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Quotes (12/27): Jennings, Cruz, Pugh

Posted Dec 26, 2016


WR Victor Cruz  

Q: Can you describe the feeling of getting into the playoffs?

A: It was a good feeling. It was funny because I was out at dinner and people were running up to me in the restaurant before I could even check the score and letting me know that we were in. It's a good feeling. Obviously we're back in the playoffs, we're excited about the opportunity to play another game in the postseason and we’ve got to take care of one first in Washington and then we'll address the playoffs. 

Q: Do you feel like you need Sunday to get the offense...?

A: I think we just want to go out there and play. I don't think it's any emphasis on anything. I think offensively we want to go out there and perform and do what we're capable of doing; that's moving the ball down the field, putting the ball in the end zone and scoring touchdowns and that's our only goal coming this week and as of right now, we're all playing. So we're going to prepare that way. 

Q: Why wouldn't you use it as a bye week for injured guys?

A: It's not my job to make that decision. I trust the coaching staff and whatever they choose to do. I'm out there to play that football game and go from there. 

Q: Washington still has a lot to play for coming into Sunday. Would it mean a lot to you guys to keep a hated divisional rival out of the playoffs?

A: (laughs) Again, that's not our concern. It's not about keeping them out of the playoffs or keeping them at bay or whatever the case may be. We failed to beat them earlier on in the season and we obviously want to have a better showing against them this time. We lost a pretty significant lead against them in the first go-around, so that's kind of our emphasis, is going out there and gaining some revenge against that first game because of the way we played and how they came back to beat us. 

Q: How important is it to go into the playoffs with a win?

A: Very important. You want to have momentum. Obviously winning, mentally, gives you that momentum. It makes you feel like you're ready to go into the postseason. We're excited about that opportunity and obviously beating Washington will start that off. 

Q: Obviously you were one of the guys that was here the last time this team made the postseason. Now that you're in and you're feeling good about that, how surprised do you think you would have been back then that it would have taken this long to get back here?

A: (laughs) Extremely surprised, obviously, because when you win a Super Bowl and you’ve got a good core team around, you think you're going to do two or three in a row, at least into the postseason. Obviously, that's why this game is so great, you can go every year, you can go once every seven years. We just want to make sure we're appreciating the moments that you do with your teammates and in the postseason and things like that and cherish those times because you don't know when they're going to come again. 

Q: Are you surprised it took so long to get back in the playoffs?

A: Obviously, a little surprised. But you’ve got to take it for what it's worth and take it for what has transpired throughout the years. Some years we were good enough and some years we weren't and our record indicated that. Here we are, we're happy to be in the postseason. We want to take care of one more game in the regular season and be ready to go. 

Q: At this point in the season, is just important for the offense to be clean. I would think after 15 weeks we're not going to see a major change in the offense. Is it just, let's not turn the ball over and do what we can do?

A:  I don't know. I think it's, we want to go out there and score points and move the football. I don't think we want to just be clean or just manage the game. I think we want to go out there and perform and execute and hit our spots when we can and score touchdowns, that's what we want to do. We have that much more confidence going into the next game. 

Q: You're not going to go from scoring less than 30 points a game to suddenly scoring 40 points a game?

A: You never know, the plan is always to score 30, 40 points, however many it takes to win. You never know, every week is different. 


RB Rashad Jennings   

Q: Offensively, what do you hope to accomplish this week? Obviously you have the luxury of not having to win the game to get in but do you feel like you want to try and get the running game settled in?

A: Yes, no doubt. We need our best ball to be ahead offensively, to be complimentary to our defense that has been playing lights out for us this whole entire year. This is a good way to end the year going into 2017 with a good taste in how we’re running the ball and moving the ball on offense. How we’re efficient and scoring points on offense. It’s going to be a good defense that gets fired up. This is do or die. We’re going to have to go in there with that mentality.

Q: How do you feel personally, making the playoffs for the first time?

A: I’m excited. You play the game to make that stepping stone. To get to the seventeenth game. That’s something for the first time in my career, I’m part of a team that is able to do that. We earned that. It’s exciting. The Redskins, it’s going to be a tough game. It’s on the road, as I said earlier. You get an opportunity to get that playoff atmosphere because it’s going to be a big game.

Q: Was there ever a point that you ever wondered if you would ever make the playoffs?

A: You never wonder if it is ever going to happen. You just look forward to when it does. This is the year that it happened.

Q: What did it feel like when you were home watching the games?

A: I didn’t even watch the game. I was transitioning and going home. My phone just blew up to a thousand text messages. I googled it, found out what happened and I was excited.

Q: Do you have any element of motivation to keep Washington out of the playoffs?

A: There’s an element to win. Tomato, Tomoto. It’s not necessarily playing to keep them out. It’s to get that win, that taste and that momentum going into the playoffs. Win a road game how we want to.

Q: What do you feel the momentum is heading into the last week?

A: The best ball is still ahead of us.

Q: What tells you that?

A: Looking at the tape and how we’ve adjusted to different things. Seeing that the mistakes are correctable. That’s what’s exciting. If we’re out there, you put on the tape and we’re just getting beat, but these are corrections that can be corrected.

Q: As much as you want one good game to send you into the playoffs, is there any concern for the risk of injury?

A: It’s a game you need because it’s the next one. It still counts. No player thinks about injuries. That’s how players do get hurt. It’s a privilege to play this game and go out every single week. Put it all out there on the line. That’s how we’re going to do it this weekend.

Q: You guys have 10 days off since Thursday night when you played the last game. How much does it help to have this extended break this late in the season?

A: I think it’s either way. The way coach McAdoo sets up, he’s consistent in the way he takes care of everyone. We’re going to be fresh no matter which day it is. Monday, Thursday, Saturday or Sunday. I think the league plays every day now besides Tuesday. Whenever we play, we’re going to be fresh.

Q: Have you been told if you’re going to play Sunday?

A: Yes. Everyone is going to play Sunday.

Q: How important is this game in terms of not going into the playoffs with a two-game losing streak?

A: The importance? You don’t ever want to lose. I don’t care when it is. What part of the season or what’s at stake. You don’t ever want to lose. Honestly, I can’t say, I’ve never been to the playoffs. I can imagine that it’s 0-0 for the seventeenth game and there’s going to be a certain type of energy there. We’re not there yet. We have a division game on the road against a good opponent that is going to be fighting for everything. I’m looking forward to it.


G Justin Pugh  

Q: How important is it to get that game right before the playoffs?

A: I think we just have to go out there and play good football, take care of the ball and do what we have to do and I think we have had games where we have had a chance to break it open. But obviously we had to score in the red zone or we turned the ball over, so I think just doing the little things right and making sure that we take care of our end of it and we will be alright.

Q: Can this game be a good tool for you going forward?

A: Yeah, I think so. You can work on some of the things that obviously have plagued us thus far this season. Obviously we have done some really good things, we have 10 wins. There is a reason why we are in the playoffs. But to go out there and do some things personally and as a unit, as an offensive line, we obviously have things that we want to work on from last week and you go out there and do that and like I said before, you want to be ascending going into the playoffs and we have a chance to do that going up against a tough divisional opponent in their place.

Q: Is there any element to keeping the Skins out of it?

A: We feel comfortable playing them. They are a good team. We know them, they know us. It is just like any other divisional game. It would be nice to knock them out. We are not their biggest fans and they are not our biggest fans, so to send them home would be pretty good for us.

Q: What do you say to people who say that it is more important not to get injuries in a game like this?

A: I think that if you start trying to play to not get hurt then that is when you do get hurt. We have to go out there and do what you have always done, prepare like you have prepared and this is the start of the playoffs for us. We are going on the road, keep working in hostile environments and learning how to play well on the road is something that we are going to have to get better at and it is something that we are going to have to do in the playoffs, so this is a good first test for us.

Q: Was it strange to clinch the playoffs and not be together as a team?

A: I don’t know what it is like to clinch when we are all together, so just to get in I was happy with. I was celebrating with my family; it was Christmas Eve. I mean, you can’t really think – obviously I would have loved to have been in that locker room with all the guys, but we were all texting each other and I got to cultrate with my family and we all watched together, so that was a pretty special moment for me and my family. But I know that each guy probably had something very similar to that happen and it was good.

Q: What does it mean for you to make the playoffs?

A: Yeah, it is my fourth year and we haven’t made the playoffs yet. This is huge. I was getting goosebumps when the Saints took that kneel down and I knew that we were going. It is something that is very special to me, very special to this fan base and obviously since being here, I wanted to get back for them and this organization and to go with a group of guys that I love so much and this group in here has been so close and it has been fun.

Q: Today was the first day that you came together as a playoff team. Did that make it more real?

A: No, I feel like today was business as usual. We didn’t talk about the playoffs until coach called us up at the very end of practice today, so we were in there just not talking about it and we were all Washington today.

Q: Did he bring it up?

A: He brought it up at the very end of practice. There was no mention of it in the meetings. It was all about Washington and making sure that we are prepared for them.

Q: What was his message?

A: Congratulations. I mean you have to mention it. You have to talk about it. It is not the way we wanted it to happen, but we are in and we deserve to be in. We got the 10 wins, but we’ve got to go – and he kept saying, ‘Be ascending going into the playoffs.’

Q: Has he talked to you guys about playing time? Do you think you will be rested later in the game or do you think this is all full go?

A: I mean, you really can’t. I saw this quote from Belichick up in New England, ‘You only have 53 guys. I am not a mathematician.’ That is what I think he said. But we are not bringing guys in from some other place and having a replacement team. We have to go out there and play good football. You only have so many guys that can go into the game, so I am not going into this game preparing as if I am going to get pulled out because there is not really anyone to go in for us, so we have to make sure that we are ready to go.

Q: Would your knee benefit from time off at this point?

A: I think a lot of guys have injuries, bumps and bruises, so I am not the only one that can use a week off. I think that everyone in the NFL could use a week off. Everyone could use time to heal up. No one is feeling great right now, but we have to go out there and I would rather have that gel and have that comradery keep building than get a week off and lose that.

Q: So do you think your mindset that you are playing the whole game is what all the starters are thinking?

A: Yeah, I think that if you went in assuming that you weren’t going to play, you would be putting yourself in a bad position.