Cam Newton:
“Trent was going for the push out of bounds and he kind of slid and it was kind of like a bang-bang type play. I thought the flag could have gone either way. That’s the way it is with a lot of flags nowadays. I don’t know. I just wait for them to call it and I accept whatever they call. If I can challenge it, I’ll challenge it. If not, it is what it is. I really didn’t think Trent went after his head. I thought that… I was going to yell at the ref if he called that on Trent. I was happy that he called it on Cam. Whether that was a penalty or not, I don’t know, but that’s what they called, so, so be it.”

Chicago Bears Head Coach John Fox

On the Redskins offense:
"Yeah, no doubt, they're definitely, you know, Kirk’s [Cousins] playing well. It starts up front. I think they do a perfect job in protection as well as run blocking. There’s plenty of weapons sprinkled all the way through… running back wise, tight ends, wide-outs. And then ball possession as well as big play potential. So, I don’t think you’re in the top 5 in offense in this league at this point in the NFL season without having all those ingredients and the Redskins definitely have them all."

On how to focus on the Redskins offense with so many offensive weapons:
"Well they do spread the ball around. I think they play well, so it’s more of a system. They have reads, progressions, as I mentioned before, they kind of hit you at all levels… whether it’s quick gain, depth ability, their intermediate routes as well as play action, big play potential. I think that makes them difficult to defend. Part of the thing is keeping them on the bench. And I think people have had success in being able to do that. Obviously takeaways are critical. But you really looking to slow them down I’m not sure you can totally stop them."

On how Redskins TE Jordan Reed’s injury changes the Redskins offense:
"Well I mean with Vernon [Davis] and 89 [Derek Carrier], they’re going to do the same things. They’re not going to change their offense. Obviously, I’m sure they’re disappointed in that Reed’s been nursing that injury. But, I think their system is going to be their system at this point. They’re not going to change that. I don’t know that—obviously you miss when you have one of your star players out but those other guys have filled in and really kept the production out of the tight-end position pretty up to speed. So they’ve got other guys. They have depth which is part of the reason they’re having success, in particularly, on the offensive side."

On the key to defending the deep ball against the Redskins:
"Well I think you know again and kind of must to victory, especially on the defensive side, explosive plays whether it’s in the running or the pass can cause issues. And I think you go a week and give up a 61-yard run and a 60-yard pass. So, obviously that’s something that our defensive staff, myself included, has talked to our players about. And again, every week they bring new challenges and that’s something we have to improve at ourselves."

On the Redskins defense:
"It’s all about the fun. They have a shutdown corner in [Josh] Norman. I think their safety position is experienced. They’ve been able to be multiple as far as different ways to put pressure on the quarterback. But all-in-all, that's something we’ll have to be ready for it. And like every game it’s about execution."

On the status of CB Kyle Fuller:
"Well we’ve got, he’s on the possible return list and we’ll evaluate him one more day. And we have to have that executed by three o’clock tomorrow."

On getting Fuller back on the field to play his brother Redskins CB Kendall Fuller:
"Yeah I’m not sure it’s going to be too much about his family, who’s playing or not. It’ll be purely whether or not he’s physically ready to play or not."

On getting team ready on a short week:
"You just have to adjust. I mean that’s what you do. You adjust whether it’s injuries, schedules, off-season, in-season, losses, wins, so, you deal with it. As I told our team today, the Redskins have a shorter week then we do. So, we’re both operating on short weeks. Bottom line is having them focused and prepared so they can execute well on Saturday."

Chicago Bears QB Matt Barkley

On the challenges of going up against the Redskins defense:
"Yeah obviously Josh Norman stands out and [Ryan] Kerrigan as two high level athletes on the edge and with a lot of ball skills and awareness for where the ball is going so we kind of have them highlighted and I have them highlighted in my head but overall just a pretty sound group of guys and it’ll be interesting to see what the linebacker situation is as we move forward with this week and see who is playing cause that might change things up for us."

On the Bears comebacks coming up short:
"It is kind of funny to look at how the similarities between some of the endings of the last couple weeks and I’m not too sure exactly why we’re always seem to be in a hole sometimes and finishing close but it does show me that this team does have fight and there is no ifs, we’re not giving up and it does. I think there is a correlation between scoring points and when we do move tempo, when we push tempo with the offense in the no-huddle type of situation to where we’re kind of pressed for time and we gotta move the ball fast so we’re just getting it out, getting calls out and that seems to be the theme."

On what changes during a short week of preparation:
"Ah… really it’s easier for us than Washington this week, I mean we really missed one day but today is still a normal day for us like it would be on a normal Wednesday so we still get all of the reps in, still get everything. It’s just those two… that one more day of recovery from the week before you don’t have so you just gotta make sure you’re on top of taking care of your body, working out any kinks you might have from the week before but I think for the most part everyone felt good. We were flying around today and it shouldn’t be that much of a- difference for us come Saturday."

On the play of Redskins QB Kirk Cousins:
"Yeah, yeah, I’ve known Kirk since college and he’s a competitor, no doubt about it. He’s a gun slinger who lets it rip and you know he’s got a lot of talent around him on that offense and he seems to be making the most of it with how much they throw it downfield and utilize big play opportunities. He’s done a really good job, I think, of sticking to what he knows best and who he is as a quarterback and he’s making plays."

On what defenses can do against an offense without balance:
"Yeah, it’s often tough as an offense because having an equal influence of the run and pass, cause; it puts the defense at odds at how to approach you. So, when the game becomes one directional it often is hard especially as a quarterback knowing that they are expecting pass and you have to be careful with the ball, protect it at times, I’ve been in that situation before where it seemed like every down was a passing down and the defense knew it and you still got to be sound with your reads, sound with your eyes and your footwork to make sure you’re still able to move the football forward."

On his progress through the year after starting late in the season:
"So far I think been alright, progressing from week-to-week. I think I’ve done a really good job of just understanding the offense and getting a better grip of terminology and the little things that it’s hard to pick up when you’re a backup so getting every rep helps with understanding the offense and understanding what Dowell [Loggains] our offensive coordinator is thinking and so we’ve been on the same page for quite some time now but I really want to clean up some of the timing with receivers in my line and making sure that the calls are getting out and we’re more efficient moving the ball to where we’re not you know I’m not stopping drives or getting short in the end zone."

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