- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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Notes and observations from Jay Gruden's presser Wednesday:
Jay Gruden clearly had more of a game face on than previous pressers. Yes, you can tell that training camp is here. It's not like he was uptight (the way Joe Gibbs would get on Fridays during the season). And it's not as if his answers were short (Gruden speaks in paragraphs; that's good for a writer). But he was definitely locked in on what he wants to accomplish in camp.
He has a bit of crustiness to him, like when he said, "Nothing is worse than when you let someone go and they kick your ass later on."
A little crustiness is good, but it's also part of his personality. Gruden is a friendly guy and the players seem to like him. That's great if you win. But he's not just here to win friends. "My relationship with all the players, hopefully is a good one and a strong one," he said, "one that I'm the coach, they're the player. Moving forward, I've got their back and we are going to do everything we can to help them." The key part: He's the coach, they're the players. Otherwise, you end up allowing players to run the ship. And that's where a little crustiness can help him.
Gruden will rely on others, something we already knew. It's one reason why the Redskins wanted to keep Jim Haslett around, to provide guidance from experienced voices. But Gruden reiterated Wednesday that "every decision I make will have input." Whether this works or not, I don't know. But I think the result is a staff that feels more ownership; same with the players. Now they just have to prove they can win.
Gruden was asked if he looked at previous coaches who have struggled in Washington and what he could learn. The problem is, they all struggled for different reasons but in general it's been an organizational issue. Some lacked players; others lacked support; others lacked the ability to do the job. What Gruden needs to do is get quarterback Robert Griffin III to play at a certain level and make sure the defense improves.
Any time to reflect on his journey to reach this spot ended long ago and probably shortly after Gruden accepted the job -- he made it clear he likes to look forward. His feelings now? "Anticipation. You're excited about the season. You're nervous. you've got butterflies walking out there every day."
Do not expect any crazy drills during practices from Gruden. "I don't think there's any special drill I'm going to do that nobody's ever done before. I hope not. It'll be football." Translation: No slip-and-slides.
This is not related to Gruden, but: Maurice Hurt is in a battle to win a roster spot and he reports out of shape? What are the odds that he somehow wins that roster spot? I did not think he was going to make the roster before camp. His chances just went down. Seriously; how does this happen?