October 31, 2014

Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden’s full comments on RGIII starting

In his normal media availability Thursday, Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden indicated the team plans to start Robert Griffin III at quarterback Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. Below are his full comments about the matter.

From the team press release:

On the quarterback situation:

“We’ve moved Robert [Griffin III] along at a pretty good clip. We started him out in individual drills, monitored him. Last week he got some team drills, obviously. He did very well and the progress that he has made has had us put him in with the ones and prepare to be the starter. He’s coming along great. We wouldn’t put him in with the ones if we didn’t feel like he was 100 percent physically. Now it’s a question of ‘let’s get him some reps with the ones to see where he is mentally, see how he’s throwing the ball with the group, see if his timing is there, if his reads are there, see how comfortable he is back there,’ and he looks fine. So, every intent right now is moving forward we have to prepare him to be the starting quarterback. If there a fallback, if there’s a drawback whatsoever as far as the injury, if he’s sore at all, then we’ll go back to Colt [McCoy]. But right now, he looks pretty good moving forward but we still have another day tomorrow.”

On if quarterback Robert Griffin III will start:

“If everything goes well, he has got a great chance to start. Right now he looks great, his ankle looks great, you know what I mean? Today, he missed a few throws. We’ll get them corrected. Colt had some good throws today obviously. But, we have a good choice of quarterbacks, but Robert’s the starter. We want to make sure when he came back that he did come back – he’s got to be 100 percent, No. 1, physically, and I feel like he’s at 100 percent physically right now. We still have another day left and to make sure that’s the case. All the doctors are onboard, the trainers are onboard. As far as physically, he looks great. He looked great last week. This week he looks fine. Now it’s just a matter of seeing him with the team drills and how he throws and going from there.”

On what he wants to see from Griffin III prior to Friday:

“I’ll see him decisive with the ball, accuracy, decisive, feet in the pocket, very important. Make sure he’s not jittery, make sure he’s not tentative with his reads and decisions. Make sure he’s confident, plays with that confident air that he has that everybody loves moving forward and we’ll make the final decision, but everything looks good so far,”

On the advantages and disadvantages of playing Griffin III:

“There’s no cons of playing him now if he’s healthy, which we think he is. The problem with the bye is everybody thinks you’ve got a bye, you ‘ve got all this extra time to work. The bye week, the players get like five days off. It’s not like we can come out here and have two-a-days and get them ready for next week. If he’s ready physically, then I think he should play, and that’s what it comes down to. Physically, we think he’s ready, and then like I said, after the physical part, I want to make sure he’s comfortable in the pocket with all the throws and all of his reads, the new plays we’ve added since he’s been gone, some of the new concepts we’ve added since he’s been gone, try to get him up-to-date on those, try to get him up to speed. And if he’s up to speed making the right decisions, we have another day tomorrow, then there’s a great chance he’ll be the starter. But there’s really no benefit to if he is healthy to really sitting him and waiting for the bye. It’s not like his leg’s going to get stronger. His leg’s fine. So, what the heck?

On his expectations of Griffin III moving forward:

“We expect a lot from our starting quarterback whoever it is. We expect a lot from Kirk [Cousins], we expect a lot from Colt [McCoy], and that won’t change with Robert. We have high expectations for him because he is our starting quarterback. He’s a very good athlete, very talented, and he’s played five quarters of football as a starting quarterback here for me since I’ve been here. He’s got a lot to prove as we do, but he’s our starter and we feel like he gives us the best chance to win and that’s the bottom line, which quarterback – all three of them are healthy – gives us the best chance to win, and we made the decision back in training camp that it was Robert. He deserves a chance to prove us right.”

On if Griffin III is taking the majority of the reps with the first team:

“Yes.”

On simulating game situations:

“We can’t worry about the simulation of hits because that comes from the doctors as far as him being cleared physically from them. If they feel like his leg is as stable as it was before he got hurt, then he is going to be out there and playing. There’s nothing more he can do to get it better. Now the decision is on me, and that was what I said before was once he gets cleared from the doctors, then I want to make sure he’s ready from a mental standpoint. Out there today, from a mental standpoint he’s fine. It’s just a matter of he was off a little here and there with some of his throws, but we have got another day to get him back comfortable in the pocket and see where he’s at. So, he’s cleared from the doctors. Now, it’s a matter of getting him ready as far as what we talked about from the quarterback’s skillset.”

On how the decision will be made:

“Yeah, it’ll be pretty much my call. I’ll talk about it with the rest of the coaches and Bruce [Allen] and we’ll go from there. Everybody’s on board as far as from a physical standpoint, everyone’s on board. He’s 100 percent. You can see him running around. You saw him running around last week. He was running scout team cards for Tony Romo. He was running around like a banshee, and he’s more healthy than most of the guys we have playing right now. So, from a physical standpoint he is ready, but like I said, for a young quarterback who has missed this much time in a new system, the big thing is getting him back from a mental standpoint. He’s right there. Watching it on film and looking at it on a chalkboard and talking through it in the meeting rooms is a little bit different than doing it live out there in practice. He’s going to have his bumpy times, but hopefully he’ll correct them and do better tomorrow and better Saturday and we’ll be ready to roll.”

On if there is any hesitation to allow Griffin III to run:

“No, if there was any hesitation as far as that is concerned I wouldn’t be thinking about playing him. That is part of my decision going in. He has got to be 100 percent, and by 100 percent I mean able to do everything – run all the plays that we want, the boots, whatever he’s got to do, the quarterback draws, whatever the heck it is outside the pocket. That is what makes Robert, Robert. So, when he is cleared, he is clear to do everything. We can’t hold back because of any past injuries. He has got to play the position the way he plays it.”

On how reliable athletes’ words are when saying they are ready to return:

“Everybody is different. Everybody wants to get back and play. Every great competitor wants to play but you have to really… We do a great job in here with the trainers. Larry [Hess] as much as he bothers me, he does a really good job with rehabbing these guys and the doctors to a good job of monitoring them, watching all his movements out there and the strength tests in there. There is no way they would think about clearing Robert unless they knew for sure he was 100 percent. They feel good about where he is from a structure standpoint as far as not re-injuring that thing, stability standpoint, it’s stable. So there really is nothing holding him back as far as worrying about what might happen if he gets tackled. It’s intact, it’s steady, it’s structurally good, so there is no reason not to play him from a physical standpoint.”

On how the offense has changed since Griffin III was injured and how he has kept up with those changes:

“He’s done a good job. He has been in all the meetings. He prepares like he is playing. That is the responsibility of all quarterbacks and all players when they are not playing. They have to make sure they are ready. But like I said, chalkboard stuff and watching tape is a little bit different than going out there and going through your progressions live. But he has done a good job, man. He is a very, very, very bright guy and I think that is one of his strengths. He picks up everything in the protection adjustments that we’ve had, the route concept changes that we made. He has done a good job with it, he understands them. Made a few mistakes today but, you know, we’ve all done that on Thursdays. We’ve just got to get them corrected before Sunday if he is going to play.”

On how many changes have been made to the offense:

“Quite a few. Every week it’s game plan dependent depending on who we play. Some teams play more man, some teams play more zone, some teams blitz more and every play is game plan dependent upon the concepts we like and who are going to go after, who we are going to target and you just have to be ready to adjust.”

On a scenario in which Griffin III would not start on Sunday:

“I think if something happens where he steps on someone’s foot or something like that or comes up lame for whatever reason, which shouldn’t happen, or if he just comes and tells me, ‘Hey, I might need another week for it to settle in,’ which probably won’t happen. But for me to say he won’t play if he is 100 percent healthy, which we know he is, just his comfort level out there, but he looked fine today. All systems look like they are go. So we will just prepare and watch him again tomorrow and then make a final decision after tomorrow hopefully.”

On if he will name Griffin III the starter now:

“He is taking the starting reps. We have every intent of him starting, you know what I mean? Who knows, he should be fine… If everything goes well tomorrow, he should be the starter, yes. He should be the starter. I might just change my mind now and just start Colt for the first play of the game just to tick everybody off [laughter].”

On the importance of having a quarterback when taking a head coaching job:

“Well, it is important to have a starter in place that you feel good about and try to build your team around. Instead of trying to have two or three of them, you’ve got to compete and figure out who your starter is, that is a tough job. They drafted one, they had a couple in house that they thought are pretty good and that’s a little tougher on them. Here we felt good coming in when I first got the job that Robert would be the guy and we prepared our team for Robert being the quarterback. Unfortunately he got hurt after five quarters and now that he is better, he is going to be the starter. But every team is different, every system is different and you just have to adjust to your personnel.”

Gruden indicates “intent” to start Griffin Sunday

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden announced Thursday the team intends to start Robert Griffin III at quarterback Sunday on the road against the Minnesota Vikings.

At his normal Thursday media availability, Gruden said, “He’s taking the starting reps. We have the intent of him starting.

“If everything goes well tomorrow, yes, he should be the starter.”

Gruden dismissed the idea of waiting until after the following week’s bye, pronouncing Griffin healthy and ready physically.

“There are no cons to playing him now if he’s healthy, which we think he is,” Gruden said. “The problem with the bye is everyone thinks you’ve got all this extra time to work. The bye week, the players get like five days off. It’s not like we can come out here and have two-a-days and get them ready. If he’s ready physically, I think he should play. Physically we think he’s ready.”

Gruden said it would take a physical setback or new injury for Griffin not to play Sunday.

“If something happens where he steps on somebody’s foot or something like that, or comes up lame for whatever reason, which shouldn’t happen,” Gruden said. “Or if he just comes and tells me that, ‘Hey, I need another week for it to settle, which probably won’t happen. But for me to say he won’t play, if he’s 100-percent healthy, which we know he is, [it would] just be his comfort level out there.”

Griffin injured his left ankle in Week 2 against Jacksonville.

The Redskins have a chance to ever their record at 4-4 against Minnesota with a bye week next and Tampa Bay the following week. If Griffin can return to made a positive impact, the Redskins could very well have a chance in the next two weeks to elevate themselves into playoff talk after knocking off the then one-loss Cowboys last Monday night.

Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden’s Tuesday press availability

From a team press release:

On if the play of quarterback Colt McCoy eases pressure on the possible return of Robert Griffin III: “Well, we are not going to rush Robert back no matter what happens. You know, we are going to make sure that he is 100 percent, and until we feel like he is 100 percent, Colt will still play. And Colt did a great job obviously leading us to victory against Dallas, but it’s all going to be predicated on when the doctors say he is 100 percent, when Robert feels like he is 100 percent and when I feel like he is ready to take the game time reps.”

On anything that stood out to him about McCoy’s play: “I like the way he competed, No. 1. You know, he wasn’t perfect by any stretch but he competed his butt off, made some huge throws, some good scrambles, you know, a great quarterback draw for a touchdown – dove in there. Just a great competitor, you love to have that competitive spirit at your quarterback position. You never really quite know until you see him out there with the lights on and under pressure, so I just love his competitive spirit and the way he handled the pressure.”

On if he was trying to motivate running back Alfred Morris by giving Silas Redd, Jr. a series: “No, I think it was just – if it motivated him good, but it wasn’t anything to punish Alfred. It was just to get Silas Redd a couple carries and we like to have – we feel good about all three of those backs. I haven’t been good enough to get Silas some touches throughout the game so far. I think he showed in Jacksonville he has got a great knack for finding holes, he’s got great feet and in the preseason did some really good things. We just haven’t had a lot of opportunities to get another back in there with the way Roy [Helu, Jr.] and Alfred have been playing, but I thought it was a good time to take a look at Silas. Unfortunately, he put the ball on the ground but it was reviewed and we got it back. It was nothing meant to say, ‘Hey Alfred, we are trying to replace you’ or anything like that. I was just subbing guys in there and keeping backs fresh.”

On if he is starting to feel more comfortable with the performance in the running game: “Yeah, I do, I do. It was a good night. We stuck with it and got some good clips, it was a good to see Alfred break one, had a 20-something yarder. Roy had a couple good hits, got a good one on the draw, got a good one on the one-back power-type thing. So, there is something to be very optimistic about in our running game. The most important thing is to show that we can run it. Obviously when can run it you have to make a decision defensively. Are you going to have that guy in the box or are you going to bring that extra defender which opens up DeSean [Jackson] and Pierre [Garçon] in a big way?”

On how McCoy responded to the interception: “He was upset at himself, no question about it. But, I think his demeanor was great the whole time. He was pretty much poised – I think early in the game he might have been a little bit overexcited, pumped up – You know what I mean? Playing back in Texas and Monday Night Football – but after the first couple series where he had a rough start so to speak, he still had a calm demeanor about himself and was talking about the next series. Really nothing of cause of alarm, we just had to get him settled down and play the position the right way.”

On if there was a play that stood out from McCoy’s performance: “Oh, the quarterback draw. You know, it was blocked pretty good but to find that crease and dive in the end zone is pretty gutsy, you know, to dive in head first on third down and six or seven at the seven-yard line. Makes that type of call look very genius by myself, but really he made it all happen. Great block by Jordan Reed, Kory [Lichtensteiger] got up on the safety and Colt did the rest.”

On if he has grasped the magnitude of this win and what it could mean for the season: “I read somewhere after we lost our fifth game that we were playing meaningless games from here on out, which is pretty far from the truth. You know, we wanted to come out against Tennessee and get a win, and then obviously come out and compete against Dallas on Monday Night Football and prove that we aren’t dead, you know? We still have a pulse, our heart is still beating, and we have a lot to play for still. And that’s what that game meant for us, man. It showed the hard work that we put in. The resilience that we’re showing is paying off, and we’ve just got to keep it going. You know, we dug ourselves in a mighty hole at 1-5, and we understand that moving forward, but we’re not dead. We still have a little bit of a pulse left.”

On if Griffin III and McCoy will likely split first-team reps in practices this week: “Yeah. Tomorrow’s a typical Wednesday for us, but we can’t really go full speed. Because we played Monday night and we got in so late, we’ll probably have to have more of a jog-through, walkthrough-type tempo tomorrow. So that’s going to take a little bit off. It’ll be a little bit of an issue. But Thursday we’ll get some really good work, Friday we’ll get some real good work, and then we’ll make the decision. I think Robert is very, very, very close, and we just have to decide if he’s ready. Physically, I think he’ll be ready to go. Doctors are feeling pretty good about it — they still want to see him running around this week until they make their final determination as far as clearing him, but I just want to make sure he feels good in the pocket moving forward with everything.”

On if he can look forward to a possible opportunity to continue the momentum the next couple of games: “That’s what the intent is. You know, we’re not looking really beyond the Vikings. You know, they’re obviously a very good defensive football team. I know Mike Zimmer very well and what he does with those players on defense. I was with him the past three years in Cincinnati, and he coaches them extremely well, and they have some good personnel over there. And then offensively they have a rookie quarterback, but he’s very talented, and they’ve got some skill over there. So for us to look past the Vikings at 3-5 would kind of be pretty stupid, so we have to focus all our energy and time on the Minnesota Vikings this week, and then what happens after the bye happens after the bye. But this is a huge game for us — they all are because we dug ourselves into this hole. We were 1-5, and we’ve got to pretty much win and win often to have a chance. So one game a time is our motto. I know it’s cliché, but that’s the only way we can go about things.”

On using motivational techniques for the Cowboys and how he can motivate the team against the Vikings: “I just think you have to continue to build off what you were doing. You know, the success that we had against Dallas, you know, our ability to come back against Tennessee… Like I said, get that big stop for our defense, and I think to get the ball back and go down and get the winning field goal against Tennessee, build off of that momentum, go to Dallas on the road, win on Monday night. We just have  to continue to build off of the momentum. You know, the blocks that we’re paving — we’ve just got to continue to build and get better and better, and I think when you start seeing success, you start seeing the work that you’re putting in paying off. The concepts that are working offensively; defensively, the blitzes, the coverages, all that stuff — when players see, ‘OK, this is how it’s supposed to be done, when you do it right, this is what it’s supposed to look like,’ it’s pretty exciting, and guys are excited to come to work and see what’s next — ‘Hey, what plays you got in for me this week? What defense you got? What blitzes you got?’ So I think we can continue to build on that moving forward. I think guys are excited to come back in here to work and, you know, success can really do wonders for players’ psyches. You know, they come in with a little bit bounce in their step and they’re ready to roll. I think every pro football game — I know the Dallas Cowboys is a special deal; Monday Night Football, at Dallas, division rivalry, all of that good stuff — but every game is very, very important. Every game is very, very hard, and if you overlook anybody, you’re going to do is get beat. We’re not in a position to do that by any stretch.”

On the delay of game penalties: “I think one time we caused it, we were late getting the play in early in the game, and that was on us. But the other one, the last one at the end, you know, we had 18-19 seconds left as they broke the huddle, and the quarterback’s got to know the play clock at some point. We just were really slow getting to the line, and that’s something that’s got to be addressed — our tempo, breaking the huddle, calling the play, breaking the huddle, getting to the line. Getting the play in isn’t the issue. It’s breaking the huddle, the receivers’ have got to get to the line quicker, we’ve got to send our motion quicker, and we always, as a quarterback, have to know what the shot clock is, and get the play off. I mean, that’s what the quarterback – that’s one of their responsibilities. And when I saw it going down to 3, 2, 1, I had the one timeout left — I wanted to save it — but I thought we were going to get it off, and then I was too far from the referee to call a timeout with one second and we got a delay of game. That’s one, in my mind, if you’re going to critique Colt for his interception, and then the two delay of game penalties, you can’t have as a quarterback. You don’t see veteran quarterbacks take delay of games very often.”

On the learning curve for the quarterbacks in gauging DeSean Jackson’s speed: “We throw to him plenty in practice, but sometimes he gets on that fast track – that turf out there – and then he’s rolling. We’ve just got to get them out there. We’ve got to get them out there to him and continue to work him. Sometimes he gets jammed at the line of scrimmage and doesn’t get going quite as fast, but when the ball’s in the air, he’s got unbelievable speed and tracking ability to go get it. So we’ve just got to understand as quarterbacks, all of them, they can lay it out there a lot farther than they think they can. I think we’ve only overthrown him maybe twice since I’ve been here in practice. It’s pretty incredible. That’s an incredible guy tracking the ball. The first deep one, if he throws it out there, it’s a touchdown, but at least we completed the dang thing.”

On what he said to the offense to quell their frustration at halftime: “It’s a tough deal. It’s Monday Night Football and everybody wants to show up and show that they’ve put in the time and work and they really want to help this football team win. When their number’s not called and they’re not getting looks, getting the ball thrown to them, they get frustrated. So would I if I was playing wide receiver. I probably would’ve been in the same situation with them. As competitors, as football players, you want to have every opportunity to help the team win and move the ball. When you have three points and you’re 0-for-4 on third down and you haven’t got a touch or get the ball thrown your way, you’d be mad if you’ve had success that some of these guys have had in their careers. It’s just a matter of calming them down, trying to tell them to hang in there, we still have another half to play and we’ll get it to them. They have to trust that. Sometimes you’ve got to let them vent a little bit, but ultimately it’s a 60-minute game and we had to have them for the second half play at a high level and I think they all did that despite being a little frustrated in the first half.”

On cornerbacks Bashaud Breeland and David Amerson: “They were outstanding, both of them. Not so much in the cover ability, which they both covered extremely well, but tackling. They were great tacklers. There were some open field tackles, and really you look at Breeland, you see all the plays that he had were good – the pass breakups, the tackles – but I thought the most impressive play he had was coming all the way over from the other side of the field and tackling DeMarco Murray at the five-yard line on his long run. A lot of players might have taken that one off, and if he wasn’t hustling and flying from the other side of the field, he scores there. Instead of him scoring, we held them to three points on that possession. That’s the two plays that Breeland broke up on [Dez] Bryant back to back. That whole series right there was very impressive for Breeland. Amerson was steady, as always, but the guy who really didn’t get a lot of love was [Brandon] Meriweather. He had probably his best game since I’ve been here. He had tackles. He had sacks. He had fumbles, fumble recoveries, forced fumble, he was all over the place so it was great to see him show up in a big way the way he did.”

On the backup quarterback if Griffin III returns: “That’s a good question. We’d love to dress three quarterbacks. They’re all worthy of playing, man. I said this before, Kirk’s did some great things, man, and I think his career is still going to be very good in the NFL, it’s just that Colt has shown – you see what Colt does. He’s done that every day in practice that he’s been out here. He’s a viable option, also. When we’re struggling with the turnovers and the third down percentage, I thought Colt had earned the right to have a crack at it and he proved that he can do it. If Robert comes back, then we’ll have to make a decision the second quarterback, whoever that it is, or dress all three of them and that’ll be determined when Robert comes back.”

On if he could feel confidence building for a team throughout a game and if he could feel that last night: “Yeah, you could feel it. I think that really, to me, it stemmed from our defense. Our offense did some decent things – the first half we weren’t very good – but when your defense is flying around, sacking the quarterback, doing what they were doing, it’s pretty exciting. Then our special teams did some good things. You just feel you always have a chance to win the game when your defense is playing like that. It gave our offense a chance to get going. We were a little slow started – offense – in the first half. We took the ball and drove 80 yards to start the third quarter which really gave our defense even more reason to fly around to the football. It gave everybody confidence. I think the opening drive in the third quarter was huge, but that wouldn’t have been possible without the defense playing the way they did in the first half to keep us in there.”

On if there were any noteworthy injuries from last night: “No, not really. Like I said, [Ryan] Kerrigan’s going to be fine, [Kedric] Golston’s got some stitches in his nose, Colt came in and his calves were sore, but he’s going to be fine. Nothing really of note.”

On safety Ryan Clark saying he’s been playing with a torn bicep: “Yeah, he’s been dealing with that a little bit, but he’s OK.”

On how much input he had in Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett’s game plan last night: “Well, we work on stuff during the week. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, we have the periods of blitzes and coverages that they install and we watch practice and that’s what the plan is and that was the plan going in. He dialed them up. Sometimes I closed my eyes and watched them but I was ready for them and I had total faith in what they were doing because I saw them during the week and I thought they’d be successful also. So he has total control of the defense and did a great job.”

On if he feels rewarded by his faith in kicker Kai Forbath heading into the season: “Yeah, he’s done a good job. He’s one of those guys that in practice you say, ‘You know, we should probably look at another kicker,’ but game day, he rises to the occasion all the time. He tells me all the time, ‘Hey, don’t worry about it. I’m a gamer. If I miss a couple in practice or pregame warmup – I don’t think he made a kick – I’m good. I’ll make them in the game.’ ‘OK, Kai.’ Sure enough, he makes them in a game. We just have to take that into consideration, man. He’s been a gamer. Him and Tress [Way] both, man, have been very, very impressive helping out our kicking game. Obviously Akeem [Davis] did some great things covering kicks and made a big block for Andre [Roberts], so special teams has been a bright spot the last couple of weeks. They’re coming on and doing what they’re supposed to do and it’s led by the kickers.”

On the 15-yard substitution penalty: “I guess since he was in the huddle, they thought we were trying to deceive the other team. It was a deception substitution, so they gave us a 15-yard penalty. I had never heard of that one, so it was a rookie move on my part. We sent in Niles [Paul] late. We had a special play call for Niles, and [Offensive Coordinator] Sean [McVay] thought he was already in there. I thought he was already in there, but Logan was in there so we tried to make a quick substitution and got flagged for it. That was a mistake on both our parts and it was a costly one. We had coaching errors – offensively, defensively – that we need to correct also in big games like that. That substitution penalty, my not taking a timeout there at the end of the regulation when I should have been standing closer to the ref, those are costly. We can’t have those happen.”

Five takeaways from the Washington Redskins Game 8 win against the Dallas Cowboys

Here are the five biggest takeaways from the Washington Redskins’ 20-17 win to the Dallas Cowboys:

1. Colt McCoy takes possibly his last opportunity to start and shines.

There are many nitpicky issues that can be found in McCoy’s game from not turning turnovers into points and underthrowing Desean Jackson, but this kid went out and played a great game. Having just a mere week of practice with the starting weapons McCoy settled into the system and executed the game plan.

The Texas product returning home completed over 80% of his passes for a grand total of 299 yards. McCoy was able to get the ball to DeSean Jackson deep multiple times and the completion was the most important part. Additionally, McCoy bounced back after halftime when trailing by leading an impressive touchdown drive overcoming usual drive derailing penalties. Then after Dallas ties it back up he takes his squad right back down the field, puts his body on the line on third down to get the score on a quarterback draw.

Then after struggling to get a score at the end of the game he came out in overtime firing and marched his team into field goal position where Kai Forbath ended up having the game winning points. McCoy had a heck of a game and maybe has given his career some kind of a jolt, just probably not in Washington though.

2. Defense plays great when Romo is in, a good thing he comes back in.

How well the defense played without Brian Orakpo and DeAngelo Hall is not describable in words. Even when the ball was moved against them early in the game they were able to get stops or cause turnovers to end Dallas drives. The wheels began to come off when Brandon Weeden came into the game as missed tackles and blown coverages led to 10 points for the Cowboys.

However, as Jerry Jones wanted his prized possession in Tony Romo returned to the game, a great sign for the Redskins defense. The Redskins were able to harass Romo all game especially in key moments in the game on third downs. Not only at the end of regulation, but the defense stopped the Cowboys from getting TWO yards on three plays to end the game in overtime. The Redskins got five sacks on Romo as well as two turnovers when they could have had many more. All in all the defense did their part in picking up their best win of the year.

3. Redskins coaching staff is the unsung hero.

Not only did Jay Gruden provide a good game plan for Colt McCoy to succeed. Although several runs on first down did not amount to much on the ground, it set up deep play action bombs to DeSean Jackson. Even gutsier was his decision to go for a fourth down and one by throwing to Darrel Young in the flat. However, I think the best play calling came from defensive coordinator Jim Haslett who was able to unleash imaginative stunts and blitzes that came through in the clutch against Dallas.

Haslett used Brandon Merriweather strength as an aggressor as well as Perry Riley and Keenan Robinson to end Dallas drives with sacks instead of getting beat down the field. This attests to Haslett’s trust in his young 22 year old corners of David Amerson and Baushad Breeland who played their best games of their young career.

4. The Redskins continue to get their money’s worth out of DeSean Jackson.

Desean Jackson was NOT a big money bust under Dan Snyder thus far as he game in and game out has an impact on the game with his speed. On seven targets, Jackson had six completions for a whopping 136 yards, which could have been more if McCoy had a stronger arm. If the Redskins are to go on any kind of a run to try and make the playoffs, then Jackson will clearly play a big role in that. Moreover, Jackson will be able to contribute to this potentially high octane offense for the next couple year as well.

5. Robert Griffin III’s return has been delayed.

Many are glad that Griffin was not rushed back this season as he clearly was to start last season. Additionally, because he was inactive for this game many think he will not come back until after the bye. I think that has turned into a clear wait as McCoy has shown himself to be more than capable to play in the NFL. As a result, I expect him to start against a lesser opponent in the Minnesota Vikings last year. However, as much as the fans will give their good graces to McCoy right now, Griffin will be back under center at home against Tampa Bay barring a tragedy.

Washington Redskins Game 8 Review: McCoy shocks Cowboys in overtime

In what seems to be another season destined for being on the outside of the playoffs, this could very well have been the high point.

The Washington Redskins, huge underdogs to the 6-1 Dallas Cowboys, went on the road on Monday Night Football led by third-string quarterback Colt McCoy and beat Dallas 20-17 in overtime.

McCoy went 25 of 30 for 299 yards and hit Jordan Reed twice in overtime for big first downs to set up Kai Forbath on what turned out to be a game-winning 40-yard field goal on the first possession in the extra session. [Read more...]

Washington Redskins Week 8 Preview: Dallas Cowboys

The Washington Redskins needed a win in the worst way in week 7 against the Tennessee Titans, and they delivered, albeit in unconventional fashion.  The newest star for the team finally imploded and from the ashes, a new one was born.  Quarterback Colt McCoy will start his first NFL game in almost three years on Monday Night Football against the hated foe Dallas Cowboys.  This also marks a return to Texas for McCoy, where he enjoyed a successful collegiate career with the Longhorns.  While it remains to be seen when Robert Griffin III will return, Colt McCoy seems to be the starter moving forward until that time.

The 6-1 Dallas Cowboys find themselves in a unique position heading into November: not much is going wrong for them. Demarco Murray broke the NFL’s record for most consecutive 100 yard rushing games.  Tony Romo looks like he can do no wrong.  The defense, after much speculation about a complete debacle, has played well enough to not allow Romo to make his now infamous late game mistakes while trying to bring his team back from a deficit.

But let’s pump the brakes on “America’s Team” for a second (which, by the way, they no longer are.)  Of the six wins Dallas currently owns, here are the current records of those teams: 2-5, 2-4, 2-4, 3-4, 3-3, 3-4.  This equals up to a combined winning percentage of 66%.  The Cowboys have yet to post a victory against a team that is currently above .500.  While this may or may not indicate the direction their franchise will go for the remainder of the year, it does indicate that this team is not the juggernaut that most pundits anoint them as.

The problem here is, the Washington Redskins may not pose much of a threat either to Dallas.  The Redskins are in roster turmoil, starting a quarterback who hasn’t started a game since 2012.  In addition, their “franchise” player is now shelved for the season while the injuries continue to pile up for this already thin roster.  It’s going to take limited mistakes and a lot of heart for the Redskins to steal a victory on Monday night.

 Keys to the game

Stop beating yourselves

It is going to take close to zero mistakes for this Washington team to pull out a victory against a superiorly talented Cowboys squad.  So far this season, the Redskins have been hampered by mental errors in all three phases of the game.  The offense has committed costly penalties, often leading to huge third down distances, which the Redskins are among the worst in the league converting.  On the defensive side of the ball, wrong reads and often players being out of position have resulted in untimely huge plays for the opposition.  And special teams, while at times have looked to improve, are only marginally better than last year’s debacle.

The Cowboys of the past are no more.  This team appears to be a cohesive unit that limits errors.  If the Redskins want to have a chance on Monday night in the house the Jerry built, they will have to play focused.

Stop Murray

Pretty simple.  Murray has been among the best, if not the best, running back in the NFL this season.  He is as locked in as it gets. If the Redskins want to have any hope of containing Dallas’ dynamic receivers and tight ends, it will start with making them one dimensional.  If Demarco Murray can be contained, possibly to 80 yards or less, the Redskins should still be in the game.

Get to Romo

Tony Romo is one of the best quarterbacks in the league when he is under duress.  Most want to proclaim Romo as a “choker”, which may be true at times, but this isn’t because the pass rush is getting to him.  Time and time again, Romo proves that he can extend plays by keeping his eyes down the field.  He rarely gives up on a play.  Meanwhile, defenders will do just that, and someone ends up being wide open downfield.  It’s maddening.  It’s inexplicable at times.  But he does it.

The key here is to produce actual pass rush that will finish the play.  Defensive end Jason Hatcher, in his return to Dallas, needs to feed off of the adrenaline that he will undoubtedly have playing his former team in AT&T Stadium.  Yes, Brian Orakpo is gone, but rookie OLB Trent Murphy is quietly coming along and Ryan Kerrigan is on pace to accumulating career-high sack totals.  He will need to add to them in this matchup.  Additionally, the Redskins secondary needs to be ready and in position in case Romo is forced into one of those mistakes.  They won’t come often.

Our Predictions 

Joe Ziegengeist

While Redskins fans would like to think (and hope) that these matchups are always close, this one will unfortunately be pretty ugly.  Colt McCoy will struggle mightily here, and fans will be calling for Griffin to start before the bye week.  The defense also struggles as the Redskins will fall to 2-6.  There is good news though!  I think the Redskins get it done against a dreadful Minnesota team.  That’s 3-6 headed into the bye.  Anyone else up for an RG3 return and to party like it’s 2012?   Cowboys 35, Redskins 13

Dave Nichols

The Cowboys might have the best offensive line in football and have their running game firing on all cylinders right now. I think despite his success in the second half against Tennessee, Colt McCoy will have trouble moving the offense on Monday night.  Cowboys 31, Redskins 17

Eric Hobeck

Redskins play well but can’t keep up with Cowboys on either side of the ball.  Cowboys 27, Redskins 17

Joe Miller

This prediction is under the assumption that Colt McCoy is the starting quarterback Monday night. The Cowboys’ offense powered by their record-breaking run game has been excellent this season and almost certainly will put up a good amount of points (they’re 5th in points/game). That’s a serious problem for the Redskins as the Washington offense will most likely look to run the ball and be conservative with a third-string quarterback under center. That style of offense is poorly suited for a ‘shootout’ where they’ll be relied upon to keep up with Dallas’ scoring.  Cowboys 31, Redskins 17

Neil Dalal

The Cowboys are clicking on pretty much every cylinder right now, offensively for sure. I personally do not want RG3 to play as this season is more or less lost and there is no reason to risk a player who NEEDS to be ready for many years to come. Only way the Redskins win this game are in a shootout against a team that lacks a pass rush and if the defense is able to slyly cause a few turnovers. Unfortunately, a lot of things would have to bounce the Redskins way to even stay close.  Cowboys 31, Redskins 17

Washington Redskins DE Jason Hatcher Thursday media availability

From a team press release:

On his emotions about returning to play in Dallas:

“I was there eight years of my career, man. I had a great career there but I am approaching this game like any other game. It is a must win for us. So, I am just concentrating on being the best player I can be to help our defense play the best they can. It’s no extra emotions involved, it is just another game.”

On if he has heard from any former teammates this week:

“No, you know, a lot of those guys, man, I was there so long I saw guys come in as rookies, grow up as men, you know, mature. I mean, of course they’ve reached out to me, excited to see me, those guys over there have got a lot of respect for me. So, it is going to be great to see those guys but at the same time we’ve just got to go in there and get a win.”

On if he could sense a change with the Cowboys as he was leaving:

“Yeah, you could see it. The culture there changed, it took a while with me being an [expletive] sometimes, you know, the culture kind of changed. You could kind of see it happening. But I am excited for those guys. I wish the best for them. They are playing well, it is hard to win six games in this league but you know, we’ve got to go and get our third one.”

On the adjustment from leaving Dallas and coming to Washington:

“It was one of those things that I knew was coming, I prepared for it my last year there. So, I knew it was kind of coming. Just getting here, you know, the guys that’s here, they [were] great accepting me as a teammate, so it was an easy transition for us coming and playing for the Redskins.”

On how hard it is to put emotions aside with a game like this:

“I think you’ve just got to be locked in to what is at stake for this football team and I am. And what’s a stake is another win. So, that is what I am focusing on. I am not going out there trying to be no hero or nothing like that. I am just going to continue to be the player I am. I am not going to go do nothing special, try to be no hero, but I am going to go out there and play the best I can.”

On what impact the Cowboys’ success on third down has for their defense:

“I don’t think about it at all. I am a Redskin at heart, this is my team, this is my organization, I love them to death. But they have been able to do some good things. But the key, the key is 29, DeMarco [Murray]. He is a great back, he has been a great back since he came to the Cowboys. It is one of those things – he couldn’t stay healthy, this year he is staying healthy and he is showing the world who he is. So, we’ve just got to contain him, man, he just do a lot of stuff by himself, that I watch on film so he is a great back.”

On what has to be done to contain Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray:

“You’ve just got to be where you are supposed to be at. If you’re supposed to be in the B-gap, be in the B-gap, because if you are not there he is going to go where you are not. He has awesome vision. He is – if not the best back in the league, you know, he is up there in the top five definitely. So, you’ve just got to be sound in your defense and every snap because if you are not he’ll make you pay.”

On if there is extra excitement to now have the opportunity to sack Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo:

“It is exciting for every quarterback, man. I enjoy rushing the passer, man. That is what I do. I love it so it just happens to be my old teammate. It’s going to be great. So, every quarterback – I don’t like quarterbacks, so every quarterback, all quarterbacks are going to get rushed the same by me.”

On how he feels physically going into this week’s game:

“I feel great. I told Coach last week was the best I’ve felt since my hamstring. But, you know, I don’t make excuses. But I feel great going into this game, just have got to continue to take care of my body and do the right things to get ready for Monday night.”

On if he has had to act a certain way to try to create a culture change similar to the one in Dallas:

“You know what, it is slowly but surely coming in. I am just being the guy that I have always been, the leader that they expect me to be. And some things you’re not going to like that I say, but I am here to be that leader and that voice. So, I’ve just got to continue to do it and I think the football team is going in the right direction.”

On if the response to his leadership in the locker room has been received well:

“Absolutely, absolutely. And a win always makes everything better. So we are coming off a win and it feels great. So I am glad we are coming off a win going into Dallas, which is a tough football team to play and it’s going to be very, very exciting challenge for us.”

On if the loss of linebacker Brian Orakpo will change how teams attack him:

“I get attacked every game. I get attacked every game. So that is something – nothing’s going to change, I get double-teamed every game. So, if they don’t double-team me, they know what it’s going to be. So, every game I get double-teamed, so I am not – they are going to attack me regardless. So, they know what kind of player I am.”

On the process of coming to a new team and taking a leadership role:

“Like I said, those guys accepted me in for who I was coming in on this football team. I jumped in right like I’ve been here my whole career, so it’s been great.”

On if he knows how to get to the visitor’s locker room in Dallas:

“I don’t, never been over there. But I am excited to go see it. I know it’s nice. Jerry [Jones] got it all fixed up for us.”

On how to stop the Cowboys’ offense:

“You know, just 29 [Murray], Dez [Bryant], he is a monster, 83 [Terrence Williams]. They’ve got one of the best skill positions in the league. Just playing sound football. Just go out there and play like we know we can play and we will be OK.”

On how he became so close with defensive end Stephen Bowen:

“Well, when you’re in a hotel room with two beds for the whole training camp, OTAs, you have no other choice of getting close to each other. I didn’t like him at first because he was a snorer. I had Bill Parcells as my coach and he would run us in the ground, I would get like two hours of sleep. So after he kind of got out of my room, we got close then.”

On if he has shared any information about the Cowboys’ offensive linemen with his teammates:

“Yeah, everybody’s got weaknesses. I practiced against three of those guys up front. They are really good players man. So, I know a lot of stuff – a way to beat them. I have been sharing it as much as I can to try to go out here and get this victory.”

Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden Thursday media availability

From a team press release:

On the injury report:

“Limited today was Ryan Clark, ankle/shoulder, Robert Griffin [III], ankle, [tackle] Trent Williams, knee… [Chris] Baker was full today… [Tracy] Porter, hamstring [was limited]… Full was Alfred Morris and full was Perry Riley [Jr.].”

On if quarterback Robert Griffin III has received clearance for full contact:

“Robert really hasn’t changed. You know, there’s really not a whole lot to say. He’s just steadily progressing in these drills this week and then we’ll make a decision probably later on. I’m not going to announce whether he’s active or inactive until, what, 7:30 Monday night, probably. The big thing for him is to just get back out on the field, get with the guys, break the huddle, do the team stuff, gradually get back in the flow, call the play in the huddle, make his throws. Today was a rough day because it was so windy, but overall just feeling the pocket converge on him and make the throws under duress. It was good for him today.”

On if he is proceeding as if Colt McCoy is the starting quarterback this week:

“Oh, yeah. Yeah.”

On linebacker Trent Murphy balancing his pass rush ability with avoiding penalties:

“Yeah, that’s the case with a lot of defensive players. They get over-anxious and they work so hard to get to the quarterback and they get there a little late but they feel like it’s necessary to go ahead and hit him anyway. You’ve just got to try to rein them in a little bit and coach them up and [help them] understand that they’ve got to play by the rules. He has a huge penalty Sunday against Tennessee on special teams. He jumped offsides on fourth-and-five, which we had coaches in line ready to yell at him coming off the field. But he plays hard. He plays with great effort, man. He’s going to be a good player for a long time around here. He’s just got to continue to grow and develop and just keep playing. He’s going to be a good player.”

On linebacker Will Compton’s role on defense following the return of Perry Riley, Jr.:

“Yeah, they’re both getting reps at the spot this week. You know, I can see them both playing, to be honest with you. Will does have a role on special teams, obviously. He did a great job in Perry’s absence, but Perry is still working to get full-go. He was full participation today, but as far as full mobility and full movement, he’s still coming along. I think there’s going to be a place for both of them to play, but when Perry does come back at 100 percent, it’s his job.”

On how much of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo’s success can be attributed to the effectiveness of their run game:

“Well, it helps, that’s for sure. It helps take the pressure off a quarterback. That’s the intent here also is to really get our running game going so we can take the pressure off our quarterback, but Tony is a great player regardless. He’s had a great career. He can throw it, he can scramble, he can do just about anything you want a quarterback to do so having a running game to help him along the way will make him all the more effective.”

On if he has decided whether Tom Compton or Tyler Polumbus will start at right tackle:

“Not really – not yet. You know, we’re looking at both of them and obviously Morgan [Moses] is still in the mix also, but we feel good about all three of those guys. I think it’s just a matter of who we decide to go with on Monday, but I would imagine it will be close.”

On if a rotation at right tackle is an option:

“We rotated them last week in the second half, so it is an option, yeah.”

On if guard Josh LeRibeus could earn more reps:

“Well, we feel that Shawn [Lauvao] has done pretty good at left guard. And when LeRibeus played, he did OK when Shawn as out, so we don’t really anticipate moving Shawn out of the starting spot at left guard. We feel good about him. We feel good about [left tackle] Trent [Williams]. Obviously, [center] Kory [Lichtensteiger] has done a good job. [Right guard Chris] Chester has done a good job and then Polumbus has been battling a bit of soreness in his knee. He’s been full-go and all that stuff, but we just thought Tom deserved an opportunity to play and we mixed him in there at right tackle also.”

On Griffin III’s mindset as he returns from injury:

“Yeah, he wants to play. There’s no question. He’s a great competitor. He wants to play, but he also knows he has to go through the process and he understand that. He’s a great competitor, like I said, but he still has to feel… He’s still got to get out there and throw these balls, like I said, in the team drills and to the wide receivers to get himself back in game form. It’s not so much the injury now as it is more about getting himself ready from a mental, physical standpoint playing football.”

On if Griffin III took one-on-one reps with the first team today:

“He got a few, yeah.”

On if there is a timing issue with Griffin III:

“Yeah, a little bit. And plus, Colt needs those reps, too. We’re really tinkering here on thin ice as far as who we’re giving the reps to. Every time we take Colt out of the game getting ready for Monday night, we’re taking away from his progression every time. We have to get Colt the reps right now, but we also have to make sure that we’re bringing Robert along at a good rate so when he’s ready to go, he’s ready to go.”

On covering Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant without cornerback DeAngelo Hall:

“Yeah, we’ll find out. D-Hall has always done a very admirable job against Dez Bryant. Dez is a great receiver, no question about it, so [David] Amerson, [Bashaud] Breeland, they’re going to have to step up and I don’t know if they know what they’re in for yet but we’ve covered some good receivers this year also. But Dez is a lot bigger, stronger, more physical than guys that we’ve faced so far and he’s having a great year and we know that come crunch time, if they need a play, somebody’s got to cover him. Hopefully, Breeland and Amerson will be up to the task.”

On when he wants to see Griffin III back on the field as a starter:

“I don’t know when it’s going to happen yet. I’m not going to say it’s not going to happen for Monday, but ideally I want him back when he’s ready. That’s all – when he’s physically and mentally ready to go. I don’t care about anything else. We’ll get a good feel from him and the trainers and all that stuff and when it’s time, it’ll be time.”

On who the starting quarterback will be against the Cowboys:

“We’ll announce that on Monday night. But Colt’s the starter. We’re preparing for Colt to be the starter, you know what I mean? But we’re trying to get Robert some reps, get him ready, but right now it looks like odds are Colt will be the starter, but we’re trying to work Robert into the lineup and trying to get him reps to get him ready to go because I ultimately – when it’s all said and done – when Robert’s healthy, Robert’s the starter. Do we understand that? Robert’s the starter. Colt is not the starter. Colt could be the starter Monday night, but when Robert is healthy, he’ll be the starter… We just don’t know when that ‘healthy’ will be. Mental healthy, physical healthy, we’ve just got to get him ready.”

On when Griffin III will meet with Head Athletic Trainer Larry Hess to evaluate his progress:

“It happens every day. They go through all the rehab process every day and it’s a matter of going out, when you do more, how you feel… He’s been cleared to do just about everything. It’s just a matter of now that’s he’s doing everything, going back to Larry, continuing his rehab, how’s he feeling? How’s it holding up? All that good stuff.”

On Monday Night Football production meetings with his brother, Jon:

“It’s entertaining. They ought to film it. It’s good, man. It’s always good to see him. We don’t get a chance to see each other very much this time of year, obviously, but it’s always good to see him. He’s a pro at what he does. He’s good. He’ll throw out a couple ideas for me every now and then but, you know, it’s always fun to get together with him.”

On showing a video of the history of the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry to the team:

“Well, I just think the history, a lot of guys haven’t been in this organization – myself included. This is my first year. It’s always good to see the history of this rivalry and how important it is to the fans, the ex-players – the alumni and the organization in general. This is a huge game for a lot of people and we’re going to make sure it’s known that this is a big rivalry for the new players and coaches.”

OPINION: The Washington Redskins should let Robert Griffin III play

Let me preface this by saying that I would never propose that anyone play injured. If Robert Griffin III is truly unable to play physically, he obviously should be shelved and allowed more time to heal. But if team doctors clear him and deem that physically he’s capable of playing in an NFL football game and everything that entails, the Washington Redskins absolutely should start Griffin against Dallas Monday night.

The reasons why many believe the third-year quarterback, once touted as the savior of this long downtrodden franchise, shouldn’t play Monday night are many. But each is more farfetched than the last, the hysterical ramblings of a fanbase too traumatized to think clearly. A fanbase so accustomed to heartbreak and disappointment when it comes to their favorite football franchise, that Murphy’s Law might as well be Newton’s Law. Absolute. Certain.

Ultimately it’s out of fear that fans suggest he shouldn’t play. Fear of another injury. Fear of more losing. Fear of starting over. And fear has a way of making people irrational. The three most common and erroneous of the objections to RG3 playing are as follows: [Read more...]

Washington Redskins QB Colt McCoy Wednesday media availability

From a team press release:

On if his time away from starting has made him a different quarterback:

“Am I a different quarterback? I would say I’m older, maybe a little bit stronger. I think I’ve learned from a lot of my past experiences, and I’ve watched a lot of good quarterbacks play. Hopefully by doing that, you naturally gain a little bit of confidence even though you’re standing on the sidelines. I think that would be probably accurate.”

On if his shoulder injury from college affected his tenure in Cleveland and if it is still an issue:

“You don’t ever want to make excuses or bring up injuries from the past. I was well enough to play, but with a nerve injury you really have to stay on top of it. Any quarterback who has had one, it’s been a real issue. Mine was a real issue, but I’d like to say I’m over that now.”

On how special it would be to start in Dallas:

“Yeah, it’s really unbelievable. I can’t even sometimes take my mind there. But, I’m really just trying to approach this as a professional and know that this is our next game, this is our next opponent. It’s a game in our division that we really need to win. This week is really important, and I think it’ll be helpful for me to get some reps. I didn’t have any reps last week, so I’ll get some timing down with the receivers, with the O-line, work on our silent counts – a lot of things that I just hadn’t been able to do. So, it’ll be a huge week in practice for me to get more comfortable with the guys, but obviously this is a huge game for us and our season. We need a good, sharp week.”

On the journey from being a successful college quarterback to a backup in the NFL:

“It’s tough, it’s tough, but I wouldn’t change some of my past experiences. I’ve learned a lot from them – a whole lot. I’ve seen a lot. My path in the NFL so far has been a lot different than other guys, but I’m thankful for the things I’ve learned and the experience I’ve gained. I’ve been in some good places with some good coaches, and like I mentioned after the game, I really feel confident with our coaches here, with our players here with this organization. My teammates have welcomed me in. They kind of surrounded me and helped me last week and hopefully they’ll continue to do the same thing for me this week. If we go down there to Dallas this week – and Jay [Gruden] mentioned after practice that this is a huge game for us, but it’s defense, it’s offense, it’s special teams, it’s everybody, you know? I didn’t go in and win the game last week. Our defense played well. They got some nice stops for us. The guys kind of brought me in and they played well around me, and I just distributed the football. Hopefully, we can do the same thing this week.”

On if the uncertainty about whether or not he is starting is distracting:

“My focus is I’m just going to prepare as the starter. There’s nothing else that I can do. The decision is not up to me. What I can control is what I can control. The reps that I get, the time I spend up here preparing for Dallas… They’re obviously 6-1, a great football team. We’re going to have to bring our best game to Dallas on Monday night. My focus is just to take it day-to-day, not look forward to anything but live in the now and approach it just like I would every other week.”

On if he has received encouragement from quarterbacks Kirk Cousins or Robert Griffin III:

“I feel like we have a pretty solid room. There’s always been good communication since I’ve been here, and I don’t think that will change. I don’t think that will change at all. When Kirk was starting, we were both really supportive of Kirk, and when Robert was starting, Kirk and I were both supportive of Robert. It is a competition every day. I’ve had to approach my job that way ever since I’ve been in the NFL. I don’t think that will change me. The only difference is I’m taking the reps this week and I’m preparing to start.”

On if it is a mental challenge to keep from playing outside of himself with this ‘huge opportunity’:

“Yeah, I guess it could be. Like I said, I am really just focused on right now. We are going over first and second down, their base defense. I am really just trying to get a grasp of what they do, how they play. They have beaten a lot of good teams, a lot of good quarterbacks. So, we obviously know that this is a huge task for us as an offense. I just don’t want to get caught up in this ‘huge opportunity’ thing. I just want to go out there and be who I am – that is who I am every day in here – be confident and play the best football I can play.”

On if he agrees with Head Coach Jay Gruden that it is helpful for the team to know its starting quarterback early in the week:

“Yeah, I would agree with that for sure. I think just for your team, that’s accurate.”

On the last time he started a game in Texas:

“I started my rookie year, we played in Houston. I think that would probably be the last time – when I was in Cleveland, we played in Dallas but I was the backup.”

On how it important it would be for him to start in the state of Texas:

“I was going to get a few tickets before I wasn’t playing and now it has turned into a laundry list. I don’t want it to be too big of a distraction though. I am excited about going back to Dallas. It is going to be a lot of fun.”

On receiving his first snaps with the first team today:

“It felt good, it felt good. I think the biggest thing for me is getting on the same page with guys like DeSean [Jackson], Pierre [Garçon], Andre [Roberts], Jordan Reed – working with Alfred [Morris] and Roy [Helu, Jr.]. Those things, you know, naturally as a quarterback, you know where the guys are supposed to be but throwing to them in the rhythm and the timing of the play is – you can’t replace those reps that you get in practice. That is huge for me, that is huge for my confidence and even though we were pretty efficient in the game Sunday, we’ve still got to keep working, spend some time with each other and I think that will be huge this week.”

On what confidence he can carry into this week after the final drive last week:

“Yeah, that was huge for us. We really, really needed to win that game. We didn’t necessarily want to have to win it at the very end of the game, but for our offense to step on the field and put a drive together and go down and get a field goal to win was huge. I think the team and the coaches and our organization will build off of that. You know, I certainly hope so. As an offense, for us as a unit, you know that was big too, doing that at home, something we really wanted to do was win that game and that was big for us. So hopefully there will be some carryover there for sure.”

On if the locker room feels different for Dallas Week after winning last week:

“Yeah, I think that any place that you play or anywhere you are, you know games in your division are obviously – there is more excitement and more focus. So, yeah, you can definitely feel it in the building for sure. Going down there on Monday night, for us as a team, we just have to do what we do best and that’s focus, control what we can control, practice well, in order to prepare ourselves for the challenge we have on Monday night.”

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