Jay Gruden On Josh Johnson: "He's A Very Sharp Guy"

Head Coach Jay Gruden spoke to the media after Wednesday's practice at the Inova Sports Performance Center.

On injuries:

"Did not participate [Tony] Bergstrom, knee and ankle; [Ryan] Anderson, hamstring; [Josh] Doctson, concussion protocol; [Colt] McCoy, fibula; [Jordan] Reed, ankle and foot; [Ty] Nsekhe, knee; [Matt] Ioannidis, shin. Limited were [Jamison] Crowder, knee and ankle; Shaun Dion Hamilton, shoulder; [Adrian] Peterson, shoulder; [Chase] Roullier, knee; [Morgan] Moses, ankle; [Trent] Williams, thumb and wrist."

On LB Mason Foster’s leaked Instagram messages:

"We talked to Mason about it. I don’t know when it was exactly, but it was a private message. The guy I guess screenshotted it, which is I guess against the code of private messages on screenshots. I know what Mason is, I know what he means to this football team, what he’s meant to this football team, and anything he said in a personal message was personal and I really don’t take anything from it. I do, however, disagree with that guy posting a private message out on social media. He broke a code there that I don’t agree with. As far as Mason, I have nothing but respect for him as a person and a player."

On the details of the Instagram message:

"I really don’t even care. It’s a private message. I don’t know when it happened. I know Mason and how hard he’s worked and how hard he plays. I know he wouldn’t say anything publicly to do that. That was a private deal. He could’ve been messing around. I don’t know the intent of that message, I don’t really care."

On if the message exposes a bigger issue with the defense:

"No, not at all."

On filling the leadership void without QB Alex Smith:

"It’s hard to put your figure on exactly what. I just think he’s just always been very accountable for his actions, very predictable in the way he shows up to work every day. He’s a great teammate. You lose somebody like that it obviously has an impact on the field and off the field."

On others filling the leadership void:

“I think some guys stepped up in his absence for a little bit. Colt [McCoy] tried to and then he got hurt right away. But you know that’s the responsibility of the next guy. Mark [Sanchez] did a good job trying to step up and take on some of the roles of quarterback. Trent Williams has always been there for the guys and Morgan Moses and some of the veteran guys we’ve had here. Vernon Davis, Jamison Crowder those guys have also stepped up offensively and had a little bit of a voice.”

On evaluating S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix’s performance and if S Monte Nicholson will have more playing time:

"I think everybody in general needs to step up on both sides of the ball and special teams and coaches and all that stuff. But as far as Ha Ha is concerned, he’s done some good things. There are a couple plays out there that would probably be viewed as a poor angle or what have you and it may be true. But I like Ha Ha as a player, I like him as a person, I like the way he works. I think he’s going to get better and better within the defense and just understanding the depths and techniques that we’re playing with he’s going to get better. As far as Monte is concerned we have not lost faith in Monte at all. I mentioned it the other day I think there might be a place where he might have a package or two where he can get back on the field."

On QB Josh Johnson’s playing experience:

"Well he’s played with or against everybody in the league, so for starters he knows everybody on the Jacksonville defense. He knows everybody we’re about to play and is familiar with terminology and systems and coverages and defenses and all that stuff, so that’s a good thing. As far as knowing what to do here I think the big reason we wanted him is because of his familiarity with what we do. Being at Tampa, there’s some carry over and obviously being at Cincinnati for the length of time that he’s with us there’s a lot of carry over that he remembers and can handle. Now it’s a matter of honing in on his skillset and trying to come up with a plan to utilize his strengths."

On if there is one factor that has forced losses as of late:

"No, not one thing, there are a lot of things. There are a lot of things when talking about losing a football game. If we had it narrowed down to one thing, we’d fix it and be okay. Sometimes it’s defense, sometimes it’s offense, sometimes its special teams, sometimes it’s coaching. It’s a combination; it’s a matter of all of us having to step up in some key players’ absence and playing better. We haven’t done that. We haven’t taken it to the next level of coaching, the next level of playing, the level you have to take it to when you have some injuries and some voids in your offense or defense, or corner, or what have you. It’s up to the young guys to step up, the veterans to lead, and the coaches to coach."

On taking a different approach to the practice schedule:

"We just have a lack of bodies a little bit but we got a lot of work done today. We had a lengthy walk through and then at practice some good scripted sessions and we had another walk through at the end of practice. We’ll watch film here in a little bit, we just changed it up but we’re going to get all the reps in for Josh [Jackson]."

On a possible disconnect between the players and coaches:

"We always make an effort to bridge a gap. At the end of the day, like I said, it’s up to the coaches to coach and the players to play. There are some things as coaches that we have to hone in on and make sure we understand the skillset of our players and try to put them in the best positions possible, and then it’s up to them to go out and make some plays. There were some plays to be had that we did not make, there were some things from a coaching standpoint that we have to do better. Anytime you lose a football game, I hate to say it’s the coaches’ fault. It’s never the players fault, it’s a combination of a lot of things and that's areas we need to improve on. At this moment in time we’re 6-7 and half a game out of the playoff race so we have a lot to play for, a lot of reason to try to get together, all of us, and make this thing work."

On changing the playbook for QB Josh Johnson:

"There is obviously a skill set that he has that you can implement some different things, but not a whole lot, with the guard situation the way it is. We'll have a new starting right guard and Josh didn’t practice today, but we can't change the entire offense in three days. But, there are some things that we've done in the past with Alex [Smith] that we can maybe possibly pull back out that Josh would know, but still as we're teaching them, everything is brand new to Josh, even though he's done a little version of certain things, but, we'll try to figure out something."

On if Johnson remembers the playbook:

"Oh yeah, he's a very sharp guy there's no doubt about it. We changed a lot of terminology when I got here though, especially in the running game and some in the protections and some of that nature to suit the quarterbacks that I had here when we got here, so some of this is brand new to him."

On comments made by LB Zach Brown and S D.J. Swearinger Sr.:

"I did not see those so I don’t know what they said."

On if he brings defensive team leaders to talk to them:

"Yeah, it's important to mention how they speak to the media and how the media views their comments and how comments can be taken out of context from time to time and blown up into a headline. We made that talk at the very beginning of training camp and every so often we have the same talk. At the end of the day, with the amount of microphones in their face and social media, there will be things said that can be taken the wrong way or said in a poor fashion, so to speak, that could do damage to a team or a person's livelihood so to speak. So, just got to tell them to be careful, both those guys are highly emotional guys. They play very hard. They want to win and they're all frustrated, as we all are. We've just got to be careful with what we say."

On Johnson's persistence to play in the NFL:

"It helps him a lot. The one thing that I really respect about Josh Johnson is he is a very confident guy. He believes in his ability to be a quarterback in the National Football League despite being on 12 or 13 or 11 teams so to speak. He has a skill set that’s pretty good but hasn’t been able to stick anywhere, but still, the game's not too big for him. You could see when he went out there in the second half, he had poise, he had confidence, showed leadership, moved the chains, so that’s what I like about Josh and I think despite only being here for a little bit of time, he's going to go out there and feel like he's the best quarterback in pro football. That’s just the way he thinks and that's the way you have to think to be a good quarterback."

On how TEs J.P. Holtz and Matt Flanagan have progressed this year:

"They've come along good, really, I like them both. J.P. is kind of a tweener between tight end and fullback, he can line up at both those spots. Flanagan is more of a tight end in the core so to speak, so we'll have to make that decision probably Thursday or Friday who we're going to bring them up for. That’s the big issue right now. We have some guys that are a couple of week injuries, don’t want to put them on IR. We don’t really have a lot of room to waive people, but we'll figure something out Thursday or Friday if one of them comes up."

On fixing missed assignments in the running game:

"I think we miss-targeted a couple of runs, which happens from time to time with all the movement, when you do jet sweeps, fly motions, all that stuff and people move sometimes to center points here, they rotate over here, we get the point wrong so to speak. Sometimes when you line up stagnant and we get the point right, but we get our butts kicked in or make a wrong read with the back or what have you. Everything has got to be right on the offensive line. It's got to be 10 guys working in unison, including the back with his reads and footwork and the quarterback getting him his right play. The big thing is we have way, way too many negative runs. Negative runs have been the death, that and penalties, both of those two things have been the curse of this offense and that kills our drives, that kills our momentum, that kills our ability to call plays, keeping everything open in the playbook. When you have second and 18, and third and 15, your playbook goes down to this…when you're first and 10, second and six and third and two, everything is open and we haven’t had that luxury."

On if he's heard back from the league on penalties:

"I hear back from them every week and you know, same thing, different day."

On if WR Simmie Cobbs Jr., could be called on to replace WR Josh Doctson:

"Simmie has been great. He's been great. [Darvin] Kidsy has been great also, so if need be if one of those guys needs to be called up, I won't hesitate for a second. Like I said though, it’s a matter of roster spots. We don’t have a whole lot available so, we'll figure it out. I think Josh has a chance to be ok. He's getting checked out by an independent guy and hopefully we'll know more tomorrow."

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