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Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins on Cousins being named the starting quarterback ‘for 2015’

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Redskins Coach Jay Gruden told reporters after Monday morning’s practice that Kirk Cousins is the starter at quarterback for 2015.

“It’s Kirk’s team,” Gruden said.

[More on Cousins being named the starter]

Gruden said Cousins won the job more than Robert Griffin III lost it.

“I just think it’s not so much what somebody didn’t do,” Gruden said, “it’s just what Kirk has done and I think what he’s done in practice and OTAs has really opened our eyes, and he’s proven to be the best quarterback on our roster at this time, really. It’s a compliment to Kirk, not so much the other guys didn’t do this or didn’t do that. I just think Kirk has played so well that he has earned the right.”

“I’m going to do all I can to take this opportunity and run with it, and hopefully provide great quarterback play all season long,” Cousins said.

[Players take the shift in stride and hope the drama ends]

Below are transcripts of what both the coach and newly named starting quarterback said.

Jay Gruden:
Here are the coach’s comments to reporters this afternoon. Questions are in italics, and his answers follow.

Do you have any quarterback news for us?
We have announced that Kirk Cousins will be the starter for 2015 moving forward and I think all three quarterbacks should be commended for their efforts, their willingness to get better but when it’s all said and done after all the film that we’ve gone through, all the offseason activity, all the training camp footage, we feel like at this time that Kirk Cousins gives us the best chance to win and that’s where we’re going.

When you say 2015, does that mean barring …
It’s Kirk’s team.

When did this open back up, because obviously you guys announced at the combine that Robert’s going to be the starter and then through camp he took most of the reps with the ones. At what point in time did you and Bruce and Scot and Dan decide to open this thing back up?
I just think it’s not so much what somebody didn’t do, it’s just what Kirk has done and I think what he’s done in practice and OTAs has really opened our eyes, and he’s proven to be the best quarterback on our roster at this time, really. It’s a compliment to Kirk, not so much the other guys didn’t do this or didn’t do that. I just think Kirk has played so well that he has earned the right. And when we announced the starting group: the first-string offense, the first-string defense, there’s still competition there, you know, it’s linebacker, defensive back, it doesn’t matter. You still have to perform at a high level [to] keep your spot and if you’re a backup and if you perform at a high level, you have a chance to take a spot and that’s basically what happened. Kirk has done an outstanding job. Robert’s done some great things, no question. We have total faith in all three of them, but moving forward, with all the things that we’ve studied over the course of training camp and OTA’s, we just feel like Kirk has earned the right to be the starting quarterback for 2015.

Jay, the obvious question next, where does this leave Robert with you guys?
Robert’s on our football team and he’s a Washington Redskin. We believe in Robert, you know? It’s a good problem to have, to have three quarterbacks that are competing and working their butts off. I feel like all three of them are capable quarterbacks. Some people say, “when you have three, you don’t have one.” I disagree with that. We have three good quarterbacks that I feel good about. I just feel like Kirk right now gives us the best chance.

[Jets, Texans and Cowboys among possible landing spots for Griffin]

Jay, we’re not going to have a chance to talk with Mr. Snyder, so I’m wondering if you could share with us who was involved in reaching this decision, when it was reached and in particular, what Mr. Snyder’s stance was on this conclusion.
Mr. Snyder’s been nothing but supportive of this football team and everything we’re doing moving forward. We kind of tell him what we’re thinking, how we’re feeling and he’s all for it. Alls Mr. Snyder wants to do is win. That’s the bottom line. There’s a lot of things being said that he’s pullin’ for this guy or this guy or that guy. That’s never been the case here. He wants us to win football games. Scot McCloughan, myself, Bruce [Allen], we’re all on the same boat. Our job is to put the best 53 men out there – our starting group, our backup group – and that’s what we went with. But ultimately, as a football coach, it’s my call to say who starts and who doesn’t start. Basically, it’s my decision and I got the feedback from Bruce and Scot and we’re all together on it.

And did you make that decision yesterday?
It’s a decision that you don’t make in one day. It’s a process and it’s something that we’ve talked about and watched and seen how things are progressing and the game tape kind of verified what we’re thinking with Kirk. He’s done an excellent job. He had the interception against Baltimore unfortunately but he came back and had two touchdown drives. All throughout training camp we just feel like he’s the best one right now.

I guess, with that being said, why then did Robert take most of the first-team reps last week and why was the plan, I guess, for him to start Saturday night in Baltimore?
He was gonna start. He was the starting quarterback at the time. We were gonna bring Kirk in early in that football game and give him the chance with the ones. That was our plan and go from there but really, like I said before, Kirk has done everything in his power to be a supportive teammate number one. He’s never really done anything behind anybody’s back. He’s done everything right. He’s moved the ball when he’s in the football game. We just feel like he deserves the right. Who starts when and who does what has been insignificant. The fact is that, Kirk has earned the right.

Cousins steps up as Redskins upend Ravens

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 29: Washington Redskins wide receiver Andre Roberts (12) gains yardage after completing a pass as Baltimore Ravens cornerback Rashaan Melvin (38) loses his helmet in the first quarter during the game between the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday, August 29, 2015. (Toni L. Sandys/ The Washington Post)

Is Robert the backup now or is that still open?
Well, Robert’s still in the concussion protocol program.

So you haven’t made a determination on who is two and three yet?
A: When he gets out of that we’ll make a determination.

Are you surprised that it’s come to this? As good as Kirk has played we had a whole offseason for Robert to get better, so can you tell us – not sure we’ll get to talk to Robert – what his reaction was to the news and are you surprised that it’s come to this, a quarterbacking change?
I’m a little surprised but to be honest with you, Robert’s a pro. He’s a Washington Redskin and we have a lot of respect for what he’s accomplished here in 2012 and moving forward with the new offense. He’s done some great things here. Really, this is about Kirk doing an excellent job and winning the job, basically. Robert, I’m sure is disappointed, as I’m sure Colt’s disappointed. Colt’s done nothing wrong, either. He’s had a great preseason also. Like I said, when you have three good players, three tough-minded players, three great people as quarterbacks, it’s hard to pick. It’s my job as a coach to make that decision and that’s my decision and I feel good about it. I think our team feels good about it moving forward.

What is Robert’s future here and do you think that he will be on the roster next week?
Yeah, I do. Shoot, like I said, I have nothing against Robert. I like Robert as a quarterback, there’s no doubt about it. His future is with the Washington Redskins is what it is. There’s been no discussions about letting him go or doing any of that stuff. We’re gonna plan on playing with these three quarterbacks. Last year we used all three. Didn’t want to but we had to. I anticipate Kirk taking this job and running with it but his job, as the backup quarterback or third-string quarterback, whatever it is, is to get himself ready to play. The door is not shut on Robert Griffin. He’s a Washington Redskins player and he’s gotta come in and compete like everybody else.

Jay, do you feel like Robert will be a distraction at all as a backup quarterback or third-teamer given how high-profile of a player he is?
You know, it could be. I think that Kirk has been here long enough and everybody understands the dynamic that Robert brings. He’s a high-profile player and deservedly so. He’s done a lot of great things in his career. Moving forward, when you’re the starting quarterback, it’s your job to keep that job. You can’t let outside noise influence you as a football player. I think Kirk’s strong enough to handle it and I know that if there’s an incompletion or an interception there could be some chatter about “put Robert in” or what have you. But we’re not worried about that. We’re gonna support Kirk every way we can. Every player in this locker room, every coach is going to do what we can to get Kirk ready to play and succeed and not worry about the outside noise factor.

Coach, do you regret naming him the starter in the winter?
No. I didn’t want to come to every press conference and [answer] who was startin’. We put it to bed. We named Robert the starter. We gave him the first reps with the guys but when you do that, you still have to compete. There’s still competition. We just wanted to put all the distractions decide, play football, let these guys go out and compete and they did that and all three did some great things like I said. I’m confident with all three of them but I feel the best with Kirk and that’s where we’re going.

Over the years seeing this carousel, even before you got here, are there any circumstances with Kirk if he struggles at some point this year that you may look at Colt considering Colt has had some success in your offense as well?
They definitely have the heat on them. They’re good guys to have but we don’t anticipate – I try not to think about “What if Kirk does poorly?” “What if he gets injured?” We’re gonna do everything we can to surround Kirk the best way we can. [We’ve got] a good, strong running game, a good, strong defense, special teams and let him play. I don’t want him to go out there and every incompletion he’s going to be looking to see if the quarterbacks are warming up on the sideline. That’s not the case. This is his squad. I feel confident that he’s going to take it and do some great things.

Jay, a little housekeeping first. With this move, is Colt gonna play the whole game on Thursday?

And then secondly, Trent looked like he really wasn’t doing much today, and Matt Jones the same. What’s going on with them?
Trent was just held out today. Rest mostly. Matt Jones, same thing, rest, Akeem Davis was hamstring, Corey Crawford Achilles’, Jordan Campbell, shoulder. Those guys were held out today and Evan Spencer was held out. He’s in the concussion program.

Jay, I understand what you were saying, that Robert’s going to be a Redskin for the future. The extension …
Yeah, I’m not even going to get into the contract stuff, the extensions and all that stuff. Alls I’m worried about is this season, 2015, and playing our best guys and trying to win football games.

Last, I guess it was October, halftime against Tennessee, you put Kirk on the bench and didn’t see him the rest of the season despite a few other quarterback changes. What has happened since that moment, really, to convince you now to where you trust him with the team?
Progress. We talk about second year in the system and we talk about the comfort level for all three quarterbacks and we just feel like he’s taken the biggest step as far as comfort level in the system, making the progression from year one to year two. Obviously we’re disappointed that he had an opportunity to take it and he had some interception issues and all that stuff but we feel good about him moving forward. When you get in the second year in a system, there’s a comfort level. Certain quarterbacks take a giant leap. Certain quarterbacks don’t. But I feel like Kirk has taken a giant leap so far and we feel great about the progress that he’s made. I think all that that happened last year with all three quarterbacks has been a great learning experience for them. As a quarterback you have to be mentally tough and you have to understand there’s gonna be some tough times. You have to grow from it. We’re thinkin’ Kirk will grow from it.

Jay, just to be 100 percent clear, Robert didn’t lose his starting position because of injury, he lost it because of performance …
Correct. Correct. Well, it’s because of Kirk’s performance.

Obviously Robert is out, sort of indefinitely. It’s murky and he has a history of injury. Has there been any thought at all as to whether it’s worth looking into bringing a fourth quarterback or having some in the pipeline?
No. Not right now. Three’s plenty for me. (Laughs)

Can you share a little bit more about what the plan was on Saturday night, if Robert had been healthy, how you were going to split it up, whether it was going to start with Robert then go to Kirk and then go back to Robert or …
It doesn’t matter now. We had our plan in place but what happened happened and it’s unfortunate that there’s a lot of confusion there. That’s all in the past right now. We’re talking about moving forward and getting ready for Jacksonville Thursday, then Miami.

(On team’s excitement when Kirk moved the ball down the field Saturday vs. Baltimore)
Yeah, I think they were. Whatever happened. But the fact of the matter is Kirk produced there.  We struggled a little bit the first couple drives then we put a couple in the end zone against a very good Baltimore team, which is impressive to me. I think everybody responded. I think a lot of it, too, is responding from the last week’s first unit was so poor the week before. It’s nobody’s fault, it’s just altogether the offensive line protection wasn’t very good. They were up to the challenge. We didn’t give up one sack against a very good Baltimore defense. We gave up three in the first four drives against Detroit. I think the improvements they made, coach Callahan challenged the line. When it’s all said and done after three preseason games we have the most rushing attempts, second-most yards and I think we’ve given up the least amount of sacks so I’m happy with the production from our offensive line and them getting better and of course the quarterback play.

Coach, how do you anticipate the quarterback rotation for this last preseason game?
Colt will play the whole game.


Here’s the link to the video from the team’s Web site. You will probably be blocked from watching it in this window, but at least you have the link handy.

Kirk Cousins:
Here are some of the quarterback’s comments to reporters. The link to watch is below.

(asked about last year, after losing the job, how gratifying it is to earn the starting job)
It’s a step in the process. It doesn’t feel like a finish line by any means. I feel like the work is still ahead of us, obviously. It’s a step in the process, and one more reason to just keep working.

(asked when and how he found out)
This morning, Jay just told me. That was it.

(Asked if anything changed mentally)
I’m going out there and trying to prove myself every time I go out there, practice, game, preseason, whatever it may be. I’m going to do all I can to take this opportunity and run with it, and hopefully provide great quarterback play all season long.

(Asked at what point did he feel he had a legitimate shot to win the job)
You can look at it both ways. One is, you’re always competing, you’re always fighting for your spot. I never felt like I’ve been comfortable in any specific role. So that’s what I’ve learned since I was drafted. On the flip side, I did feel like the roles were defined and I was competing for the backup role, and that was where I was at. But like I said, you understand you’re always battling for your spot and nobody’s job is safe. So you can look at it both ways.

(Asked if he lost confidence that he would ever get another shot, and what role his faith played)
I certainly had some nights where I didn’t sleep well. My wife would tell you I was a bear to deal with. It was a tough experience. It certainly made me stronger going forward. I look back now and I feel like that experience will make me a better football player in the future. To answer your second question, I do believe from 2012, the day I was drafted, that God brought me here, he’s got a plan for me. The plan may not be to win Super Bowls and throw a bunch of touchdown passes and win a bunch of games. I hope it is a part of the plan. I just trust that he had a plan for me, and that he was going to work everything out. Time will tell. Stay tuned. It’s going to be an interesting ride.

(Asked about, since being benched against the Titans last year, what he has done to try to correct his interception problem)
I think it’s a combination of things, but certainly just trying to see the field better, recognize defenses better, recognize coverages, blitzes, pressures. My movement in the pocket needs to be better. All those things contribute to being able to protect the football. The longer I play, the more reps I get, the more practice and game experience I gain, I’ll become a much better quarterback when it comes to protecting the football, along with a lot of other areas of this playing this position.

(Asked if he feels he’s won teammates over)
I feel like I’ve always had good respect from my teammates, I feel like I’ve had a good rapport from them. You’d have to ask them, I guess; It’s not for me to say what they think of me. I’ve always tried to do things in a way that would give them reason to want to rally around me. That’s a question that would be better address towards them.

(Asked how surprised he was, after the events of the past few days, to be named the starter for the year)
This is the NFL. I’ve learned not to have preconceived notions or to walk in here and say ‘this is how it’s going to play out.’ You do that, you’re going to get yourself in trouble. So I walk in here every day trying to get better, understanding that I should take nothing for granted. Just accepted every challenge that comes my way. That perspective I think has served me well.

(Asked about swing of fortune between throwing an interception to Terrell Suggs on the first drive Saturday and being named the starter for the year)
Welcome to quarterback in the NFL. I walked into the Jacksonville game last year Week 2, and was in in the first quarter. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. The minute you try to predetermine things, and have preconceived notions, you’re putting yourself in trouble. So I come in here with an open mind. All I know is I need to control my attitude, my preparation and my effort. If I do that, the rest will take care of itself.

(Asked if there’s value in hearing from that that you’re the quarterback for 2015, as opposed to ‘Kirk is going to start against Miami opening day’)
There’s something powerful about feeling believed in. And there’s something powerful about knowing where you stand. I feel like Jay has done that today and we’ll go from there.

(asked about relationship with Robert Griffin III)
I can’t say enough about the class act Robert has been from the day I was drafted to now, and the way he’s treated me, and the way he’s handled a lot of adversity. I have marveled at his ability as a rookie to never flinch, to compete, a young player in this league winning rookie of the year and taking our team to the playoffs and winning the division. I marveled at that. The way he’s a fierce competitor I’ve always respected. He’s continued to operate that way no matter what’s been thrown at him. He’s always been a guy who remains classy, works really really hard, and I’ve learned from that example.

(asked for specific ways he’s improved in Year 2 in Jay Gruden’s system)
I think being in the system a second year gave me an ability, going into the offseason, to know what to work on and to say ‘I was deficient in this area,’ or understanding that protection, or knowing how to make that audible check. I was deficient in that area last year. And so it gave me a chance in the offseason to really look at my weaknesses and be critical of myself, and really improve those areas. And I think in doing so, along with the OTAs and the practices and training camp and summer break, I’ve been just trying to maximize my time and keep improving and keep building. I heard a quote from Bill Walsh a while back that said, ‘the accumulation of knowledge is a powerful thing.’ And it’s all about the accumulation. It doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen in your first year in the league. But gradually you accumulate knowledge and experiences, and as you accumulate it, it can become a powerful thing. And I’m hoping to be able to tap into that power starting this year.

(asked what Robert and Colt McCoy said to him)
Nothing that should be noted or stated, or anything over the top. They were classy, as I said. I love the fact that they’re competitors and you would want nothing less from them.

(asked if he dresses Thurs. night)
Yeah, I think all whatever number of guys are there, 75 guys, will dress.

Cousins’s news conference:

This post first published at 12:20 p.m. It has been updated.

More from The Post:

Bog: Clark says Griffin lacks meaningful relationships in locker room

Snyder isn’t blocking trade, but Griffin won’t net a big return

Brewer: If Griffin isn’t the starter, it’s time to trade or cut him

Redskins QBs Cousins and McCoy impress with their resilience

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