October 16, 2019

Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden discusses Thursday matchup with Giants

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden discussed his preparations for playing Thursday night against the New York Giants, “Playing Thursday night, I made that statement [Monday], it’s rough on everybody but the good news for the players is [that]  they get Monday off, they get Tuesday, we walk through Wednesday, they walk through and they play Thursday so their body should be somewhat regrouped by then, you know what I mean?”

Gruden talked about having the spotlight on Thursday night, “Yeah, that’s exciting. It’s a home game and we make a big deal about our home games and it’s a division game, and we’re both 1-2 so it’s a huge game for both of us.

I know Coach [Tom] Coughlin is going to have his team ready. We’re going to have our team ready, but this a very important game.

You fall too far behind the 8-ball this early in the season, it’s going to be tough sledding and we’re already behind the 8-ball at 1-2. The team that goes to 1-3 is not out of it by any stretch but it’s going to be a lot harder than if you’re 2-2.

So we know the importance of this game – all division games are important, they’re all rivalries – and we’ve got to get after it.”

Gruden spoke about his first short week as an NFL head coach: “It’s hectic, you know? We prepped for the Giants in the offseason because we knew this was coming and the defense did their work – obliviously worked on Green Bay’s offense and we did our work based on what the Giants did last year and Coach [Perry] Fewell and Coach Coughlin.

So, we have got a little bit of history with them obviously, so that’s good. At least it’s not a brand new opponent with a brand new scheme we haven’t seen – at least we’ve seen these guys. They’ve seen them twice – Sean McVay has been here, Chris Foerster – so we’ve got a pretty good general idea about their system.

Now it’s a matter of getting plays installed Monday morning and getting players out there and practicing them… That’s the same thing. We’re going through the same process, we just have got to do it a lot faster. You have got to watch film a little bit faster, you have got to go through the plays a little bit faster, you have got to write down the plays faster.”

On quarterback Kirk Cousins’s preparation during a short week, Gruden said, “A short week is more mental preparation than anything and it would be nice to go outside and throw the passes you’re going to throw in the game or work on the patterns and the pass concepts you’re going to see against the defenses you’re thinking you’re going to see, but we’re in the bubble right now and going through walkthrough so it’s a little bit different tempo I’d say than come Thursday night.

But he’s doing a good job and that’s all we can do – just watch the tape, study the game plan and get yourself mentally prepared and come [Thursday] night hopefully it all clicks for you but he’s done a nice job.”

Cousins discussed the differences in preparation in a short week: “I have always said, I can’t run by them, I can’t throw it through them, so I have got to know where they are going to be and the only way I can do that is through good preparation. You know, it’s worked for me to this point and I need to keep doing it and I can’t get complacent as I get more and more familiar.

But, in a short week, that is the challenge, especially at the quarterback position. There is a lot we have to do in only a few days and you want to make sure you get your rest and you’re well-rested come Thursday night.

It’s all about time management going back to when I was a college student – they would tell you about being a good manager of your time. You still feel that way now in the pros. You’ve got to manage your time well and make sure that every second you’re in there watching film or drawing plays or talking with coaches you’re not wasting time but you are making good use of it leading up to Thursday night.”

Cousins mentioned being featured on Thursday night football: “It is a great opportunity to be in the national spotlight and try to show this entire league what the Washington Redskins are about. So hopefully we can put on a good show and get a win.

As far as my opinion on a Thursday night game, this is the first time I have actually had to play then turn around and make that short week happen, so I’m new at this.

But when you didn’t take any real big hits on Sunday, selfishly, physically I don’t feel terrible. I am not the right guy to ask because I am not in a position that is getting banged every snap. But it is tough on your body and something you don’t want have to do week in and week out.

The benefit, the flip side of it if you want to look at the positives is that when the game is over Thursday night we do get a couple extra days to catch up and rest and recover leading into out next game, so there is a tradeoff there.”

As for the Giants, head coach Tom Coughlin talked about how he has prepared for short weeks for years, “You obviously move on and we have a formula that we use and we followed for quite a few years, but you’re talk about – when you say the short week – you’re talking about moving from the emotion of the game you just played right into your preparation, and of course, you have got to be a pro about that because it is mental and you can’t leave a stone unturned.

I mean, you’re talking about a divisional game. So, you know, we have a tendency here to adjust, midstream adjust to whatever we’re confronted with, so here we go.”

Coughlin was asked about the fairness of having the players play on Thursday coming off a Sunday game: “I read what you read and I know the speculation and I’m not going to tell you it’s easy. It’s not easy and perhaps they are guys that could have made the game, if it was Sunday could make it, maybe.

That might be the case, but nevertheless to speculate or discuss for us is really a waste of time because the game is going to be played Thursday night.”

Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz is looking forward to playing on Thursday night: “I’m excited for it, man. It’s not often we get this Thursday opportunity, but I’m as excited as you guys are, that’s for sure.”

Kirk Cousins

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins discussed his performance last game against the Eagles: “I thought we did a lot of good things. I liked that we put up a lot of points, put up a lot of yards, made a lot of plays, didn’t take any sacks.

At the same time, you don’t like the turnover, you don’t like how we finished in crunch time, how I finished in crunch time.

But, we’ll learn from it and get better. The key is when you go through those experiences is to try to make sure when you get in situations in the future like that, you don’t let them happen again.”

Cousins was asked if the Eagles defense made him uncomfortable: “No, I don’t think so. I think any time you move the ball as much as we did and make as many big plays as we did, I don’t think they made us too uncomfortable.

But, certainly there were a couple plays here and there where if you could have them back, you wish you could do them over again.”

Cousins spoke about what he learned from the late game, pressure situation he faced against the Eagles: “I think more than anything it just takes good preparation, good attention to detail and just having a good understanding of where guys are going to be and where you need to be and the timing of plays.

Like I said, I haven’t gone through that experience now. Now I’ve been there before and get a better understanding of plays, coverages, protections, fronts, pocket movements – all the stuff that makes up a great quarterback.”

Cousins would like to have any of his three incompletions on the Redskins’ final drive back: “I think all three just because all three of them probably could have put us in field goal range and probably would have been able to move the chains. All three in different ways frustrate you and make you say, ‘Ah, I missed it.’

The key now going forward is to learn from it, prepare very hard, hammer the details so that when you get into those situations again, you get the result you want.”

Cousins thinks his experience facing the Giants late last season will help him Thursday night. “I think it gives us confidence, gives me good experience that is very valuable. I keep going back to the experience I gained this past week and how it’ll help me going forward, having played the last three games last year is a very similar theme. The experience is going to help.

Is it going to make all the difference? I don’t know. It definitely will give me confidence, and hopefully it can help us get a win.”

Cousins discussed his comfort level with Gruden’s offense: “Yeah, I think part of a comfort zone or what makes you at ease is if you’ve done it before. You’ve been there. It’s familiar. The fact that there was a lot of carryover in our run game and in our pass game from the last system to this system right off the bat gives us a familiarity and a comfort level with what Jay [Gruden] wants.

Now, as I said through training camp, the changes that Jay has made have I think been for the better. They’ve been good changes. So while I may have to do something a little differently or make an adjustment, you can see why it’s a good adjustment – it’s going to make us better.

So, I’m still picking up every week learning what he wants, and that’ll continue as long as I play for him. But, the longer we work together, the better we’re going to get, and the more we’re going to find ourselves on the same page.”

Cousins was asked about the adjustments Gruden has made in his offense: “I think when you look at protections, I think he has some good ideas with protections and being able to pick up different pressures.

And [you] always give yourself a chance then to get the first down or get the big play.”

Cousins was asked to differentiate whether there were more or less options on third-and-short than previous offenses he played under: “I’d say that it’s only been three weeks, so it’s not a lot of body of work to be able to say if we are more variable on third down and short than we were in the past.

I think that Jay is an outstanding play-caller and he does a really good job of keeping defenses on their toes and always giving me as a quarterback and us as an offense a chance to be successful.

Hopefully that is going to show itself in having a lot of variety on third-and-short, but at the same time a lot of the teams who are very vanilla on third down, hey, if you can just line up and everyone knows where it is going and still get the first down, those are usually the best teams.

It is when you have to get all creative and wacky on third down that you’re probably saying that you don’t have the personnel to move the chains. So being vanilla isn’t the worst thing as long as you are moving the chains.”

Cousins was asked if he was comfortable enough as a quarterback to express himself as a team leader: “That’s a great question. It is a tough dynamic to fully answer. I think that as a quarterback, if there is any doubt in the other 10 guys in the huddle looking at me that ‘Can this guy get it done for us? Can he move the ball?’ then I have already failed.

So when I say that this is Robert’s team, I do not mean that I can’t step in and have an authority and make sure we move the football. But I won’t change my statement that this is Robert’s team, I still stand by that.

I think that he was drafted high for a reason. He’s had success here, he’s done a lot of good things and he has done nothing to have that be any different.

So this is his team and it’s my job as a backup on this team to hopefully when he comes back, give him a team with a good record and put him in a good spot to have success down the stretch.

By no means does that say that I can’t go in there as a backup and hopefully get the job done.”

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin discussed preparing for Cousins: “Five-hundred yards and 45 points in two games, I mean he certainly is playing well and you have to give the coaching staff great credit for the midfield adjust, midstream adjust that they’ve had to go through as you go from one quarterback to the next. But obviously, they’re playing well.”

Asked which Redskins quarterback was more difficult to plan for between Cousins and Robert Griffin III, Coughlin said, “Both of them are outstanding players and difficult to prepare for.”

Giants offense

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden talked about Thursday night’s matchup against the New York Giants: “Anytime you play against Eli [Manning], you’re going to have yourself a battle. Victor Cruz, they got a very good offense there.

They’re introducing a new offensive scheme and usually that takes a little bit of time and you can see that they’re progressing at a pretty good clip right now. They started out a little bit slow in the preseason and now they’re starting to get familiar with the terminology, the hand signals and all that and they’re starting to gain confidence and momentum, which isn’t a good sign for the other teams.

New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz discussed their transition at offensive coordinator from Kevin Gilbride to Ben McAdoo: “I feel good about it.  As anything, when you’re learning something new, it’s a work in progress. It’s about getting your bearings, getting comfortable as you go through the offense and things like that.

I think we’re hitting the point where we’re right on point, right on target with what we want to accomplish. We’ve just got to continue to put one foot in front of the other and get these victories under our belt to continue in the right direction.

But, I think we’re comfortable and obviously that win against Houston, hopefully it propels us in the right direction.”

Cruz talked about quarterback Eli Manning’s adjustment to McAdoo’s system: “I think the more and more practice time he gets, the more and more he sees the defenses and sees it on film and gets the live action, I think he’s getting more and more comfortable with this offense and feeling really good about what he can do.

Obviously it’s been a work in progress the first couple of weeks, but I think he’s getting his bearings and he’s getting confident now.”

Cruz spoke about how the Redskins’ loss of cornerback DeAngelo Hall would affect the Giants game plan: “I think it’s going to change a lot. I think he was such a stable guy that they revolved that style of defense around him being a ball-hawk and being so intuitive to where the quarterback is going to throw the football that he can really dictate the flow of the game.

I think losing him is a big blow. I hope he gets back as soon as possible with a speedy recovery. But that’s definitely a big blow for them.

We’ll see what changes but we’re going to prepare as if the guy that is coming in is going to play exactly like he does.”

Cruz talked about the potential matchup against Hall’s less-experienced replacement: “Obviously, that’s something that we look at and understand, but we need to stick to our keys and stick to our fundamentals and understand that guy — he’s got some talent as well. He wouldn’t be in the NFL if he didn’t have a little bit of talent.

But we have to understand that we need discipline and understand what we’re doing in order to compete and hopefully make some plays on him.”

Giants head coach Tom Coughlin discussed their newly found downhill running game with Rashad Jennings: “Well, it’s exciting. It was really exciting to see this come back to Giant football last weekend in terms of how the offensive line performed and how our tight ends and our fullbacks, etc., all contributed.

But, there were some outstanding effort runs by Rashad [Jennings] and that was something to see.”

On Jennings’s best attributes as a running back, Coughlin said, “To me, what I saw was a professional, a real professional who takes very good care of himself, the game is extremely important to him, very high priority, does all the things that he needs to do, takes care of his body very well, gets his rest, performs his training, his weight room training, etc. He catches the ball, he can pass protect, he obviously has had a very good game running the ball. So, this is what we thought we saw and we’re glad he is on our team.”

Cruz spoke about how Jennings’s running opens up the passing game, “It definitely loosens up a lot.  When he’s running the ball that way, you have no choice but to align an extra defender in the box to try to help out with the run. And that’s when play-action pass and things like that open up.

It definitely just helps the whole team, and I love blocking for a guy like Rashad, who runs hard, who runs physical. That’s something I don’t have a problem with and it’s something that definitely opens things up for other receivers.”

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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