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Skins Quotes 10/1: M. Shanahan

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Boone

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Marine Corps Virginia


October 1, 2012
Redskins Park


Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan


On quarterback Robert Griffin III:
“First off, I thought he played his best game of the year yesterday – very poised. I thought he handled himself extremely well. [He] made some plays that you always want a quarterback to make. A lot of times, they can’t make those plays this early in their career. I’m talking about the two-minute drive, some play action passes, quarterback keeps that I thought were exceptional.”

On wide receiver Aldrick Robinson and safety Brandon Meriweather:
“Aldrick was knocked out for over a minute. Anytime you’re knocked out for that length of time, you go through a procedure, according to the NFL. He’s been with the doctors today. He feels very good right now. It looks good, but he’s going to have to take some tests over the next couple of days. If he looks OK and he passes those tests, he’ll be able to practice and potentially play. If not, he’ll have to wait until his signs are correct. Brandon – MCL, PCL. I think we’ll be able to tell in a week’s time exactly the length it will be, but right now he will be out for the next game.”

On improvement on defense:
“I thought we played well in the first half. [In the] second half, you can’t give up those big plays. We’ve been talking about those big plays. You give up two big plays like we did – a little over 120 yards – instead giving up 250 yards in a game and holding your opponent to 6-9 points, you give up 370 yards in a game, so we’re going to have to keep on working and eliminate those big plays. If we do, then we’ll improve.”

On Griffin III staying calm and calling plays when his headset went out:
“It’s things you have to practice during your OTAs, during your camps. We kind of end practice on Fridays with Robert taking the team down in a two-minute drill. We’ve done it in camp. But to actually [have it] happen in a game and keep your poise, especially as young as he is, is really a credit to Robert. We can signal in most of the plays. There was the second time, or the second play, Robert called a play on his own. Then, we came back and we signaled in a play. That’s when he scrambled out. That play was covered and he made a big play on the sideline. Then obviously, we killed the clock. We were offsides. They were able to communicate on the sidelines, so it wasn’t like there were a number of plays called to Robert, except for the one that Robert came up with. Robert does a great job of putting our offense in the best situation. Depending on what formation we’re in…He’s got a good feel and plays a lot plays.”

On challenging the play when Griffin III ran out of bounds before the first down marker:
“I try to take you through those situations, at least from my perspective. What I do on the sideline is I can usually see the picture up on the scoreboard. A lot of times it’s not definitive. Sometimes, we’ll get a better look in the box. Of course our coaches felt that the foot was slightly out of bounds – slightly short – maybe about a foot, but they could not see where the ball was. If the ball was extended over the [first down] line, and he’s got the ball in front then it’s got a chance to be a first down. We couldn’t see that. That’s why we waited as long as we possibly could, trying to get that angle. We couldn’t get it. Since that was such a big part of the game right there to get the first down, I thought it was worth the challenge – same thing the week before. A lot of times when you’re away, or sometimes it has to do with commercials, you wait as long as you possibly can to see if you have that angle. Sometimes you’ll throw that flag down and right after you throw it, they show another angle to the guys that are in the box. Then all of sudden, you know you didn’t get it or you know you’re going to get it. [You] never know for sure.”

On if he is looking at other kickers:
“We’re not going to work out any kickers this week.”

On tight end Niles Paul replacing Brandon Banks on kickoff returns:
“There was a question mark with Brandon if he could play. His hip was quite sore. I asked him to just kind of test it out before the game. He did. He said he was ready to go. I asked him if he thought he was full-speed in punt and kickoffs and I could tell he was a little tentative with those kickoffs because you get some punishment there returning those kickoffs. It’s one of the reasons why we went with Niles.”

On Reed Doughty starting at strong safety:
“That’s where Reed was practicing this week. When Meriweather came up, he got most the reps this week – shared them with Reed. When you make that decision, it’s repetitions through the week. We thought we needed to get Brandon a little bit more, or as much as we could, considering his injury to get him up to speed with our defense where he wouldn’t have to think and he could react. Reed is a veteran player who doesn’t need a lot of reps, so that worked out well there. And then with DJ [DeJon Gomes] going to free safety, we felt like he needed some reps over there behind Madieu [Williams], and also the ability to go in there and play at the strong safety position if somebody went down. When Meriweather couldn’t go, DJ had to be able to back up at both positions. We have confidence in him that he can do both.”

On tackle Trent Williams playing through an injury:
“I was really impressed with Trent. For him to last a whole game with limited reps during the week, it says a lot about him. He played at a very high level – one of his better games. To do that with limited reps, you don’t see very often. It says a lot about him. It says a lot about his leadership skills as a captain, which he was voted [a captain] by his teammates. You can see how excited he was at the end of the game with the win. It was special.”

On running back Alfred Morris:
“Alfred again played an excellent game. As we talk about each week, he can make the first person miss, which a lot of people can’t do in the National Football League. He’s extremely tough. He’s very smart – no nonsense type mindset that he’s going to go out there and try to prove himself every week. He’s just a pleasure to be around. He’s one of those type of guys that you love to cheer for because he’s all business. He wants to help the football team win. You can see the players have a lot of respect for him.”

On Morris cleaning up his tracks:
“That comes with time. We talk about any first-year player and there’s going to be growing pains. We tease Alfred [about] having four sacks because he actually does. He’s doing so well you can kind of joke about it. In the first game, he had a couple tracks that were too tight. Last game, he had a couple situations where he ran over the quarterback. Then, when he was releasing, he jumped on a tackle. We have him up there on the wall for one of the most sacks in the league, leading our team [laughter]. You can do that when a guy is playing very well like he is. He learns every time he goes out there with his tracks, his protection. He doesn’t make the same mistake twice. There’s always going to be some growing pains with a rookie.”

On evaluating Morris in the draft:
“Usually, when you see a guy that’s taken anywhere in that fifth, sixth, seventh round, you see something special about that running back. [He was] 220 pounds and he’s in that 4.6 – 4.65 range [in the 40-yard dash]. You could see he had some great running skills. You could see that he hadn’t spent a lot of time in pass protection, a lot of time catching the ball. I think that’s one of the reasons he lasted as a sixth-round [pick]. I think you could definitely see some big-time skill running the football. You’re never really sure until they come out how they’re going to be. You could see with the first preseason game that he made some runs that a lot of people can’t make. But you’re still not sure how he’s going to handle himself in game situations. The more preseason games he played, the more you could see that he was ready for the first game of the regular season.”

On choosing when to draft Morris:
“Some of the things you do is take a look at your needs on your team. You try to fill those needs. Then, you take a look at maybe somebody you may project being there because you know where he’s projected. You take a look at all the different surveys, all the different opinions and kind of get an idea where a guy may be ranked. Then you take a look at your football team and say, 'Hey, this guy may be here. Put this pick. If he is, here’s a list of three or four guys that we want to pick.’ When he was there, we felt very good about it. If we knew then what we know now, obviously he would’ve went much, much earlier.”

On wide receiver Pierre Garçon and the receivers:
“I thought our receivers by far had the best day. Tampa Bay will be one of the top two or three teams in the National Football League in rush defense next year. One of the reasons why we ran the football well is that not only did our offensive line block well, but our receivers had their best day of blocking downfield and competing. That’s what you have to have. You have to have your whole football team mentally set to go out there and play well. For Alfred to have the type of day he had, your wide receivers had to go out there and get things done and do it the right way and they did.”

On if Garçon is injured:
“He’s fine. Pierre is fine.”

On Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan saying first downs would increase with Garçon on the field:
“The more good players you’ve got, the better off you’re going to be. To get a guy like Pierre back on your football team obviously gives you a chance to do a number of different things that you couldn’t normally do. Not only do you have more depth, but guys are fresher, guys can go out there and block knowing that they can get spelled maybe in three or four plays. I thought Josh Morgan had his best game of the year by far – did an excellent job blocking, catching the football, very physical. The guy has really stepped up. That’s what you have to have, guys making plays.”

On the priority of wide receivers blocking:
“First of all, you have to make it a priority. They have to understand that that’s part of their responsibility is to block. Every receiver likes to catch, we know that. But when you have guys like Pierre and Josh [Morgan] coming in and Hank [Leonard Hankerson] has gotten so much better here in the last couple games where he’s becoming a total player, that they understand when it’s time to block you have to block and when it’s time to catch you have to catch. When you have that mindset, you have a chance to do something special as an offense. Everybody has a role and everybody has to play for each other. Of course, it’s hard to be one of the top offenses in the NFL.”

On Griffin III’s hard count:
“It’s special for the whole offensive unit. Robert picks things up very quickly, but to do that obviously on the road in an environment against the type of team we were going against is mandatory. That defensive line got off the ball so quickly. [If] you went on the first count, they’d stop you every time. We got them in a couple crucial situations where we were hoping to do it. We worked on it during the week and I thought the whole offense as a unit did a good job of making that happen.”

On if he expected Griffin III to be so accurate early in his career:
“That’s what you work for. You never know. I think it’s a combination of a group of guys coming together. Not one person does it by himself. Robert has done some things that normal rookies normally don’t do. It’s an offense. Everybody’s got a responsibility, whether it’s the running game, the passing game, protection. I think I’ve been most impressed that he’s gotten us into a number of good plays. Robert does a great job of checking off the line of scrimmage, so we don’t put ourselves in bad plays. When a person has that capability, you got a much better chance for good things to happen.”

On the biggest difference in the defense from the first to the second half:
“Like I just told you, I said two plays. You take away those two plays and it’s the same as the first half – same yardage. Those two big plays obviously put them in position for touchdowns. Is it just that simple? Maybe it is. I don’t know, but we can’t give up those plays – for sure if we want to be the type of team we want to be. That’s what we’ll work on.”

On what needs to improve in the defense so they don’t give up big plays:
“I think that’s what you have got to look at. You take a look at everything . Why do they make those plays? That’s what we do when we look at film. We talk about the things that we did to give up those big plays. Is it scheme? Is it personnel? Doesn’t matter what it is. You have to take a look at what players do best and you have to adjust your scheme to fit your personnel. That’s always an ongoing process, both offensively and defensively.”
On struggling in third down conversions:
“That’s a problem I want to have – is to have the yardage that we’re having on the first downs and the time of possession and still not do very well on third down. I don’t think I’ve ever been in this situation before, where you have as many big plays as we’ve had – I think we’ve had 15 plays over 15 yards – and still do very poor in that third down area. We’re going to constantly work in that area to improve and once we do, then we’ll get it rolling.”

On if he is disappointed in the amount of penalties his team had against Tampa Bay:
“It all depends. Yes, some I was disappointed in. Others I weren’t disappointed in. What I mean by that is when I take a look at our wide receivers, one of the things I ask is if guys blocked downfield. When you take a look at the one on Josh Morgan over on the sideline – of course one official said he took the defensive back to the ground and that’s why the defensive penalty was thrown – I thought he was in perfect position when you take a look at it on film. [The] offensive lineman rolled up behind his legs and he went over. You take a look at Pierre Garçon and there was a penalty, a personal foul [for] hitting after the whistle. If you take a look at it, the hit wasn’t after the whistle. That’s what we ask our guys to do. You take a look at a tight end screen to Fred Davis, you’ve got our wide receivers blocking 30 yards downfield. They don’t see Fred Davis – if he’s got the ball or has been tackled. Their job is to listen for the whistle. If the whistle blows, they stop. Giving you that second, third, fourth effort to give Fred a chance to pick up the 20-25 yards which he did – and if you ever take a look at that on film, you’ll say, 'My god, you have everybody blocking downfield and that’s why Fred got that gain.’ That’s what we expect. Sometimes you’ll get penalties and you say, 'Hey, at least from our perspective, that’s what we want.’ Because when you look at it, you’re doing the right thing. Other times you’ll take a look at a situation where we jump offsides – happens two times – or you’ll get a clipping call, which we did, which was the right call. You’ve still got to be able to overcome those penalties. You keep on working to play good, hard football, eliminate those mistakes and, when you do, then you score a lot more points.”

On if the game felt smoother following the return of the officials:
“Yeah, no comparison. No comparison.”
 

Bulldog

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remember that Mike Shanahan went out and signed Cundiff on his own and decided a switch needed to be made. so, he is going to give Billy every chance to prove that decision was a good one.

in the short-run this is an issue, but overall 2012 is about getting Griffin, Morris, Hankerson and others integrated into the offense and working with younger vets like Williams, Garcon, Davis, etc.

And THAT plan is working.

I can live with having to find a kicker for 2013 if the rest of the team improves.

Right now, I am a lot more worried about the defense.
 

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