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Washington Redskins conference calls

Audio and transcripts from head coach Jay Gruden and quarterback Kirk Cousins' conference calls with local media

Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Were you surprised you were able to sign Dustin Hopkins after training camp?

"Yeah he has done well. We weren't surprised. We liked Kai (Forbath) a lot, he did a lot of great things for us, but we were working out some kickers just to get our list ready in case something happened to our kicker or punter and he did such an outstanding job we decided to go with him. We were looking for someone with a little bit stronger leg for the kickoff part of it. Kai is an accurate kicker and we all know that, but I think as an all-around kicker, we were looking for a little bit more strength in the leg and Hopkins really did an excellent job at the workout and we decided to make a move and he has been very impressive throughout the season so far."

Could you see Junior Galette being with the team past this season?

"Yeah we got Junior he came into training camp and was outstanding for us. (He) Really got our hearts pumping (and) we were really fired up to get him. He does some great things and was excellent as far as off the field and coming on time to meetings. We did not have any issues with him whatsoever, we were excited and then he blew his Achilles. We obviously would love to get him back if we can."

Regarding your red zone defense are there certain points of emphasis that make you better in that area?

"Yeah there is no question. The number one objective is to force them into field goals obviously and try to get a turnover if you can, but the big thing is keeping them out of the paint and it has been a stress of ours throughout training camp and we've down more red zone periods and drills. We are getting better at it and working extremely hard at it and it's been a focal point from Joe Barry since he came here and we have down a good job in that regard."

What do you see in the Saints defense?

"It's surprising they are really good on third down and that id one of the most important statistics on defense other than taking the ball away. Third down percentage and red zone percentage are low. They play some high scoring games and their offense scores rather quickly so it puts the defense on the field quite a bit from a statistical standpoint. They have some young players. The young middle linebacker (Stephone Anthony) who's stepped right into the lineup and done some good things and the secondary they have had a couple injuries, but they are working together even though they have had injuries very similar to us. We are trying to find our identity and trying to get the same people in the lineup one week to the next. Just so you can get some cohesiveness back there and I think that they are fighting through the same thing, but you can see that Rob (Ryan) does an excellent job, you can see the scheme. Their third down scheme is odd packaged and he's got a couple blitz packages and changes up man and zone. Does a very good job of confusing quarterbacks and that's why they are good on third down."* *

How much of a concern is CJ Spiller for you?

"He's obviously (a threat) knowing him in Buffalo and how explosive he was. You have to know where he is all the time. In the backfield he caught the wheel route for a touchdown to win the game not too long ago. He can catch the ball in the backfield so he's a threat and a guy you have to have your eye on. (I) Just came out of a game against Dion Lewis (of the Patriots) and he came in on third down and did some good things till he got hurt. All those guys as a defense have to know where he is and you have to take good angles on him or he will make big plays in the passing game."

Do the Saints being a heavily penalized secondary play into the offensive game plan?

"We are going to play our style and we would love to take some shots and that's something we have been trying to stress. We haven't had enough shot plays. I think we have had one play for 40 yards or more. We have to try and take them if we can, but when they have (Jairus) Byrd back there in centerfield. He does a good job of covering ground and (Brandon) Browner is very long and does an excellent good of making sure they don't give up the big play. Sometimes it's hard, but we have to take what the defense gives us and let DeSean (Jackson), Pierre (Garcon), Jamison Crowder and (Jordan) Reed go get and a lot of times you throw it up and they go get it. It's either an incomplete pass or our receivers have a chance to get it since they are so athletic, with ball skills or get a pass interference penalty. Kirk (Cousins) has to trust the fact that it's a good situation for us if he gives them an opportunity, but you also have to be aware of where Byrd is because he does a great job of covering ground."

Washington Redskins Quarterback Kirk Cousins
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Having a chance to start every game for the first time in your career, does that help develop a rhythm and familiarity with the offense?

"Yes, it helps tremendously and it is making me a much better quarterback who is able to go through his reads much more consistently and decisively. I feel like I am getting better every single week."

When you look at the Saints defense, obviously, many teams have put up big numbers against them; what do you see as some of the positives and some of the things that they're struggling with?

"I think they have some guys that can play. Sometimes things can just be unfortunate, whether it's penalties, a guy gets behind the coverage or whatever it might be, where it's not necessarily talent but an unfortunate break or great play by the other team. I think they have got talent and they have got guys that have been around the league and have experience. We are going to need to have a great week of work and preparation. We are going to need to be able to create separation on the outside, win our matchups, get the ball out of my hand and stay in positive plays."

How about their defense in the red zone (where) they have had some difficulties; what have you seen from their defense in that area of the field?

"Well, frankly we don't get into the red zone until Thursday night in our preparation. That is really Thursday night and Friday where we really hit that heavily so I don't have a great knowledge of their red zone defense at this point yet."

You have mentioned penalties when talking about the Saints defense; does that factor in when you're in your offensive meetings, where they may be vulnerable in that area?

"I think more than that is that if you're getting a lot of penalties then your technique is very physical. Even when you're not being penalized within the rules of the game, you may be a very physical defensive back. That can disrupt wide receivers and that can be a very positive thing as a defensive back. If you can be physical and get guys off of their timing, off of their depth and their routes (that is a positive for a defensive back). I think the emphasis more than just the fact that they have been penalized is that we have to be disciplined in our routes, in our depth and our timing, because they are going to try to disrupt that and be physical. We can't allow them to throw us off our routes so much that it becomes difficult to execute. That's where I think we are emphasizing things."

What have been some of the key elements in keeping you from getting sacked much this season?

"It's a combination of great protection, the five guys up front knowing where they're going and not allowing free rushers, and then when they do engage, to sustain in protection, anchor and be solid. They have done a phenomenal job of that. Also, I cannot hold onto the ball forever. I have to get the ball out of my hands, find completions, find the open guy and do that as quickly as possible. When you have protections (identified) properly and your offensive line is winning their one on one blocks, and then when you can get the ball out of your hand quickly as a quarterback, it all combines to provide not many sacks. The important thing is while we do not want sacks, we also do not want interceptions. We don't want incompletions and we want to convert third downs. Sometimes, your best chance of converting third downs consistently or avoiding interceptions is to hold onto the ball a tick longer and potentially taking a sack, in order to make sure you're not throwing it in the wrong window, throwing it incomplete and then having to punt. It's a fine line where you don't want to take sacks, but you also know that they may be the only or best option on a play, depending on what happens. We will continue to grow in that area. We're pleased with where we are with sacks because sacks can kill drives just like other mistakes can."

Drew Brees has had a couple of really good games these past few weeks and they have put up a lot of points offensively; do you anticipate maybe getting into a shootout? What are the challenges of going up against a hot quarterback?

"Fortunately, it's not my job to worry about what their offense can do. They have been very good and have done it for a long time. I think you have to do whatever situation the game dictates. Last week we got behind and had to get into more of a two-minute hurry-up offense. In other games, we are in the game, we are able to run our base stuff, run the football and have a good time of possession. Each game calls for their own situation but certainly, there is less room for error as an offense when you are going against an offense that puts points up quickly. That's just all the more reason to stay focused this week in our preparation and be on the details, so that we're able to execute and stay out on the field."

The Saints and Redskins kind of switched kickers this year with Kai Forbath with the Saints and Dustin Hopkins with the Redskins; has Dustin's consistency been a pleasant surprise since he has been over there?

"He's done a very good job in the field goal and extra point game, (as well as) with the kickoffs. We had an onside kick against the Buccaneers that was big. He has done a very good job. It is part of the NFL in the way that we have players that have to step up, come in midyear and contribute. (These are) guys that you meet on Thursday and they start for you on Sunday. That is kind of how this league works. We have another guy in Brian de la Puente who is new to the team and had played for the Saints for several years. It is a unique part of the way this league works, but guys have stepped up and that has been a huge thing."

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