January 15, 2020
Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio – Conference Call
On his style of defense and what the impact of a pass rusher is:
“We have already declared that we are going to be in a 4-3. For us it’s about having our defensive linemen be penetrative and disrupted. Having a guy like [Denver Broncos Defensive End] Von Miller or a guy like [Chicago Bears Defensive End] Khalil Mack who are premier pass rushers, they put a lot of pressure on the offense and help the defense. It all starts for us with the penetrative, disruptive defensive linemen.”
On what stood out about this particular defense and how you address the underperformance in recent years:
“That’s really what it comes down to is the ability to play well as a unit. Everyone has talent. You go across the league, there is a collection of college all-stars that play in the NFL. To say we have talent, sure we do. I think everyone does. I think you collect talent and you go through the process of trying to acquire as many good players as you can, but ultimately, it comes down to us as a unit doing all we can to help get the ball back to the offense. Whether that is forcing three and outs, creating turnovers, whatever it takes to get the ball back. We want to do that. We want to play complimentary football and do our part on the defensive side to help our football team win.”
On Chase Young:
“The evaluation of the draft prospects will be ongoing. I think it is way too premature to start talking about it. Honestly, I am not going to be providing my evaluation for the world anyway. We will work at it. We will start with evaluating our roster first and learn our guys first. Then, we will prep for potential free agents and turn our attention to the draft. We have a lot of work to do in terms of the evaluation that will be on going throughout this offseason. We will be involved in it as coaches. We will provide the information to Coach Rivera and the scouting staff. We will let them make a decision on where we go. That evaluation is just getting started and we are a long ways away from having that completed. When I do complete it, I am just being honest, it is not my job to inform you all about our evaluation. I think that it is important what we do for the Redskins and allow the Redskins to use that information to the best of their ability.”
On what has changed in the game since he has been away from coaching:
“I think first of all, the first year I was away I went on a golfing trip to Ireland and did a lot of traveling that first year. This past year, I have been heavily involved in monitoring the league, watching the league, covering the league doing things for ESPN. I had been traveling to training camps and stuff that summer. My idea was definitely to find a way to get back in and I approached it that way. I think there are several things now that you can see where the league is going. I think there is a lot more emphasis on spreading the field not just vertically but horizontally. I think there is a greater need for speed on defense. Offenses in today’s NFL and college world, you are seeing college concepts and NFL concepts being comingled. I think we have restrictions on formations that colleges don’t. I saw a five on one side formation just the other day in one of the bowl games. You can’t get that in the NFL. You can’t create that, it is formationally not possible. It would be an infraction right from the start. You are seeing more concepts being used in the NFL like collegiate-type concepts. More quarterback option runs. Different things that you have to be able to handle. Different motions. Jet motions and all sorts of things. You have to be able to adjust to that. Just making sure the system that we install will be up to date and able to handle those things. I think the big things and what you are looking to do, I don’t think they have changed. I think you want to have and understand the fundamentals. You want to be the team that knows what it looks like to shed, stuff a block and get off and tackle. Those basic fundamentals continue to be important. For us, we are going to look to teach and develop. To me, we have players here that are maybe considered in a specific light and they will have the chance to change that. I was just talking about a story, a guy that will be playing this week, [Tennessee Titans Linebacker] Wesley Woodyard, when I arrived in Denver in 2012, I was told that he was just a special team’s guy and that I shouldn’t worry about him. He wasn’t going to amount to much. I said, ‘We’ll see. We are going to give everyone an opportunity to compete.’ We tried to build up the fundamentals and the confidence to see where they would go. Wesley is playing a big role for the Titans and will be playing in the AFC Championship Game this weekend. He has obviously gone on and taken advantage of his opportunity. We don’t know who we have here yet. That is the biggest thing is determining what we have and who we have. How far we can take them with developing them. That is where it starts.”
On his thoughts on Dwayne Haskins:
“I liked him coming out in the draft process. My thought is whenever you have a guy that is taken high in the draft, or any guy, you want to make sure you’re doing all you can to help him develop. As my role as an analyst, I may have commented a time or two on that because that is just how I feel about it. I think regardless of your personal feelings we have to come to a place where we are working hard to develop the players and the talent that we have. I see a lot of potential there, but I am going to let the offensive coaches talk about him and where they think they can take him. From my standpoint I think he is a fine young man and a good football player. I look forward to competing against him in practice.”
On the potential of the defense:
“In general, it can be better. Obviously, 32nd in third-down defense, 32nd in yards allowed, 32nd in things and towards the bottom of the league.”
On the potential of this defense:
“In general, I’d say it can be better. Obviously, 32nd in third down defense, 32nd in yards allowed, I mean just 32nd in things, towards the bottom of the league in several categories. So, there’s a lot of room for improvement. It’s interesting to me that so much is made this time of year with thoughts on potential. Potential really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t really amount to much. To me, it’s more about what we can get done and the work that we’re willing to put in and the idea that ‘look, we’re going to become a respected unit, okay?’ We’ve got to learn how to commit to doing what is best for each other and what is best for this football team. We have an opportunity. One of the things that I’ll talk to our guys about is we set our agenda, okay? Nobody else. In our room, we’ll set our agenda. To me, there’s a mindset that’s a part of that. We’ll respect everyone. We’ll fear no one. We’ve got a lot of work to do. I mean just understanding where we all belong so that we can play really fast. I believe in having a defense that understands where it belongs, that is accountable to each other, that plays hard, that plays fast, that plays physical, that plays tough. That toughness is not just a physical toughness but a mental toughness as well. We have a ways to go and the communication is going to be important and the understanding of how we all fit together is going to be important. Those are just some of the principles that I believe in.”
On collaborating with Head Coach Ron Rivera:
“Yeah, I think that’s a great thing to ask and to talk about. I think for us, it’s an inclusive process. He wanted to be sure that I knew ‘hey look, you’re going to call it. It’s your defense’. I said, ‘hey coach, I’d love to have you in there any time you have to be in there with us.’ It’s our staff. We’re going to work together. The first thing I said to the defensive staff at our very first meeting, ‘this is not me. It’s not about what I want. It’s about what we are, what we’re going to become.’ It’s always to me a blend of ideas and thoughts. We want to challenge each other. We want to share ideas. We want to be thorough in ensuring we have the bullets that we need to do the things we need to do defensively, and we want to make sure they’re sound and solid. When we come out of the room as a defensive staff and we got down to share with the players, we need to make sure that those ideas are well thought out, sound and solid, and teachable. We all share in and fight for ideas that we believe in. But when we leave our defensive room, it will be the Redskins way. It will be an inclusive sharing of information and ideas leading up to what we’re going to become. But once we settle on what we are, then that’s our way and that’ll be the Redskins way and we’ll go forward like that.”
On what particular positions need improvement:
“Well, it kind of goes back to what I was saying earlier about the evaluation process. I think certainly we will develop those thoughts on where we feel our greatest needs are. We will have a thorough understating of what we believe we have. We are going to look to develop players we have here, the standing that they have today may change over the course of the spring or the course of this season. And so, we’re going to give everybody an opportunity to compete and show who they are and what they’re about. Information that we have, strengths/weaknesses about the roster, I don’t care to make that public knowledge. I don’t think that really helps the Redskins get better at it. I think for us, we’ll attack where we feel we have needs and we’ll coach them up and look to be much better. I can appreciate you all wanting to know those types of things about my views on this team, but I don’t feel like it’s in the best interest of the Redskins to share that information. I think it’s most important for us to understand internally the strengths and weaknesses that we have and then attack them as we build the roster. I’ll leave that up to Coach Rivera. If he wants to share that kind of stuff with you, he can.”
On the defenses lack of communication in the past:
“Okay, that’ll be one of the big challenges and areas that has to improve. All you have to do is watch the tape. When you’re watching the tape, there are countless examples of right before the snap, where players are not in a good position – knees bent, focus on the offense. They’re kind of turned to each other, looking around like what are we doing or questioning. You can see them asking each other what’s going on. The communication, the urgency in getting to the line, the urgency in getting the calls and communicating to each other. There was an issue there. Now, where it came from, it doesn’t really matter. Like blaming who is it? You want to blame players, you want to blame coaches? That doesn’t matter to me. For me, it’s about what we’re going to be. What we’re going to set our minds on being. How we’re going to approach it. For me, that’s first and foremost, we have to know what we’re doing. We have to get lined up with some urgency so we have a chance to communicate about what the offense is trying to do, not just what our assignment is but what the offense is trying to do to us based on their formation, their tendencies, the down and distance, the different factors that we have. They’re giving us clues and we don’t even have time to look for those clues if we don’t know what we’re doing to begin with. That urgency in that pre-snap portion of the game, I mean that’s huge to me. It’ll be very important. We will need to be able to do those things so that we can talk about how we’re being attacked not just how we’re going to line up and do our assignments. That’s just a function of playing good defense. We’ll work on that. Like I said, this is a good group, okay? I’m excited about the opportunity to teach and develop these guys. I think there’s some proud people in this building that want to get this thing going the right way, but we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ve got to roll up our sleeves and get to work. I think some of the principles that I believe in, I’ve been able to kind of explain here in this brief phone conference and so that’s kind of where we are. For me right now, it’s just about going to work. I don’t really want to talk about a whole lot. I really want to be more about getting down to business and putting the work in.”
Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner – Conference Call
On how he thinks his offense can fit QB Dwayne Haskins Jr.:
“I'm in the process of doing that now, really looking through the film. Obviously I looked at Dwayne coming out a year ago. I was a really big fan of his coming out of Ohio State, had him rated pretty high. Looking at him, I felt like he got better as the year went on. He was a little bit more comfortable playing in the NFL, it is a big step. The big thing for Dwayne is he hasn't played a lot of football. He was a one-year starter at Ohio State and then just kind of played sparingly this past season, so all of the physical tools that you want are there and I think he needs to keep getting experience and will be a really good player."
On the style of offense he is going to run and how he sees Haskins Jr. fitting into that system:
“If you look at the offense and the system that we have been a part of, talking about my dad and going back to him – the different places that we've been our offense has looked a little different. It is still the same system, but we have versatility within our system where we're going to really fit and play to our players strengths. So right now, as a coaching staff we're really trying to get to know these guys. We have a little experience with some of them as far as like I was saying, evaluating Dwayne coming out of the draft. But, just really trying to figure out the pieces that we have on offense and then fit our scheme to our personnel and what they do well and not ask them to do stuff they don't do well. Now obviously we're going to push them and develop them to improve the things that they don't do quite as well, but we really want to develop our scheme around the strength of our players. So like Dwayne, you obviously see the big, strong guy who can stand in the pocket and really push the ball down the field. We're going to want to use a lot of play-action pass and then something also he's done a good job of in his past and in college too is just being able to get the ball out quickly and kind of distribute the football to the playmakers and let them make the plays for him."
On the process of becoming the offensive coordinator for the Redskins:
“I had an indication that I had a chance. Obviously I have a great relationship with Coach Rivera, I worked for him for four season – two in 2011-12 and then these past two years in Carolina. He brought me up and said he was just going to talk to me potentially about the offensive coordinator position, so I was just prepared with a plan of what I would like our offense to look like, how we would develop Dwayne, our young quarterback or all of our players. I met with Coach Rivera and then after a little bit of time he offered me the job and then obviously I accepted."
On how the tight end fits into his offense:
“Right now, the tight end is very important to our offense. We're evaluating everything. We're going to try and get as much talent as we can on offense. You look at that in different ways, obviously what is on the roster currently, but then we will look in free agency and we'll look in the draft. Those are the different avenues to acquiring talent and we're open to all of that."
On his personal feelings on being back with the Redskins and if he has any ill feelings toward the franchise for firing his father:
“No. It's a business and you can't really take this stuff personally. I was in high school when my dad was the head coach. He had a seven-year stretch here and stuff happens and it moves on and my dad has had an unbelievable career. It is really a dream come true to be back here. It is pretty surreal to be honest with you. This is where I kind of consider home just because when my dad took this job in 1994, I was 11 and then his last year was my senior year of high school. So, I still have a lot of really close friends in the area. To be able to come here and be the offensive coordinator for this franchise is really awesome and something that I'm really excited about. So, on a personal level it is pretty cool."
On what his ideal quarterback room looks like:
“Honestly, I just want the best players because you don't know who is going to be available or who you're going to potentially get so it doesn't have to be a veteran, it doesn't have to be a young player. Obviously if you're talking about a practice squad guy or maybe a third [string player] you'd like that guy to be someone that has quite a bit of upside, maybe a younger guy. But, as far as your No. 1 and your No. 2 you want the best guys that are going to be available on game day to go win games for you. This league is obviously really hard, so I think there are different ways to find guys. I don't think you necessarily need a veteran. It is nice to have that experience in the room, but if there is a young player that is better, you have to go with that option."
On how he envisions his collaboration with Head Coach Ron Rivera will be on the offensive side of the ball:
“I have a great relationship with Coach Rivera. There is going to be transparency. I'll be in charge of putting together the game plan with our offensive staff. He is going to be focused on being a head coach as well as probably a little bit more focused on defense. But, we'll talk to him every step. You kind of install different things during the week. He'll have all of our installs, he'll have our offseason installs and we'll clearly show him what we're going to be offensively as we kind of develop this, as we develop this offense. If there is something that he is not comfortable with, he's the head coach and we're not going to do it. He'll have input from me as far as things that give him some issues – defensively stuff that he sees and we'll work some of those things in. Ultimately when it comes to game day, I'll be calling the plays and I'm sure Coach Rivera will have input for me in between series and stuff like that. But, he has done a great job and has really been good. In the past, I know I wasn't calling it last season when he was there, but just in letting the offense run and letting those guys take care of their side of the ball. I'm sure he's going to have some input and he is the head coach – plus it is going to be good input. I know if he has information for me it is going to be something that is going to help."
On what he learned about himself during his stretch as interim offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers:
“It was tough. Towards the end of the season we had dealt with a lot of injuries. We had some moving parts on offense. We were trying to do as well as we could offensively. You really have got to and it is not something that I didn't know, you just actually did it and I actually lived it was the preparation that you need. There are so many variables in football and it is hard to predict exactly what is going to happen next, so you have to be ready for every possible situation. That is the one thing, just the feeling that, 'Hey those calls have to come and come before that play clock goes off.' And everyone is depending on you. That is obviously something that I knew, but it is different when you're the guy calling it. But, it was a really good learning experience for me and it is going to really help me obviously in this job, but just going forward in my life as a coach."
On what he thinks the keys are for developing young quarterbacks:
“I think the No. 1 thing is the commitment level. Taking away obviously the physical skills needed to play the game, but as far as just the approach you've got to be the most committed guy in the building, your teammates have to see that, the coaches have to see that because that is how you develop trust and that is how you develop leadership. If you're the last guy in, the first guy to leave, you don't have a mastery of the offense as a quarterback and you try to tell somebody else what to do or try to step into a leadership-type role it is not going to work and no one is going to listen to you. It starts No. 1 that the quarterback has to spend their time so he knows the offense better than anybody. He has to know it like a coach and he has to be able to present that on the field and present that confidence when he is running the show and that takes work, that takes work to get to that and guys see it. Guys see when it is there and guys see when it is not. I think that some of the guys that I've been able to be around, they have all done that. We had Cam [Newton] obviously as a rookie, I wasn't the quarterback coach but I was part of that process. Then Teddy Bridgewater when we drafted him in Minnesota, he came in and owned the system and that is what anybody is going to do and obviously Dwayne and we will challenge him to do that."