Head Coach Jay Gruden
On the injury report:
"Did not participate: [Bashaud] Breeland, ankle; [Su'a] Cravens, concussion; [Josh] Doctson, Achilles; [Dashaun] Phillips, hamstring. Limited were [Ryan] Kerrigan, elbow; [Trent] Williams, knee. Full were [Chris] Baker, [Shawn] Lauvao, [Robert] Kelley, [Trent] Murphy and [Josh] Norman."
On the prognosis for if CB Bashaud Breeland and G Shawn Lauvao will play against the Ravens:
"OK. Breeland did some work off the field, didn't do any team drills today. [He] worked with the trainers exclusively; we'll see how he does tomorrow. Question mark, pretty much. But, Lauvao actually did a lot today. He did everything. He did all the team periods so he looked pretty good. So it's a good chance for Lauvao."
On if Lauvao would go back into the left guard spot:
"Oh, yeah. Yeah."
On S Su'a Cravens' status:
"Su'a goes to the doctor again – what is today, Thursday? – he should go again today, or he already went. We just have to wait, get all results from the independent doctor. We're waiting on those results."
On the likelihood of Cravens being available to play this Sunday:
"I don't know. We're at the mercy of the results from the independent doctor, so I can't even guess, to be honest with you."
On if there is any added confidence this year knowing the success of replacements last year:
"I think so. I think we have strong veteran leadership here and they know what it takes to get it done. Then the guys that you have that are backups – you have to have faith in them filling the void, and we do. We have faith that they're going to do it now. The guys we just brought in, they're question marks, so we'll see what kind of shape Donte [Whitner] is in and Josh [Evans] and how quickly they can pick up the system. But Donte's played a lot of football, I don't think he'll have a problem. The other backups we feel good about, without a doubt."
On if he has confidence in the backup players:
"Yeah, no question. We feel good about the coaches getting guys ready in a short amount of time. Pierre Thomas is another good example. Alex Smith came in late last year, he helped us out. So we've had success with guys coming in on short notice, making plays and doing what they're supposed to do."
On the difference in RB Matt Jones this season:
"I think I said it yesterday, I think his decisiveness, when he puts his foot in the ground and makes a decision. It's good. Instead of tip-toeing through the hole, he's making faster decisions, and getting his pads down, and being more decisive on his runs. That's half the battle right there if you're trying to see too much and trying to see a backdoor cut, a front cut, a bounce cut, you're not moving your feet. But he's keeping his pads down and making one cut and going. [He's] not always 100 percent right on the cut. We might run it back and say, 'You should have bounced it. You should have cut it backdoor,' or what have you. But still, when he makes his decision, he's a tough guy to tackle."
On the performance of Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry:
"Well, we've won the last two games and statistically, we haven't been as good as we would like to be obviously. But, like I said yesterday, we shut out the Giants in the second half, shut out the Browns in the second half as far as getting touchdowns. We got two big wins. There is improvements that need to happen, no question, coaching, playing, all across the board and we're working to do that. But we have the guys in-house that we feel can get it done. I feel like the coaches will get it done. We just have to keep playing and keep preparing and good things will happen."
On if Barry is getting the most out of his players:
"Yeah, I mean, I feel fine. I really do. That's something that we address at the end of the season. Right now, we're in good shape. We haven't played up to our standard, without question. The good thing is, like I said, we played well in the second half in both games – both our victories – and we're creating turnovers. That's good. There's positives to be had. Now our tackling hasn't been on par for what we demand around here. That's something we can improve on, and maybe there are some issues that we can work on fundamentally and there's maybe some schematic things that we can work on. We're working to do that and adding a few things, perfecting a few things, that we're doing but I feel like the defense, the players know what we're doing, know what we're calling. It's just we're not making enough plays right now. And so they go hand-in-hand. Schematically I think we'll be fine. We've just got to make some plays and get after it."
On the injury Lauvao sustained in Week 3:
"Yeah, I was really afraid. I was afraid for the worst there. I thought it was a season-ender. I thought it was the same one he had, so it was really good news that it wasn't that bad. You know, he's back and practicing and did a good job today."
On what Lauvao brings to the offensive line:
"Well, he's a veteran guy that knows how to block and he's a very strong individual. Arie [Kouandjio] did great in his place and he's proven that he can play the position also, but Shawn was playing at a very high level before he got hurt. He's great in pass protection, very strong in the running game, gets movement and a smart player."
Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry
On S Donte Whitner:
"We're taking it day-by-day, literally hour-by-hour. But it's exciting when you get a player of his caliber in here. You know, [he has] been a great player in this league for a long time, but it's a crash-course with information right now. We've had this conversation before, football is football. It really is. It's terminology, it's words. He can play a specific coverage his entire career but what we call that, what we refer to that as, it doesn't mean anything to him when he hears that word yet. So, but he's a pretty savvy guy, very detailed guy. You can tell why he's been the type of player that he is in this league for the amount of years that he's been. But yeah, we'll see. Yesterday was the first day, today's the second day, and we're just taking it day-by-day and seeing where he's at."
On if takeaways are sustainable throughout the season:
"Well, I mean, we practice – we actually practice third downs also. We practice red zone, we practice first- and second-down run game. So, it's a phase of the game that we do emphasize in addition to everything else that we emphasize. I think it's maybe something that we talk about and preach, like my thing that I have the guys… before they walk onto the field every day, they've got to punch a ball out, they've got to hammer a ball out, they've got to rake a ball out. It's just something that we kind of get our mindset before we walk onto the field for stretch. So it's something that we emphasize in addition to all the other things that we emphasize, phases of the game. But, I do believe, again, taking the ball away is something that it's a skill that has to be developed, it's a skill that has to be talked about. We don't call them turnovers. Offense turns the ball over; defense takes the ball away. That's why we refer to them as takeaways because they don't just happen, you physically have to do them. So, it's something that we talk about every single day whether it's April or October, and it will be continued to talk about every day because, you know, offensively turning the ball over, defensively taking the ball away, they win or lose games for you, bottom line."
On if he speaks to CB Josh Norman about his matchup with Ravens WR Steve Smith Sr. and making sure the matchup does not overshadow the rest of the game:
"Yeah, especially this week because No. 89 [Smith] I have a ton of respect for. It guys back to, you know, my days in Tampa when he was in Carolina. And I think, fortunately for Josh, is that Josh has a history, has a background with him. Josh was there with him when he was a young player in this league and he knows what kind of player No. 89 is. I've encouraged all of our DBs, you know, talk to Josh because you've got to have your mind right when you go against 89, because he's that type of player. He plays the game the way the game is supposed to be played. He's physical. He tries to mess with you a little bit, get in your head at times. But, he is the ultimate competitor. So I think it's nice that we have a guy like Josh that not only has played against him, but practiced against him, especially early on his career as a young player, so I think it's a benefit for us."
On if going 9-7 despite injuries last season gives them confidence they can overcome injury issues this season:
"Yeah, trust me… you don't want to be in that situation once, let alone twice. But we're back here again. But again, you know how I'm always going to answer that, and what we preach and what we talk about with our guys, it's injuries are a part of the game in the National Football League. They happen. Every team has to deal with it. So we have the mentality we're not going to cry over spilled milk. We're going to get up, we're going to work. Whoever it is, whether it be a current player that has to have more of a role or a player that we bring in that has to learn his role, has to learn the system in a quick fashion, there's no time to wait. There's no time feel sorry for yourself. Next man up, let's get ready to roll. So that's the mentality."
On why the unit had so many missed tackles and third down conversions against Cleveland:
"Well, I wish I knew the exact… I wish I had the remedy to clean that up because it is frustrating. And the players are frustrated with it. They're upset because it's something that you can't play defense – at any level –and not tackle. Football is a physical game. Football is a contact sport and the object to play defense is to get the man with the ball down – tackle him. So, Liz, I wish I had one specific thing, 'Hey if we changed this we're going to be [OK].' Tackling is different, there's all different kinds of tackles. There's tackles on the line of scrimmage that we've missed. There's tackles in space that we've missed. There's angle tackles that we've missed – angle being when the runner and the tackler are going at an angle. There's head-on tackles that we've missed. So it's not one clear, clean, specific tackle that we say, 'Hey, if we clean this up, we're good.' It's really across the board and it's been frustrating. Third downs, we lost eight third downs. There were three third downs that we were off the field, but we missed tackles also on third down. And third downs, to jump into that, that's really talking about winning the one-on-one matchup. Whether it's being a pass rusher winning a one-on-one pass block, whether it being a DB or a linebacker winning the one-on-one coverage on third down… Winning that one-on-one, me as a player making a play against another player, whether it's an open field tackle, or, again, whether it's the ball in the air in one-on-one coverage, or it's a pass rusher simply rushing against an offensive lineman, whipping my man before the quarterback throws the ball, that's what tackling is all about and that's what third downs are all about – winning that matchup, winning that one-on-one matchup – and we have not consistently done that. They get paid, too. They practice also. There's no doubt about that. But bottom line, when we have got an opportunity to get off the field, if the ball is thrown in front of us and we simply have to just drive up and make a routine tackle, that's what we have got to stop doing. It's happening too much – the missed tackles – which are missed opportunities, especially on third down to get off the field."
On fitting the right gaps:
"You know, really the only… Now, Duke [Ihenacho] made an unbelievable tackle. It was a very similar run that [Isaiah] Crowell broke for 85 yards against Baltimore. That was really the only misfit that we had. We fit runs, meaning if I get blocked, I'm going to take on the ball with this shoulder knowing that I have got a player outside of me that's going to make the tackle. That's what we talk about when we 'fit' the run. Whether we're fitting on an offensive lineman or we're fitting on a lead blocker, knowing where your help is. A lot of times when you play the run poorly, it's because you misfit. I take the guy on *here *and my player's outside and the ball cuts back and there's no one inside. That wasn't the case. On the longest run of the day, which was 19 yards, that was a misfit. But the thing that's frustrating – the 17-yarder, the 15-yarder, the 14-yarder, the two 13-yarders – they were missed tackles. That's the thing that's frustrating is, again, as Liz mentioned before, the tackling issue. It's something that we address, we talk about, we show, we try to create things in practice every single day, but bottom line, the object of defensive football is to tackle the man with the ball and get him down. We're not consistently doing that."
On if the front seven is able to get off their blocks to stop the run:
"Oh, well, yeah. It's 11 vs. 11. We've got 11 guys on the field. We have got plenty of able bodies to make the tackles, we just have got to do it."
On releasing DE Kendall Reyes:
"You know, you guys have heard me say before with our front office with Scot [McCloughan] and Alex Santos and that whole group, whether it be on the pro personnel side or the college side, they do a phenomenal job. And, you know, I think the decisions they make to bring players in here, the decisions they make when we do get rid of players, I think Scot is unbelievable at what he does. So, it is a little bit unfortunate when you do have a prior relationship with a player from a previous place but unfortunately it's the nature of the business and a decision was made and we had to move on."
On how he believes he is doing at getting the most out of his players:
"Well, not good. You know, a job of a coach is no different as a teacher, and if a math student simply isn't just getting the good grades on math tests, you could say 'Oh, that that kid is just dumb.' Well, I look at it as the teacher is not getting it out of him. And I put a lot of pride and a lot of input on myself to get it done and we're not getting it done right now. I'm not getting it done. So, it's a two-way street. You know, obviously, players have got to play and make plays on the field but as a coach I believe I've got to get them to play better. I've got to get us to tackle better. I've got to get us to win on third down better. And, you know, I'll turn over every rock to get what the issue is solved because that's my job as a coach. That's my job as a teacher, and I promise you, it was worked on yesterday on Wednesday in practice, it'll be worked on today Thursday at practice until we get it solved."