Jay Gruden gabs for 1st time in months

Head coach Jay Gruden looks on prior to a game. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Jay, it’s been a while. What’s new?

In his first formal media availability since January 2nd, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden met with reporters at the annual league meeting Tuesday in Arizona.

“We have a lot of reasons for excitement around here,” Gruden insisted. “I don’t know why everyone is so doom and gloom.”

These comments come in his first pre-planned press gathering since Washington lost both coordinators, gave Gruden a historic contract extension – becoming the first head coach to be extended under team owner Dan Snyder, fired general manager Scot McCloughan and may or may not have engaged in trade talks about Kirk Cousins. Washington’s head coach did not conduct a press conference at the NFL scouting combine.

“I’m very optimistic,” Gruden explained when asked about the offseason and 2017 expectations. “It’s not great, but we’ve had back to back winning seasons and there’s no reason for us not to be optimistic. We have a very good offensive line coming back, our quarterback is coming back.”

Quarterback Kirk Cousins talks with head coach Jay Gruden. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Speaking on Cousins, Gruden is thrilled to have his QB back in the fold for 2017. Washington used the franchise tag on Kirk for the second straight season. If the ‘Skins and Cousins’ representatives can’t agree to a long-term contract by July 15, the QB will play on a one-year deal this season.

“Being a quarterback in the NFL – a starting quarterback, you should be a leader,” Gruden explained, when asked about the contract’s effect on Cousins’ demeanor. “You should feel good – no matter what your contract status is. I think having a long-term contract would maybe help a little bit, but I think when we get on the field that first Sunday afternoon – people are going to look to him for leadership.”

Washington, defending its 2015 NFC East division title, went 8-7-1 in 2016.