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Jay Gruden talks about new Redskins QB Alex Smith: "He's a chameleon."

Jay Gruden talks about letting Kirk Cousins go, trading for Alex Smith, and his effect on the offense

NFL: Denver Broncos at Washington Redskins Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden has a new toy at QB for his offense and he is pretty excited about it, just ask him. Gruden and the Redskins moved on from former franchise QB Kirk Cousins, and he knew he would be gone after they didn't get a long-term deal done last year. Albert Breer reports they discussed the idea of moving on from Cousins after the 2016 season. Washington also talked about looking at QB Mike Glennon before going with another year of Cousins on the franchise tag.

The team discussed more options for moving on from Cousins as the season wore down this year. Alex Smith was reportedly one of their top options if he became available. Gruden signed off on the deal and the Redskins entered the Alex Smith era.

Gruden discussed various QB issues with both MMQB's Albert Breer and ESPN 980 host Chris Cooley recently. Below are some quotes from both interviews discussing Cousins, Smith, and the future of the Redskins offense.

Kirk Cousins on a different team:

“Yeah, it’ll be a little bit weird. It’ll be weird, but this is pro football. Nothing surprises me anymore.”

Knowing when Cousins was done in Washington:

“Honestly, not getting him done to a long-term deal before last season, I could see it coming.”

Stability at QB:

“That’s the way you want to be in this job. You want to know who your quarterback is. It’s the most important position in sports. And I think your team wants to know. Even your draft picks wanna come in here and be able to say, ‘This is who we’re going to rely on’, and not get the questions, ‘Hey, he’s gonna be a free agent, is he going to sign a long-term deal?’ It wears on you after a while. So it’s good to have that in-house now with Alex.”

“We have clear picture of what we have at quarterback, a clear understanding of what we need in certain areas of our football team. And that’s going to be the most important thing for us to get from where we are, 9-7, 8-7-1, 7-9, over the hump—having a clear vision of who you are as a football team and, most importantly, who your quarterback is moving forward.”

Alex Smith becoming available:

“He won [over] 50 games in five years, that’s hard to do … And I didn’t think that type of player would be available."

“If you’re a coach, you’re going to watch Alex Smith over the years. I feel great about Alex Smith, he’s a great quarterback. He’s very smart, we know he’s a great leader everywhere he’s been. Everybody’s had nothing but positive things to say about him. So yeah, and then the deal got done.”

Alex Smith's leadership:

“I think he can adapt to any locker room personality, that’s what makes him a great leader is he can adapt to all different kinds of personalities around him, that’s what quarterbacks have to do, that’s what leaders have to do. He’s a chameleon.”

Alex Smith's impact on Redskins offense:

“I think it’s very easy. We adapt to what they can do and I think we have enough in our offense where we can make it simple for our quarterback to get the ball out of his hands. If you’re accurate, if you can see coverage, then I think you’ll be very successful.

We can protect you a little bit. But eventually, it’s going to be third down-and-8, in a critical situation, you’re going to sit your foot in the ground and you’re going to have to hit a crossing route or a deep dig or a curl or whatever it is, and you’re going to stand in there, you’re going to have to re-mic, you’re going to have to adjust the protection, you’re going to have to throw the ball under duress, Cover-0 against Philadelphia or whoever it is, you’re going to have to adjust and you’re going to have to make some plays.

First and second down, we’ll try to do the best we can to protect you with some bootlegs, some screens to get the ball out of your hand. Eventually we’re going to be behind by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and we’re going to have to get quick scores, throw it in known passing situations where we can’t just throw three-yard hitches or screens.”

“I don’t think we really have to adapt a whole lot. I think we’re going to teach him more concepts on our offense because we’ve done a lot of the similar things that they’ve done. Andy Reid come from the same tree, so to speak, as what we do, the shallow crosses, drives, all that stuff that we run. So he’s going to easily adapt, just going to adapt to the terminology we run. And as far as some of the things he’s really good at, we’ve been doing. But just could do a little bit more and can add to it a little bit.”


“We did a little bit of that last year. Teams are doing that a little bit more. Not going to make a whole offense out of it, but some of that is pretty good, you’ve got to be good at that stuff. The [running] back is very important in that also, because if he does hang back and you give it, you’ve got to run and you’ve got to find daylight and hit it and go.”