October 13, 2011
Redskins Park


Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On the knee of tight end Chris Cooley:
"Monday, there was a little bit of fluid on there and it was a little bit sore yesterday and a little bit sore today. [It was] a little bit of a setback... He did have it drained. I'm not sure what day it was."

On if he has ever had a coach switch sides of the ball:
"No, I haven't... In the NFL, nothing really surprises me. There's a lot of different ways to do things and, you know, when you're an offensive line coach or defensive line coach or offensive coordinator or defensive coordinator, I think sometimes to be an offensive coordinator you have to know defenses more than defensive coaches, because you look at all different type of systems year-in, year-out. Same thing with a defensive coordinator. A [defensive] coordinator has to know all different types of offenses. A lot of coordinators have philosophies — they believe in something and they just run certain styles. So, there's a lot of different ways to do things."

On fullback Mike Sellers' 'demotion' from the starting fullback spot:
"I don't know if you'd call it a demotion. To be on a football team in the National Football League is pretty tough when you're 35-36 years old. I think it's a compliment to Mike that he's on this football team and he's got a chance to help us win. When people look as people get older, you say that person is demoted, [but] it takes a lot of hard work, a lot of character — especially as you get into that 35- to 36-year-old age bracket — to make a football team. Mike not only can play the fullback position, but he can help us at the Tiger and Y positions. What makes a person stay on the football team as they get older is their attitude. If the person is really down or disappointed, a lot of times it shows up with the way he handled himself on the scout team to the way he practices and those people don't last very long. I like the way Mike has handled himself. I like the way he's prepared. He's one play away from possibly being the starter, so a lot of things go into being a backup, especially as you get older."

On helping players contest their fines:
"I tell people that if I take a look at something and I think it's wrong, I want to go represent them with the NFL. I want to represent that player and let them know that I've looked at it and I don't agree with it as well... Some of those things are so close and you get the TV copies and you really want to go to bat for one of your players. I've done that for a lot of years."

On the fine to linebacker Perry Riley:
"It was helmet-to-helmet. That was the call. When I looked at it on the TV copy, my interpretation was that it wasn't helmet-to-helmet. I thought he hit his shoulder. I don't think he hit helmet-to-helmet, because I looked at the tight copy. So that's why there were different views and you have to go through arbitration and get another ruling."

On if there was a ruling on a fine to fullback Darrel Young from the Week 2 game against Arizona:
"No, it doesn't happen right away. You've got to go to New York or at least you've got to do it over the phone. You're both looking at the same camera view and you go through your side of it and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But at least they listened to your opinion."

On the process of appealing:
"[Usually], an agent will take it up. [The player] will go to his agent, his agent will say 'hey, let's take this to the NFL.' And if you feel that when you look at film about 18 hours a day for as many years as you've been doing it, you'd at least like to give your opinion if you feel like somebody is wrong."

On avoiding personal fouls while still encouraging aggressiveness in punt coverage:
"[For example], there's a guy like Niles Paul. I mean, it was some great effort. Niles knows that, hey, what he's got to do is he's got to hit lower. He's got to hit him in the chest. And if it is helmet-to-helmet, he understands that you are going to get fined. That's the area of emphasis right now and if you do something like that, you're going to get fined."

On what practice squad players can do in comparison to players on the active roster:
"I look at a practice squad guy just like he's on our football team. He can still be activated. He's getting ready for a gameplan. If he's on our practice squad, he's still preparing like he's getting ready for the game on Sunday. So, there's nothing that he cannot do."

Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan

On if the Eagles’ pressure comes from a four-man pass rush:
“They do it with a four-man [rush]. They have a bunch of good rushers and they have a bunch of them that they keep rolling in there. And it’s the scheme. The scheme is made for getting up the field and it’s tough to go against.”

On the Eagles’ “wide nine” defense:
“It’s real tough. It’s something that I’ve gone against a lot and we played it twice-a-year for years in Tennessee. We played it last year in Detroit. I think it’s a very tough scheme to go against.”

On deciding when to add extra blockers against the Eagles’ pass rush:
“Having more people block doesn’t really change it. It’s still a four-man rush so there’s not extra guys coming. However, you have to be able to get rid of the ball. You have to be able to handle it. Those guys come up the field. Every team plays nine-technique. Most teams just do it on third-down. These guys do it every play so you have to be ready.”

On if the wide nine defense changes the cutback lanes for running backs:
“A 3-4 backer is a nine-technique also. It just depends how they support that C-gap. It depends on who’s there. It’s really no different than any other play. Someone always has that gap. It’s just whether it’s a defensive end, linebacker or a safety.”

On running back Ryan Torain’s performance against the Rams:
“I think he showed us what I think he showed all of you guys, too, and everyone who watched it. He came in and you could see how ready he was to go. He was running hard. He looked fresh and looked possessed. He ran the ball well and got good results with it.”

On if it will be difficult for Torain to return to a less prominent role in the offense:
“I don’t think it‘s difficult. You never know what his role will be. I don’t think he ever knew it in the first few games either. It’s not like we planned going into that game that it would be the exact case. Every game is its own individual game and you see how it plays out. You get a feel for three guys going during the week. We’ve had them up, I think, every game. All three of them. You get a feel in the game and you usually just go with your gut and how it’s going. You never know what will happen and we have three guys that understand that and will all handle it well.”

On if it’s important to reward players who compete hard:
“I think all of our players know this and you want to show it as a coach, because you say it’s what you believe in and it is. You want to play the guy who’s going to do the best on each play. And when you have three good guys who you know are all capable, it’s a tough decision and you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. When you get guys going, you have to go with a gut – whoever’s going the best, and we kind of developed it throughout the week starting on Wednesday and it goes through the week, starting from the first run to the last run. You never really know what’s going to happen, but we know that we have three guys who can do it.”

On running back Tim Hightower’s shoulder injury:
“I think he’s limited. He was limited in practice. We’ll see how it goes. I think everybody is banged up in the NFL, some worse than others. We’re evaluating him each day and he’s doing all right.”

On how much the shoulder injury impacted Hightower in previous games:
“I don’t know. You’d have to ask him that.”

On if Hightower’s injury shows in his play:
“I don’t think it does. I don’t know about his shoulder until he tells me. He’s a tough guy. If you’re trying to protect something in an NFL game, no matter who you are, you’re not going to look very good. And so he’s not out there trying to protect it, but we definitely knew that it was bothering him.”

On how missing wide receiver Anthony Armstrong affects the offense:
“Armstrong, I think, is one of the fastest guys out there and so it’s always nice to have him in there to stretch the field. We have a few other guys who can run too. You always want some speed out there. It definitely helps… If there’s no one scared of [someone] to run by them, it definitely changes. Not every one of our receivers is as fast as the one you’re talking about, [but] none of our guys are slow so all of them are capable of getting down the field. When you have a guy who is faster than everyone else, it obviously opens it up a little bit more.”

On if he analyzes defenses based on statistics or film:
“It’s pretty much 98 percent off film. We don’t go much off numbers. Usually, the film matches the numbers, but everything you have to take into account. If you just go off numbers, a lot of teams… can look like they are a really bad rush team, but it’s because they have been holding everyone to two-yards-per-carry except for six runs that have all gone for 70 yards. If you have a play like that, it just kills it. You have to look into everything. You can’t just go off the numbers.”

On if he’s noticed a difference in the Eagles’ run defense in games since Week 1:
“I think they have been pretty consistent through all of them. They have played well at times and they have given up big plays, whether it’s a missed tackle or a missed assignment. I think it’s like everybody. It hasn’t been totally corrected yet and I hope it doesn’t this week.”

On moving Will Montgomery to center:
“We worked him last year more in training camp... He was always our backup center so he always had to get reps at it. But you never actually know until you get him out there. I wouldn’t say it’s a guess. If you’re guessing, then we wouldn’t have done what we did. It was a pretty educated guess. We felt good about him… He just showed the quickness at guard, first of all, that you need to have at center so you knew that he had the quickness. Will is one of the strongest guys on our team. He has real strong hands and, if you’re quick and you have strong hands and he showed us that when he got into the game that the game is not too big for him. It wasn’t too far-fetched that he would be a good center.”

On calling plays that have worked for other teams against the Eagles’ defense:
“It’s the same thing every week. Guys don’t change up their defenses and their coverages very much. When someone gets beat on a screen or a pass or something, it’s usually because someone got beat. And it’s not that they are going to change anything up to stop that. Guys might be more ready for it. Even in that Buffalo game, they did try a bunch of screens that didn’t work. The big ones that they had, it was just a split second away to being a zero-yard gain. Another guy missed them and they got caught in man coverage, and once that guy missed him, there was no one else. There’s such a fine line between something that looks like a really bad play to everyone else and to being a home run touchdown. You really have to do what you do and just keep going at them.”

On if he designs plays for specific players going into a game:
“Every play is designed for a specific guy. If the coverage takes that away or the guy doesn’t win or something happens, then we go to the next guy. I don’t think the opportunities as far as [Fred Davis] not having the numbers and everything that he did in the first two games, I don’t think the opportunities are less. It’s just that coverage wasn’t right or the protection wasn’t right or we missed the throw or there was a time that he didn’t win or whatever it is. It’s not that he had numbers in this game so we’re obviously featuring him that game and he didn’t this game. I feel all of the games that his opportunities in the gameplan have all been about the same.”

On wide receiver Leonard Hankerson:
“He gets a chance every day on the scout team. We coach our scout team hard. It’s as important as anything. If your scout team slacks at all, it’s going to hurt your starting defense or your starting offense. We stay on those scout team guys hard and I think it really benefits those guys, too, because they actually get a year to really practice and develop their craft. I think it really helps them. I think he’s getting better each day. He’s showing improvement each week.”

Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett

On the improved pass rush this season:
“I think they are all doing an excellent job and they have to do a great job this week. Adam [Carriker] has three sacks, Stephen [Bowen] and Barry [Cofield] are doing a heck of a job. I think it’s a combination of having good football players and we’re doing a better job with the scheme of understanding what we’re trying to get done.”

On defensive end Adam Carriker:
“Adam obviously feels comfortable with what we’re doing. He struggled a little bit early coming from a four-man line with those three years in St. Louis. He’s made to be a 3-4 guy. That’s what he did in college. He’s doing a nice job.”

On if Eagles quarterback Michael Vick appears to be more comfortable in their system:
“He’s obviously one of the most dynamic guys in the league. He has a heck of an arm and wheels. He has all of the tools to be the best so it’s a great challenge for us this week.”

On Vick’s increased number of turnovers:
“It’s a combination of a number of things. When you start looking at turnovers, interceptions, tipped balls — the receivers drop it. I think when you look at stats on quarterbacks, it’s misleading sometimes because I think that should be a team stat sometimes. Is it a good thrown ball? Is it not? Is it tipped? Was it tipped by a lineman? Should it have been caught? I think there are a lot of things that go into those stats.”

On how important it is this week to get pressure with a four-man front:
“Well, we need pressure whether it’s four, five or six. We need to stay in front of this guy and make sure we don’t let him out of the pocket. We know that obviously they are a great offense and they move the ball on everybody. Our challenge is to try to slow them down and not give up big plays. We have our work cut out for us.”

On if he looked at the film from the Monday night game against Philadelphia last season:
“We’re a different football team from last year. We look at this year and we obviously put all of our games into cut-ups from last year. I’m not going to sit there and study from it. There’s not much to study from it.”

On the challenges facing the secondary against the Eagles:
“The problem is you only have 11 guys so you can only help so many guys. If you try to help the receivers, you need a couple of guys. If you try to help the quarterback, you need a guy. If you try to help one of the better running backs — if not the best running back — in the league, you need about 14 guys to help everybody. So you have to kind of pick and choose. Besides having skilled players that are maybe, as a whole, the best in the league, their scheme is about as good as you get to fit what they do. That’s why it’s so challenging and that’s why they move the ball on everybody.”

On Vick extending plays:
“You have speed on the outside… It’s hard to simulate a guy throwing 70 yards because there are not too many guys that can do it. So unless you have a Jugs machine out there that can launch a ball, corners have to know in the back of their mind that they have to cover longer because 1) he can throw it a lot longer than most guys in the league, and 2) he buys time in the pocket and he runs around. When he launches it, it’s not going to be 55 or 60 yards. It’s going to be 70 or 75 yards. He can throw it that far.”

On if he’s uses last year’s game as motivation:
“I’ve got so many new guys around here. Ryan Kerrigan doesn’t even remember us playing them… People forget that we did play well against them the first time.”

On running back LeSean McCoy:
“He’s an elusive guy with great speed. He’s a cutback runner that can make a lot of things happen. He’s scary with the ball in his hands. He’s like the receivers. He has great speed and can make a lot of things happen.”

On the wide nine defense:
“I really don’t know. I never really studied it. I just know that they pose a problem because of their up-field rushers. They get on the edge fast. They preach it, but besides that, I don’t really sit there and study it.”

On safety LaRon Landry’s performance against the Rams:
“I thought he played well against St. Louis. He did a real good job. He did a lot of different things for us in that game. We did some things different in that game than we did for the last couple games. So [with] LaRon getting used to switching things up and changing things up, I thought he did a good job two weeks ago.”

On if cornerback Phillip Buchanon will be active against the Eagles:
“It all depends. We can’t activate everybody so we’ll figure how he’s doing in the next couple of days and we’ll see who the guys are that we keep up.”

On if Buchanon will play inside:
“We’ve been working him some inside, [playing] some nickel. I don’t know if he’s ready for that task yet, but just to have extra bodies in there that can play that position – that’s a hard position to play. We ask him to do a lot of different things, not just covering. You have to blitz, you have to cover, you have to match the defense, you have to know if there are regular people or zebra or four-wide. All of that stuff. He has to know where to line up and get set and cover the guy who maybe runs option routes or the deep routes. So there’s a lot that plays into that position.”

On illegal hits:
“I don’t know what it is. I really don’t. I don’t know what’s legal and what’s not legal. I tell our guys to take your shot and try to keep your head up and do it right. Wrap your arms and don’t drive them to the ground. I don’t know what else you can say. Half the time on those crossing routes, the corners get called for contact when you hit. To me, I’d fine the quarterback for a bad throw… It’s all subjective. Obviously, the league has done a great job in trying to help players’ safety. I just tell the guys to keep your head up, wrap your arms around and run through them. I don’t know what else you can say to be honest with you.”

On the cornerbacks:
“You always need to work on everything. I think both of those guys [DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson] run well. Obviously, both of them have great ball skills. They are willing tacklers. They are in touch with what we’re doing. We can move them around. They both can play left or right. They can both play in the middle. There are a lot of things that we can do with them.”

On how difficult it would be to switch from coaching offense to defense or vice versa:
“I can’t do it. I’m not even trying to do it. I know [Eagles defensive coordinator] Juan [Castillo]. First of all, I think he’s a heck of a football coach. He played on defense when he played. It’s a little transition and you do study defenses. It is different and it takes some time just to get into a rhythm. To me, even being a head coach for a part of my career and then going back and being a coordinator, it’s not like it just rolls off your tongue. It takes time to get used to doing it again. Even last year, when I came back and I hadn’t run this defense in 10 years, then come back and you think it’s going to be easy. It’s a transition period. I’m sure Juan’s going through it and I’m sure he’ll be fine in the long run, but it does take a little bit of time. Just to get accustomed to new coaches, they bring in a new defensive line coach, a new secondary coach and that takes some time to get used to coordinating everything to be on the same page.”

On the defenses’ performance so far:
“The most important thing to us is that we’re 3-1. We should be 4-0, but we’re not going to dwell on that. If we can keep people off of the scoreboard — and we’ve done a pretty good job of that even since the last time we played them last year, if you look at our numbers. That and turnovers are the most important thing. If you don’t give up points and you get some turnovers and help the offense, that’s what wins games in this league.”

On if the defense’s performance against the Rams was the unit’s most complete game of the season:
“I thought we played well from top to bottom. The defensive line had good pressure the whole day. Guys ran around and we didn’t do a whole lot of blitzing that game, but, when we did, we were effective doing it. I thought the secondary played well. We tackled well. We played one of our better games.”

On if this team has similarities to playoff teams he coached:
“I think as a coach and even as a player, you get a feeling that good things are happening. It’s kind of a feeling within your organization and guys work hard and guys have fun being around one another. Guys enjoy going out to practice and guys like being in the meeting rooms. I would say that it’s night and day from last year to this year with this football team that I feel. I think the players probably feel the same way.”

On safety Oshiomogho Atogwe not having any turnovers:
“Oshiomogho was struggling early with his hamstring and he’s been fighting through it. So far this week, I think he’s finally breaking through that and he’s looking a lot better to me. He’s not concerned so much about that hamstring.”

On linebacker Rocky McIntosh:
“I think he’s playing great this year. I think he really is. He feels comfortable with what we’re doing. He’s tackling well. He’s all over the field. He has a sack. I think Rocky’s into it and he’s done a great job. I don’t know if he’s the least heralded, but he’s playing at a high level.”


(Courtesy of the Washington Redskins)