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    • Skins Quotes 12/3: Pre-Game vs. Rams

      December 3, 2014
      Redskins Park


      Head Coach Jay Gruden

      On the injury report:
      “Did not participate was [Kedric] Golston, lower back/foot; [Jason] Hatcher, knee; [DeSean] Jackson, fibulas; [Brandon] Meriweather, toe; and [Chase] Minnifield, concussion. Limited were [Will] Compton with his neck, [E.J.] Biggers with his concussion, Keenan Robinson with his knee, Chris Baker with his SC joint, Ryan Clark with his neck stinger. Full was [Ryan] Kerrigan – wrist – and Silas Redd.”

      On tackle Trent Williams is listed:
      “No, [Trent] Williams is OK.”

      On if quarterback Colt McCoy is settling into the starting quarterback role:
      “Yeah, with more reps comes more confidence and he is obviously gaining a head of steam right now and that’s important for the quarterback position. You’d like to have stability there obviously and he has had limited reps all through camp and he had the majority of the reps just before the Dallas game – was really the only time he got a full load of reps – now last week and this week of course. So you could see that he has taken ownership of the position and that’s what he has got to do to be successful. He is doing a good job.”

      On if McCoy now has the ability to be more of a vocal leader:
      “Well, I think first you have to back it up with your play before you start talking. I think people respect the way he has been playing and competing, and with positive play comes positive results and then more leadership. Leadership is something that is earned, not something that’s given, so he’s still got to earn his role and I think he will when it’s all said and done.”

      On how he handles a specific unit after a bad week:
      “Yeah, we try to go back to basics and you try to just – you do a good job of correcting mistakes, you’ve just got to continue correcting and trying to figure out why there was confusion and letting them be participants in the meeting instead of doing all the talking. You have got to find out why, what was the confusion here and find out what’s going through their mind and pick their brain a little bit. I think just a matter of continuing doing what we are doing, but maybe taking a step back and simplifying some things for them and trying to let them play fast, get the calls out sooner to them so they can communicate and then when it’s time to play, play fast and do the right thing. But there is nothing really different you can do. You’ve just got to keep coaching them up and hope they don’t keep making the same mistakes, which I have.”

      On simplifying the schemes:
      “The issue was the schemes we messed up were the simplest ones we’ve got. You know, that was the problem. It’s not like we were running around playing – buzzing and ‘You take that guy if he goes here, I’ll take that guy.’ You know there wasn’t a lot of combo in-and-out coverages and all that. It was simple type coverages that we messed up so that’s the part that is disturbing. But like I said, they’re all pretty young back there other than Ryan Clark, who is ancient, but we’ve just got to keep coaching them and not lose faith. You just can’t lose faith in them, man. I really think we have some talent back there, we just have to get it out of them the best way we can.”

      On what he can do to get wide receiver Pierre Garçon more involved:
      “Well, he’s trying. You know we gave him I think nine targets and only three of them were complete. We overthrew him a couple times, underthrew him once, so it’s not for a lack of trying, it’s just a matter of taking advantage of opportunities is the only thing I can say. And he’s going to continue to compete and play hard and you just can’t worry about the stat numbers. You just have to go out and play your position and do your job and when the ball comes take advantage of them and hopefully the ball is thrown accurately to you. A couple times they weren’t, a couple times he was covered pretty good by Vontae [Davis] but we’ve just got keep grinding with our offense and stick with our plan and not forcing in the ball to anybody. If the coverage dictates it, he will get the ball.”

      On McCoy battling his way through the NFL:
      “I’ve talked about the mental toughness, No. 1, you’ve got to have. You’ve got to have the talent obviously, but you’ve got to be mentally tough because you’re going to have some rough patches. You’re going to have some ups and downs. You’re going to have games where you have a 20 passer rating or whatever it is where you get booed and you get bad articles written about you and you get cut possibly. You’ve got to be able to withstand all that and continue to believe in yourself, No. 1. Have confidence in what you are doing and then continue to work on your craft, like Colt has done. He has not given up, he has continued to work. He went to San Francisco last year and battled for a backup spot and then this year he came here and just accepted the fact that he was a No. 3 but worked himself into a spot where if given an opportunity he was ready to go. And that’s what we try to preach to all our guys is once you get the opportunity you have to make something of it. So that’s what he has done, he is a resilient guy that works hard and now it’s his opportunity to take this job and what he does with it is up to him.”

      On punter Tress Way:
      “Am I allowed to talk positive on this? Tress has been outstanding. Obviously he was a great find for us. He has been everything more than we expected. He has changed field position, he’s great as far as backing people up and getting the ball downed inside the opponent’s 10-yard line. When we are backed up, he gives great hang time and gives our punt team a chance to cover. Been an outstanding guy for us and he’s got to be – got to have some consideration for some Pro Bowl votes if you’re looking at his stats and his numbers and what he has done for this team.”

      On linebacker Ryan Kerrigan:
      “Yeah, we just need Ryan [Kerrigan] to continue to keep developing and then he needs to just take a leadership role up to another notch. He is a quiet kid, he does everything you ask him to do, he plays hard. He’s just got to continue to keep working. He has got a chance to be one of those guys you talk about at outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. He is solid at the point in the running game and then he’s just got to continue working on his pass rush, which he has been very productive, but you can’t say enough about what he has done for us so far. With [Brian] Orakpo going down and we just have got to get a little bit more from him – he needs to almost be Superman for us, but he has been close to it. We love the way he plays and the effort that he brings.”

      On if there is a lack of effort for which he has to punish the team:
      “I don’t think it’s effort, really. I think effort-wise, I think our guys are still playing at a pretty high level. They do compete as far as effort is concerned, running to the football on defense. It’s some of the mental lapses that we have had is frustrating for everybody, the easy plays that we are giving up that we shouldn’t be giving up, some of the mentals that we have and that goes coaching and players alike. We both have got to stand up and take responsibility for that but when the same plays happen over and over again then you have to think about changing the players out or changing the scheme, one or the other. The problem is there are not a lot of players available at this time a year when you can just, ‘OK, let’s go bring him in here and play.’ You know, you just have to continue to coach these guys up and hope to goodness that it clicks for them someday where they can play fast and be the player we think they can be because I think we have a lot of talent on this roster still. We just have got to continue to coach them up and try to get the most out of it so by the end of the year we have a good feeling of what we have in store for next year and the year after.”

      On if he is concerned that veterans will not give effort down the stretch:
      “No, I don’t have that concern whatsoever. If I had that concern, I wouldn’t be here. I think these guys are playing very fast and playing physical. They all want to win. They care. They care about this team. They care about this city. They know they have not put their best foot forward. We’ve got four games left, three of them are at home. We are excited to go out there and compete and hopefully show that the first 12 games are not what the Redskins are about, hopefully finish this thing on a high note with some great energy and great competitive spirit and give the fans something to cheer about finally.”

      On if Phillip Thomas would start at safety if Brandon Meriweather is unable to play:
      “Yeah, he probably would right now. We don’t know where Meriweather is at right now. He is a little sore still but Phillip has got to step up and play. All these guys do, some of these young guys, they have got to step up and play and know what to do, No. 1. Phillip has got good ball skills and he is a good tackler, just sometimes he just gets a little out of whack sometimes. So we’ve just got to make sure he knows exactly what to do and how to do it. He should be more than ready. He has been here for a couple years now so he should be ready to roll, so we expect good things from Phillip.”

      On the difference it could make with McCoy knowing he is the starter:
      “Well, it shouldn’t change his approach to the game. I think it should rev him up obviously a little bit but his approach, Colt’s a pro and his approach has not changed since he was the No. 3 quarterback to No. 1. He has put in the time. He wasn’t even active the first couple weeks and he was still one of the last ones to leave the building as far as watching tape and coming up with ideas and things of that nature. So I have been impressed with Colt all the way through and I’m happy he has got this opportunity. He just has got to continue to do what he is supposed to do and not put too much on him, you know not put too much pressure on himself – relax, play the position like he can and let the game come to him and he will be fine. You’ve just got to relax and do it. But from a preparation standpoint, he has always been that type of guy that as far as he’s going to do everything he can to get himself better.”

      On how hard it is to find players with high football IQ:
      “That’s the hardest thing. That’s why in the draft there’s a lot of misses from time to time in first, second, third rounders because you can’t judge that until you actually get them in your building. You can only see what they do on tape and the 40-yard dash. Football IQ and the Wonderlic test are two different things. I’ve seen guys with great Wonderlic scores that have the dumbest football IQ I’ve ever seen and vice versa. You’ve got to get them in your building and work with them and find out their strengths and weaknesses and really cater to their weaknesses to get them stronger and strengthen their strengths and move forward. But there’s no exact process as far as evaluating that. If you can figure that one out, you’ll make a lot of money.”

      On how much of McCoy’s future remains ahead of him and if there is an optimum age for an NFL quarterback:
      “He’s got a ton of his career ahead of him. I think there’s really not an optimum age. Obviously you’d like to – I think quarterbacks get better with age, better with time the more time they see, because the speed of the game is so different from college to the NFL – you really can’t compare. There’s been a couple very successful quarterbacks at a young age, but very few and far between. You don’t get to be a dominant quarterback until your mid 20s – 26, 27, 28 – and then you can keep that going until your mid 30s and late 30s. I’ve seen some guys do it. But this position takes time. To see the concepts, the speed of the game, get used to players around you, snap count, I mean, there’s so many things, so many variables that go into playing the position of quarterback that you can only get better with time, and it does take a lot of time to do that.”

      On why he decided to target McCoy in the offseason:
      “Well, I’ve seen him at Texas. Obviously he’s one of the winningest quarterbacks in college football history. I remember him playing at Cleveland and had some rough patches there, but he was always a tough, competitive quarterback. Anytime you get that type of gritty, tough competitive quarterback, you want him in your building. We needed a [No.] 3, and we also liked his accuracy and he had some good movement skills also. Plus, he was in the West Coast system, so he should have been familiar with our concepts and what we were trying to do offensively. It was a no-brainer. He’s a great kid. He’s smart. He’s tough and he throws an accurate ball. Those are four very key elements to being a good quarterback. Now, he hadn’t had the success obviously, which is a negative, but we thought we’d take a chance on him and give him a shot.”

      On if this job was tougher than he envisioned:
      “Training camp, we had high hopes, man. We really did. We thought we had some pieces in place and then we just hit the injury bug. A lot of the free agents that we signed and counted on – even you talk [Darryl] Sharpton and Akeem Jordan, they’re out, Tracy Porter never practiced – and we lost D-Hall and [Brian] Orakpo and our depth was really tested early. That was something – we didn’t have great depth to start with anyway. Then we lost a lot of key players at key positions, especially on defense, and that hurt us a little bit. We had high hopes going in, but now that we are where we are, now we’re just trying to finish out strong to give us something positive to build on, really get to know what these players are made of, not only from a physical standpoint, but from a mental standpoint, what they’re made of as far as how they like football – Do they like to compete? – and what type of guys to move forward with. So this is great chance for us to really see what type of players we have, what type of men we have as far as their competitive nature. I’ve been impressed so far, just out at practice today the guys were moving around pretty good. There’s not any bickering or griping right now so far, so I’m impressed with that. It’s just a matter of finishing the season and seeing what we have for the future.”

      On how frustrating it is to frequently face third-and-long:
      “It’s hard, but we have to do a better job of converting. There’s no reason we should be this bad on third down. It’s a little bit of everybody [that] has their hand in it. Sometimes the play calls, I give us no chance, should maybe play field position and get a punt. I don’t want to take a sack or a loss, but maybe I’ll call a screen or a draw or something like that. And other times, we’ve just got to make some plays. Quarterback has got to step up, move around and find some open receivers and the receivers have got to do a good job of finding holes in zones. It’s a grind of a down but there’s no reason we should be as bad as we are, but you’re right, the third down and longs, we’ve got to find a way to stay out of those. You want to be a running team, you want to take the pressure off the quarterback, but if you lose two yards on first down, you’ve got second-and-12. OK, you pop a draw here, now it’s third down and 8. What have we got? So we’ve had some tough situations, but still, we’ve got to find a way to convert on offense and then conversely on defense, for whatever reason, third down and 10, we’re not very good. We’re much better third-and-2-4 than we are third-and-9-plus, I believe. I could be wrong. It’s something that we’ve just got to continue to work and concentrate on, but I have no reason why we’re so bad on third-and-10-plus. I think we’re 2-for-50. I think Andrew Luck completed four third-and-10s in the game last week. So we’ve just got to keep grinding and keep working the concepts. Protection is harder. Route concepts are harder, they’re deeper. It’s a great challenge. We just haven’t been up to it this year.”

      On how much a change of environment can help quarterbacks:
      “It depends on the environment. If it suits the quarterback… I’ve seen other quarterbacks go somewhere and it doesn’t help at all. But change of environment, change of system could help a quarterback immensely. You’ve seen that happen to a number of guys throughout the history of the NFL, just a matter of A) the player – is he willing to adjust and adapt to a new environment and continue to work—and B) does the system fit the quarterback? So all that takes into account and how good the team around him is.”

      Quarterback Colt McCoy

      On the challenges of converting on third-and-long:
      “That’s a good first question. Third-and-long is a hard down to convert on, no matter what offense you’re playing in. The statistics – to be a good offense, I think you want to convert around 25-30 percent of those, right? So, we’re obviously below that and we’ve got to get better. I think the thing you can help yourself with is not staying in third-and-longs all the time. I felt like in the first half last week, we just stayed in third-and-long, third-and-long, third-and-long. It was hard to find a way to convert, and the first time we did convert on third-and-10, we went down and scored a touchdown. So, when you can convert, it gives you some momentum. It’s certainly something we’ll be aware of at practice this week and continue to work on that.”

      On how to use wide receiver Pierre Garçon more on offense:
      “I just think we have to communicate as best as we can. I’m certainly with Jay [Gruden] and in agreement with Jay that we need to get Pierre the ball as much as we can. I remember the first completion I had on this team was to Pierre for a touchdown – it was pretty much all him. He made a tremendous play. So, I believe in Pierre. I think he’s great receiver. I think he’s an asset for us on our football team and we can continue to find ways to get him involved.”

      On what defenses are doing to limit Garçon:
      “It’s easy for defenses to game plan one way or the other – who they’re going to take away. Maybe they roll-over DeSean [Jackson] and man the X backside. A lot of our concepts and plays, we just have got to be more aware of where Pierre is, how we can be creative in getting him the football. He’s always involved in the game plan. It’s just a matter of staying protected and finding him throughout the progressions.”

      On why he has struggled in first halves compared to his performance in second halves:
      “Maybe a little rust. I can’t put my finger on it, but I certainly would like to start a little faster – not just me but everybody. I feel like we were kind of flat I guess, coming out in the beginning of the game. When you get a turnover, it’s nice to get a touchdown instead of a field goal. Maybe our approach this week is we do a little bit more things that we feel like we’ll do earlier in the game. I’m not sure. I’m not going to get too worried about it, but I am in agreement with you that we need to try to start a little bit faster.”

      On what he can do to increase the offense’s tempo:
      “I just think maybe we can work on that in practice this week, getting guys in and out of the huddle, getting lined-up. I felt like last week early in the game, I wasn’t getting the call in until 20-25 seconds, then getting everybody to the line, trying to see the defense and make my adjustments on the line of scrimmage on the road. That’s just tough to do. I felt like in the second half we got better and better at it and we were able to operate and do some things at the line of scrimmage that helped us get more of a flow as far as the game went. So, whether we kind of speed it up in practice this week, I’m not sure. Playing at home may help a little bit, but yeah, it certainly needs to get out of the huddle a little bit quicker so we can see the looks that the defense is going to give us. That’s key for us this week. St. Louis has a great defense. They always have the last several years. I played in their division last year, and it was always a headache. Those guys come at you from all different directions, and they have got a great front four who can get pressure on the passer, and their blitz packages on third down are probably the best in the league. We definitely have our hands full with them this week.”

      On tight end Jordan Reed:
      “Jordan is a tremendous athlete. He has got great hands and good ball skills. I like throwing to him, for sure. I think with him in the lineup and on the field, we can see coverages a little better, ‘Who’s guarding Jordan? Is it a safety? A linebacker? Are they keeping a corner on him?’ He’s a great player to have, a good asset to have, and he continuing to get better every time he steps on the field.”

      On if his preparation has changed knowing he will continue to have a chance to start:
      “Again, I don’t want to look too far ahead. I’m just focused on this week. But with each start I think naturally you gain a little more confidence, you gain a little bit more of a leadership role on the team and you just have to continue to focus that way. I feel like that’s the only way to go for me. You know, I’m in the lineup, I’m starting, and it’s my job to go out and lead our football team on Sunday. So a little bit more vocal at practice and just continuing to play the best football I can play. You know, there are some things I can clean up. I think there are some things that as an offense we can certainly clean up in a lot of different areas. Hopefully we can make some adjustments this week and come up with a good game plan for the Rams.”

      On what lessons he learned from being around losing teams early in his career:
      “Yeah, it’s not a fun place to be sometimes, unfortunately. But that’s the cards we are dealt right now and that’s the cards I was dealt stepping into this position playing quarterback. But, you know, my dreams and goals don’t change. I want to be a starter in this league and I have that opportunity right now. So I think the biggest thing for us is to come together as a unit and make these last four games the best games we can possibly play. Let’s go out there and compete, let’s play hard and we have a great football teams in the Rams coming here on Sunday and if we are not ready, they are going to get after us. I think everyone knows what’s at stake and we just have to continue to find a way to get a win. That’s our only goal right now.”

      On if the Rams’ pass rush is his biggest concern:
      “Yeah, I think their ability to rush the passer with their front four is obviously tops in the league. You turn on the tape and the Broncos is one of the best offenses and they put up seven points against them. So, for me as a quarterback watching Peyton [Manning] or watching all the other guys play against them, that certainly opens your eyes. They’ll get heat on the passer but their blitz packages are unique. They come at you from all different directions. They will bring safeties, they’ll bring corners, they’ll bring guys out of the secondary all the time. You look at their defense, they have got a lot of first and second rounders. I mean, their defense is playing at a high level. They’ve got good players, they’ve got great talent. So we understand how good they are and it’s going to take a good week of preparation for us to ready for them.”

      On how hard it is to keep players focused when the team is playing poorly:
      “Yeah it’s tough, it’s tough, but I think this locker room is full of guys with a lot of pride, and like I mentioned earlier, the most important thing for us is these next four games. I know Jay is evaluating all of us. I know our organization is evaluating all of us and I think we all know that. So for us, we just have to approach it one week at a time and do everything we can in our ability to finish this season as best we can, finish it the right way and I know the guys in that locker room will come together that way and finish strong.”

      On if receiving instruction in the headset has contributed to delays with the play call:
      “No, I don’t necessarily think that’s the problem. I feel like Jay and Sean [McVay] do a pretty good job of getting me the play. I just think we need to get back to the huddle a little quicker, line up a little quicker and against a team like St. Louis or a team like Indy last week, who made some adjustments – they stem, they rotate the safeties. If we can get up to the line of scrimmage and let me see the big picture and let me audible and change the protections and do the things that I need to do with a little bit extra time, I think that makes my life a lot easier and the offensive line’s job a lot easier, too. So I think that is probably more so kind of the urgency we are trying to have this week.”

      On why he thinks he is the best choice to start at quarterback:
      “That decision is not my decision, first of all. I don’t get paid enough money for that. But I just want to compete. I want to play hard. I want to play fast. I want to distribute the football. I want to make good decisions. I want to be a good leader. I want to be a good communicator. I think all those things is what Jay is looking for and I just go out there and each day at practice, each day in meetings, in the locker room, just be the best I can be – be the best quarterback I can be – and overall I guess that is what Jay decided to go with. But Robert [Griffin III] has been great, Kirk [Cousins] has been outstanding. I think there’s three really good quarterbacks in our room and I am proud to be playing right now.”

      Tackle Trent Williams

      Opening statement:
      “In case you didn’t know, obviously I am here promoting the Tackle Diabetes Game with the American Diabetes Association. We are trying to raise awareness to Type 2 diabetes. It affects a lot of people, obviously it affected myself with my grandfather so I am just up here trying to help to spread the word.”

      On his experience and why he wanted to contribute:
      “Well, my grandfather died at an early age with Type 2 diabetes. I wasn’t able to establish that grandfather-grandson relationship that I wanted to – he was my only grandfather that I knew of. My mom, she didn’t know her father so he was the only grandfather figure that I had and we lost him real early – real early in my life – to Type 2 diabetes.”

      On his goal with the American Diabetes Association:
      “We really just want to bring light to the topic of Type 2 diabetes. It affects 30 million Americans every year and with us having the platform that we have and with me being a bigger guy and being an offensive lineman – where we are encouraged to carry excess weight – to let folks know that after football that I really have to focus on eating healthy and staying active. Obviously meeting with a physician all the time to going over and basically getting myself checked out because I have a family history with it. So that’s basically what it is. We are just trying to raise awareness and me having being affected by it, I felt like it was a perfect opportunity for me.”

      On how diabetes affected his grandfather’s quality of life:
      “It was devastating to me being young and being a part of athletics. My grandfather was never able to come watch me play because he was so frequently sick and had to stay in the house from complications from diabetes. And we always had to come over and visit him and it was kind of a sight that no little kid would want to be a part of – just real sick, very weak, unable to be active at times. I mean, me being a young kid, I didn’t have any type of awareness of what diabetes was, I’d just see my grandfather suffering whenever I’d see him.”

      On what steps he takes to make sure he does not put himself at risk for diabetes:
      “You’ve got to pay attention to what you put into your body. I was taught that you only get out what you put into yourself. So, you know, obviously I am going to have to watch my intake as far as food-wise and make healthy decisions. Obviously, I am not just going to be able to just sit up on the couch after 10 years of football, 12 years of football or however long and just be a couch potato. Obviously, I am still going to have to get out and be active because I am raising two daughters of my own and I want them to lead a healthy life. so I know I will have to be a good example.”

      On his grandfather’s name and how old Williams was upon his death:
      “His name was John L. Hawkins. I was in elementary school, so I am not sure my age. I know it was right before I went to middle school.”

      On the age at which his grandfather passed:
      “62.”

      St. Louis Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher

      On preparing for quarterback Colt McCoy:
      “Well, there’s plenty of tape. We’ve got Dallas and we’ve got last week. He’s played well. We look at that, but when you prepare for an offense, you prepare for the entire offense and then you look at the individual positions with emphasis obviously on the quarterback. There’s enough tape for him. I’m just very impressed. I know he had a couple tough hits and some sacks, made some great throws. It’s apparent he has a good feel for the offense. The more and more he plays, the better he’s going to get. That’s the case with any quarterback.”

      On how the Rams’ pass rush has improved:
      “I think our reputation from last year was part of our problem early in the season. Early on, we went like five weeks without a sack. The ball was coming out and teams were running it. They just weren’t holding onto it. Of course, all pass rushing teams are at their best when you’re playing with the lead and people have to throw. We take advantage of that here. I think it took us a while to settle in. Michael Brockers is playing well. Since we’ve increased Aaron Donald’s play time, he’s making more and more plays, we’ve been really pleased with what he’s done. So, it may have taken Gregg [Williams] a few weeks to the talent that we have. There was a few times I think maybe Rob [Quinn] was out of place, but so far, recently, it’s been very effective for us.”

      On the 2012 trade between the Redskins and Rams:
      “Well, to take into consideration, I have three defensive starters that are playing at a real high level. Alec Ogletree is playing as good as any linebacker I think behind the ball right now the last few weeks. Janoris [Jenkins] is an outstanding corner. He has got two interception returns for touchdowns, and I mentioned Brockers. We were able to pick up our future – he’s currently starting at left tackle because of the injury to Jake [Long], but Greg [Robinson] is going to be our future there at left tackle. I gave Stedman Bailey a game ball this morning for five catches and 100 yards, and then Zac [Stacy] is an outstanding young back. So, I think we made the most of the opportunities and we’re building our team to compete in the division, and I think we’re making strides. That was one of the questions we wanted to have answered this year. Unfortunately, we lost Sam [Bradford]. We’ve had some quarterback issues – not necessarily negative – but I’m really pleased with what Austin [Davis] did when he got the opportunity. Now, I think Shaun [Hill] has shown he can win games for us. We’re building to compete in the division and because of the trade, we got off to a great start.”

      On balancing a “win now” attitude with patience:
      “I think a lot has to do with the fact that unfortunately we’ve been without Sam for over half the time I’ve been here. I still think Sam is an outstanding quarterback and an outstanding talent. He finished the first year here, we were 4-1-1 in the division with him, and then we got off to a slow start but we were picking things up last year and then we lost Sam in Week 6 or 7. As we all know, the key to consistent play and staying in games is consistent quarterback play, and we just haven’t had the same guy there. I’m really pleased with Shaun, glad we got him. I’m looking forward to finishing up the year with him and then we’ll make our decisions when the season is over.”

      On if it was tough to make the trade in 2012:
      “No, it wasn’t difficult for us. We came in here, looked at our roster in detail as I did prior to taking the job, but had a couple months to recognize that we had a lot of holes and had a lot of work to do. So, it was an easy decision for us.”

      On if he thought he had taken advantage of the Redskins:
      “No. At the time it was a good decision for them and it was a good decision for us. Both sides were happy with it.”

      On if he is “shocked” by the career of quarterback Robert Griffin III:
      “You use the word ‘shock.’ I would never use that term. We played Robert early his first year and he was making a lot of plays. To get that team to the playoffs as a rookie is pretty impressive, and unfortunately for him he’s been dealing with an offensive scheme change in addition to an injury. Those two things from a quarterback standpoint are just difficult to overcome. I think he’s an outstanding talent and very hard to defend.”

      On quarterback Shaun Hill:
      “Shaun started the season as our starter after Sam went down and then he had a quad injury at the end of the second quarter of the opener, and we went with Austin [Davis]. He healed up two or three weeks later and we decided to stay with Austin. But, since moving back to Shaun, I think Shaun’s done a real good job for us. He’s started three games for us, he’s won two at home. 1) He’s got great defensive support. We’ve allowed seven points at home here, and 2) the last two games between Denver and Oakland, I thought he made some really good throws, handled some difficult circumstances in San Diego, had a couple touchdown passes called back. Unfortunately, it came down to that last throw. That’s just one of those things that happened. I think from our standpoint, having a chance to come back and beat the Chargers inside of a minute with a shot at the end zone, and then having to endure that difficult loss and bounce back the way we did, I can’t speak enough good things about Shaun and what he’s done for us.”

      On what he liked about Hill initially:
      “We actually visited with him a couple of years ago and he elected to go back and be Matt’s [Stafford] backup, which was fine but we felt with Kellen [Clemens] moving on that we want somebody with experience that can come in and finish a game or start a game if need be. But, more than that, just be a support system for Sam. That’s what he was. He accepted that role. Of course he wanted to play, but you ask Matt Stafford, Shaun was outstanding as a teammate of his. You game plan week after week and that’s what we anticipated having here, but unfortunately Sam went down. Oh, and by the way, Sam’s doing the same thing for Shaun right now. So, I’m just happy to have him around. He’s very, very competitive, does not get rattled at all. He expects players to be in the right place at the right time. I think that was evident on some of his throws last week, especially the Stedman Bailey throw. He expects a lot out of the offensive players.”

      On if good defenses start with building the pass rush instead of the secondary:
      “I’ll start with the secondary. As far as the secondary’s concerned, I think depth should be your major priority there, because over the years you know guys are going to go down, and that’s all three positions – your safeties, your corners and your inside nickel slots. So you have to have depth, and that’s what we did. At one point this year, I was playing with three rookies and they were playing well. I have a rookie corner that’s playing and we’ve got depth there, so that’s important. But I mean, if you have to start someplace, you have to start up front. You have to build yourself inside-out and inside-backwards with your backers. That was our philosophy with Brock and then of course I think people, when you look at what we did last year up front, I don’t think people thought we were going to go out there and get Aaron Donald, but how can you pass up on an outstanding player? You can’t have enough good defensive linemen, and we have got depth there and right now they’re playing pretty well.”

      On keeping the team motivated:
      “That’s in their personality. They love to practice and they love to play. They love to compete. There’s only one way you play this game. It’s fast and physical with the expectation to win every single one, and that’s the way we are and that’s the way we started the year. We’re not going to change that. So, I think our job as coaches is to get them to play hard, play smart, think they can win, rest them back up and bring them back the next week. We had practice last week when four out of our last five games were on the road against playoff teams, and that’s a challenge. Our challenge this week is to win two in a row and we have not done that this year. We beat some good teams. When you talk about Seattle, San Francisco and Denver, you beat some good teams along the way and you nearly beat a couple of other teams. This is a good group. They’re young, they come to work, they love to practice and play.”

      On if he changes his message when the team is out of the playoff picture:
      “No. Sorry to give you a one-word answer to a long question, but no, there’s no message. There’s only one way to do it, you know? We’re pushing fundamentals and technique on the practice field, working drills, studying film and working to improve.”

      On defensive end Chris Long’s return:
      “It’s great to get him back. He’s not 100 percent yet, but I brought him back just to get him off my rear end. He was just wearing me out to come back and play. Chris understands the game, he plays with leverage, he’s a good run defender. It’s great to get on the board from a sack standpoint. It gives us depth, it gives us the ability to keep our D-line fresh and waving them fresh because we’ll play them all –whoever’s active is going to get on the field and play. Our philosophy is, ‘Play as hard as you can. If you’re tired, come stand by me and don’t be tired out there.’ And that’s what they do. They do a good job supporting each other.”

      St. Louis Rams DE Chris Long

      On what it will be like to play near home:
      “It will be great. I always look forward to playing back close to home, and anytime you play a team like Washington or Carolina or even Philly, up there, it’s a lot of fun because I’ve got a good number of people that will probably be coming to the game. I know we’ve got a couple of East Coast guys that are going to be needing a lot of tickets. That’s a lot of fun. Anytime you get to play in front of old friends, that’s a good time. But it’s just going to be a big challenge and look forward to the challenge of not only winning on the road but playing a tough football team like Washington and it should be a great game.”

      On the challenge of coming back after a long layoff:
      “You know, rehab is tough. Rehab is as mental of a grind as it is physical. I’ve never been through anything like that, never had to miss games. So I don’t know, maybe some people it doesn’t bother a lot. It really bothered me and I just was happy to be back. And you know, had my ups and downs in my first game back and I never expected it to be smooth sailing all the time but I am feeling better every day. I just got to a point where coaches felt I could help the team and it was safe for me to play and I was very appreciative of them letting me go out there and play last Sunday and it was a great team win.”

      On the challenges of staying competitive when out of the playoff picture:
      “Well, I mean, if you’re a real football player I don’t think you need any extra motivation to be competitive. I think anytime you show up on Sunday and put your uniform on and play somebody that’s trying to embarrass you out there – because that’s really what can happen if you’re not prepared – you’ve got to show up and play. So Coach [Jeff] Fisher does a great job of preparing us to play, every Sunday and we feel like we have a ton to play for. We don’t pay attention to anything like a playoff picture or lack of playoff picture. Honestly, I haven’t played those scenarios out. We just are going to try to win each game that is put in front of us and that’s all we can do and Coach Fisher does a great job of keeping the team focused and ready for each challenge.”

      On what the team did to fix the pass rush in the last several weeks:
      “Sometimes it’s not so much what you fix. You adjust some things, and sometimes it’s a product of what people are doing against you, you know. When we play teams the ball is out quick, there is no doubt about that. And then there are other defensive lines in the league that garner respect like ours does. It’s a byproduct of I think what we need to adjust a little bit and we made those adjustments and then also just that sometimes teams are going to be getting the ball out quick and there is nothing you can do about it. But I know that guys like Aaron Donald, his addition has really helped us and you know adjusting to the scheme a little bit, it’s never easy when you’ve got a new scheme. But guys are coming along really well right now and the important thing is we found a good groove.”

      On what he did to stay sane during rehab:
      “I didn’t. It didn’t work. I went crazy, so there was nothing I could find really to keep me happy. I was able to lean on my teammates and be here every day and put in the hours and kind of simulate like I was preparing for a game, playing in a game each week and be there to help when I could, be there to help younger players if they needed help and just be at all the meetings and make sure I am available and visible because I think anytime a player is hurt they can do one of two things, they can just kind of bide their time or try to attack it and do everything they can. I just didn’t want to be those guys that kind of disappears from the facility, especially being on that short IR. I just tried to stay as busy as I could.”

      On the impact of defensive tackle Aaron Donald:
      “Aaron Donald has a really big impact. He is very good in the run game and obviously his strength is his pass rush. He is kind of a rare talent because he is a ready-made NFL defensive lineman in that he shows up and he is going to be productive and he already knows all the hand work and the techniques and he is ahead of his time. So that’s big because that’s one less thing you have got to worry about – trying to develop him – because he is already ready to work and he’s already got a lot of what he needs to have down. He’s a good guy in the locker room and we all like playing with him. So it’s been a lot of fun. He is the type of guy that when you see us draft him you get excited and then you play with him and it motivates you even more for the future.”

      On the University of Virginia retaining Head Coach Mike London:
      “Yeah, I am glad Coach [Mike] London is coming back. You know a lot of time people have all these ideas about ‘This person needs to go,’ or ‘This needs to get fixed,’ but they don’t have a solution. I think the continuity there and giving him another year to kind of develop talent, bring in talent and form an identity will be good. I think a lot of people – we had an opportunity to be an eight-win type team this year. I know that there’s a bunch of teams sitting there thinking that, but if you watch UVA’s games, they were close a lot. At the end of the day, they’ve got to win ball games but if you just in August said this was the product that they were going to put on the field through the year, I think most people would have said, ‘I’m pleasantly surprised with the way they were playing,’ because a lot of people had them pegged for a two-, three-win season. So this year is going to be big for Coach L and I am excited for the future.”

      On how many tickets he has had to obtain for the game:
      “Right now I think I have like – I am not in the fifties or anything like that, but I will probably have like 15-20 family passes or tickets. You know, you get a bunch of them like Saturday, people think – anybody reading this, call me earlier in the week because it’s not like Saturday night I’m just going to pop down to the ticket office and get you a ticket. And these tickets do cost money, people. It’s going to be great to see everybody and I’ve got a lot of great friends, old teammates and with my luck someone will show up Sunday. So it will be great to see them.”
      This article was originally published in forum thread: Skins Quotes 12/3: Pre-Game vs. Rams started by Boone View original post
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