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Skins Quotes 10/10: M. Shanahan/K. Shanahan/Haslett

McKissic for the win

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Marine Corps Virginia


October 10, 2013
Redskins Park

Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On the injury report:
“[Nose tackle] Chris Neild did not practice. [Linebacker Brandon] Jenkins and [tight end Logan] Paulsen again were limited. [Tight end] Fred Davis, [kicker Kai] Forbath, [running back] Alfred [Morris] and [tight end] Jordan Reed – full practice.”

On how he will determine if defensive end Jarvis Jenkins and linebacker Rob Jackson will play on Sunday:
“What kind of shape they’re in. You look at practice for three days and you go into Saturday evaluating them on how sore they are, how tired they are, if you think they’re in football shape, can they help you win.”

On how the defense would benefit from them playing:
“Well, that’s what we’re trying to decide now through the three days of practice. Can they help us, what kind of shape they’re in, and if not, we don’t dress them.”


Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan

On where he has seen growth in quarterback Robert Griffin III since Week 1:
“I think he progressed each week. I think he got better each game since the Philly game. In terms of last year, I think he was in a lot more situations in these first four games that he wasn’t in last year – you know, times where we had to throw it a lot more and go to some more dropback game and he didn’t get too many opportunities like that last year. So I thought he did fairly well in those situations and he’s gotten better.”

On if there was a certain point where he saw Griffin III “get it”:
“Yeah, I think you see it all the time. I don’t think everything has been totally consistent, but I think you see it at practice. I think you guys have all seen it in the games. I think our whole offense hasn’t been totally clicking altogether as 11 players and I think we’re starting to get there each week and hopefully we get it more this week.”

On the effect of not being able to establish the run early in games:
“It depends what type of game it is. If you can’t get the run going early in a game and then you’re down by a lot it’s tough to get it going later. I don’t think we got it going early versus Oakland. We were down 14 points but then we ended up scoring, getting back in the game, and, you know, it was a tight game at the end and we were able to keep going with the run and staying in a tight game and ended up pulling it out at the end. We got that balance that we are always looking for.”

On what he saw from running back Roy Helu, Jr. against Oakland:
“He looked good. I think he’s looked that way all this year. I think he looked that way starting about half way through his rookie year. We believe in Roy. We think he’s a real good player and I was happy for him to come out there and get some good opportunities and do what he’s capable of doing.”

On if wide receiver Leonard Hankerson has won the “Z” position over wide receiver Joshua Morgan:
“I don’t think we really look at it like that. I think he’s been getting definitely more of the reps, and we’ve been going with him more, especially in these last two games, but we haven’t deemed him the winner or anything and made anything cut-and-dry. We think both of them do some good things so we never designate who we’re going to start because a lot depends on plays, a lot depends on what we’re trying to do. He’s definitely earned getting a little bit more playing time, but no, it’s not cut-and-dry yet.”

On what areas Hankerson can continue to improve in:
“He’s done everything we’ve asked so you just keep hoping he plays good. You keep hoping he separates, and he’s done that. He’s made the plays when we’ve gone to him. You just don’t want him to have any setbacks. He’s been doing good in practice, and I think I’ve been encouraged with him the most. I think you guys have seen him have some success lately and I think it’s helped him. I think he’s gotten a little bit more confidence. He walks around with a better swagger and I think he knows he can do it and he wants to do it and he’s excited to get that opportunity. Hopefully we’ll give him some more.”

On the importance of using running back Alfred Morris to keep the ball away from the Dallas offense:
“I think whoever we play you don’t want to get in a one-dimensional game. That’s always just a philosophy in football. If you make any team one-dimensional, it’s hard to be successful, especially when you are going against an offense. That’s important. Our main thing isn’t, you don’t just say you’re going to keep the ball out of their hands by running it because that sometimes can be a quick three-and-out and even if you have three running plays, if you don’t move the chains it doesn’t really matter what you do – you’re giving the ball back to them. The number one goal is to move the chains and score points. We always believe that the best way to do that, the best way to help your players, is to not be one-dimensional. We think by doing that is mixing it up and doing both. In every game we play in, we believe in running the ball and we know we’ve got a challenge because we’re going against a very good defense and a very good offense and we know we’re going to have to be good with it when we get our turn and take every advantage with it.”

On if there are other ways to get Helu Jr. into games more:
“Yeah, I’d like to get Helu out there more. It’s always a hard thing when you’ve got two guys you believe in and with the success Alf’s had last year and how much we do believe in Alf, so we don’t like to just keep rotating those guys all the time. I’d like to get Helu in there more. I’d like to get him more opportunities. You don’t ever want to do that at the expense of another one of your good players, but the more plays you get, the more opportunities you get. You never know what week it will be. Just because a guy doesn’t do much one week doesn’t mean we’re down on him, it just worked out a different way. When his time comes, we can never predict it as coaches, but you hope he’s ready for it. He got that opportunity versus Oakland and I thought he was one of the main reasons we were able to win the game.”

On the advantage of having five games of tape to study a new defense as opposed to playing against a new scheme in Week 1:
“It’s a lot better. We feel a lot more comfortable when we have more tape. Who knows with the results and every game is different and you see what happens on Sunday, but when you have more tape on teams it makes you a lot more comfortable. We’re in here all the time looking at stuff and when there’s more to look at we’re actually not driving ourselves crazy trying to just come up with stuff. We actually can see it on tape. The more tape you get to see of people, the more you can be prepared and the more you can help prepare your players.”

On Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware’s transition from outside linebacker:
“It looks like he’s getting better at it every game. I know he hadn’t done it much in his career but I’ve always thought he’s one of the best players in this league. He still looks like the same guy to me. When he wants to come off the ball and rush that passer, he’s as scary as anybody there is. I don’t care whether his hand is in the ground or if he’s standing up, there’s not much of a difference to me because most of the time he’s coming after the quarterback.”

On if teams are blitzing young quarterbacks more:
“I don’t know if they are doing more this year than usual, especially around the league. I look at it as a week-to-week deal. I haven’t really sensed much more or any difference than the rest of my career. I have said, and we got blitzed the least amount last year that I’ve ever been close to a part of, but before that, the blitz has been the same pretty much my whole career. It depends what teams you play, what coordinators you play, and what they believe in.”

On his philosophy when his offense’s strength is the same as the opposing defense’s strength:
“I think our strength is trying to keep people off-balance. I think teams are good in this league, especially Dallas. They have got a real good coaching staff, they have got real good players, and when teams know what you’re going to do, regardless of their strength, when they know what you’re going to do it’s tough to go against guys. You just always want to keep people off. When teams are one-dimensional, you don’t see many people succeed. You have got to do some unbelievable stuff, but we’re always going to try to be balanced. Going against Dallas, I know they’ve been better versus the run, but I think it also has to do with these last two weeks they went against two pretty good performances by two pretty great quarterbacks that had some very good surrounding casts. I don’t think that was really a knock on Dallas, it was pretty much a credit to how Denver and his [Peyton Manning’s] weapons played and how [San Diego Chargers quarterback] Philip [Rivers] played the week before. I look at this defense as being very good versus the run and very good versus the pass.”

On if Griffin III needed to prove anything to the coaching staff for them to open up the playbook more:
“Not really. The only real thing that we did different versus Oakland was we got into a little up-tempo stuff. We did a no-huddle a few times, but it wasn’t any new plays. It was just huddling up at the line of scrimmage. I think that and [against] Detroit, we were able to do more stuff than we were the first two games because we thought we were in a game and we did better on third down versus Detroit so we were able to stay on the field and run more of our offense and be able to see the coverages they were doing and make adjustments when we saw that. Those first two games were so unusual that, we got down so fast, and not playing good at the beginning and it was very limited. We’d gone through two games and felt like we had only run about 10 percent of our offense, so it’s been nice in these last two games to not be getting blown out in the first half so we can actually run an offense and be competitive.”

On the difference in watching film from Dallas’ 3-4 scheme last year and their 4-3 scheme this year:
“It’s totally different. It’s pretty much different even when it’s the same coaching staff, but when you go from [former Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob] Ryan to [Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte] Kiffin it’s night and day different in the fronts you’re playing and the coverages and the philosophy. We don’t really look too much into last year because it’s some of the same players, even though they were injured with a few guys last year, but it is a totally different scheme.”

On the difficulty of trying to have two pass catching tight ends on the field together:
“It’s tough, and that’s what I like about our tight ends, there’s nothing that they can’t do. But, I mean, it’s tough to get two real pass-dominant tight ends who are neither liabilities in the run game. It’d be nice to go out there and just get great wide-receiver-type tight ends, and that will help your pass game, but then you’re going to get a lot more pass coverages. The D-line is going to rush the quarterback a lot more because they know you’re not going to be in positions to where you really have an advantage in the run game. You usually try to get a little bit of both. If you can ever get two great pass tight ends and two great run-blocking tight ends that do great at both, then you are probably going to stay in two tight end sets almost every play, but that doesn’t happen very much.”

On if he has seen anything in the Cowboys’ defense that provides an advantage to opposing tight ends:
“They played a little bit more man versus Denver. [Broncos tight end Julius] Thomas made some good plays with it. [Chargers tight end Antonio] Gates got them on a couple. I forget his stats but he ended up having like 10 catches for 100 yards and he had one catch, the one that won it, that they threw right down the middle on a dancer where he took it about 40 yards. But everything else the defense was a big 'bend but don’t break’ defense. They make you work the whole way down the field. They got it to Gates on a ton of checkdowns in zone coverage and he got up the field because it’s tough to get big plays on Monte’s defense. It always has been. Gates did get one of them. They got them in a really busted coverage with a safety cheating one way, but besides that, when these guys are dropping in a zone and they’re 'bend but don’t break,’ that’s when you’re going to see tight ends and halfbacks get a lot of catches. The way you win the game is those guys get up the field and move the chains and not make you punt because if you don’t, it’s going to always be fourth-and-1.”

Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett

On the elusiveness of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo:
“He’s probably as good as I’ve seen, a guy that can stay alive in the pocket, scramble, move side to side, left to right, both sides, and step up and have the ability to still clear the field, look downfield and complete passes. He’s probably as good as I’ve ever seen do that.”

On how to coach defensive backs on how to not give up on assignments when Romo extends plays:
“If you play man, you’ve got to stick with your guy. If you play zone, you better be ready to plaster and stay with your guys because zone turns into man at some point with him. Then you have to stay alive. That’s hard to do because sometimes you get your back turned, you don’t see the quarterback, you’re chasing your guy and obviously it’s a difficult situation to be put in as a secondary guy. But we told our guys up front and in the back end, the play’s not dead until you hear the whistle because he stays alive for six or seven seconds.”

On what he took away from film review of the first four weeks during the bye week:
“I think the one thing that we evaluated, we think we’re getting better as a defensive group as a football team. We played much better in the second two games than we did the first two, that’s kind of obvious. We did much better in the run. We created turnovers. We did a better job rushing the passer. We had seven sacks [against Oakland]. We actually had a bunch of sacks before that, four against Green Bay, but what I’m saying is we got better and better as we played and as we get settled into what we do. I just think that we improved drastically the last couple of weeks.”

On if he thinks linebacker Rob Jackson and defensive end Jarvis Jenkins are ready to play a role this weekend coming off of their suspensions:
“You know what, we’re still kind of in the evaluation process with those two. I think they’re in pretty good shape based off of what I saw just in the two practices Monday and Wednesday. Again, we’ll see how they go today, tomorrow, and then we’ll sit down with Coach Shanahan and figure out how we want to use them, activate them, all that. But right now we’re still in the evaluation process with those guys.”

On what has helped the pass rush this year:
“I think we’re doing a much better job rushing the quarterback all the way around, even the back end, the secondary when we blitz, which we haven’t done a lot of. Obviously [outside linebacker] Ryan [Kerrigan] is doing a nice job and Rak [outside linebacker Brian Orakpo] is, but I think that’s one area we’ve been doing well. Even from the first game we’ve been doing well. The sacks, obviously we want to keep working on the turnover issue, and then we’ve done a good job the last couple of weeks stopping the run. The big plays are just something we’ll just keep working on, but I think we’ve done a good job in that area.”

On what has helped the defense improve on third down:
“Again I’ll go back. The first game was kind of a – we got stuck in this situation where we’re not sure what we were going to get and all that so I told you I’ll take the blame for that first game. We’ve gotten better and better tackling the catch. We’ve done better rushing. We get in situations where we’re stopping the team and making them one-dimensional, stopping the run where we can get in situations where we can rush the quarterback and get them in situations where it’s a third-and-manageable situation. So if we can continue to do that, obviously stopping the run is number one, and then getting in situations where you can have the advantage. Even in the last game we had three third-and-1s and a fourth-and-1 we made stops on, which is outstanding, but we want to be in those longer situations if we can.”

On if there are areas in the secondary he feels better about after the last couple of games:
“I feel much better just because we’re getting situated on who’s playing. [Safety] Brandon [Meriweather] is playing. We got [safety] Reed [Doughty] involved and the safety spot is kind of secure. D [cornerback DeAngelo Hall] and [cornerback] Josh [Wilson] have been playing well, so you feel good from that standpoint.”

On the impact Brandon Meriweather has had on the corners’ success:
“I just think Brandon is a good football player and he just hasn’t played in a while, so I think the more and more he’s on the grass, the better he’s going to get.”

On the difficulty of getting Jackson snaps with the success Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are having:
“I can’t say that to be honest with you because I don’t know. I don’t even know if he’ll dress yet, from that situation. Again, a guy misses a month you kind of go through the evaluation process. First of all, you find out where he’s at physically, then mentally. What did he retain? Because you’re talking about three days of work and going to play a game. We’ll work it and see where he’s at at the end of the week.”

On if it is possible to have Jackson, Kerrigan and Orakpo on the field at the same time:
“Yeah, I think it is.”

On the importance of having a good nose tackle:
“You know, I think that’s kind of where you build the defense from. You’ll see all these teams that run a 3-4, Kansas City drafts [Dontari] Poe from Memphis in the first round. Casey Hampton was with Pittsburgh for years, Joel Steed before that. I think they’ve had two nose guards for the last twenty years. That’s kind of the guy you build it around. You like to have a guy that can handle the middle because he’s the guy that stops the runs from tackle to tackle and then, obviously if he can do other things besides that, that’s a plus, like Poe does an outstanding job and I think our guy [Barry Cofield] is a very good football player. There’s a bunch of those guys around, but I think that’s where it starts at, that and the two outside guys and then you build around it.”

On when he began to believe that nose tackle Barry Cofield was the best at his position in the NFL:
“We thought when we signed him off the Giants that it was a great position for him because he was really a three-technique shaded nose from the New York Giants. When we got him, we thought he would be an ideal guy just because of his size and athleticism. He’s smart – Northwestern grad – all that stuff. So it kind of all added up.”

On if the Cowboys’ effectiveness passing the ball alters his thinking that they must stop the run to force the Cowboys to be one-dimensional:
“I’ll say this: Last year, he threw 65 times against us for 365 yards or whatever it was. If you break it down, you go, 'Ooh, 365 yards.’ But then you go, ’65 times? That’s about right.’ So, did they win the game? To me, that’s the most important thing. I don’t care if he throws 70 times. But if somebody’s running the ball on you and you don’t have an answer for it, it’s a long day. If they’re doing both, it’s a long day. In the passing game, we get turnovers, you get a chance to get sacks, fumbles, turnovers, and I think that’s the big thing. If we can stop the run – that’s universal. I think with anybody that’s coached defense or anybody that’s been around a defensive coach will tell you that.”

On what makes Cowboys tight end Jason Witten difficult to defend:
“I don’t know. He’s deceivingly fast. I think he’s a great route runner. He does a good job pushing off. He’s an excellent pass blocker. He’s one of my favorite guys to watch play. Even when I was with the Saints and he was with the University of Tennessee, we were going to draft him. I thought the guy was going to be an outstanding player and he’s turned into it. And he’s consistently the same guy from year one to now. I don’t see any drop-off.”

On cornerback David Amerson:
“I think he’s much improved. I think he’s much improved from the first two games. He’s got more confidence in what he’s doing. He made the nice play against the Raiders for the touchdown, but he has that ability to do that all the time. Being a young guy – I think he’s still 20-years-old, he was a junior coming out – I think his future is bright ahead of him. A big, long guy that can run, and he’s athletic, I think he’s got a great future ahead of him.”

On if cornerback DeAngelo Hall will defend Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant:
“We really haven’t decided exactly what we’re going to do in that situation – if we’re going to have him on Dez or not, because David [Amerson] is on the other side – you got a guy that’s long. So we haven’t really decided what we’re going to do yet. But I think DeAngelo kind of thrives in these situations – Sunday night with the lights and all of that. Good players usually do.”

On the challenges in stopping Bryant:
“It’s a combination of everybody. You’ve got to stop the run game. I think their line’s playing excellent, I really do. They’re doing a great job protecting the quarterback. Dez is a beast. He’s a huge, big body guy that can run and catch. His yards after catch [average] is outstanding. So you’ve got your work cut out. Between him, Witten, the young kid from Baylor [wide receiver Terrance] Williams who I really like, I think they’ve got a good formidable group. I like the running back [DeMarco Murray]. And then obviously the quarterback [Romo] has always been one of my favorites.
 

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