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Jaguars Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden: Wednesday, November 4, 2020

(On how RB James Robinson can contribute blocking this weekend with starting rookie QB Jake Luton) "That'll be key like it is in every game. We want to stay balanced, have the ability to work different type of protections and play action passes and all that stuff. If those [are] only good on first, second down, you get to third-and-8 or you get behind the lot, you're one dimensional, so that's going to be critical. James [Robinson]'s going to be a big part of our game plan for sure and we have to get him going."

(On what the coaching staff can do to prepare QB Jake Luton for his first NFL start) "Unfortunately, it's not going to be easy for a rookie, first game, hadn't taken a lot of reps with the first team. In fact, I don't think he's called one of our plays in the huddle since training camp, so it will not be easy for him. It's his job to be prepared mentally, make sure he goes through the right progressions, handles himself in protections, gets the ball deep to James Robinson when he hands it off, and does things right and what he's been taught this whole process. It's going to be a great challenge for him, but we feel good about his demeanor, his work ethic. We feel like he's mentally prepared, but now we just have to wait and see. We'll do the best we can to make it as easy as possible for him, but it never is."

(On QB Jake Luton's throwing ability) "I think there's a lot to like, just what we've seen over the course of [the] last three, four months. He's got a great arm. He's got the ability to put touch on the ball. He can stroke it now, that's for sure, so we're excited to see him throw the ball down the field. I think he has great vision too. He's tall, he's six foot six [inches]. I think he'll be able to get off his first progression, be able to work his eyes and find the next, second, hopefully third guy if we have protection. But from arm talent, he's impressive. Like I said, he can throw the deep ball, the intermediate stuff, he can throw a touch, but on game day with [Texans DE] J.J. Watt and [Texans OLB Whitney] Mercilus and these guys chasing after him, we'll see if that has any impact on his motion."

(On making QB Jake Luton aware of the clock) "That's just part of his job. That's quarterback 101. That's one of my pet peeves, my first pet peeve. You talk about fundamentals and all that stuff, from ball handling and all that stuff, delay of games, you don't ever get the play off, so he's got to be mindful of the clock and I have to be able to get the play in quick so he can get in and out of the huddle. But that's the quarterback's number one job. You can't run a play if you can't get the play off."

(On making QB Jake Luton aware of the three-second clock in his head to get the ball out of his hands) "That's something you try to prepare for. You try to get these guys ready, but when the live rush is coming and people are in your throwing lane and you have to move subtlety and work your eyes, that's something that we'll have to wait and see. I think he's been schooled pretty well so far, has a general idea of what to expect and what to do with each play, each progression, whether it's a pure progression read, whether it's middle field open close read, whatever it might be. He'll say all the right things, now it's just a matter of seeing if he can do all the right things."

(On if he has to simplify the offense with a new starting QB) "I think there's something to that. I think you're probably a little bit limited, but I mean we've had Gardner [Minshew II], it's his first year in this offense too. It's not like we're doing a whole lot of crazy stuff with him. We're trying to, as we go forward, as we move on throughout the season, we have to add different things and different concepts depending on who we play, handle different blitz looks and all that stuff, he has to handle protections. Each and every week gives you a different type of game plan and I have to be aware, we have to adjust, and we have to move on. We can't run the same twelve plays like you might be able to do in college week in and week out. We have to change our progressions, change our reads, change our personnel groups, change our formations, and that's part of the game. You have to study it and that's what quarterbacks have to do."

(On if he's ever had to start a new quarterback in Week 9 of the season) "Unfortunately, yes. In fact, we came down here and played Josh Johnson. We got him on a Thursday, I think he played on Sunday. We ended up winning that game or something, so yeah, we've had that opportunity. It's never fun. Obviously, the teams with the great records are pretty stable at that position and that's what you want to do and grow to. But the good thing is, if there's a positive, we get to look at a young quarterback with a lot of talent and that's what we see in Jake [Luton]. The only way you're going to see and find out is if you throw him out there and let him play, so let's let him play and see how he handles the adversity, see how he handles the negative plays, as well as the positive plays, and let's see him throw the ball."

(On how QB Jake Luton has progressed in practice) "We only had the one practice on Monday, it was about 16-20 plays. It was the first time he got a chance to call our plays in the huddle since training camp, so I was kind of excited that he didn't mess any of them up. You can tell he was a little nervous, a little excited, over excited, but that's natural. Now I'm hoping Wednesday he has a little bit of the plan right now. Hopefully, he calms down a little bit tomorrow, well get him some third downs. Friday we'll get him some red zone. Saturday we'll tie up the loose ends and let him go out there and play. But his demeanor has always been outstanding. He's been a very smart, very poised individual. How that happens, how that translate on game day will be the key to his success. Can he keep that poise in a game type situation with people coming at him?"

(On the positives of having a new quarterback i.e. he doesn't know what he doesn't know in terms of getting hit) "Well hopefully he won't get hit but I'm sure he'll get hit eventually and that's just part of the position. You never really can prepare for that; you can't prepare for that in practice. You can't have a quarterback stand there and a defensive end hit him in the face in practice as you deliver the football. That's something quarterbacks have had to acquire that taste over their course of playing in high school and college football. He's been hit before so I know he can handle it. He got hit in college, he'll get hit again, but we just hope he can bounce back and continue to stay the course and never let one play affect the next play and assume he's going to get hit all the time. That's where quarterbacks have trouble, they get nervous feet and all that stuff. I feel like Jake has the poise. We feel like he has the confidence and the knowledge of the offense to have some success. We'll see."

(On QB Jake Luton staying on the board until the sixth round of the NFL Draft) "That's a great question. You know I think there's a lot more put into the value of athletic quarterbacks because coaches know it's hard to call the perfect drop back all the time. You want to have somebody that can escape and do things with their legs. Unfortunately, Jake [Luton] didn't have the best 40 time or the short shuttle or didn't look overly athletic at the combine or what have you, but he can throw it. There's no arguing that. There's been other quarterbacks before him that have not been very athletic, can throw it, have had no success. There's been obviously quarterbacks in the NFL that aren't very athletic that have had all kinds of success. So, it's just your pick, your flavor, whatever you like. Some coaches want to err on the side of having an athletic quarterback. We're fortunate enough to get him in the sixth round and we like what we've seen so far. But obviously, mobility issue, you don't have to be a speed demon to be successful in the NFL. I think Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and some of these great quarterbacks have shown that, but you do have to have the ability to move subtlety in the pocket and have some pocket presence that we're hoping that on game day, he will display. If he does, he can be a heck of a quarterback in this league."

(On importance for QB Jake Luton to learn how to move subtlety in the pocket) "For sure. The great thing about him is he's got great height and he can see, so he can maneuver in the pocket and still keep his eyes down the field and be able to maybe see a second or third receiver, where that could be a problem for a shorter type quarterback. [I'm] hoping that the height, his ability to step up [will help him]. He's got good feet. We worked a lot of drills, fundamental drills. He's got good, quick feet. He's got great posture, so hopefully that will translate, but we'll sell. You never know."

(On if the game plan changed having to start a new QB) "That's always the toughest thing for me as an offensive coach. You want to make sure the coach signs off on some crazy stuff you want to try, like the quarterback halfback pass I tried against Texas the first time and didn't work. You just feel like a basket case afterwards for a week so it kind of dampens your spirit to put more stuff in. But you want to try to get your players out there, give them success on things they know and can do. Obviously, we'll always have some kind of trick or some kind of diversionary type play in our play book, whether it gets called or not we'll never know. You always want to have someone to try to create the big play, but you don't want to panic and have to rely on that. You want these guys to make plays, let the linemen move people on the front, let James Robinson hit the holes, let's punish them a little bit, let our receivers get open in man to man, and the quarterback read zones and make some plays. Then, if the time's right and [Head Coach] Coach Marrone's up for it, we'll try a sprinkle or two in."

(On if the knowledge of QB Gardner Minshew II's injury changes their evaluation of him so far this season) "No, I think he's played solid for a young quarterback. He's had some great plays, he's had some tough plays, some plays he'd want to have back, some we probably graded him a little bit lower than he thought. His thumb injury, we didn't know anything about it, I didn't know anything about it until after this game so I didn't feel like it had an impact, but you'll have to ask him how he felt throwing a football. I think after he got it X-rayed, I think probably towards the end of the last game, it might have had some problems that's why he got it checked, I guess. Overall, the injury happens. If you have a hurt thumb, I played quarterback before, I would imagine it would affect the ball. So, yes I would take that into account I guess if that's your question."

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