What Jay Gruden sees in Samaje Perine, Trey Quinn

Chris Lingebach
August 07, 2019 - 6:25 pm

There are two players Jay Gruden loves on the Redskins roster that tell a unique story focused on potential.

One was the last pick in the draft a year ago, a dubious position to be selected that's garnered the nickname 'Mr. Irrelevant' for good reason, for its overpowering failure rate.

The other came in as a fourth-round pick and has received more opportunities than many fans can stomach in two seasons, someone who's struggled to live up to his core responsibility as a ball-carrier, holding onto the football.

Both are in camp, both with another opportunity to make this football team, although those opportunities are far from equal.

Trey Quinn is about as much of a lock to make the roster as any former seventh-round pick could be. Samaje Perine is fighting that cruel numbers game, at a position that already has three guaranteed roster locks in Adrian Peterson, Chris Thompson and Derrius Guice. Perine faces fierce competition for that fourth spot, from Byron Marshall and the newcomer Craig Reynolds, a rookie who's coming in hot out of Division II Kutztown.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden addressed both players, and what he envisions for each, during a 106.7 The Fan interview with Chad Dukes.

Below is a Q&A presentation of that interview containing a partial transcript (questions in bold).

How unique of a situation is it for you to have a couple of veterans, one you're definitely comfortable with, a young quarterback that was drafted, and having to get them all touches?

Yeah, it's really unique. It's hard enough when you have two guys competing for the job. When you add a third element in there, a rookie from Ohio State, it makes it even more difficult. But we're managing it. We're getting these guys pretty good reps. They're having some success, they're having some struggles, but it's all a process right now and they're doing well.

You have a really good group of assistants. Your running backs coach. Your linebackers coach. Your defensive line coach. You guys  I know you didn't want to be on Hard Knocks – but deserve a reality show. You have some amazing personalities on your staff.

Yeah, it's quite entertaining. We have some players that are quite entertaining as well, unfortunately. Ah, it's a good group, man. They love teaching, they love ball and they all get along good. That's important.

As far as that backfield goes for you, I mean you're gonna have a lot of guys that want the ball all the time and deserve the ball all the time? What's it gonna be like divvying that workload up? 

Yeah, it'll be tough, you know. Derrius has come back. He looks like he's full strength. And Adrian hasn't practiced a whole lot, but we know who Adrian is. Samaje has had an excellent, excellent camp. I mean he looks very powerful right now. Byron Marshall is explosive. Chris Thompson's Chris Thompson. And then this rookie, Craig Reynolds from Kutztown, is playing extremely well.

You have favorites. You know a little bit more about football than I do. We've asked ourself this question: What is it you like so much about Samaje Perine's game?

Well, he's a young player, and unfortunately last year, with Derrius' injury and then Adrian being our first back, and Chris being our third-down back, I needed somebody to do a little bit of both, third down and first down. Samaje's more of a first-, second-down guy, so he wasn't able to dress, unfortunately. But he's getting better on special teams, he's getting better out of the backfield on third down. He's powerful, he's young, and he's got great vision so far because he's just more comfortable. You know these young guys, they come out of college and sometimes it takes them a year or two for it to click, you know the tracks that the backs have to take, the reads, when to cut, protecting the football. You know, he had some protection issues early in his career. He's so far done a good job of protecting the ball.

We know Jamison Crowder was a player you liked quite a bit and wanted to stay around, and is a guy that was very productive for this team. It's nice to see Trey Quinn really getting some rave reviews from everybody I've spoken to out here at camp. How effective has he been looking in the slot?

He's doing very good. This is another chance for him to get a lot of reps. The inside receiver for us is asked to do a lot, reading the zone man, having to separate, having to block, and he's got a pretty good handle on it right now. He's just getting better and better as we go on through camp. He's got great, strong hands. I've never seen him drop a ball – knock on wood – and just reliable, great target for the quarterbacks.

How much easier potentially can your job get if the defense is what it looks like it's going to be? Providing you guys more opportunities, getting those other offenses off the field. Just getting your side of the ball that you worry about more, more reps every single game. How useful can that be to you as a coach?

It can be very useful. If we work hand in hand, it has to. When we were 6-3 last year, that's how we were playing. We were playing great defense, we were playing good ball control on offense – we weren't turning the ball over – playing the field position game and winning close games, and holding people down to under 20 points, 17 points. When you have a good defense: A) you have to keep them fresh; and then B) they have to get off the field on third down. And towards the end of the year, we were a lot of three-and-outs on offense, they were on the field a lot, and we were abysmal on third down on defense. So that's something we have to continue to work on.

You clearly don't care about releasing depth charts. What is it like having a job where you have to do something that you have to do, and then you get asked about it endlessly after you do it? How do you not get incredibly frustrated with that process? 

Well, I do get frustrated. I think it's Week 1 of the preseason. Obviously there's a few starters that everybody should know. I mean, Daron Payne's gonna start. Jordan Reed's gonna be a starting tight end. Trey Quinn's gonna be in the slot. But there's a lot of guys we're still battling, trying to figure out who's who and who's where. You know, quarterback, defensive line, outside linebackers. Kerrigan will start. Trust me on that.

I like that. Breaking news right here on CDVTW. 

Yeah, breaking news. Inside backers. So we have some receiver battles, not just for one, two and three, but everywhere. Until this whole process takes place, let us make our decision, and when we make the decision before the Philly game, you guys can see the depth chart.

But it's not important that we're looking at Geron Christian and then Donald Penn, and saying, 'Oh my God! This is not how we thought...' Like that doesn't mean as much as we think that it does.

Correct.

I have heard from so many people that one of your greatest strengths is navigating Ashburn. Now, I don't know exactly what that means, but it seems to me there's an enormous amount of scrutiny on this franchise, and this is a very interesting year that you have coming up right here, and don't seem to be stressed out. You seem to be handling it well,  serving so many mistresses. Where does that come from? Can you cull that ability? Is that innate? Is that a Gruden characteristic? How do you work on that part of what your job description would be?

Serving mistresses?

You know what I mean. I mean, hopefully you're not serving mistresses while you're on... this is going in the wrong direction. What I'm saying is that your job is part football and then a lot political. How do you work on that side of it?

First of all, we have to focus in on the football and that's what we try to do. We try to keep everything in house, focus on how we can get our team better. Yep. And then try to ignore the noise as much as we can. But a lot these guys, you know they have their Twitters and they take a lot of things personal, and some things get blown out of proportion that we have to handle in-house the right way, and we try to do that. Unfortunately, sometimes things get blown up and it makes us look bad, but we do a pretty good job of squashing it in-house with our team, and keep everything open in front of our team and don't brush anything under the rug.

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