Former Washington Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden on Joining Jacksonville Jaguars Staff, Gardner Minshew
Jay Gruden is ready to redeem himself with the Jags.
Jay Gruden is ready to redeem himself with the Jags.
Former Washington Redskins head coach and new Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden recently spoke to local media about his new gig, working wioth quarterback Gardner Minshew, and more. Full transcript below courtesy of Jags.
(On the relationship between himself and the quarterbacks, specifically Gardner Minshew II and how their personalities will mesh)
“Well, it better mesh. It’s my job to make it mesh, you know, to take on the personality of the quarterback and get him to understand what we’re trying to get accomplished on the play to play, game to game, week to week basis, it’s going to be critical. I love Gardner’s competitive spirit. You could see it shine through on tape when he was in college and obviously last year in the games he got to play. Now it’s just a matter of him getting some general knowledge of our offense and me figuring out what he likes, what he doesn’t like, what makes him tick and go from there. I’m pretty easy to get along with, I know he is too so I think it will be a great relationship between the two of us.”
(On his prior knowledge of Gardner Minshew II and if he liked him)
“For sure, you know, I liked him coming out of college and he played for a bunch of different colleges. He played for four [colleges] I think and was very successful. He got drafted in the later rounds and came out and playing in the National Football League is about taking advantage of your opportunities and Gardner did that. He’s a shining reason why once the opportunity presents itself, you take advantage of it. He did that, and he’s put himself in a great position to take the Jacksonville Jaguars and lead them into the future. He has shown a skillset where he can sit in a pocket, step up, make things happen outside the pocket. He’s accurate, he’s tough and obviously he’s a great leader so he’s got the intangibles you want in a quarterback. Now he’s got to get to know the team, get to know the offense a little bit so we can all gel together.”
(On his overview of what he wants the offense to look like and on if how difficult it will be to implement if there is limited preseason time)
“It’s still difficult. It’s one thing to install plays on a chalk board and virtual meetings getting to know the concepts and all that stuff, but it’s another thing to go out and execute and see what we’re good at, to see what guy can do. I don’t have a lot of information as far as how these guys can handle different positions and how to run different routes and all that stuff. I know Dede [Westbrook] plays in the slot, we drafted Laviska [Shenault Jr.], we’ll see what he can do outside and inside. I’d like to move some other receivers around a little bit, Chris [Conley] and DJ [Chark Jr] and see what happens.”
“Then we got Chris Thompson for some backfield stuff, but seeing Ryquell [Armstead] and obviously Leonard [Fournette] do some stuff in the backfield and just get to know everybody and get Tyler Eifert back in the mix and get him moving around and see where Josh Oliver is at and James [O’Shaughnessy]. We have to get these guys on the field. I think, from a knowledge standpoint, they’ll know the plays and the concepts, but then getting them out there and seeing them execute it versus some different looks and find out what they’re good at so we can best utilize their skillset. We got to get out on the field soon.”
(On what it’s been like to work with Coach Marrone and Quarterbacks Coach Ben McAdoo)
“I had some time to reflect on my coaching career up at Washington, I got fired after Week 5 so I had some time off. When you take the time off, you beat yourself up a little bit and get all that stuff out of your system and then you’re ready to compete again. Coach Marrone called me and asked me to come down and interview and once I got to meet him and see what he had on his football team and got to study the personnel a little bit and the rest of the coaching staff it was a pretty easy decision. I’m excited to work with Coach Marrone and Coach McAdoo. He’s [McAdoo] a great add for us, he brings that experience of not only being a head coach but also an offensive coordinator calling plays. It’s going to be great.”
“We were able to get Chris O’Hara, my key assistant from the Redskins, here with me so he can take some things over and I’ve worked with [George] Warhop before on the offensive line. I’ve always had a ton of respect for him and what he’s done in his career as offensive line coach. [Running Backs] Coach [Terry] Robiskie has been great. [Wide Receivers Coach] Keenan McCardell, he has a wealth of experience in the coaching andplaying ranks which always helps. So, it’s a great group with [Ron] Middleton with the tight ends. I’m excited to work with these guys. I wish we could do it more face-to-face, but we are getting things done that we need to get done and it’s been fun so far.”
(On Tyler Eifert’s and Chris Thompson’s reliability on offense)
“Yes, I can rely on Chris for sure. Chris is like another coach. He will correct me sometimes honestly. He’s awesome. He’s smart, very detailed in what he does and he’s the guy that really came from a practice squad and built himself into one of the best third-down [running] backs in the league. You know, without some injuries, his numbers would be up there with some of the best ones. He is a great player and a great guy. I am happy to have him on the team. Eifert of course, I had him in Cincinnati for his first three years and he is a great weapon. When you have a tight end in the back that can do some work in the middle of the field, it really opens things up for guys like DJ [Chark Jr.] and hopefully Laviska (Shenault Jr.) and Chris Conley and some of these other guys, Dede Westbrook. It makes everybody better. Not only to that but the running game as well with Leonard [Fournette]. It is great to have those guys in there to have experience and knowledge of the system, not only that but they are great guys and great players.”
(On the strides made by DJ Chark Jr. last year and the areas he can make progress in)
“Well, I think that he is playing with a load of confidence right now and that is very exciting. He’s got the skill set with the size, speed and ability to come in and out of cuts. I think we can do a little bit more with him. I’d like to get him inside and do some more things with him in the slot. But he’s an excellent specimen. And the thing that I have come to know about DJ in the limited time I got to meet him was that he’s hungry. He wants to be great and when you have the athletic qualities that he has and then the desire to be great, he’s going to have a very bright future. Now it is our job to get him acclimated to this offense and get him comfortable where he can go out there and play fast because he is a big, strong, fast, hungry kid and we got to give him the ball.”
(On Jawaan Taylor’s film from last year and if his improvement for the 2020 season has generated excitement.)
“One hundred percent, yes. He’s long, he’s athletic and he plays with the tenacity that you love from a tackle. I am very excited to get to work with him at right tackle. He can run, he can pull, he can get out there on screens, he’s physical in the running game and he can pass protect, he’s got great feet. He’s got every quality that you want in an offensive tackle and the more experience he gets and handing some of the movement up front, the better he’s going to be. I think that he’s one of the best right tackles in the game athletically and the more he plays and the more he sees, the better he is going to get. Coach [George] Warhop has done an excellent job with him.”
(On the most significant ways he has altered teaching his offense due to everything becoming virtual)
“Probably individual time with their coaches. I haven’t done any group installed meetings trying to get 40 guys on one line at one time where I have a picture of me and I’m going over plays. I try to break it up where each coach can teach the system because it’s the first they are teaching them our system as well. It is good for them to teach it and work with their guys. Coach [Terry] Robiskie took the running backs and Coach [Keenan] McCardell with the receivers and Coach [Ron] Middleton with the tight ends, Coach [Ben] McAdoo with the quarterbacks and I am able to go in and out and Coach [George] Warhop with the linemen.”
“For them to really hone in on their positions and what their task is and when we can come together, we will do more group installs and the walk throughs and the practices. I think it will be more beneficial that way. That is probably the biggest difference. This time we would have more group activity if it was a normal year. Obviously, it’s not a normal year. So we are doing more individual stuff and trying to hone in on the individual positions.”
(On the difficulty of playing uphill in the NFL or playing from behind in the second half)
“It’s really hard, especially for a young quarterback. When you’re in a known passing situation in the second half, there are not a lot of veteran quarterbacks that are very good. There are obviously the superstars, and they are the superstars. If you have a young quarterback, then you have to play close or with a lead to help him out where he could change the launch pad, where it’s not a five step drop every time out of the gun, and he’s trying to read the defenses and they’re trying to pick up every blitz known to man and every coverage and they’re disguising it, it’s really hard. But when you throw in the running game, and the play action, and the bootlegs, and the quick game later in the games, I mean it can make a quarterback much more effective, obviously. So, it’s going to be very important for us to stay close, get out to fast starts, so we can utilize our entire playbook, not just a portion of it when you’re behind.”
(On what these last few months have been like personally, and in the transition from being a head coach to your current role of offensive coordinator)
“Yes, it’s been great. Like I said, I got the time off to reflect on my time in Washington, but like everything else, you’ve got to move on and you’ve got to turn the page. This led me to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Coach Marrone was gracious enough to give me an opportunity to be an offensive coordinator and I plan on taking full advantage of it. I’m excited about it, really. I had a great time being an offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. I have no regrets with what happened in Washington. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it done, but this is an opportunity for me to just hone in on the offensive side of the ball again and really put my time and efforts into only offense and trying to make this the best offense I can and utilize the skillset of all of our players and the team in general, for that matter. So, I’m excited about it, really. You know, I would love to have a different result in Washington, still be a head coach, but this is where I’m at and I’m excited to take advantage of the opportunity.”
(On how important the tight end position group is to the offense)
“Okay yeah, I think I know how important the tight end position is because if you look at our successful teams in Cincinnati and in Washington, when Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis played with the Redskins, we were pretty good on offense, really, especially on third down and in the red zone. When those guys didn’t play, you were asked to replace them with some younger guys who aren’t quite as athletic or gifted as those guys. It’s difficult down there. You can double receivers all you want to, it’s hard to double tight ends and tight ends really are a key component down there in the red zone and on third down, and they’re a quarterback’s best friend. You know, the passes don’t have to be 25 yards down the field. They can be option routes, choice routes, in breaking routes, you know, quicker type element passes if you have that tight end. And I think that adding Tyler Eifert, he’s done that, he’s run the option route with a fly, he’s lined up outside.”
“He makes the defense show their hand a little bit. Who’s covering him? If it’s man to man, the safety’s got him, you know. So, the quarterback knows if this is man to man, I know where to go with the football. We can work a matchup either to DJ [Chark Jr.], or Chris [Conley], or Dede [Westbrook], or even Tyler [Eifert], or the running back. So, having a tight end is critical. And I know that when you don’t have one, times are tough. Believe me, it’s tough and I think Josh Oliver showed a lot of promise as a rookie. Unfortunately, he had injuries. You know, James [O’Shaughnessy] did some good things, but then he got hurt. And then Charles [Jones], the rookie, has shown he has a chance to be a good ‘Y’, he’s a physical kid. We drafted Tyler Davis to be an athletic guy. He can play a little fullback, he can play tight end, he can run, so we are excited to see what he can do. But it’s a key position, and I think Tyler’s going to be a great add for us in getting these guys all on the field and see what they can do. It’s going to be exciting.”
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