“Nothing is worse as a coach than when you let somebody go and they go on and kick your ass later on.” –Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden
The Washington Redskins reported to training camp Wednesday, and new head coach Jay Gruden faced the media for the first time at camp. He addressed the lingering injury situations of Jason Hatcher, Leonard Hankerson and Stephen Bowen and of course, talked about his quarterback, Robert Griffin III.
But he spent much of his first media availability talking about himself, his training camp, and how he expects things to go with him at the helm for the first time.
“Every coach wants to have great energy and great tempo, and that’s the big thing,” Gruden said from the training facility in Richmond, VA. “We want to get in and out of the huddle. We want to have great tempo and try to simulate game fashion as best we can. It’s going to be hot. Practices, sometimes they roll into period after period after period.”
“They can be mundane, but it’s important for us as coaches to motivate and keep the tempo moving at a quick pace and make sure we’re learning and coaching and the players are getting needed work – running to the football, pursuit, discipline. All that coachspeak that you hear, it’s what training camp is all about. Fundamentals of football need to be taught every play, every day. The tempo needs to be taught and worked on. The pursuit angles, the pursuit drills need to be practiced and worked on, and we strive for perfection.”
Gruden made sure to point out that he would lean heavily on his assistants.
“I try to use input from everybody. Coach [Jim] Haslett, obviously Coach [Ben] Kotwica, Sean McVay, [Director of Football Operations] Paul Kelly, we’ve all been at different systems and different programs and we’ve seen how different teams do them. Some have been successful, but we try to do what’s best for our team and for this place.”
“We thought practicing in the morning was the best option for us. Just walking out there today, it was hot, so I’m kind of glad we’re going in the morning. I was sweating. This jacket was a bad choice. I used everybody’s input on that as I do in coming up with game plans, and every decision I make will have input. Obviously I’ll have the final say, but I really expect that from the coaches.”
Gruden was asked how his training camp might be different than his predecessors’.
“I don’t know,” Gruden admitted. “I haven’t been to every coach’s training camp, so we’ll see. The big thing is we have a schedule drawn out. Now, how much we stick to that schedule will be determined on how we do. We might have to take a period out or add a period, a live tackling period or something along the way and change it up. I don’t think there’s any special drill in football I’m going to do that nobody’s ever done before. I hope not. It’ll be football.”
Gruden said that choosing the right mix of players for the opening roster is the first priority of the camp.
“I want to make sure we make the right decisions on players, No. 1. We have to make sure we get a good look at all the young guys, all the free agents, all the undrafted free agents, the draft picks, the veteran free agents, and make sure when we make our final cut-down we make the right choices and hopefully these players will make it very difficult on us in making those decisions.”
“When you play four preseason games and you scrimmage against the New England Patriots, hopefully we’ll get enough reps where we do make the right decision because nothing is worse as a coach than when you let somebody go and they go on and kick your ass later on. We want to make sure we get these guys the reps necessary and keep who we think are the best 53 and make the right decisions.”
Addressing the holdovers from last season’s debacle, Gruden said he hopes the players come in with a chip on their shoulders.
“Any time you lose the last one – whether you go 2-14 or we were 11-5 in Cincy and lost the last one – you should have a chip on your shoulder. You should want to get back on the saddle and compete. I think we have the type of guys here that all want to compete, whether they are coming from another team – we don’t have anybody coming from Seattle so everybody in this locker room should have a chip on their shoulder and should be eager to get back on the field and excited to play.”
“Football is a great game, it’s a privilege to play this game and I know they all love it and they want to do well. They are excited. We have worked extremely hard with the strength and conditioning coaches in the offseason program and you see them out there today running. They are all in good shape. Moving forward I feel good about where we are. Now it’s just a matter of getting them out there and playing.”