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Interview: Washington Football RB Coach Randy Jordan

ASHBURN, VA — July 31, 2020

On what it’s like working with Head Coach Ron Rivera and how he evaluates the running backs room:

“First of all, working with Ron is awesome. I have always been a big fan of his. Being from North Carolina, I have a lot of family that was praying for me during this whole transition. They are big fans of Ron and big fans of the Panthers. When they heard that I had an opportunity to stay and work alongside of him, they were extremely excited just like me and my family were. You talk about the running back room, it is deep. When you talk about depth, you can’t have too much depth at any of your positions. Especially the running back position. You are getting hit every play and it only takes one shot. Then, you’re playing with your second guy and then your third guy becomes your second guy. The thing is that we do have depth, but we also have guys that are versatile. Guys that are going to make each other better because of that deepness that brings out the competitiveness in them in terms of each day trying to make each other better.”

On what he is going to emphasize with the running backs:

“I think the biggest thing is when you look at the system and Scotty [Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner] has done a great job all offseason in terms of the virtual meetings. It has been extremely difficult, but everyone is in the same boat. Dealing with a pandemic, you can’t work with the guys until now. To answer your question, one thing that is a little different is the volume of routes that the running back has. Being able to read man and zone, little things that he is carrying with him from Carolina that they used with [Panthers Running Back Christian] McCaffrey in terms of the flexibility of the running back being able to line up outside and take advantage of mismatches. Getting guys outside into space compared to some of the things that we have done since I’ve been here.”

On RB Bryce Love:

“I think the biggest thing is when you look at Bryce, he had a phenomenal career at Stanford. I have known Bryce for a long time. I actually recruited him when I was at the University of North Carolina. He has some of the same tools as his Stanford teammate, McCaffery. A guy that can line up outside, catch the ball, have some flexibility. He is a tweener where he can run between the tackles and he can attack the edges with his speed. For him, it is just having confidence. Making that cut and getting hit. That is the thing with not having any preseason games. It hurts him as a player because he has not played. All the practices that we have lined up, we will get a clean evaluation of him. We are excited to have him back.”

On RB Antonio Gibson:

“He is an athlete. That is what he is. Just the couple of days that I’ve dealt with him. He is a guy that has good size. You look at his body, he is clay. For a guy that did what he did when he was at Memphis, the sample size of runs, the explosiveness, to be able to hit the home run but then he has this background that he has played quarterback. He has played receiver. When you talk about offense, he doesn’t just see it from the standpoint of running back. He sees it from all aspects because he has played all of these positions. I see a guy that can catch, I see a guy that can make guys miss, I see a guy that can run between the tackles and attack the perimeter like they have done at Carolina with McCaffrey. He can give you mismatches in the passing game. I am really excited about his development and to have the opportunity to work with him.”

On how the volume of routes affects how he coaches the running backs:

“I’m excited because it stretches me as a coach. We always want to be challenged. For me, the big thing is learning and emphasizing something that I haven’t emphasized in a long time. This is going back, but when we were at Oakland when I was playing, we had a guy named Charlie Garner. This is telling you guys my age, but Jon Gruden had a myriad of routes that could go from a particular read depending on the look and then it was a different route. In this offense, that is what you are talking about. A guy that has to be able to read coverages, leverages and make the right decision to be in tuned with the quarterback. Coach Jennifer King, who is assisting me coming from Carolina, she has played receiver, quarterback and is a pretty good athlete. She knows the offense and has been great in terms of being able to turn over the things that she knows and being able to give it to the players to be able to get done what we need to get done.”

On reasonable expectations for the running backs who don’t have experience running the routes in this offense:

“That’s a great question. I think the biggest thing for them is the fact that as a coach, my job is to put players in a position to be successful. Number one, everybody is not going to be running some of the routes, but everybody has to be responsible in terms of knowing how to do it. There may be a handful of things we ask 26 [RB Adrian Peterson] to do, that’s right in his wheelhouse. Adrian compared to [Derrius] Guice or compared to Antonio [Gibson], who’s got a background in running routes as a receiver to ask him to do a little more of those things. We’re going to make sure that everybody knows exactly what to do, how to do it, the way we want to do it and get it done. We just have to find the individuals who can do it the best.”

On what he can pinpoint with RB Adrian Peterson that allows him to keep contributing at his age:

“Well, first of all number one, when God made him, he just said ‘hey, you a football player.’ And gave him all the tools, the physical statue, the speed, the vision, being able to understand angels, a natural runner. That’s number one, just God given ability, things you cannot coach. Number two is I think what his longevity is and people will not talk about this is he had a stretch where he did not play a lot of. In terms of that, he was able to pretty much get rejuvenated. And then you think about the COVID situation. We’re not having the guys and grinding on them. They’re at home and we’re having Zoom meetings. I think with this situation, even though it hurts us as a new staff, but as a player that’s 30… you know, an older player. I won’t ever say his number because he’ll get mad at me. In terms of a guy that is older, this is something I feel like will rejuvenate him and he’ll come back just like he normally does in shape and ready to go.”

On RB Derrius Guice:

“Well Nicki, I think the biggest thing is what I’ve seen from him. I mean Derrius has a whole set of tools that a lot of players don’t have. He can catch it, he can run it, he can block. All those things you ask a running back to do and also get the tough yards in the short yardage situations and make those explosive plays. You put on what I call his splash reel, right. And I always tell him this, ‘the only thing you did this past year is you were an appetizer, I want the whole steak, I want the whole lobster, I want the whole thing.’ So when you talk about injuries, the biggest thing we do is we don’t talk about them. But we always talk about, ‘hey let’s be smart football players taking care of our body and making sure we’re doing all the different things so that when we’re ready to go and play, we’ve built our armor up so that we can take the pounding of the season.’ He’s been very unfortunate in terms of some of the injuries he had, fluke injuries. But the biggest thing I tell him, ‘your best ability is your reliability and your dependability.’ That’s something that he’s shown through the offseason. He has worked his butt off and changed his body. So far in terms of what I’ve seen, he’s done a great job of getting himself prepared for this upcoming season.”

On how he balances the egos, desires and goals of all the individual players in his room:

“So the biggest thing is with [Head Coach] Ron [Rivera] coming in, on the back of our shirts it says TEAM. And so I’ve always been that way. I played in a system where we had three, four guys. We had a short yardage and goal line back. [Former Raiders RB] Zack Crockett scored like 10 or 11 touchdowns. You know, I played with [Former Raiders RB’s] Tyrone Wheatley and Charlie Garner and we’d always say, ‘hey man, if you get to the goal line, you better punch it in because he’s gonna steal that touchdown.’ So the biggest thing is making sure they understand it’s about winning. It’s about winning. If you’re not doing all the things that we need to do as a group, as individuals, that don’t tie into the team and it’s about the carries and you have the attitude as, ‘hey, everything is fine as long as I get mine and we lose by 20.’ That’s not the people that we want in that room. That’s not the people that we want carrying the football, and they understand that. I preach it all the time. If we are winning and we’re being a successful offense, you will have enough touches to go around. I’m always preaching that in terms of team, and so far, I’ve had really good feedback from the guys since I’ve been here coaching.”

On the versatility in his room compared to past years:

“First of all, I've been very blessed to be here as long as I have and I know that. I know that is not typical, but I am very thankful for that. I think the No. 1 thing is when you think about the flexibility of the players that we have -- what it allows you to do is be able to be multi but basic at the same time and put stress on the offense. So if you have a guy like Derrius Guice and Antonio Gibson and you say, 'Hey, OK look we're going to put AP and Antonio in the game at the same time' Well, how you treat Antonio? Do you treat him like a receiver? Do you treat him like a running back? Where is he lining up at? Communication. Where is he in formation? Is he split out wide? OK, now does a linebacker go out on him? Do you feel comfortable with a linebacker covering a guy that has wide receiver skills? Then also it gives you flexibility in terms of your roster makeup on gameday. So you say, 'OK we've got Antonio Gibson who can play kickoff return and a guy that can play on all four on special teams which is valuable in this league.' So, I think the biggest thing is the guys that we have, have shown that they have flexibility across the board to be able to give your offense some flexibility where you say, 'OK I don't want to go three wide receivers.' Well, you've got a guy like Derrius who can catch the ball and put him in situations to do the same thing. This is the most flexibility that I have had since I've been here and I am excited about it.”

On the challenges of getting RB Antonio Gibson ready at the running back position given his history as a wide receiver:

“Let me say this, he is still clay when it comes to running back. He didn't sit in a lot of running back meetings and talk detail in terms of protections, knowing when guys are coming, being able to be fitting guys up and blocking guys that are 245 and seeing nickel pressures coming off of the edge. That is something that he knows that he has got to work at. But, the thing that we've done with in Zoom meetings and also the last couple of practices we've had, we've made sure that he gets enough receiver technique work with [Coach Hostler] 'Hos' our receiver coach and then he still has time to work on the fundamentals and techniques that he needs to play running back. We've done a good job and Coach Turner has in terms of making sure that he is splitting his time.”

On the possibility of Gibson moving over to wide receiver:

“I will tell you this, I am not one to predict. I think like we said before, it is the fact that it gives us that flexibility if need be. I think that is really important in terms of numbers. That is the thing that I'm learning just like you guys are learning in terms of COVID. It is here, so if all of a sudden we have a couple guys that -- boom at the receiver position you have another guy that is there that you can plug in and he is doing a great job. It is so funny, I've got to tell you this quick story, this is funny. He goes back and forth in terms of formations and when I'm quizzing him and talking to him, I give him this formation and he starts telling me what the 'F' is doing or the receiver is doing. I said, 'Whoa, whoa let's back this up. You're the halfback.' He said, 'Oh Coach, I'm sorry I thought I was at the 'F' this time.' So, I think that he is really dialed in in terms of what he has to do with the receivers position and also the running back position, but it also gives you that flexibility.”

On RB Peyton Barber:

“Let's not forget about Peyton. We watched Peyton on tape and obviously those guys being in the division got a chance to see him up and close. I think he is a guy that gives you some thump just like Adrian does. Obviously, he still has a lot of miles left on the tires. He has good vision, good contact balance. He shows the ability to catch the ball. I think he gives you depth at the position, which like I said before you always need. You can't have enough running backs and I think that his experience -- he is a pro's pro. That is the thing that I love. Even J.D. McKissic that we brought in. All of the guys fit into what Ron wants to do, what the Washington Football Team wants to do in terms of bringing in guys that aren't 'Me Guys' that are 'Team Guys' that want to help us get to being a winning team. So, that is the thing that I am really excited about him. He is going to do an excellent job for us when he comes in.”

On what stands out to him about RB J.D. McKissic:

“Well I will tell you what gets me juiced up. I love guys that are fire starters. What that means and if you've ever heard me say fire starters, it is a guy that can strike a match and start a fire anywhere on the field and that is what he does. He can take it from anywhere on the field and go score six for you. He catches the ball extremely well, he is smart, he is smart and can line up in different formations, can create mismatches and he can be a danger in the return game, he has covered kicks. He is a guy in my opinion that the ceiling -- he has a lot of room before he hits that ceiling and so just the initial in terms of Zoom calls -- again I cannot emphasize this enough, he fits what we want to do. In terms of his attitude, he is a pro's pro and it just blew me away because I didn't know him. The first time I ever talked to him I was like, 'Man, you sure we're not kin?' Because when we're talking, he's got bright eyes, he's ready to go so he's a guy that I think is going to really help us out a lot because of his experience and his ability to play the position.”

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