Washington Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden - Conference Call with New Orleans Media - Thursday, October 4, 2018
Obviously it started with the injury to Derrius Guice, but why did you want to pursue 'AP' (Adrian Peterson) specifically?
"Well, he was a part of a workout. We'd entertained a lot of people after Derrius got hurt. We needed a running back and we weren't sure if we were going to go with a young guy or a backup thinking Samaje (Perine) would come back, or a veteran guy that we could possibly lean on. We brought a bunch of guys in, worked out some guys and Adrian was part of one of the workouts. And he looked far and away the best player there. He is in great physical shape and blew us away at the workout so we signed him."
Considering his short tenure here (with the Saints), is there any extra for him or is he a pro that just kind of goes along with it?
"Yeah. He's fine. He's a pro that goes along with it. He's played a lot of games in his career and I don't think he holds any grudges or any of that stuff. (It) Might be a little special for him, but I doubt it. He takes every game very seriously, prepares very well and plays physical against everybody he plays against."
What's been the most impressive thing about him so far?
"I think that production really. With age, people are always talking about the age of running backs. He missed time last year after he left you with an injury. At the workout, he looked big, fast and in great physical condition, but we weren't quite sure until we gave him the ball a few times and he looked pretty good to us. So the biggest surprise probably is his production right now. We weren't quite sure what we're going to get. But it's only a week three and we have a long way to go."
What has Derrius Guice been able to do with the team while he's rehabbing from his injuries? Is he around?
"No not really. He's around every now and then just rehabbing and all that stuff. He will sit in some meetings from time to time, (we will) get him on the sidelines on gameday. Just trying to get his knee right first of all. I think once he gets better and better, I think he'll be more a part of what we're doing."
If this game had been scheduled a week earlier, you'd only have to prepare for (Alvin) Kamara, but now you've got (Mark) Ingram too. How does that change the equation having to prepare for both of those guys?
"It changes a lot because Ingram is a heck of a player. Those two guys being in the game together, it's a tough deal. I think you know in between the tackle runs will be more prevalent now. The power running game is back up and running. The things that they haven't it done without Ingram they might do this week. Our job is to focus on what we do and do our job. Hopefully we will stand tall against a great offense.
Do you have to do any extra preparation for the possibility of (Drew) Brees breaking the passing record during the game like a game stoppage or anything like that? Does matter at all?
"No I just had a normal yesterday. So I'll talk about it with our team and let them know it's coming possibly, but we will address that when it comes."
What makes it so challenging to defend Mike Thomas?
"He runs routes from every location. He's in the slot, he's outside, he's a number one, he is a number three, he is a number two, and he can run all the routes from the slot and outside. He's a big physical guy and he gets great leverage, but the accuracy he gets the ball thrown to him is all on Drew (Brees). I'm not putting anything against (Mike) Thomas, but Drew does a good job of finding him and getting him great catchable balls. Even when he's covered, I think that's where Thomas separates himself from a lot of the average receivers is that he can catch the ball because Drew puts it in a great location whether it's back-shoulder or bottom left shoe. Wherever it might be, wherever the DB is not, Drew's going to put it (in the right place) and Mike does a great job with his body playing big or playing small. Whatever it may be to get the ball."
When you're watching (Drew) Brees play this year, how do you think that compares to years past? Has anything changed with him? What separates him from some of these other guys who put these numbers up?
"I think his ability to do it year in and year out. He has just done it for so long. He has not changed one bit. He is very good in the pocket, he can move in the pocket. Despite his stature, he stands very tall on his tip toes. He has great anticipation, unbelievable accuracy. It's the biggest thing. We can cover guys all across the board, but he'll find the window, he'll throw it back shoulder like I said. He'll move around to give the receiver or tight end or the back just the time that they need to get open. He puts it in tight windows, but I think the biggest thing is he sees coverage and those were the weaknesses of all coverages when you can find the guys."
Is there anything that you've learned about Alex Smith that you couldn't have known until you got him on your team?
"Yeah, I have learned everything about it him. I did not know him at all. I just knew him as a player and as a player he is very tough, competitive guy. He has had a lot of adversity in his career, but (he's been) very productive and won a lot of games. Statistically speaking, he may not be up there with the Drew Brees' of the world, but from a wins and losses perspective I think he's been pretty productive and that's what it's all about. I think his leadership skills you don't really get to see until you meet himm (they) are first class. His ability to adjust to different looks and different plays and pass rushes and all this stuff. (His ability of) Being able to move in the pocket is very, very good and all around (he's) just a pleasure to be around quite frankly. It's fun to come to work every day and throw some new plays and see how he handles them. He just loves a compete, loves to play, loves to be coached."
When you bring in a new quarterback to the offense, do you try to have the quarterback fit the offense you have or vice versa? Do you try to scheme towards his strengths?
"Yes, a little bit of both really. You have got to teach them some core concepts that you have known and have been productive with over the years, but also you need to branch out and what they're good at. I think most coaches will do that and you see Sean Payton doing that with the quarterback they have, Taysom Hill, when he comes in the game they have different things for him. So if he was their starter, I think their offense would change a little bit, but they still (have) their core concepts in. We've tried to do that, implement some of things that he's been good at over the years in Kansas City and San Fran, but also teaching him our concepts that we feel good about versus certainly defenses and coverages."
How much of a luxury is it to have two running backs who have really different skill sets in (Chris) Thompson and (Adrian) Peterson?
"It's very similar to the Saints with (Alvin) Kamara and (Mark) Ingram. Very, very similar. We try to utilize both of them with their skillsets. We try to get Chris (Thompson) matched up against certain people where it's hard. It's hard for defenses because you want to play man coverage and somebody has to cover the back. You can't cover the back all the time. It's also possible once you drop a defense end or a defensive tackle or try to double him somehow or at least bang him on his release and that slows down the pass rush and opens it up for everybody else. That's something Green Bay tried to do a little bit last week. Last week Chris only had one catch, but it opened it up for Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis to make some plays. It's fun to have those guys and being with my brother (Jon Gruden) and watching Sean (Payton) over the years, I think that's a critical position to have in this type of offense."
When you're going out looking for a guy like Adrian Peterson, do you look at some of the stuff the Saints did with (Alvin) Kamara and (Mark) Ingram and see maybe try and incorporate some of that in?
"Oh yeah. You try to. You want to maintain your core concepts, but you're also looking to branch out a little bit. We've only played three games and the more we get comfortable and the more Adrian gets comfortable with our offense and terminology the more we might be able to do. We're in the early stages of the season right now and we'll be trying to branch out every week."
Is the Saints offense one of the ones that you study and pay attention to?
"Oh yeah, always. I have learned a lot from Sean and Drew over the years. Any young football coach, even when I went to Cincinnati as an offensive coordinator, one of the teaching points we used was from New Orleans because we have a lot of similar type concepts and plays and formations and all that stuff. I know Sean learned a little bit from my brother and we all kind of come from the same tree so to speak. So definitely a great teaching tool watching somebody run similar type concepts. Drew Brees and Sean Payton are better at it than anybody."
What do you remember about the game against the Saints last season?
"I remember we lost there. We had the lead and the biggest, miserable call was the third and one. We had a chance. All we had to do was get one first down and walk out of there with a big win, but they stopped us on third and one, we had to punt, and Drew (Brees) came back and took them right down the field, got the two-point conversion, and won in overtime. Third and one killed me and the overtime penalty that we had, the intentional grounding, which was the wrong call cost us quite a bit also. It's just a reminder of what he can do. No matter what your lead is against guys like him, Aaron Rodgers, and (Tom) Brady you've got to keep grinding, you have to keep working, have to keep working out keep scoring. It is very, very important to keep that mindset."