September 12, 2011
Redskins Park


Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan


On the decision whether or not to have Victory Monday:
“First of all, we had Victory Monday in Denver two years before anybody had it. We started Victory Monday off back in the 90’s and the reason why we had Victory Monday was we had won a number of games in a row. We weren’t going to have Victory Monday [today]. I thought we had to come in here and take a look at film not in the detail that we normally do after a loss, but I thought we needed to look at the film. I think London [Fletcher] said it best, ‘hey, we need to go to work and work on the little things to win the football game.’ There are a bunch of things to improve. We looked at that film - special teams, offense and defense. Now, we come back Wednesday and we’re ready to go.”

On the team wanting to come in today:
“[I’m] very impressed because they did it last year. A lot of times veterans will look back to last year, and I thought back about me doing it last year and I thought it was too early. That’s why I had given it some thought, but I didn’t talk to the players about it. I was going to talk to the players after the game, but with the type of emotion that was involved, I thought it was the right time to talk about it. When London said that, it made it a whole lot easier.”

On why the team is so effective in the two-minute offense:
“First of all, you have to be on the same page to move the football and that’s what we’re hoping we’re doing. You have to eliminate mistakes. You have 11 guys that are very cohesive. I think we’ve made some strides. We’re not there yet, but we’re doing some good things and, hopefully, with the work that we’ve done and the work we continue to do, hopefully we’ll keep getting better. Guys believe that they can make plays and Rex [Grossman] has a lot of confidence in the offensive line. The offensive line has a lot of confidence in Rex and the receivers are feeling more comfortable with the system. You want to give players a chance to make plays and that’s what we’ve been doing.”

On what quarterback Rex Grossman did well against the Giants:
“I really don’t worry about what somebody has done in the past, just what he’s done here. He’s been pretty consistent here since he’s been here with the way he works in practice, the way he goes about his business. All I can do is judge Rex or any other player about what they have done since they’ve been with the Washington Redskins. That’s what we’re looking at with all of the different positions. Guys have to take advantage of their opportunity on game day and show us what they can do… I think he did everything very well. Any time you throw the ball [more than 30 times], there are going to be three, four or five plays that you wish you could go back and say ‘hey, if I had it over again, this is what I would do.’ That’s what the great ones do. They try to eliminate all mistakes. You’re going to have a few mistakes in the game and everybody does, but you’re going to try to eliminate those mistakes and still win football games. Rex will be tough on himself as well as John Beck when he looks at the film. He’s put himself in the same situation and that’s what you want him to do – go through those mental reps and try to be perfect. It’s pretty hard sometimes to be perfect, but I thought Rex played well.”

On playing tight ends Chris Cooley and Fred Davis at the same time:
“You’re expecting people at that position regardless of what team you’re with or what offense you’re running, you’re looking for everybody to be excellent at what they do, receivers, tight ends, running backs, offensive line. The better off you are, the better off you have people working together. What a couple of tight ends enable you to do is present a different package to the defense. They’re not sure if you are in a three-wide receiver set, four-wide receiver set, two-tight ends, or three-tight ends. The more you can do, the more you can keep defenses off balance.”

On the pressure by the defensive line:
“When you’re ahead in football games and teams have to throw, it allows you to get a couple more sacks late in the game. We put some pressure on them early in that third quarter. It turned out to be a touchdown for us. It was well-played by Ryan [Kerrigan] to knock it down and catch the ball. It was a big turnover there, but, hopefully, you get ahead and more sacks occur.”

On the offensive line’s play when Grossman fumbled:
“There’s a lot involved. Any time someone sees a tackle blocking a defensive end, sometimes they go inside. They are not really aware that it’s a guard’s responsibility, not just a tackle’s. There is different pass protection and it all depends on which play you are talking about. The Giants have an excellent defensive front, first-teamers and second-teamers. They did a good job yesterday of putting a lot of pressure on the quarterback. Their game plan was a little different than they had done most of last year. With a couple of their starters out, they were going to make sure that they put more pressure on the quarterback and put a lot more pressure on our offense in general. I thought our players played well. Can we play a lot better? Sure we can. There are a number of scenarios in there that we would have liked to have more time. That’s the nature of the NFL and I thought we did some good things, but we need to get better in a few areas.”

On running back Tim Hightower’s performance:
“You always want to average more than 2.8 yards per carry in 25 carries. You go back, as an offense, and you look at how many opportunities you have a chance that you were just a hair away from breaking one. Those will happen and I think we showed that in the preseason. Those plays will occur. The key is to let everybody know that they are accountable – everybody, tight ends, wide receivers, the offensive line, quarterbacks with his fakes and the better you get, it will show dividends down the road.”

On how the running game impacted the passing game:
“With the Giants, they usually control the time of possession. It was the opposite yesterday. We had it 32-and-a-half and usually they are ahead in that area. Even though we weren’t as effective [in yards per carry], at least we kept them honest. We want to be more effective, but we’ll keep on working on it and we will be in the future.”

On if the skill position players are more dynamic this year:
“You try to get better every year. Everybody is more familiar with our system. [Coaches] are more familiar with the players, even on the offensive line even though there’s one new starter. We’re more comfortable with what we’re doing. It’s a year of repetition. All of the other positions, we have some depth at the wide receiver position that we needed a year ago and our tight ends are more comfortable with the system. Overall, I expect us to keep on improving. The more time you have, the more confidence you have and hopefully we can keep that confidence.”

On if Hightower will take most of the running backs’ snaps:
“You never know. It all depends on the game plan. It all depends on what we’re asking them to do, how much running, the length of drives. A lot of things go into making the decision when you take a guy out. The other thing that was impressive about Tim is how he blocked. He really stepped up and delivered some blows and did what you need to do as a running back to block those linebackers. He didn’t back down at all.”

On the decision to keep fullback Mike Sellers inactive:
“You really don’t know until the end. You have to deactivate seven players and it’s really tough sometimes. You have to take a look at the tight end situation, your fullback situation. We had three tight ends that played, Chris Cooley was up, Darrel Young [was active] and five wide receivers were up. You have to take a look at the flexibility of your team. The thing that’s great about Mike is that he can play both the tight end and fullback position. He can help on special teams. Usually the decision we make is if a guy is first or second team, he has the chance to be up. Then, there is the wild card on special teams. Sometimes it may be [Brandon] Banks, sometimes it may be Sellers or maybe it’s another player. Sometimes it’s [because of an] injury. Mike Sellers will play a lot for us. Mike is exactly the type of guy you want on a football team. He will do everything possible he can to get ready on game day whether he’s playing the tight end, Tiger, fullback and he’s going to play special teams. When he doesn’t play, he’s still supporting his teammates. A lot of guys aren’t smart enough mentally to take that. He’s what you call a guy that is a winner and he’s going to help the football team if he’s on the football team or not.”

On kicker Graham Gano missing a field goal:
“Any time you make 10 in a row [in the preseason]… All of a sudden, it’s your first kick and the wind was blowing pretty good. I was hoping it would go through, but it was a hair wide. I think he knows he has to concentrate and, next time you give him the opportunity, he’ll make it.”

[b]On if there is a buzz among members of the team:
“What we try to do, I’ve been talking about this since day one, is go day-by-day. Everybody is accountable when we practice. If you’re on the scout team, you have a job to do, or if you’re on offense or defense, know what your role is. If you have good practices every day, then you have a chance to do something special on game day. I was pleased with the way we played and we found a way to win the football game. That’s over. Now, we had a good day today looking over our mistakes and we’ll come in here Wednesday ready to go against Arizona. The mindset is not what we did before, but what we’re going to do today. We have that sense of urgency about us. If you do it that way, then you have a chance to get better.”

On how much the compressed offseason affected getting new players acclimated:
“The only thing that I think is really different this year compared to other years is you didn’t know who your football team was. You knew your draft choices, but you didn’t know exactly what they were. You had an idea, but you didn’t get a chance to spend any time with them. You didn’t know who your free agents were or when they were going to be able to come in. Once it started, you had a chance to sign some free agents and a chance to add some depth at certain positions. This was a different year for everybody. Everybody had a certain amount of time to evaluate these guys and make some quick decisions and you’re hoping it turns out the right way.”

On activating wide receiver Niles Paul:
“We had a couple of guys that were inactive – [Leonard] Hankerson, [Donté] Stallworth. We had seven guys inactive, but we believe in all seven guys otherwise we wouldn’t have had them on our 53. Niles Paul, by far, has been a guy that can work on special teams. He’s been very consistent all the way through the preseason games and the way he’s practiced. Donté Stallworth has been right up there, but there have been questions which direction we were going to go and we had our top five. Sometimes it’s tough to make those decisions because you could go either way. I have a lot of belief in these guys. Hankerson is a little bit further behind, but it doesn’t mean he’s not going to be a great player, but he just has to keep on working and the things in practice to consistently show the coaches that he’ll be ready to play on game day. You see the ability, but you have to see the consistency. That’s what we’re working for, just evaluating these guys. Any time you have depth at any position, it creates competition. The guys that step up and practice each week and the guys that compete will get a chance to dress and show everybody what they can do.”

On the injuries to safety LaRon Landry and linebacker Brian Orakpo’s injury:
“I hope [LaRon Landry’s] ready to go. [Brian Orakpo] sprained his ankle and we’ll see how he’s doing. I’m hoping they are ready.”

On tight end Fred Davis’ performance against the Giants:
“It wasn’t anything that we didn’t see before. When a person gets the opportunity to play and start and he makes some big plays like Fred did, he took advantage of an opportunity showing people in the NFL that he belongs. He can make big plays. You always like to see that on game day. A lot of people can do it in practice and in preseason, well, how do they do when they season gets started? It’s live bullets and everybody is playing for their first win. Fred made a number of big plays.”


(Courtesy of the Washington Redskins)