January 23, 2020

Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden discusses defense’s success against Jaguars

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden spoke about the team’s excellent defensive performance last Sunday against Jacksonville. “You know, my first year coaching with my brother in 2002, the Buccaneers had a pretty good defense with [Warren] Sapp and Simeon [Rice] and all those guys, so we saw a few of those. Firsthand, I mean, 10 sacks and just the whole defense in general flying around to the football, the energy that they played with, I haven’t seen it in a long time.

So, [I’m] just impressed with the whole energy in general and people talk about the sacks, but the coverage was outstanding by the defensive backs and the linebackers – Keenan [Robinson] and Perry [Riley, Jr.] – they were flying all over the joint, and they don’t get any credit as far as the stat people are concerned, but they had a lot to do with the success of the defense also. So very impressed with the whole unit. Coach [Jim] Haslett called a great game, obviously, and the defensive coaches had those guys ready to play and it showed.”

Asked about Chris Baker’s performance at nose tackle, Gruden said, “Chris Baker had an outstanding game, also, and Jarvis [Jenkins] did good, too. And Perry [Riley, Jr.] did well. But, like I said, the key was stopping them on first down. I don’t know what the average per carry or play was on first down but they were in a lot of second-and-longs and then third-and-longs, which really let us get going.

We stopped the run extremely well. I think [Toby] Gerhart had seven or eight carries for nine yards or something like that, and he’s a darn good running back, so it’s very impressive that our front not only rushed the passer extremely well, but we stopped the run.

When you do both, it means good days for your defense and I think we have the front that can do both, which is exciting. We’ve got the athleticism, we’ve got the size to stop the run, we’ve got the athleticism to rush the passer. That’s why I feel like our future is so bright here this year because I think defensively we can play with anybody.”

Gruden was pleased with Jason Hatcher’s contributions as delivering exactly what he wanted. “That’s why he was one of our focal points as far as signing a pass rusher. He was one of the guys we wanted and targeted and we are lucky to have him. He is a great guy, not only on the field with his production but off the field he is a great motivator, keeps the guys up on the sidelines and keeps everybody accountable to playing hard and you can feel everybody feeding off of it.

When you get the push up the middle, it opens it up for everybody else and you saw [Ryan] Kerrigan get four and [Brian] Orakpo had one and a half or two and it gets everybody involved. The key is to obviously get teams in third down and long which we did yesterday and then let him go after it. He has been everything we hoped for and more, so far.”

Asked about safety Trenton Robinson’s game on Sunday, Gruden said, “Trenton has had a couple good weeks of practice. He’s been a special team demon for us, and after the play at the end of the half, we thought we needed a look at Trenton, give him a chance, see what he could do. And he didn’t disappoint. He got an interception and was in on a few tackles and did some good things. He was part of the big play we gave up in the second half, but overall, I thought Trenton did a nice job.”

Gruden is anticipating Brandon Meriweather’s return from suspension at safety.

“He’s back, he’s ready to go and he’s excited. I saw him today, he’s bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and fired up to get back on the field. It was an unfortunate incident what happened to him, missing two games, but he’s raring to go. He’s champing at the bit and we’ll have to make a decision tomorrow on what we do with the roster spot.”

About Derek Norin

Derek Norin is a Contributor to District Sports Page. He is also the Washington Capitals correspondent for Pro Hockey News and is a contributor to Talk the Red. Derek was a copy editor for three different student publications at Ohio State and was a founder of the newspaper, the OSU Sentinel, that would become the OSU Rubicon today. Derek has been a member of SABR, SIHR, and PFRA. Derek put together www.capshistory.com, a history of the Capitals franchise told in Youtube videos. You can follow Derek on Twitter @dereknorin.

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