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Quotes: Jay Gruden And Robert Griffin III (05.26.15)

Head Coach Jay Gruden

On what he learned from his first season:

"I think you never stop learning as a coach. You know, you're always going to learn something about your team, about yourself. The older you get, the more experience you get, so it was a learning experience last year. I think just knowing the players and the coaching staff around me, I have a better feel for what they can and can't do and how we need to push their buttons a little bit more effectively to get more out of them. You have to battle, and coaching is getting the most out of your players and trying to figure out what buttons to push and I feel pretty good in that regard in Year 2."

On the progress of quarterback Robert Griffin III:

"You know, today was his first day and last week – last couple weeks – we were throwing routes versus air. He's doing fine. We'll see how it goes. He's just got to continue to put practice after practice together and show the consistency that we're looking for."

On how Griffin has handled the offseason so far:

"Robert's got great work ethic, No. 1. That's never been a question, you know? He works extremely hard. So I'm satisfied in that regard. He comes to work every day trying to get better. The rules allow us to do certain things and don't allow us to do certain things, but he does a lot on his own. He gets himself in physically good condition to get ready to go."

On if Griffin looks different than he did at the end of the season:

"You know, playing in the same system for the second year, usually the second year you have a little bit more confidence, a little bit more of an air about you that you should show improvement, lots of improvement – hearing the concepts and seeing the plays over and over again and dealing with the pressure and all that good stuff. I think Robert's going to be fine, it's just we have high expectations for the quarterback position and Robert in general. We expect significant strides to take place from Year 1 to Year 2."

On linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, tackle Trent Williams, tight end Jordan Reed and wide receiver DeSean Jackson:

"Ryan [Kerrigan] going to be fine. He just got a scope – clean it out, but he's going to be ready to roll soon. Trent [Williams] missed his flight out of Houston – it was canceled last night. Jordan Reed is getting checked; he just had a little bit of knee soreness, so we sent him down to get checked for his knee. DeSean is going to miss this week and he'll be back next week."

On Offensive Line Coach Bill Callahan:

"He is obviously a very good football coach. It's well documented for what he's done in his career and what he's done for offensive line play in general – not just the teams that he's coached but how he impacted the NFL in general. So he shows a great deal of confidence and a great wisdom amongst his players and expects a lot out of them, works the heck out of them. That's what I like about him. I like that he's taken every ounce of energy they've got out there. Every time that they have, they're going to be with Coach Callahan working on something. During special teams period, you see the linemen are down there in the corner grinding. During individual before practice, they're out there working on their footwork, their fundamentals. He meets with them early. He's a very demanding coach but it's something that we need and his presence is being felt already in a positive way."

On cornerback DeAngelo Hall:

"He's doing well. He's coming along very fast from the Achilles surgery. I knew he would be. He's at a stage of his career where he knows how important preparation is both on and off the field. Physically he's got to get himself ready to go after that injury and it's going to take some time but he has shown major, major improvements already and we're very pleased with where he is right now with the thought of him being ready for training camp is exciting to all of us."

On quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy:

"Yeah, it's tough. They're both good quarterbacks. Right now we don't have a depth chart for the second and third teams. We're going to let them split the reps up and go from there and then make a decision come game day. But I would like to see them push Robert and push themselves. I think being a quarterback in the National Football League, it's your job to not only get yourself better but push the people in front of you. These two guys aren't going to lie down and just hand the job over.  They're going to do everything in their power to prove that they are starting-caliber quarterbacks in the National Football League.  Like I said before, they've all had a taste of being a starter in the National Football League and they all want it back real bad. So I expect all three of them to compete and make each other better."

On cornerback Tracy Porter:

"He missed his flight also, I believe. A lot of flight misconnections last night."

On the preparation that goes into maximizing the amount of time he has with the team:

"You've got to maximize the time with them. You know it's important to be down here in the weight room with Coach Clark, very much so. So we're trying to utilize every minute we have got them in the building. We've got a pretty good organized schedule. You have a good hour and a half meeting time with them, good time to strength condition down here, then we get a good two-hour practice time. You know, the organization is solid. I think we're getting the most of our five or six hours – whatever we're allowed -- with them and these guys have bought it to it. They've worked extremely hard  so far, you can see. We've got a long way to go obviously but I think it's a good start. I think we're off to a good start of challenging our guys and getting the most out of them every day."

On the tempo:

"Yeah, we're trying to push it, trying to get as many reps as we can in a short period of time obviously without going no huddle. We're not doing no huddle yet but we will. But the tempo is outstanding. We just had too many pre-snap penalties today, which was disappointing. But I think guys are excited to get off the ball and show what they can do. Sometime they forget about the snap count. Overall I was pleased with the energy, pleased with the tempo and we've just got to continue to build off it."

On tackle Morgan Moses and what kind of development he needs this season:

"Get healthy first. He's doing all the individual drills and he looks great. He's worked hard in the weight room. You can see his body changing a little bit. So he's got the strength, I think, he's there and he's going to continue to get stronger. Now we've just got to get him on the field for these team drills. We've got to make sure we continue to check his foot quickness out and challenge him in that regard and see how he handles this system in Year 2. Hopefully like Robert in Year 2 in this system, the terminology and everything will come easier to him, more natural for him and he'll make a big step in the right direction."

On if he sensed any self-doubt in Griffin last season:

"No, not anything that I read or anything that I saw. I think Robert is a confident guy and had a lot of success as a young player, more so than a lot of quarterbacks have had in their whole career. So it's just a matter of trying to maintain the fact that we've got to get some help around him, No. 1.  Obviously, all three of them have got to perform a little better. Overall, I think his confidence, you can't waver on your confidence. You have got to be a strong minded individual to play quarterback in the National Football League and he definitely has got a strong will and strong mind in a positive way, so that's a good thing."

On the coaching staff encouraging the defense to pick up all loose balls:

"We have to build a strong mentality as far as getting the ball back. Any time we see the ball, we're going to pick the ball up on defense. We were awful at getting turnovers last year. It's no coach's fault or anything like that, we just have got to do a better job of preaching getting the ball back. We had two interceptions today. We're going to monitor all the interceptions that we get, get some scoop and scores and really do a good job. We put ourselves behind the eight ball, we turned the ball over too much last year and we didn't get enough turnovers and that's a recipe for disaster. It's well-documented, it's statistically sound – you know, I think you have a 90 percent win rate if you have plus-two turnovers or more in a game. And we were in the minus category too often, hence 4-12. So definitely something we're talking about and preaching this year."

On linebacker Preston Smith playing from both a two-point and three-point stance:

"I think a lot of guys will be like that now in the 3-4. In base defense he'll probably be standing up a little bit more and then come sub defense, he'll be with his hand down a lot and then he can still walk around. I think it'll be an even split for him. He's getting used to it, but you can see his long body out there. He's a great looking kid and works extremely hard. We're happy for the versatility that he brings."

On nose tackle Terrance Knighton's presence:

"Great, great. Terrance has done a great job. We have high expectations for him. When you put him out there on first and second down, it's going to be hard to run the ball between the tackles. He takes up quite a bit of room in there. He has great hands and great get off. You see how big he is but you don't realize how quick his first step is, which it really rare for a guy of his size. So we've just got to continue to monitor what he's doing out here and making sure we work with him and keep him healthy."

* *

On safety Duke Ihenacho and the options at that position:

"We'll look at all those guys. We have a very good group of safeties right now. We went from kind of a struggling point for us the last couple of years, I guess, to I think it's a strong point now with adding Dashon Goldson and [Jeron] Johnson from Seattle and obviously Duke coming back at full strength and Phillip Thomas with another year. Obviously, we have Akeem [Davis]. We have Trenton Robinson, who's got another year. I think our safety spot looks a lot brighter now than it did 11 months ago. But, Duke has got a chance to challenge for that starting job. no question. "

On running back Matt Jones:

"He's a smart kid. We've only had the rookie minicamp and we just had the one practice today. He's shown the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, which is important. Obviously, he's a big enough guy. He handles any blitzing linebacker, that's for sure, which is also very good. Now, it's just a matter of seeing him more out in patterns and how he runs and how he separates from linebackers or safeties, whoever is covering him. That's something we'll gauge and continue to checkout during these OTAs and then training camp. Matt has got a lot of ability, man, a lot more versatility than I think what we first thought, really, because he didn't catch a lot of balls at Florida. It wasn't his fault, but, he just wasn't asked to. We have high hopes for him both first down and third down."

* *

On linebacker Trevardo Williams and if he could be the No. 3 outside linebacker:

"He could be. Trevardo came in last year in a pinch, man, and got some meaningful plays and some meaningful reps. He got a sack or two in the regular season. So, he's a very strong guy, you know? He has got a very good first step. Just a matter of getting him out there more often so he has better knowledge of the system and what he's doing. But, as far as a third-down rusher, he's got a chance. He's got the strength, like I said. He's got the speed to get around the corner. We've just got to see more of him, more consistent Trevardo this year and see how he does with the more reps that he's going to get. But, he has a great opportunity to be a third guy or a fourth, no question."    

* *

On if he has to address the recent rule changes regarding PATs:

"Yeah… The PATs doesn't really change a whole lot. But our special teams the last couple of years have not been very good and it's something we have to address. I know the coaches know what they're doing. We just have got to make sure we do a better job of finding players that fit the roles and understand their roles and their roles are well-defined and do a better job. I think drafting some of these guys that are core special teams players is only going to help the room. It's able to instead of a safety being a flyer, he might be able to move inside on the punt team or what have you. So there's great opportunity for some guys to make this football team if they can excel on special teams and that's what we're looking for. But as far as changing the way we do things because of the new extra point, we'll obviously study the two-point conversion a lot more – defending it and obviously trying to get it. As far as how many times we'll do that, we don't know yet, but we'll see."

On OTAs:

"I think it's fun. It's good to get out there as a team. You're so split up throughout the offseason. You don't get a lot of time with them. But anytime you get out there and do some team activities, it's fun. It's just a challenge to say, 'We're going full speed here but stay off the ground. There's no contact allowed.' It's tough, but these guys worked through it today. I think we only had a couple guys hit the ground today all day, which is good, and we're getting a lot out of them. Anytime you can go out there and you go 11-on-11 and study your defense, your calls, your terminology and your offense, seeing plays vs. certain defenses and coverages and fronts and blitzes, it's a great benefit to everybody, man. So we're getting a lot out of it. We need them. We need as many as we can get. We're going to use every one that we do get."

On how soon the defense can gel with so many new faces:

"It's a great challenge for us as a staff to try to not only get our system taught the right way but to get everybody meshing together. The big thing is I think the veterans that we did sign, they're all very smart football players. The safeties that we signed are very smart. The defensive linemen are very smart and they play extremely hard. I think those guys won't have any problem adjusting, it's just a matter of getting used to the way Coach [Joe] Barry calls things and the way he wants things as opposed to the way they did at Seattle or Tampa or Chicago or wherever they're from and getting on the same page from a mental standpoint. But from a physical standpoint, I don't think we're going to have any trouble with these guys playing hard and physical football."

On if the plan has been to have an aggressive defensive line:

"Yeah, no question, and I think we made the right strides to get an aggressive defensive line with the players. So we're excited about it, man. We want to let our defensive line go and let them get up the field – [Jason] Hatcher, you know – get the handcuffs off of them a little bit, let them get up the field. Not that they had them [handcuffs] on last year, but the frame of mind is to be a more aggressive-style defense and let them play. Corners are going to have some opportunities to make some plays on balls and obviously safeties will be very important in the run fits and all that good stuff, so I think overall, from a unit, I think defensively the new players that we added, the new scheme we have, it's a welcomed change."

On if he had any advice for Griffin on being a new father:

"Yeah, sleep in the other room [laughter]. He's got to make sure he gets his rest when he can because I'm not going to let him use a baby crying as an excuse for him to fall asleep in a meeting. But, no, he's excited, man. We're happy for him and his wife, Rebecca. He's a very proud papa. I didn't get a cigar though yet – I'm a little disappointed. But we're happy for him."

On cornerback Chris Culliver:

"Chris is a physical guy, man. He's a physical corner. He's a great competitor, obviously. This is really the first time we got to see him in any team fashion, haven't got a chance to watch the film yet, but just playing against him last year when he was in San Francisco knowing what type of competitor he is, it's great to have him out here. He can challenge you at the line of scrimmage. He can play off, and he's a great tackler. He wants everything to be perfect. He's going to make everybody better around him, not only the defensive backs but the receivers. Every time we run a route against him, it'll be a great challenge. Can't do a lot of bump and run out here today where you see his true skill, but I think he's a good football player."

On how much better he feels about his cornerbacks entering this season:

"A lot better, and you know we've got DeAngelo [Hall] coming back off the injury for training camp – I think our depth is going to be outstanding – and Tracy Porter coming back. And we drafted a good corner in the [sixth] round, so we've got some bodies back there that I think can play. It's just a matter of getting them meshed and playing well together. That's what it's all about."

On how challenging it is to get a coaching staff on the same page to help build team chemistry:

"That's a good challenge, but I think it's something that I feel very confident that if there's one thing that I've done well as a football coach, it's assemble a very good staff. And I think out staff is excellent from the coordinators down to the assistants to even the training staff to strength staff – everybody. I feel very confident that they are competent, No. 1, and they're loyal, No. 2, and they're going to work extremely hard. And they're all passionate about this football team and this franchise and we all want a winner real bad. It starts with hiring the right kind of people and I feel like I got them all in here."

Quarterback Robert Griffin III

On what improvements he noticed today:

"I think the word of the day from Coach Jay was, 'Get better.' Every day, you've got to come out and get better. As football players, you get tired of throwing on air, but as some people have told me, you never want to get tired of doing things the right way. So you continue to do it and continue to do it, and then we get out here and we get to get in a competitive environment. No pads and no tackling or anything like that, but at least you're going against other players and you can see how guys react when someone is actually covering them."

On having consistency this offseason:

"To have that consistency with your staff and the offense and all those things only helps. It's been a couple crazy years, and we look forward to making sure that we don't have that constant change any more."

On being named the starting quarterback:

"For me, you have got to focus on what you can control. Apparently Jay felt like I was the best option that he had at quarterback, and I'm happy about that. We look forward to working together to help this team and lead this team in the right direction and create this culture change that we know we need to have. It involves being in this room, too, so we want to make sure we improve everything from playing on the field to our relationship with you guys."

On the birth of his daughter, Reese, and what advice his teammates have offered him:

"It's been fun. Alfred [Morris] had a son, and we talked and you know they tell you, 'Hey, you're not going to get any rest. It's going to be extremely tiring.' It's true, but you have to look at it in a positive way, and for myself and Alfred, we love it. I love the fact that I haven't had much sleep over the past couple of days and still have to come up here and talk to you guys and practice, so it's just a special feeling when you can look at a kid and you're basically looking in the mirror, you're looking at yourself. That can bring a grown man to tears, so it did."

On what he emphasized this offseason:

"Work on everything. Like I said, it's good to have the same offense and the same coaches and work through building that relationship with those guys, so it's really about that and doing what they ask you to do, working on little things that you know you can do to get better, and being yourself. The one thing you can't do as a player is lose who you are, and I'm going to make sure that doesn't happen."

On Offensive Line Coach Bill Callahan:

"The guys love him. He's a very detailed coach. We loved [Chris] Foerster – We miss you, Coach – but Coach Callahan has been awesome and I know those guys will take every bit that they've learned from Coach Foerster and every bit that they're learned from Coach Callahan and apply it to their game. It sucks there's turnover in the league, but he's been awesome and we look forward to winning with him."

On Quarterbacks Coach Matt Cavanaugh:

"He just helps sharpen our focus. It gives us an opportunity to have a guy that has eyes on us all the time, so that's only a benefit and the more we work with him, I'm sure the better we'll get."

On the differences between his rookie season and the past two seasons:

"I could stand up here for 30 minutes and give you that answer, but I'm not going to. Those years have passed, and we look forward to doing more like what we did in '12 as far as from a winning standpoint. Now what the offense is and what it's not going to be, that's not my decision. We're all working hard to make sure that we can have the best offense suited for this team. We just want to win, and that's the main focus."

On the main focus of the offense:

"Different coaches have different philosophies. In the past it's been zone read — a zone offense read, not zone-read offense, I didn't say that [laughter]—and Coach Callahan is more of a power run game. But coaches, as long as you believe in something, you can make it work, and that's what they believe in, and that's what we're going to do and that's what we're going to be great at. That's all you can focus on."

On if anyone impressed him today:

"Everybody. The one thing that Jay preached to us and what this shirt says is that we're stronger together, and we're all out there working hard to make sure that we all stand out because when you win, everything else falls into place. Everybody is doing a great job, and being Day 1, it's great to see guys out there healthy and moving around and see the new faces. I can't single out one individual guy because not one guy makes the whole thing work."

On the importance of watching film:

"I've always been dedicated to the film study, I just hadn't been asked about it. My man Jeff over there did a great job with his article. But no, I hadn't really been asked about that. It wasn't very different from before. You know you have to dedicate yourself in those ways and it's not about really standing up and talking about it and saying what you do, but he asked me a specific question and I gave him a specific answer in that setting and that's what it was. But we've always focused – at least I have, I can only speak for myself – but I've always been focused in that way to hit the film and make sure you're getting better."

On Strength & Conditioning Coach Mike Clark:

"Coach Clark has been awesome. He makes everything specific to each position. I'm not doing what the linemen are doing because they have to push 300-pound guys and I have to run away from them, or slide away from them, but it's been awesome. Like I said, you have turnover in the league and it's not to say that any guys last year weren't as fit or anything like that, it's just Coach Clark comes in and he has a different philosophy.  He's done a great job in implementing what he wants to do."

On the importance of OTAs:

"It's just football. It's like spring ball in college. In college you're around all the time and it's also 'voluntary,' but it's mandatory – ask any college kid out there, it's mandatory. So it's fun to be around your guys and be around your teammates because every organization, at the beginning of the year, when they come in in April, is a group of 90 guys, it's not a team. You have to form into a team. That what we've been doing here and having the new guys has been awesome and I enjoy being around them, so for me it's awesome. I love coming out and playing football. That's what I'm paid to do and that's what I love to do."

On if he pays attention to talk about his transition into being a dropback passer:

"I don't really listen to that stuff. That does not matter to me. You have got to be true to who you are, and right now I'm a 25-year-old young man who can do a lot of different things, so I'm not going to limit myself to just being a dropback passer. But if Coach Gruden and Sean McVay asked me to be a dropback passer in any given situation, my job is to make sure that I can be. If they ask me to make a spectacular play – which they never will – but if it presents itself, then I have to be able to do that as well. When you get into casting yourself into a certain role, you can limit yourself as a player, so for me, I don't really even worry about it anymore. I just focus on what I know I can do. As long as I'm able to be the athlete that I can, it's my job, my duty to make sure that I do it."

On what he meant when he mentioned a culture change:

"When I got to Baylor in 2008-09, it was a very similar situation. The team had been losing a little bit, and everyone was thirsty for success. Sometimes it's not about what kind of guys you have on your team as far as the talent level, it's about the mindset you have. So, that culture change first happens upstairs and I was blessed enough to experience that and go through that with my teammates at Baylor and I want to go through that with my teammates here with the Redskins also. So it all starts upstairs. It's a mindset change with not accepting mediocrity. I think we're getting there and I think the guys all have the right attitude, and I'm not just saying that. I'm a very optimistic person, everyone knows this, but I can truly feel that in that locker room."

On the team's main focus heading into the season:

"Let's play, man. Let's play and have fun. I know you guys enjoy reporting on us more when we win. That's our focus, it shouldn't be about who likes who and who doesn't like who and who said what, all that stuff doesn't matter. At the end of the day, what you do on the field that matters, and we haven't been up to par the past couple years. I haven't been up to par in the last couple of years to my own standards, doesn't matter what anybody else thinks. So let's get back to that, let's get back to having fun playing football and winning football games. The whole city will enjoy it."




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