Redskins training camp interviews part 3: Jay Gruden

                In part 3 of the training camp interview series, I passed a long a question to Adam to ask the Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden. Gruden begins his fourth season as the head man of this franchise.  In his first three seasons, Coach Gruden has lead the team to a record of 21-26-1 with one division title, a playoff loss to the Packers and two straight winning seasons. Over his tenure, Gruden has gotten this team to play at a higher level than they have played in recent years. Cough*Shanahan & Zorn Era*cough cough. In this season, Gruden has a new Defensive Coordinator for the second time in the last three years, and third coordinator over his tenure. Greg manuskyManusky has been promoted to Defensive Coordinator after being LB coach for the last few years. For the first time since he got here, Gruden will have a new Offensive Coordinator, in Matt Cavanaugh, after Sean McVay left to take over the HC position out in LA for the Rams. This team has changed so much under Gruden’s leadership, since Mike Shanahan lead this team.

 Do you feel confident with this year’s team on both sides of the ball with both coordinators being replaced and having to replace huge playmakers on the offensive side?

cavanaugh2

        “I think that’s what the offseason was for the new coaches to get acclimated to how we do things, how we practice, how we prepare, acclimated to the system and meetings with the coordinators and all that good stuff. I feel good that all the coaches are up to speed and confident in what they can do. We have a great staff, great new additions I feel good about, now it’s just a matter of getting the most out of the players, and that’s our job as coaches.”

 

     In the final installment of this series, the focus will be on one of the new members of the secondary in DJ Swearinger the tenacious, hard hitting 5th year full safety out of South Carolina who was with the Cardinals last year.dj

Redskins training camp interviews part 2: Terrelle Pryor Sr.

                In part 2 of my interview series, my spotlight is on the new Wide Receiver for the Redskins, Terrelle Pryor Sr. Pryor came into the league, as a QB out of Ohio State, in the third round of the supplemental draft when the Oakland Raiders picked him. He would spend three years in Oakland, where he would pass for only 9 TD’s and 12 INT’s. After his time with the Raiders, he would go on to be on the Seahawks, Chiefs, and Bengals, before converting to wide receiver for the Browns. In his first full season as a WR, Pryor would catch 77 passes for 1,007 yards and 4 TD’s. If he could put up a 1000-yard season with as many QB’s as the Browns went through, imagine what he could do with a Pro Bowl QB who is secured in the starting position.

             pryor

   What went into deciding to leave Cleveland and come to Washington?

           “Jay, funny, funny as hell. And that’s from being around his brother Jon, but I just knew, I was with Andrew Hawkins in Cleveland and all he did was rave about Coach Jay Gruden. And then you meet some [people], I had a couple Redskins buddies that I had on the team – not here now – that I talked to about him and they [were] like, ‘Man, Jay, he’s one of the best coaches I’ve played for.’ And now that I’m here, he’s up there in terms of mine. You know, I love talking to the guy. We talk a lot. I love… I just enjoy him. I enjoy being around him. I can’t wait to get to meetings to kirkterrellehear him talk because he’s just so funny. And, you know, you’re tired, your legs are tired, but it’s good to have a coach that’s amused and he’s a team’s and a player’s coach. You know, it’s a blessing to have a coach like that. In terms of Kirk, I just think he’s just an exceptional quarterback. I mean, there’s nothing much more to say. I mean, the guy, he’s been through some tough times as well. He sat a long time, really got to be able to view the game from a different perspective. To see him come out and the way he played, I was always a fan of him. I loved watching him play, even when he was playing for the Redskins. I just enjoyed watching him. So, I was like, ‘That’s the type of guy I want to be around, you know?’ And he does that crazy thing ‘You like that,’ but that’s that fire he has. And I want to be around a guy that has fire, a guy that’s a leader, a guy that wants guys to be accountable and wants to trust you, but you’ve got to earn his trust. I like guys like that. That’s why I like… I saw Kirk and from that standpoint, I wanted to join him and play with him.”

 

On playing for Cleveland and now playing for a team that is “set at quarterback”:

           “A lot of people ask me, ‘How was Cleveland?’ and ‘Did you enjoy Cleveland?’ I enjoyed Cleveland. I loved Cleveland, just from the standpoint of I loved playing football. It doesn’t matter where it’s at. It’s still a little kid’s dream. There’s no exception, just because you get to the NFL that you should down a team just because the team’s not very good or whatever or they don’t have many quarterbacks. But I enjoyed that. I tried to make the best out of the situation. I think they are going to be cousins2a good team over there. I don’t want to down them. They have a great organization, but at the same time, it’s good to play with a guy like Kirk, like I was just talking about. A guy that loves the game, a guy that has got fire, a guy that guys trust, a guy that guys look up to and want them to lead. It’s just different and when you have a guy set in place like that, there’s structure here. I can’t wait. It’s getting better and we’re getting timing down. We’re having a great time, a blast, having fun and talking a lot. I’m bothering him in meetings, sitting right beside me. So, it’s going to be a fun time.”

    In part 3 of the training camp series is the head man himself, Jay Gruden, and how he feels about this team going into the season with new coordinators.

Redskins training camp interviews Part 1: Kirk Cousins

           During training camp for the Washington Redskins in Richmond, I passed along questions for certain players to Adam Winkler, a reporter for WTKR in Norfolk Virginia. I will be breaking the questions and answers into multiple posts separated by who the questions were for. This series includes Kirk Cousins, HC Jay Gruden, Terrelle Pryor Sr, and DJ Swearinger.

           The first in my training camp interview series is “Captain Kirk” himself. Looking back at his season last year, Cousins completed 67% of his passes for 4917 cousins2yards, 25 TD’s and 12 INT’s, which culminated in an appearance in the Pro Bowl. So, the expectations are high for the 5th year QB out of Michigan St, and the whole team. Especially since the team has back to back winning seasons for the first time in over ten years.

 

Do you see any differences so far from throwing to crowderGarçon and Jackson last year to throwing to Pryor, crowder and everyone else.

              “Height is an advantage if you can use it to your advantage, I guess. You know, you’ve got to be able to put the ball in the right spot where your guy can catch it, and he’s got to be able to adjust to the football and make those tough catches at a high point. So, that’s what the reps in practice are all about is developing that rapport and learning how to do that very consistently against tight coverage. But, it certainly can be used to our advantage if we get better at it, and well see, you know, if we can do that over the next six weeks.”

 Do you feel like you and the offense are in a good place for this season with new weapons at your disposal, having Jackson and garcon leaving in free agency and having a new coordinator in place?

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              “Turnover is a part of this league. I think about eight out of 32 head coaches get let go every year and players are constantly changing so you’re going to have a lot of attrition. We’ve been fortunate to have some continuity, but this year we do have some changes so we’re going to show, hopefully, that we’re a mature football team and that we handle those changes well and we’re able to keep moving forward in the right direction. I feel good about where we are in terms of talent that’s there on the field and I feel good about Jay calling plays and running this offense. So, there’s enough firepower there and there’s enough people in place that we just have to fine-tune and all get on the same page and use this time — these next six weeks behind the scenes — to build that so that come Week 1, we’re a well-oiled machine and ready to go.”

gruden cavanaugh

 

             In the next piece, I will be showing the interview with the new WR for the Redskins, Terrelle Pryor Sr, and what it’s like to play on team with a stable QB situation compared to the revolving door in Cleveland and what went into his decision to come to DC.

The importance of this next season

           This upcoming NFL season is a big one for the Washington Redskins’ organization.  Why, you might ask. Well, looking back in the history of this crazy franchise, the last time they had back to back winning years was ’96 and ’97 where the team also went cousinsa combined 17-14-1. Which is just cuckoo to think that it has been 20 years since they last had back to back winning years, but you have to look even farther back to see when they had 3 straight winning years. The last time they had 3 straight winning years was back from the ’90 to ’92 season where they went a combined 33-15 with one Super Bowl win.

           This coming season will be a big one for the coaching staff and the players, because they have to prove grudenthat they can compete consistently. In this century, the Redskins have made the playoffs only 4 times with only one win coming back in ’05 under Joe
Gibbs. No coach has lasted long in D.C. under Snyder. The longest tenured coaches under this ownership are Joe Gibbs and Mike Shanahan, both coached 4 years with the team. Now Coach Gruden is about to start his 4th year at the helm joining those two. This coaching staff needs to prove that they can lead this team deep into the playoffs or they will be shown the door like so many coaches before them.gibbs

            Not only is this season important for the coaches, but it is also important to Kirk Cousins. As many know, the Redskins franchise tagged him for a second straight year.  The starting QB must prove that he is worth a big payday with smart football next year and help lead the team to the playoffs again but also must lead them deep. He also has to be careful with the ball especially in big time moments. Kirk has the talent to lead this team, but can he harness it and be the elite QB after showing a few flashes of brilliance.

           The biggest part of the team that needs a good year would be the defense as a whole. This year the team is on their 3rd defensive coordinator in the last 8 years. The best year this defense had in that time period would be 2011 when they ranked 13th in the league at 339.8 ypg.  Every other year since 2010 the teams defense has been toward the bottom of the league.

Year       Defensive            Avg ypg

                         Rank                       Allowed

2016       28th                         357

2015       28th                         381

2014       19th                         357

2013       17th                         354

2012       28th                         378

2011       13th                         340

2010       31st                         389

 

          The offense has had to keep the team in the game the last few years, thanks to the defense’s poor performance. The last two years for the offense they have been ranked 3rd this past year at 403.4 ypg and in 2015 they were ranked 17th with 353.8 ypg.

          No matter what, this team faces one of the biggest years that they will ever face. If this team has another losing season, many people will be out of a job, and then the team will be rebuilding once again and fans will not come to the game.  In the game against the Chiefs a few years ago under Shanahan less than half of the stadium was filled. They must find the formula to winning consistently, or they will lose more fans and lose support and the most important thing, money.