Redskins Coach Jay Gruden on Jake Locker: "He's a Young, Promising Quarterback"

gruden600-101514.jpg


REDSKINS HEAD COACH JAY GRUDEN

(on preparing for this week's game)

It's going. Just getting started. We did all the preparation Monday and Tuesday, and players just came in today. We've got to get them ready.

gruden200-101514.jpg

(on why Kirk Cousins is throwing interceptions)

I don't know. If I knew, I wouldn't call those pass plays. They've come in bunches. He threw, I think, three or four against the Giants, all in the fourth, and he threw three here against Arizona, all in the fourth. Fourth quarters haven't been very good us. Those are the most important time for us to make plays and get the win. I don't know if he's forcing them too much, just maybe hesitating on a couple of them. Sometimes you force them, sometimes you just miss the throws. Outside, he should be throwing them inside or throwing them low and inside, he throws them high and outside. Some of it's accuracy issue, some it's footwork issue, some of them are just not believing in what he's seeing, and some of them are forced.

(on Kirk Cousins' development and mentality as a quarterback)

He's a great kid. He wants to do well. The problem was a kid here in the off season, and obviously this was Robert (Griffin III's) team, and we did everything we could to get him ready. Kirk (Cousins) and Colt (McCoy), they get many reps in training camp and in the first couple of weeks of the regular season other than the scraps here and there. All of a sudden he's forced into action and played pretty well against Jacksonville and played pretty well against Philly, even though we lost that one. Now he's starting to see a lot of different things, a lot of different deep passes, having to handle the pocket, having to handle fourth-quarter comebacks, third-down efficiency, manage games and all that. We just haven't done a very good job of that with him as coaches, and he hasn't done a very good job of third downs and turning the ball over. It's experience for him. He's gaining valuable, valuable experience, but he's got to do a better job. No question, we've got to do a better job of keeping him close where we cannot make him one-dimensional.

(on Kirk Cousins being hesitant to throw deep passes when he is susceptible to throwing interceptions)

I think we can control the gun shyness, I would hope, with the play call. We've got to do a better job of that. I hope not. Quarterbacks have to have thick skin. It's the toughest position in pro sports, and if you start to become gun shy, you start to doubt yourself as a quarterback and what you're doing and what you're reading with your progressions, then you have no chance. We've just got to make sure that the pass, you've got to learn from them. Obviously, you've got to continue to work on your footwork, on your decision making, make sure you see throws and make sure you're accurate with the throws and put them in places where only we can get them, not the defense can get them. He's a tough kid, but he's put a lot of pressure on himself. He wants to do well, and hopefully he won't be gun shy.

(on Robert Griffin III's progress)

I don't know. That's up to the trainers and doctors, really. I have no say in that. I just go down there and watch him down in the training room doing squats or whatever the heck he's doing and say hello. We're going to slowly start him out in practice in individual drills here and there. The trainers will let me know OK, he can do team, he can do this, he can do that. I wish I could give you more on that from a doctor's perspective, but I have no idea when he's going to be allowed to enter the team drill part of it, but I think he'll start throwing to the receivers starting today.

(on interviewing at Tennessee before taking the job at Washington)

It was a good visit. I liked Nashville. I actually lived in Nashville for a year. I coached for the Nashville Kats in 1997, and we lived in Franklin, Tennessee, and really enjoyed it. I worked for Eddie Khayat there for the Kats and Mark Bloom, and we had a good time. We put that team together there on the fly, and I really liked Nashville and Franklin, Tennessee. I had a good visit. I was very interested in the job, but Washington called me I guess the night after the interview, had me fly up here, and they offered me the job right away. I really like Nashville, and it was fun.

(on his thoughts on Ken Whisenhunt)

I think he's a great football coach. They definitely made a good choice there, no question about it. He did a great job there in San Diego last year. He beat us when I was in Cincinnati. He does a great job with the quarterbacks. He's a tough critic, he comes in and he takes these teams over and there are some issues you have to deal with. We both have good players. I know he thinks he can be competitive right away, as do I, but things haven't gone right for us. We're 1-5. I think there's a lot more we can improve on. We can do a lot better job coaching. That's a tough situation, but we're both willing to get through this and try to be here for the long haul if we can.

(on being an arena league coach preparing him to be an NFL coach)

It's completely different, but one thing that helped, it helps you lead people and try to get them to buy in to what you're doing and motivating men to play hard. You have to handle salary caps, you have to handle off-the-field issues. You have to handle getting people in the right spot, get them up, getting them to meetings, getting them on the flight, all that good stuff. Dealing with a lot of adversity, but as far as X's and O's are concerned, it doesn't transfer one bit. I learned all that, I worked for my brother for seven years at Tampa Bay, and obviously worked for Coach (Lon) Hazlet in the AFL for a year or two, for a year and was the head coach there then worked with Marvin Lewis for three years and learned a ton there. All those experiences led me up to this point where I feel like I'm ready. We just haven't really produced. It doesn't look like I'm ready right now, but we're working on it

(on if being a head coach in the NFL has been what he expected)

I think the toughest thing being an offensive coordinator from being a head coach is as offensive coordinator, you're strictly looking at the opponent's defense. You can really come together, put a plan together, you feel like you have time, you're working on the cards, you feel like you've got a good feel for your job, and that's all you have to worry about. As an offensive coordinator, I'm putting this package in, I'm putting this in, and I'm calling these plays and have at it. Now you have to watch the special teams tape. You have to watch, obviously, the other side of the ball, and you have to deal with the practice squad players, the players, all the players' issues that come up, late for meetings, late for treatment, whatever it might be, the media, all that good stuff. There's a lot more on your plate as a head coach, obviously, and I knew that coming in. To this extent, that's probably the biggest challenge for me, anyway.

(on if he thought he would become the Titans head coach)

No, I didn't get an offer. I flew out that night, and I didn't get a chance to talk any dollar figures. I knew he had a lot of other interviews. He was going to take three or four or five more interviews and go through his due diligence. I don't think he was ready to jump the gun on a candidate right away. He wanted to make sure he hired the right guy and got to visit with a lot of different candidates, which he should have done. I just so happened that Washington had already been through a few interviews and gave me an offer. No regrets whatsoever on either side, I'm sure.

(on the Titans franchise and its personnel)

You always want to study. The first position you want to study is the quarterback. You've got Jake Locker, he's a young, promising quarterback, tough, great competitor. I did him coming out early, studying him, because we were in the market for a quarterback that year. We liked Jake, and he was one our guys that we were thinking about drafting there in the second round, but he was already gone. You like to start there, have a good quarterback. The offensive linemen need a little bit of work, but they answered the bell there by drafting the tackle from Michigan and getting (Chance) Warmack and Michael Oher and doing a pretty good job of revamping that offensive line. They're doing a good job defensively, felt like they could compete with (Derrick) Morgan and all the guys that they have, especially (Jurrell) Casey, who's a wrecking ball in there. They have players in place that can compete, it's just a matter of adding pieces to the puzzle via free agency, via the draft, to make yourself competitive and making sure you spend money in the right place and keep the players in your building that are great people and great football players, and I think he's on the right track right now. It's not going to happen overnight, we all know that.

(on Jake Locker's tough luck with injuries)

The thing I like about Jake (Locker) is it looks like to me, just watching him on tape, I'm not there every day, so I can't tell, but it looks like he's done better every year as far as his accuracy's concerned, about his pocket. The injuries are an issue, same with Robert (Griffin III). They're just unfortunate. Both guys are tough guys, and you wouldn't think that they'd be injury-prone, but both of them have unfortunately sustained them. That's an issue. You've got to be able to stay healthy at that position at all costs. Hopefully moving forward for Robert and Jake, they're going to get healthy and stay healthy for a long time.

(on preventing guys from being injured)

There's nothing you can do. You can teach them how to slide and all that good stuff, but a lot of times they get hurt, like Robert (Griffin III) got hurt this year out of the pocket on a scramble that nobody touched him. I think Jake (Locker) hurt his thumb just throwing a pass and hitting somebody's helmet. Those are just fluky injuries that sometimes you feel snake-bit as a quarterback when those happen to you, but they do happen. Some guys are more fortunate than others, they get to play for a long time without injuries. You can't over-coach the fact that, 'hey, don't get hurt.' That's football. People are going to get hurt every game. It's just a matter of when you have the opportunity to get down and get out of harm's way, you've got to do that.

(on being patient as a head coach and blocking out the media)

I don't laugh it off. I look at some of it. I try not to read everything. People are starting to comment, and deservedly so, we're 1-5. When you're 1-5, the first target is the head coach. That's something that you have to expect when you get hired, and that's something that you have to deal with. I'm going to continue doing what I'm doing. I'm going to try to make some necessary change in what I'm doing to make us turn this thing around, and hopefully the players are willing to change in the needed areas and just going to go about it the way I want to go about it. I'm not going to let anybody dictate how I'm going to coach this football team, but I am aware of it. I use it as motivation moving forward and just got to get this thing turned around, otherwise there will be a lot more articles.

(on stepping out of his brother's shadow as a coach)

I'll always been Jon Gruden's little brother. He's made a great mark for himself, both as a coach and obviously as an announcer. He can be a head coach probably whenever he wants to be, if he ever wanted that. I learned everything I know about football starting from him. Came right off his tree. I'm a branch right on his tree. I owe everything to him. I don't mind being his little brother and learning from him, and I still talk to him quite a bit. He helps me get through some tough times, motivationally he has some things to say. He's got his job, and I've got mine now, but I'm very proud of what he's done.

(on the connection between Kirk Cousins and DeSean Jackson)

DeSean (Jackson's) a big-play guy waiting to happen. We've just got to get him involved a little bit more maybe, same with Pierre (Garcon). The issue we have is these guys are all very exciting. We get Jordan Reed back last week. He had nine catches, I think. You've got Pierre, you've got Niles Paul, you've got DeSean, Andre Roberts. Very, very good wide receiving core, but really when we're asking a young quarterback to throw the ball 35, 40 times a game, we're asking for a recipe for disaster, and we have to do a much better job in the running game. As exciting as DeSean is out in space, I think he's got to do a better job blocking, as does Jordan, as does our offensive line. Everybody has to do a better job of buying in to the running game, because it's going to be very important to take pressure off our young quarterback and move him forward for us to get this thing turned around. From a big-play standpoint, you've got to know where he is. If you sleep on them, they'll run right by you. He's a fun guy to have on a team.

(on Robert Griffin III's timetable for returning to the lineup)

We're just going to let him do individual drills, I believe this week, and the timetable is totally up to the doctors. I mentioned that earlier, and the trainers. I don't know. They're going to kind of see how he progresses in little drills here and there, and if the doctors say, do this with him, if they say move him into team drills, then we will. I'm totally at their beck and call. They're going to tell me what to do with him, and we'll do it. Robert (Griffin III's) got to be honest with us in how he's feeling and moving forward, but in the meantime, it's our job to get Kirk (Cousins) and Colt (McCoy) ready to go, and that's what we're doing.

Related Content

Advertising