November 19, 2019

Washington Redskins Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins discuss matchup with Seahawks

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden was asked if anything worried him the most about the vaunted Seattle Seahawks defense: “No – that’s what concerns you the most is that they’re very good everywhere.

They’re averaging giving up 2.8 yards a carry, I think. You’d think with such a great pass defense, ‘Heck, let’s run the ball.’ But, teams are only averaging 2.8 yards a clip. We had a 500-play cutup on them on their run game, and 350 of them were two yards or less. So they do a great job in the run game.

And then obviously when you have to throw it, their corners are excellent, their safeties are excellent and then their pass rush is outstanding.

So, they don’t have a weak player, a weak link on their defense. We just have to go out and run our offense, try to be more physical and do what we do. Our guys are just going to have to play a little better and a lot better for us to have a chance.”

Gruden discussed how to stop running back Marshawn Lynch: “You have to go about it by bringing your whole body of work with you. Your pads – you’ve got to lower your pad level with him, you’ve got to bring your arms with you. If you try to tackle him on the side, he’ll run right through you.

But he is an angry runner and he is a violent runner and he loves contact. On the Monday night stage, he’s got a lot of energy – he’s got a week off, so he’s going to be fresh-legged – so it’s going to be important for us to gang tackle, wrap up and get him on the ground.

But he is a dynamic running back and he is an angry running back and a forced to be reckoned with, and to me, obviously Russell is very good with managing the game, but he [Lynch] is the heartbeat of that offense.”

Quarterback Kirk Cousins talked about what he has to do to be successful against the Seahawks defense: “Well, I think it’s a lot of the same themes that happen in every game – whether you’re playing an outstanding defense like Seattle or a defense that’s middle-of-the-road, you’re going to have to do the same things, which is protect the football, stay ahead of the chains, stay out of third-and-long. All the things that affect a normal game are going to affect it when you play a top opponent like Seattle.”

Seahawks secondary

Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden discussed playcalling to avoid Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman: “They’ve got two very good corners. I think [Byron] Maxwell is playing excellent, too. And then the safeties are doing a good job.

They have good underneath help, sometimes, so [Richard] Sherman can slough back a little bit and play the deep ball. Sometimes when they want to play bump and run, man-to-man, he can get up and jam people and go a great job.

He’s obviously a great corner, but we feel like we have good receivers and we have to go out and challenge whoever the corner is. That’s why we went out and got DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon and Andre Roberts. So hopefully those guys will be up to the challenge.

They definitely have to step up their routes, their route discipline coming in and out of breaks, and the quarterback has to do a great job with the accuracy and anticipation for us to have a chance. We’re not going to shy away from anybody, but obviously we know both corners are very good.”

Quarterback Kirk Cousins talked about his decision-making process surveying the field being aware of Sherman’s presence: “We have our rules, we have our coverages that are kind of ignoring personnel. You’re just going to play by your rules, ‘All things being equal, here is how you play the game.’

Certainly personnel then is another element that factors into your decision-making as a quarterback, your play calling as a coach, where you’re going to put guys on the field and try to give guys a chance to be successful – understanding the personnel that we have and the personnel that they have in different spots. That’s the chess match, that’s the game.

He [Richard Sherman] is a great corner. We have a lot of respect for him.  There’s a reason he signed a great contract and has a lot of success and a Super Bowl ring.  So, he’s a guy to be aware of on the field, but at the same time you don’t want to be letting it affect you too much. That’s a balance you have got to find.”

Cousins stressed the need to avoid leading the Redskins receivers into big hits by the Seahawks’ safeties: “I think putting a receiver in a bad spot, period, whether you’re a hard hitter or not, you’re putting a guy in a tough spot.

This week these guys have certainly done a great job of reading quarterbacks’ eyes and breaking on the ball very, very quickly and playing at a high tempo.

I’m definitely going to want to be smart, throw to the open guy, and make good decisions. If I do that we’ll have much of a better chance of winning the game.”

Russell Wilson

Washington Redskins head coach was full of praise for Seattle Seahawks quareterback Russell Wilson: “He’s a very good decision maker, you can see that. Even when plays breakdown and he’s out of the pocket, he’s very protective with the ball.

He manages the game like a pro, like a veteran. He doesn’t make many mistakes, he’s accurate with the ball when he has to be and he plays their offense the way it’s supposed to be.

He doesn’t turn the ball over and their defense gets turnovers, and that’s the big difference in their team. That’s why they’re 2-1, they’re Super Bowl champs. They create turnovers on defense and they don’t turn the ball over on offense.

That starts with the quarterback making good, sound decisions, and he plays like a 10-year vet, that’s for sure.”

Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins recalled facing off against Wilson in his college and NFL career: “I actually went against him three times. Played him twice my senior year – the game that ended in the Hail Mary, which we were fortunate to come out with the win, and then the Big Ten Championship game, which actually they got the better of us in that one. And if I could, I’d do it over again and I’d rather switch it and be able to go to the Rose Bowl and win that championship game. And then the playoff game, yeah.

So played him three times, at least first person, and he is very talented, just a special player. And he is one of those guys – I told him when I saw him in the offseason after our rookie year, I said, ‘You make me nervous. When I am standing on the sideline and the ball is in your hand you make me nervous because I never know what the next play is going to be.’”

Cousins’s first matchup against Wilson was the famous Hail Mary replay game between Michigan State and Wisconsin: “The Hail Mary game I just remember a back and forth game. They got the lead early then we came back, stormed back with some good plays and then they came back late in the game, Russell made a bunch of plays. Then we got the ball with a couple minutes left and went down the field, got it to midfield, then had to throw that Hail Mary. So it was a back and forth battle of two really good football teams. It showed itself again in the Big Ten Championship game, two really good football teams.

In the playoff game I just remember we got ahead early, had a great start. FedExField was rocking and then they just kind of steadily kept marching back and stayed in it and then took the lead. It is one of those games that didn’t sit well with it because of how close we felt like we were to winning a playoff game.

But they are a great football team and they have shown why ever since then with all the success that they have had.”

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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