Jay Gruden is within reach of leading the Redskins to the playoffs for the first time as the team's head coach. The biggest obstacle standing in his way is the Eagles, who can capture the division title with wins over Washington and New York in the final two weeks.
In his conference call with the Philadelphia media, Gruden discussed Saturday night's matchup at Lincoln Financial Field and what's allowed his team to be in this position. Gruden has benefited from very strong play at the quarterback position over the second half of the season, something that Gruden says comes over time for quarterbacks in the NFL.
"I would say (it's) repetition and just going through his process of growing as a quarterback and being able to get every single first-team rep from the time we made the announcement until now," Gruden said about Kirk Cousins. "I think he's one of those guys who has just gotten better, and the only way to find that out is to put him in the lineup and give him all the reps and he'll learn from his hard times and every rep he gets in practice. He's a guy that really studies the game hard and he's diligent with every rep he gets in practice, and it's really paid off for him."
While Cousins' improved play has made Washington's offense look much different over the last eight weeks or so, the return of DeSean Jackson to the lineup has also given Washington a huge boost with an added dimension to its passing game.
"He's a guy that can make a big play at any given time. Even in the Chicago game, he didn't have a catch in the first half, but he drew a 45-yard pass interference penalty that was at a huge point in that game. It got us down there in field position and got us a touchdown on that drive. He's a guy that you have to be aware of if you're a secondary guy. It helps the guys around him, it helps the running game a little bit … He's a big part of this offense. He's a great player that obviously we have to find a way to get the ball to uniquely. "
Gruden also gave his scouting report for the Eagles' defense, a group that he'll face off against for the fourth time in the last two years.
"They have some good players over there and they can get some pressure. Fletcher Cox is playing at a very high level obviously. Connor (Barwin) is always a disruptive pass rusher. Brandon Graham is an excellent pass rusher. (Mychal) Kendricks is very, very good. Their secondary -- I don't know who is going to be back there injury-wise -- but they play a very aggressive style of defense and it will be a great challenge for us in protection and then in the run game they run a lot of stunts, and they're very effective in that regard."
Click here or press play on the video above to hear the entire conference call with Coach Gruden.