December 15, 2011
Redskins Park


Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On safety LaRon Landry being added to the Reserve/Injured list in the near future:
“LaRon talked to Dr. [Robert] Anderson yesterday, out there in Carolina, the specialist, and he recommended that he have surgery after this season is over with on the [Achilles]. I talked to LaRon earlier today and he felt that it was quite sore. He’s been trying to push it, trying to get back the last couple of weeks and thought it was in his best interest to go on IR. Usually what’s in a player’s best interest is usually what’s in our best interest, so we’re going to put him on IR and hopefully he can get that thing well.”

On if he knows Landry’s timetable:
“I really don’t know. I’m sure LaRon’s going to get a few recommendations. We’ll get a few opinions and make a decision on the time frame and what to do. But when we talked to Dr. Anderson, Dr. Anderson felt that it was in his best interest to get it operated on at the end of this season. That kind of said it all to us.”

On the severity of Landry’s injury:
“It’s not torn, but if he feels like it needs to have surgery on it, obviously something is seriously wrong.”

On Landry’s future:
“Well, I think, first of all, we’ve got to find out exactly how serious it is. I don’t think we will know until he operates. But it is not torn, but it is quite sore. It’s been aggravating. He’s been trying to practice. He’s been able to play a few games, and sometimes people hurt a groin or hurt a hamstring trying to compensate for something like the Achilles. He has not been healthy. He’s been trying to get out there. He’s been working extremely hard in rehab. He just hasn’t been able to go. I think it’s best for all concerned that he get that operated on or at least go with the experts and get three or four opinions and make this decision, because he’s got to get well, because last year in the first nine games that he played, he should have been Player of the Year. I think he would have been Defensive Player of the Year. But he hasn’t been able to stay healthy and hopefully he can get it fixed.”

On if Landry should have had surgery last year:
“They talked to the specialist in that area and if they thought surgery was in his best interest, he would have had surgery. Obviously, they didn’t.”

On if he knew the extent of Landry’s injury:
“I had no idea to be honest with you. He just couldn’t get it well, and you kept on thinking he was going to come back any day. Then he decided that since it wasn’t getting better, could he go see Dr. Anderson? Dr. Anderson looked at it and obviously told him something that we weren’t expecting.”

On evaluating Landry in the future:
“I think everybody will be taking a look at him, not just us, saying, ‘Hey, let’s look at the surgery. Let’s take a look at what Dr. Anderson says, how long the rehab will be, how long it will take to come back full speed.’ And I think everybody will make decision then.”

On if his familiarity with Landry helps when evaluating him:
“It’s every player, not just LaRon Landry. If somebody has a serious injury, you’ve got to check out exactly how the surgery went. You’ve got to talk to the doctors. You’ve got to make sure that the athlete’s in a good rehab program. But you really have to have a gut [feeling] on the player and a gut with the doctor.”

On safeties DeJon Gomes and Oshiomogho Atogwe:
“Well, we’ve had a chance to evaluate him a little bit. He’s played pretty good for a young guy coming in. He plays the strong safety position, so he’s been backing up LaRon. He’s been getting not only reps, but mental reps… Reed can backup at the strong safety position. That’s his natural position, even though he can play free as well. And then OJ [Atogwe] is more of a free than a strong safety. I think he’s feeling a little bit better. As I said, he didn’t play a lot of snaps last game, but he did look better than he did before. He looked like he’s healing. Hopefully he can get some snaps against the Giants and hopefully we see him play at a high level.”

On the plan at safety:
“We’re going to start DJ [Gomes] at strong safety and Reed will be a free safety. OJ will be backing up at the free safety position and Reed will go over to backup at the strong safety position.

On why Atogwe played last Sunday:
“Same reason I told you after the game. He’s getting better. We want to get him some playing time. We just don’t want to overwork him in practice. We don’t want to overwork him in a game. We want to see in game situations how he plays but not overwork him where we think we set him back. I was very happy where he ended up. After the game, I thought the plays he played, he looked like there was no setback and hopefully there’s no setback this week.”

On why Gomes was taken out for a few plays:
“It has nothing to do with him not being in shape. When somebody is playing nickel, they’re playing safety, they’re playing on all special teams, a guy needs a break at the safety position. And so OJ probably should have played some more plays than he played, because when he did play, he looked good. So we’ve got no reservations putting him in there right now. [I’m] hoping that when he does go in there, that there’s no setback and he just keeps on going like he did.”

On Gomes:
“I think he has got natural instincts. You can see he’s got very good cover skills. He does a good job in the box tackling, and that’s what you’re looking for on a nickel/dime player, a person where the game is not too big. He’s got the natural instincts, how to fit in the hole, how to fill his gap responsibility, how to make the tackle and still be able to cover a tight end or a running back one-on-one.”

On if he has decided what to do with the roster spot vacated by Landry:
“We haven’t. Not yet.”

On if the safety position has been disappointing this season:
“Well, we’ve talked about this before, you really don’t know what’s going to happen with injuries. We thought we were very deep at that position, and I think we were. You know, you lose a great player like LaRon and you have a guy like OJ that can’t play, yet you’re still productive at the safety position. Not very many teams have that type of depth. Do we wish we would have stayed healthy? Sure, because we were very strong at that position. But I still thought we did some good things or we have done some good things throughout the year with the safeties that have played.”

Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett

On the impact the injuries to LaRon Landry has had on the defense this season:
“Well, obviously he’s a guy we were relying on to be back and play like he was the beginning of last year. The first eight or nine games before he got hurt, I thought he was as good a player as there was in the NFL. You know obviously, injuries have taken a toll on him. It’s been numerous injuries, not just one. It’s been pulls here and pulls there and Achilles. So obviously, they’ve just taken a toll on him. But you know that’s why you have guys like Reed [Doughty] to step in and [DeJon Gomes] is playing now. In that area, there’s been a little bit of flux but the guys who have played have stepped in and played really well.”

On whether he has had to change the defense because of the injuries to LaRon Landry:
“You know, I haven’t seen him for so long, it’s hard to know. But he did play well last season that first nine games. He was obviously a playmaker. The way he plays the game with power and speed it brings something to the table that a lot guys don’t have and it’s hard to find in this league.”

On the Giants being last in rushing in the NFL:
“No, it’s a little different because the two running backs got hurt. I still think they’re committed to running the ball like they were last week. They ran it 31 times for 110 yards. I think they understand that’s what got them to the Super Bowl the first time and they’re gonna have to get back to it. But in the meantime, Eli [Manning], the receivers and the tight ends have been awesome. I think this is the best I’ve ever seen Eli play and it’s scary because of the weapons that they do have. They have three really good receivers, two really good tight ends and two really good running backs. I just think it’s a really good combination.”

On the difference in the play of El Manning:
“I don’t know. He just seems like he’s trying to relax and he’s running the offense the way it’s supposed to be run. He’s making plays on his feet. He’s making plays on the move. And he’s throwing to a really good receiving core.”

On Victor Cruz:
“I think he’s one of the better slots at this point in the league right now. He’s running great routes. He’s catching all the balls and I think he really has confidence right now. He’s playing the Z also. Him and [Mario] Manningham are splitting the Z. It’s a good group. And when you add [Jake] Ballard to it and the two running backs, it’s a heck of a group.”

On London Fletcher and whether he’s amazed by Fletcher’s level of play right now:
“No, he doesn’t amaze me. I think he’s one of the best players I’ve been around as a whole. I’m talking about a student of the game, a guy that does it on the field [and] a leader in the clubhouse. You can almost do anything you want with him. Physically, he can still run. He’s powerful and I can’t imagine him not being the starting Pro Bowl linebacker for what he’s done on a good defense. He’s made great strides in one year. I think there’s a couple of guys whose worthy of it, but he’s just unbelievable.”

On Fletcher’s future with the team:
“He’ll be back. We’ve talked to Bruce and he knows he’s one of the guys that have to be back on this football team. And I know he is committed to getting him back.”

On Manning’s 14 fourth-quarter touchdown passes and comeback wins:
“He was outstanding. The two drives last week against Dallas were about as good as I’ve ever seen. The cornerback froze on the play, he slid out of pocket and threw a nice seven-route to [Victor] Cruz. He made an unbelievable throw to [Hakeem] Hicks on the sideline. [He] threw a deep ball on a cover-two right to [Mario] Manningham. He made some unbelievable throws. I think it’s a combination of his receivers [and] the [offensive] line has done a heck of a job of protecting him. He feels comfortable back there and they just kind of run their offense. I think he’s in a groove right now.”

On whether Manning should be mentioned among the league’s elite quarterbacks:
“I think he does, based off what I see. It’s not great for our defense but we played probably the best one last week. And then you start looking at [Drew] Brees and [Aaron] Rogers. I think Eli should probably be up there with those guys the way he’s playing right now. I think in the long run he’ll be mentioned with those guys all the time.”

On the overall performance of the defense against the Patriots:
“I think we did a lot of good things. The poorest thing we did was tackling. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to figure that one out. We covered well. I thought our corners were outstanding covering. I thought we matched up on the running backs. The tight ends, I thought we actually stayed close. We just didn’t tackle well.”

On the two plays to Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski:
“It was embarrassing. The one was obviously poor play. You’ve got two safeties missing a tackle and a couple of guys that actually thought and it wasn’t just DeAngelo – there were a couple of other guys that kind of slowed down and thought the play was done because it looked that way. And with that kid, it’s not done. Obviously, the one on the touchdown that Ryan [Kerrigan] should have tackled him. They are the same size, but the guy’s a special player. Besides that, we actually did a good thing – we did a good job in the run game and put some pressure on Brady. He stayed alive a couple of times and made some plays, but he does that to everybody. The most disappointing thing was the one we [didn’t] tackle.”

On cornerback DeAngelo Hall not attempting to tackle Gronkowski:
“That’s not us. If you saw against Seattle, we were flying to the ball the whole game. We had eight, nine guys in the frame all the time. This team comes out and I don’t think our guys really understood. We kept saying no huddle. They go no huddle not just for a quarter. This team goes no huddle for 60 minutes. It was fast paced so you’ve got to have 11 guys running for what we’d have 65 plays. And that’s not easy to do. Even their guys were going down. [Deion] Branch came out of the game. They lose their guard. They were substituting guys because they couldn’t keep up with their own pace. To me, that was probably the most disappointing of it all because we could have had him down and we could have eliminated that play. Obviously, that was a big play and the turning point in the game.”

On how tough it is to take over as an interim head coach:
“To be honest with you, in hindsight, I probably wouldn’t have done it. I was called at two o’clock in the morning and asked to take over the job. We had just lost a game. Knowing that we really didn’t have a good football team, we struggled in a lot of areas. If I had to do it over again, sitting there today, I probably wouldn’t have done it. I would said, ‘No, have somebody else do it,’ and kind of play it out. Everybody thinks they can turn the team around. Obviously, you want an opportunity to be a head coach. Some guys that do it, it’s kind of short-lived. It’s a hard adjustment to make because the players know what the situation is, but it’s a good opportunity for a couple of guys and kind of show themselves. It’s not easy.”

On if he envisioned backup safeties Reed Doughty and DeJon Gomes starting at this point in the season:
“DJ we figured – he’s kind of like Perry [Riley] is right now. I like DJ. I think he’s going to be a good football player. This gives him a chance to play five, six games to show us what he can do for the future. He’s a real instinctive football player. He didn’t play as well as I thought he would last week. It was more missed tackles than anything. That’s something I think he’ll learn. I think it’s a chance, I know what Reed can do [and] we know what we’re going to get. Reed’s going to give you everything he’s got every snap. Whatever you ask him to do, he’s going to do to a T. DJ, it’s just an opportunity for us to see what he can do for the future and see if he can be that guy. I hope he capitalizes on it. I think he’ll do a good job.”

On if he can learn more about Gomes when he was lined up against Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski:
“I think you do because I hear people say, ‘Hey, you’re going to put a safety on Gronkowski and he can cover him?’ I said, ‘Eh, I don’t know. He’s kind of big.’ Well, you can put a linebacker on him. Eh, well, we don’t have a linebacker that big either.’ I think you do find out a little bit what you can do and what you can’t do with him and I think it will help this franchise in the future.”

On Gomes’ coverage against Gronkowski on his touchdown:
“It was a heck of a throw and catch. That was just one of those ones where you’re going to get miss-matched and I heard someone on TV say, ‘Well, he’s got nine inches on him.’ I said, ‘Well, put anybody else on him and he’s got six.’ That one was a good throw and catch.”

On if practices are a lot more different now than they were when he played:
“Just the whole structure is different. We had more players on the team. We had 80-some players. We had a whole group that would run scout team. So really, Wednesday’s were set up for defensive practice. Offense was Thursday. Friday was a combination. You didn’t have guys playing both ways. Yeah, it’s totally different – the structure is different, the money is different. There’s a lot of things different than the way it was. Even training camp, let’s say you were practicing Saturday night, we would go live-goaline, short-yardage on Saturday morning and red zone. Then, you’d take a nap in the afternoon and you’d get your 10-12 plays in Saturday night. But we had 120 guys at training camp. There’s 80-some now. So it’s totally different.”

On if there would be hitting during Wednesday practices in December when he played:
“Up to three years ago, you’d be hitting. Three years ago you would go nine-on-seven or team-run and you wouldn’t tackle the running back, but you would crank it up and hit him. When I was in Pittsburgh, all the way to the playoffs, nine-on-seven was live and go get it. Then, three years ago, things started changing because of the layout of the land.”

On if he would prefer practices to be like they were prior to three years ago:
“I truly do think if you had the ability [to tackle more in practice] because you worry so much about money, injury and everything. If you did tackle or hit a little bit more, I think football would be a little bit better. There wouldn’t be so many missed tackles like we had last week. I think some of the football does get sloppy because of it. The game has changed too. It’s not a slug-em-out game any more. You throw it a lot and quarterbacks kind of lead the way. So the game has changed a little bit.”

On if he’s happy with where the defense is since he came to the Redskins:
“In the big picture of things, I think we’ve done a good job in a lot of areas. We still can get better in a lot of areas. We can get stable in a lot of areas. I think what you take away right now just with three games to go that you would say that you’ve got a front seven that can be there for a long time because there are a bunch of young guys. There’s nobody really of age besides London [Fletcher], which is ok. You’ll have to get a young guy to replace London in three or four years or whatever it is. But you’ve got a young linebacker in Perry [Riley], you’ve got two young outside linebackers [and] a couple of guys backing them up. The whole front defensive linemen, there’s nobody backing them up over 27 or 26. You’ve got Jarvis [Jenkins] coming back. I think if you look at it from that perspective, it’s a bright future for the front. Josh [Wilson] has done a heck of a job. DeAngelo [Hall’s] not old. There’s nobody really of age. DeJon just turned 22 last week or a couple weeks ago. It’s a good group to build off and we’ve still got things we have to do better. I think that’ll happen, but I think you’ve got to be pleased at least with what you’ve seen so far.”

On if it’s disappointing that safeties LaRon Landry and Oshiomogho Atogwe never were able to be a top tandem together:
“Yeah, because I thought those two would be kind of like Ryan Clark and Troy [Polamalu] in Pittsburgh. It hasn’t worked out that way obviously. Some things don’t work out. I was disappointed Jarvis got hurt [and] Kedric Golston got hurt because he was playing well. Those things we adapt to and you get better, but that’s one area that we’ve got to make sure you know we get some stability in the future.”

On if there’s still time for Landry and Atogwe to play well together:
“Right now, we’re going with DJ the rest of the way. That’s something we decided to do as a staff. We’ll see how that works out. LaRon, to me, has just got to get healthy. When he gets healthy, obviously he’s a good football player. He just hasn’t been healthy in a year-and-a-half.”

Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan

On if the offense’s performance against the Patriots was one of the best this season:
“There was definitely things we left out there. To move the ball that much, I think we should have gotten more than 27 points. Getting one called back – the one that we scored on with [Santana Moss] and then being down there on the one and having a false start on third-and-goal, moving back and not scoring there, I thought really hurt.”

On the offense this season:
“I think it’s been up and down. We haven’t been a consistent offense just in every area and I think the red zone has been similar to that and other aspects. I feel like it’s been about halfway with everything. I thought we moved the ball real well in the game last week. I thought we did a fairly good job in the red zone as far as getting down there. When you score a touchdown and it gets taken back because of the penalty and then when you’re on third-and-goal on the one and you get a penalty to go back to third-and-goal from the seven, it really hurts you and it’s tough to recover from.”

On tackles Willie Smith and Tyler Polumbus’ performance against the Patriots:
“I thought it was good experience for Willie. For him to get in there, you know, his first time playing. He was by no means was perfect, but he battled and fought through some things, did some good things [and] some bad things. Just to get him that experience for himself, hopefully he can improve on it each week. Tyler stepped in. He’s played a lot of football. He’s been a veteran. You lose Jammal [Brown] like that in pregame warm-ups. Tyler has been repping spots at all the positions knowing that he would have to be a swing guy. I thought the situation he was in, he stepped in and helped us.”

On if he said anything to Smith after the safety to keep his confidence high:
“I don’t deal with him. Chris [Foerster], who deals with him a lot, I know he’s talking to him. It’s a tough situation – he gets thrown in there, we’re backed up in the end zone. He definitely didn’t do a good job on that play. Rex [Grossman] held onto it a little bit longer than he should have. Rex could have saved him if he got rid of it earlier. Willie could have saved Rex if he blocked just a little bit better. That stuff happens and the biggest thing is how does the guy recover? And we don’t really know that with Willie. We didn’t. It was the first time really playing with him and he seemed to not shut down after that - still compete and work through it. It was good to see.”

On how much offensive momentum can carry over to next season:
“I think a lot. I think we were pretty confident earlier in the year. Had a lull right there starting after the Philadelphia game where we really struggled to move the ball. I think we did in the Carolina game, but the San Francisco and Buffalo game were tough. It was tough to get through, but we did and I think we’ve been pretty confident moving the ball even back to the Miami game and it definitely wasn’t good enough to only score nine points that game, but we felt like we were moving it at least. We’ve felt good moving the ball each week and we’d like to score more points, but I think our guys believe in what we’re doing. They believe in each other and you hope it starts to result in more points.”

On if the timing of the trick play with wide receiver Brandon Banks was supposed to surprise the Patriots:
“Not really. It’s just a feel. I actually got worried about it coming off that that they would see Banks in there a little bit too early and think something was up. So I was a little bit nervous about that, but it was a play that we really liked. We thought it would have a good chance, showing the coverages that they were. We almost did it earlier in the game. We felt we were just a little bit too tight and then, when we got it at the 50, it was the perfect spot to do it and it worked out.”

On how much fun he has calling a trick play:
“When you can get an easy touchdown like that, it’s very fun. It takes a lot of pressure off everybody. It loosens guys up. You want to carry in plays like that. Plays like that can go really bad. They usually help one team or totally kill the other team. It’s not something you can call every week. When something looks really good on tape and you feel the percentages are high, you’ve got a guy like Banks who the game is not too big for, I was very confident in him that if it wasn’t there he wasn’t going to throw it up. When you have a guy like that that you believe can do stuff and make the right decision, it’s a little easier to call… We all have fun messing with it in practice. Banks had a better rating than Rex. It was pretty fun to give Rex stuff about it. It’s fun when that happens and, when it works… when those plays go bad, it’s not as much fun. But we enjoy it when it works.”

On calling plays in light of all of the changes in starters:
“We have to mix a lot of stuff up, especially on the o-line. Losing Jammal [Brown] pregame and having guys play different positions and just trying to get through the game. The way we started out the game was discouraging as it could be against a real good team. Losing a guy in warm-ups, giving up a touchdown in our own end zone. It’s not a good feeling. To see our guys to still go out there and battle, play through it and do some really good things was encouraging. It wasn’t enough because we didn’t get it done, but I was proud of the guys.”

On what he liked about the three-receiver and two-back set:
“Well, mainly we had to change up some more personnel because we don’t have our same players. We’ve lost Fred [Davis]. We had Logan [Paulsen]. We brought up [Dominique] Byrd, who just signed with us that week. So you don’t have the same options to run certain things, so we had to do [things] a little different... You’d like to go out and see how it works and when it works you stick with it. We’re running the ball real well out of those sets. We keep going with it until they stop it. I think we’re not putting it on tape a lot. They didn’t have a real plan for it and we were able to get success in the run game doing it. It really helped us out a lot.”

On when spreading the offense contributes to success:
“It’s when you can have three receivers out there, but still have a fullback in there and change some of their run support and stuff. When you don’t show it all year, they don’t have a big package to it, so we weren’t getting too many different looks out of it. So we were able to see what we were getting and, when they did change something subtly, we were able to change. It was definitely advantageous for us.”

On if wide receiver Donté Stallworth has surprised him this season:
“I’ve been real excited with Donté. I think he’s played as good as anyone since he came back for us. Early in the year when he got here, I was really excited about him. We had a bunch of young receivers who were doing good, but I’ve always been a fan of Donté as a player his whole career. I’ve always watched him. It was really tough when we let him go. We had to make that decision and I told him when we let him go [that] I’d help him out with whatever, if another team wanted a recommendation. Selfishly, I told him, ‘I hope no one calls you. I really want to get you back here.’ And it worked out where he could come back and he’s only been better since he’s come back. He had a few opportunities earlier in the year and didn’t make the play like in [the Philadelphia game] down the sideline and a couple ones that when you only get three opportunities and he didn’t take advantage of them on two, it’s a tough situation for him. but since he’s come back, he’s gotten in there more and every time we’ve given him opportunities since, he’s made some plays. I just like the power he plays with and his aggressive hands. He doesn’t catch it looking for a place to fall. He’s trying to get up the field. That’s something we need and gives us a chance to make a play.”

On if not determining a starter at left tackle during the week affects quarterback Rex Grossman:
“I mean it doesn’t really affect him. Whoever is there, it really doesn’t matter. He definitely wants the best protection possible. It’s not like he’s going to play differently based off who’s in there. When you get guys in certain situations, you’ve got to help people out – putting tight ends there and not always putting them on an island, where you send your center in your protection, where you want to help with your back. You have to help guys. From a quarterback standpoint, in my person opinion, if you start worrying about who’s blocking for you and stuff, it’s going to be tough to see down the field [and] tough to make the right decision.”

On the offensive line changes:
“The continuity is something that’s huge on the o-line. The best o-lineman and the best offensive line’s in the league aren’t necessarily just the most talented guys, it’s the guys who play together the best. That starts with the center because he gets everyone in the right spot. I think we have a good group who works well together, especially someone like Polumbus who really, going into that game, was our back up at every single position except center. Once we lost our starting right tackle, we don’t really have too many backups so I was keeping our fingers crossed that Polumbus didn’t get hurt.”