January 2, 2018

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On how he would summarize the season:
“Well, I think disappointing, without a doubt. Any time you’re standing up here and the playoffs are going on and you’re not a part of it, you’re disappointed. We had high hopes going into the season and didn’t produce the way you have to produce in the National Football League on a consistent basis to advance to the playoffs. We didn’t do a good enough job in our division; 1-5 in our division is obviously not going to get it done. And we have to figure out ways to do better in our division. So a lot of things we have to correct. Overcame some adversity, some injuries, we all know. It’s well-documented. I liked the way our guys fought. Proud of the core group of guys that we have in here moving forward, and it’s going to be important for us to target the guys we want to have back, for sure, and go from there.”

On if any changes have been made to the coaching staff:
“No, right now, we’re in evaluation mode. The staff’s all here. We’re going to evaluate our players first, you know, make sure we have a clear understanding of where we need to improve, how we need to improve, and then we’ll evaluate the staff also.”

On determining if areas in which they struggled were related to injuries or just areas in which they need to improve:
“That’s hard. It’s hard, because, you know, there’s so many of the injuries that took place. The positive note is that we got to look at a lot of other players to evaluate. So we have a lot of guys to evaluate that got some opportunities to play, which is a good thing. The bad thing is that it’s going to be hard to project the guys that got injured, when they’re going to be healthy, how they’re going to impact our team moving forward, and that’s something that the scouts, Doug [Williams], the staff will have to do and have to do a good job of.”

On if there were systemic causes for the injuries this season:
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that’s something we have to take a close look at, whether it’s recovery after games, whether it’s how to prevent injuries, how we practice, what have you. The problem is there’s so many different types of injuries. It’s not like they’re all soft tissue, they’re all knees, they’re all shoulders. We have such a wide variety of injuries. How many of them are actually preventable? That’s what we have to look at. The big thing is how we help our players recover after games, before games, all that stuff is going to have to be taken a closer look at. We’ll do a lot of studying in that regard and I look forward to seeing what we can do to help prevent the injuries in the future.”

On if injury prevention outside the building is mandatory or up to the players:
“The majority of that is on the players themselves, without a doubt. I don’t know if [D.J. Swearinger] knows what every player does at home with their free time as far as taking care of their bodies, but there are some things that we might be able to add in the training room for the players for recovery sake, preventative sake, whatever, that we’ll have to look at. But I think the majority of our guys do take good care of their bodies. There might be an instance here or there where somebody may not or could do a better job, and that’s something we have to help the guys out with – knowledge and giving them materials to study and the stuff in the training room to better prepare themselves and get better.”

On if he anticipates any changes to the team’s training or medical staff:
“No, I don’t anticipate that. I think what I anticipate is hopefully changes to how we maybe help the players recover with better information and providing them with that information. Hopefully the players buy into it and take better care of themselves. Some of these injuries are just fluke injuries. They’re football injuries. There’s nothing you can do. Trent Murphy, I mean, there’s nothing he can do. He’s standing by a pile, a guy rolled up on his knee. Jonathan Allen’s Lisfranc injury. Trent Williams getting his kneecap realigned. I mean that’s… You can sit in as many hot tubs and cold tubs as you want to, some of these injuries are going to happen. So we’re not blaming the medical staff, the training staff, the coaching staff, the players. It’s just that some of them are freak injuries. What we can do though is do a better job maybe of the postgame recovery or give them some more options as far as maybe, I don’t know, yoga, Pilates, I don’t know what it is. Could be something. We’ll look into everything we can.”

On what RB Kapri Bibbs showed down the stretch:
“I think Kapri did a good job. You know, really, coming in here as late as he did to pick up the protections and the routes and the tracks and all that stuff for running backs, it’s not easy. And I was impressed with Kapri and what he did. I think we had high hopes for getting Byron Marshall. And then unfortunately he pulls his hamstring on a kickoff return, for goodness’ sake. We have a lot of backs we got a chance to look at, you know? So we have to make some decisions moving forward. You know, Rob Kelley coming back from his injury and obviously Samaje [Perine] had a decent rookie year and Chris Thompson will be coming back with Byron and Kapri and Keith Marshall still in the building. So we have a lot of guys that we have to look at and critique.”

On how much RB Chris Thompson’s injury impacted the offense’s production:
“Well, Chris is an impact player. He had almost 600 yards receiving in 10 games. You know, that’s hard to replace. Not to mention his rushing yards and his ability to pick up blitzes. He’s a matchup nightmare. Jordan Reed was another issue with third down. Our issues were on third down a lot, and those were our two best third-down options usually. It had an impact, but [it] gave [players] like Kapri and Byron Marshall a chance to do what they can do, and Vernon Davis more opps [opportunities] and Niles Paul and it gave the younger receivers opportunities. We weren’t good enough down the stretch on third down obviously and it’s something we have to look at moving forward, but we definitely did miss those two guys.”

On if next year is particularly important for the organization and for his job security:
“Oh, yeah, without a doubt. Every year is its own entity and every year is important. And we have to be competitive. We have to do better in our division – we have to do better against the Cowboys, the Eagles, without a doubt, the Giants, moving forward. The nature of this business is [that] you’ve got to perform. You’ve got to have success or you’re going to have a short-lived tenure. So it’s very important for us to get off on the right foot, get a fast start, really, really be good and diligent in who we’re bringing in here and bringing back here from a personnel standpoint, a free agent standpoint, and making sure we get the right pieces in here to compete.”

On if his self-evaluation process has changed during his time with the Redskins:
“A little bit. I’m very critical of myself as most head coaches are. Definitely have to evaluate everything from schedules to the offseason to how we’re doing practice, how I manage the team and staff and meetings and all that good stuff. That’s something I have to do and I have help from the coordinators also in that regard. I’ll do my own evaluation. I have to evaluate the staff and players. It’s ongoing. We’re in the building right now evaluating the players and scheme and moving forward trying to make this thing better.”

On how he evaluates himself:
“First off, you judge the record and 7-9 is not good enough. That’s number one. And then how can we improve on our wins and losses? And then you break down each area – offense, defense, special teams – and then you break down situational work. Two-minute, we weren’t very good in two-minute. Third down, why weren’t we good in two-minute, third down? Short yardage, we were awful. Why? Is it that we’re not practicing enough? We’re not putting enough time into it? More padded work in training camp? More live work in training camp? So, I have to break down every situational aspect of the game and go from there and then figure out ways that I can correct it and make it better – injuries, workouts in the offseason, all that stuff.”

On how he can plan for 2018 with uncertainty surrounding QB Kirk Cousins:
“I think we have to. There’s ways to plan for it. We just have to make sure we have all our ducks in a row. Whether he’s here or not, we have to figure out ways that we’re going to make this team better. In order to make the team better, obviously we have to look at each individual position and target the guys we want and do the best we can to get the guys here. There’s no guarantee that they’re going to sign here anyway, so we still have to have Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D. That’s something that we have to do as an organization and be diligent and study it and make sure we’re ready to go no matter what happens.”

On how comfortable he would be with Colt McCoy as the starting quarterback:
“How comfortable? Colt McCoy has done an excellent job here. I’ve always been comfortable with Colt.”

On how continuity helps moving into his fifth season with the team:
“You always want continuity, but I think change is also necessary in the National Football League with the players, staff, all that stuff. There’s going to be change in the National Football League on every team, every organization, and we have to embrace it. We have to make sure that we make the necessary changes to make us better and not worse. All that has to go into consideration – every player, every staff member – and we have to be ready for it and adjust to it.”

On if Quarterbacks Coach Kevin O’Connell will return next year:
“Yes, he’s staying here. Very excited. He’s going to be our passing game coordinator moving forward.”

On characteristics he would look for in someone playing opposite of WR Josh Doctson:
“Well, I think Ryan Grant’s a free agent and we’re going to try and do everything we can to get him back, in my opinion. I think he, given the opportunities he got, he took advantage of them and played extremely well. He’s tough, physical and very durable and dependable for a quarterback, so that’s what you want. You want a guy that knows the system, can line up at multiple spots, obviously he’s physical enough in the running game that he can block a safety every now and then and that’s something that is very important around here. If we want to be able to run the ball, we’ve got to have physical receivers that can block safeties every now and then because they’re going to line up in eight-man boxes. The same skill set you’re looking for at receiver, you’ve got to have some speed, you’ve got to have great hands, you’ve got to have great toughness – mental toughness, physical toughness – and not easy to find. Easier said than done. A lot of receivers have either the speed but not the toughness or maybe the toughness but not the speed, but we have to find that rare combination that fits in this offense, both personality-wise and competitive-wise.”

On how he would sum up Cousins’ season:
“You know what, I’m still in that evaluation process. We’re going to break down every play, every game from a quarterback standpoint, from offensive tackle standpoint, linebacker, safety, everybody. When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a Pro Bowl-type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know, we’re 7-9. [He] did some great things – threw for over 4,000 yards and [27] touchdowns I believe, so I think he’s a very, very good quarterback, without a doubt. But, as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning the division with all the injuries we had, I think he competed and did some good things.”

On why he remains confident in McCoy:
“He’s just been in the system now for a while and you can just see him do some things. We’re not appointing anybody a starting quarterback right now. I’m not saying Colt is the heir apparent and he’s going to start tomorrow. I just know that Colt’s been in the building and I have total faith that if he was given an opportunity, he would be ready to produce. That’s just how I feel about Colt. We’re not going to give the keys to him right now. We’re still trying to work things out with the other quarterback in Kirk and hopefully things will work out, but I know Colt is ready to play.”

On the role of wide receivers and tight ends in the running game:
“I think if you look at the majority of good running teams, they have tight ends and receivers that they have to block eventually. I mean, you have to. There’s going to be loaded up boxes. You’re going to have to dig out a safety as a receiver. You’re going to have to block a six-technique as a tight end. You’re going to have to pin them. You’re going to have to block them, you’re going to have to get some movement and we have to do a better job of that. Everybody in unison in the running game, we have to be better – tight ends, receivers, backs in their tracks. We have to have the ability to make some people miss every now and then because we can’t block them all. There’s a lot of things that we can do to improve our running game. It’d be nice to have a stable group of guys. We had so many different running backs touch a ball there that it makes it a little bit harder to get any kind of rhythm, so to speak, but hopefully we’ll get that fixed going into next year.”

On if he believes the starting running back for 2018 is already on the roster:
“We have about 30 of them [laughter]. I hope so, but I think that’s something we’ll have to look at. I think there’s a skill set that each one of these guys brings to the table that are exciting. My dad, who was a running back coach his whole life, he always said that durability is the most important trait and we’ve got to have somebody that can play and be available. Easier said than done this day and age as physical as the game is and injuries happen, but it’d be nice to have a guy for 16 weeks pounding it. I hope he’s on the roster. We’ll see.”

On if the turnover from the injuries makes the evaluation of positon coaches easier:
“Yeah. Yeah, I’ve been really impressed with our coaches, man. They’ve been through a lot as far as having to get guys ready – different guys ready – on a day’s notice, week’s notice. Getting ready to play an NFL game is not easy. We can just stand up here, ‘Oh, good, just go play middle linebacker. Yeah.’ I mean, there’s a lot of calls you have to make and a lot of decisions you have to make like that – run fits, coverage checks – all that stuff you have to get guys ready for and I think our staff did an excellent job. Coach [Bill] Callahan with all the different line combinations he had, KO [Kirk Olivadotti] with all the linebackers he had, the list goes on and on – Randy Jordan with the running backs. I think our staff did an excellent job of getting guys ready to play on short notice and getting them to play effectively and competitively.”

On extending CB Quinton Dunbar and how that affects CB Bashaud Breeland’s future:
“Yeah, it has no effect on Bree whatsoever. I think Quinton Dunbar is an exciting, young prospect. To only be playing cornerback for a couple years in his life and you see the progression he’s made at such a rapid rate, I think to let him walk in free agency would be a mistake. I think the skill set that he has with his length and his speed is a rare combination and he’s only going to get better. You can never have too many corners in your building, so whatever happens with Breeland happens, but I know that having another quality corner that can run and cover is a value.”

On TE Jordan Reed’s injury history and how that impacts his role for the future:
“It’s hard and it’s unfortunate for him because he does have that history of not being able to finish a year. He is such a special, gifted athlete. When he is available, he is a difference maker. I mean, it’s just a fact. He’s just – the third down, first down, second down, the play-actions, all that stuff and he’s getting better in the running game because he is stronger. To have a tight end that can do that in the running game – a little bit in the running game – but have such an impact in the passing game where you can move him in the slot, outside, line him up in the core against linebackers and safeties and win those matchups, [it] is tough to replace because there are not many guys who can do what he can do. But as far as counting on him next year ,we have to assume that he is going to be ready and he is going to get himself ready to play and he is going to play 16 games. That’s the only way to go about it. Hopefully the injuries are in the past. He is going to rehab and get his body in great shape again and be ready for OTAs and training camp and have a 16-game season where he can dominate and get back to the Pro Bowl.”

On if there have been any conversations between Cousins and the front office:
“I don’t know what the exact schedule is and I don’t know if they have had any contact yet with him. We are just going to play it by ear and see what happens. I think Eric Schaffer and Bruce [Allen] – they will handle that. We will have discussions over each individual player the rest of this week. We are going to go over special teams tomorrow, offense and defense on Thursday and then get with our scouts and staff and try to get everybody on the same page and then target the guys we want to target and go from there.”

On if the evaluation of LB Zach Brown will be subject to the same process:
“Absolutely, everybody is. We have so many guys – some guys on our roster still –we have to talk about. And I’ve been impressed with all… The good thing is that we have a good core group of guys here that I think we can win with. We just have to add a few pieces here and make sure we target the right guys not only that physically can help this team win but also are good people and great, competitive players that can handle some adversity and play like the Washington Redskins are supposed to play.”

On if WR Jamison Crowder dealt with any nagging injury and if he is concerned about his production moving forward:
“No, I don’t have any concern. I think he was dealing with something early in the season. I think he had some soft tissue injuries here and there that may have slowed him down a little bit, but I think towards the end of the year he started feeling a lot better. Probably didn’t get the production we all anticipated we would get and I think a lot of that has trickle-down effect with some of the players that we lost not only at receiver, tight end and running back but also at offensive line from time to time. Hopefully we get the whole gang of guys back [and] that he will have a bigger impact, but I have total faith in him as a player that he will come back and have a big year.”

On if he anticipates relying on Crowder in the return game next season:
“We will see. I think that’s something again – with every player – we will have to evaluate and check out. A few plays, he had a couple dropped, muffed punts and he had a couple fumbles and that’s something that we cannot have. I think we had too many negative impactful plays in the return game or in the special teams game that hurt us, whether it was a blocked kick or fumbled punt or what have you. We did some great things also, but we have to eliminate those from our game for us to take the next step. All these close games that we had – with the exception of the Charger game really and maybe the second half of the Cowboy game – special teams plays a major role and we need to flip the field. We need to create big plays. We didn’t get it done this year. I’m not blaming Jamison. Maybe we have got to block better for him, give him better looks, but [it’s] something we have to address – the return game.”

On if any surgeries are planned:
“Just Trent [Williams]. Trent got his kneecap realigned. It will be a little while before he is up and rolling but hopefully we will get him back for training camp.”

On if T Morgan Moses needs surgery:
“Morgan Moses is going to see the doctor and see if he needs to have some kind of surgery for his ankle.”

On evaluating CB Josh Norman’s season:
“It’s hard. I think when you don’t have any interceptions and statistically speaking you’re probably like, ‘Wow, he didn’t do that good,’ but if you look at, just say the last three games, how many balls were actually thrown his way? He didn’t really get a lot of opportunities. I think he is a solid tackler and did some good things, but the opportunities just didn’t come across and come his way that often. They were throwing the other way or throwing to the middle of the field or what have you. He did have a solid year, but we are looking for more than solid. We are looking for impactful and I think he is going to do everything he can next year to be that impactful type guy. We have to put him in better situations possibly to make some more impactful type plays. So that is something we have to look at as a staff also.”

On if O’Connell will still serve as the quarterbacks coach in addition to his new role:

On if there are better ways to use Norman or if teams were simply avoiding him:
“I think both. I think there is different ways that we can maybe use him, but at the end of the day – whether you are playing left corner or right corner – if they don’t throw your way, you aren’t going to make any plays. Then you may have to make them in the running game and force some fumbles, which he has done a pretty good job of. Whether it’s traveling with the best receiver, but that’s easier said than done. Like I said, sometimes putting him in the slot and flipping sides and then he is in the backfield and everybody else has to play off of it, it’s not that easy to do. But maybe we can put him in different ways, different coverages and what have you. But for the most part, he just has got to continue to do his job and when the balls come, he has to figure out ways to make impactful plays. But he had a solid year. I’m not complaining over Josh’s performance at all, just no interceptions is kind of weird. But, like I said, he didn’t have many opportunities to get them.”

On his brother, Jon, potentially returning to coaching:
“Well, I think he would fare quite well, whatever he decides to do. He is already a very good broadcaster, but I think he would be an excellent coach. It’s in his blood and if he chooses to go that route, I wish him all the best [laughter]. Welcome back if he does, if not, he is a great commentator. So we will see.”

On if he worries that Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach Bill Callahan could leave to join Jon:
“I believe Bill is under contract here, so he can’t go [laughter].”

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