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12 November 2014

Week 11 Conference Call Transcripts: at Washington (11/16/14)

HEAD COACH JAY GRUDEN
 
(On the potential problems presented by Tampa Bay wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans and how much he would like to have that tandem for himself)
“They’re obviously great. Both of them are explosive and big, physical guys that can do damage after the catch. A lot of teams have one guy that’s a big, physical guy. You can deal with one sometimes, but obviously Tampa has two of them so that’s a little bit different. Both of them are good and explosive and really make great plays on the ball. When the ball’s in the air, they do a great job at high point and back shoulders – very difficult to contend with. Luckily for us, we’ve got some corners that are pretty good size. [David] Amerson is right around six-foot, [Bashaud] Breeland is right around six-foot, so hopefully we can contest some throws.”
 
(On how much Evans has improved this season as a rookie)
“He’s getting better every week. He seems more comfortable in the offense. I had the privilege of coaching at Cincinnati with some very young receivers: Marvin Jones and A.J. Green. When you have young receivers, sometimes early in a season – it just takes them a while [with] the feeling out process, getting confidence in them and the routes and the concepts and all that stuff, and once the season goes on, the more they play, the better they get – especially the great ones like Mike. So he’s just going to continue to get better and better, and the more confident and the more comfortable he is with the concepts and the plays and the quarterback, the better he’s going to get.”
 
(On adjusting as a head coach after being an offensive coordinator)
“I just think when you come from being an offensive coach strictly, obviously you’re just focusing on that part of the game, but now you have to put your hand in a little bit of everything with the special teams and the training room and equipment room and defense – a little bit more involved in all aspects of what’s going on with scheduling. So it’s a lot more on your plate, that’s for sure, where you can’t just hone in on one side of the ball like you can as a coordinator. But luckily, I’ve hired a pretty good staff of people that I can rely on to do their job and I do a pretty good job of delegating and letting coaches coach and other people doing their jobs and if I have to step in, I will. But so far, that hasn’t been the case. It’s been a pretty smooth transition so far. Our record doesn’t show it, but we’re moving along pretty good.”
 
(On how quarterback Robert Griffin III has handled his transition of becoming more of a pocket passer)
“There’s a fine line. He’s the quarterback that has to make those decisions and we have to live with them. You can’t tell a guy – you can’t pull back the reins and say, ‘Hey, stay in the pocket all the time.’ It kind of defeats the purpose of having a guy like that – an athletic guy that can run and get outside the pocket, work some read options, some of that stuff that really make him who he is. Unfortunately for us, I’ve only had him for nine quarters in the regular season. He played the game against Houston, one quarter against Jacksonville and then the game against Minnesota. So we’re still working with him very closely with his footwork and fundamentals and trying to get to know the plays that he’s comfortable with and the plays that he likes so we can really execute. And that takes the most time: just getting a feel for what he’s most comfortable with. But as far as him running and all that stuff, he understands that he’s the franchise quarterback and he has to protect himself, but he also understands that sometimes plays have to be made and risks have to be taken – it’s just part of the position.”
 
(On how he differentiates and makes evaluations among quarterbacks Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy)
“Well we made the evaluations pretty early during OTAs and training camp. We felt very strongly that Robert was the starter. When he went down, we felt pretty good about where Kirk was with his experience that he got last year – he played the last four or five games and did some good things, and did some good things in training camp, so we felt very strongly he was No. 2, and then we got Colt in as a free agent who’s a veteran-type player with the West Coast offense and the terminology, so we felt very good about our quarterback situation from a depth perspective. And obviously Robert goes down and you go with Kirk, and Kirk did some really good things. Unfortunately, we turned the ball over too much and were brutal on third down, so I thought Colt deserved an opportunity to play and he took advantage of it against Tennessee and against Dallas, and when Robert got healthy again, we just had to go back to our Robert because we felt like he was the quarterback that gave us the best chance to win, period, and he was healthy. So fortunately, we have three good quarterbacks; unfortunately, Robert had an injury and kind of stopped his development a little bit. But now we’re just trying to get him back in there where we can see what we have at that position and feel good about it moving forward.”
 
QUARTERBACK ROBERT GRIFFIN III
 
(On the job that first-year head coach Jay Gruden is doing)
“My take on that is players play, coaches coach – so it’s not really my job to critique how coach is doing as a first-year coach or anything. I know he’s having a lot of fun and we can make it more fun for him by winning him some games. That’s our focus right now: to go out there and get to 1-0 each week. We’ve got Tampa and they’ve got a really good team. They’re not going to make it easy for us, but it’s something we’ve got to go do.”
 
(On if he has been limited at all by his ankle injury since coming back)
“No, I feel good. God’s been good to me. It’s awesome to be able to get out there and play with my teammates and play this game – play this kid’s game with a bunch of men. It’s really fun.”
 
(On the ups and downs of his career)
“It’s been a journey. God gives his toughest challenges to his toughest warriors. I know there’s a lot of warriors in that locker room and we’re thankful for everyday to be able to go out there and play the game. He’s shown me the whole gauntlet of everything: highs, lows, in betweens. He’s going to bring me out of it and I’m going to need these guys to help me get that out.”
 
(On if he thinks he would reach his full potential as a quarterback if he was a pocket passer)
“I think God blessed me with unique abilities: the ability to throw from the pocket and throw on the run and move around using my legs. So I think that’d be a disservice to Him and myself and this team if I didn’t utilize that. So for me, I just go out and play. I don’t worry about what anybody has to say, what they think I should be doing or shouldn’t be doing. I listen to my coaches, I work for the scheme, and just make sure I execute each play to the best of our abilities, and when it’s not there, make something happen.”
 
(On why the team has struggled this season)
“Just an inability to get it all rolling at the same time. We’ve got to play at a high level in all three phases of the game – offense, defense and special teams. Guys know that. So that’s been our focus: just look in the mirror and say, ‘What can I do to help this team win? What can I do better?’ Because it’s natural to look side-to-side and say, ‘Well, he’s not doing that or he’s not doing this,’ but I just ask the guys to try to cut that out and not let that natural tendency to look side-to-side take over their minds, but look straight into that mirror and say, ‘What can I do to help us win? What can I do better? What can I cut out of my game? How can I help us get to where we want to be?’ and I think guys are doing that and we’re going to get to where we want to be.”
 
(On what adjustments he has to make when escaping the pocket)
“You’ve got to play, man. That’s the bottom line. Let your instincts take over, get out of bounds, slide, don’t take too many big hits. What people don’t realize is whether you’re an athletic-type quarterback or a quarterback that’s mostly stationary, a lot of your hits come in the pocket. That’s where it’s just football. You have to be strong enough – mentally strong enough, physically strong enough – to take on those hits, get up and move on to the next play. I just think there’s a bad stereotype that comes with being an athletic quarterback and I don’t know if it will ever go away. But I know one thing: I’m not going to let it infiltrate my mind and change the player that I am. You’ve just got to go out there and avoid the big hits out in the open field and then lead your team to victory.”
 
(On what he thinks of Tampa Bay defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David and if they have to game plan for them)
“Great players. Lavonte is a guy that I got to see play and play in college. We have a couple of teammates on our team that speak very highly of him and I’ve had a chance to meet him and I think he’s a great guy and also a great player. He can run around, he can do it all. McCoy is a guy I played in college. He’s another guy that [has a] quick first step – can do it all. They’re great players and that defense rallies around them. So we’ll be ready to do what we have to do and try to minimize their affect. They are great players for a reason, so if they get one or two here or there, we’ll understand that that’s just a part of the game. But it’s something that we’ll definitely be aware of.”
 
(On coming back from his ankle injury and quickly playing at a high level)
“I was able to have these guys around me helping me out and lean on them. I’m going to continue to do that. Like I said, we want to get to 1-0 each week. It starts this week and it’s not going to be easy. But I’ll continue to rely on them to help me get back into the flow of things and trust that everybody is going to do their job to the highest of their abilities and let the chips fall where they may after that. We understand that this is a game of inches. I didn’t feel like I had much rust, but it wasn’t because of anything that I did that was special – it was because of the guys around me.”
 
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