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Skins Quotes 10/11: M. Shanahan/K. Shanahan/Haslett


The Commissioner
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Apr 11, 2009
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Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On quarterback Robert Griffin III’s Thursday practice:
“It was good. It didn’t look like there was any setback. I haven’t talked to the doctors yet. He’ll go through his test. He looked fine.”

On if Griffin III was cleared for contact:
“He gets evaluated every day. He gets cleared to practice. After today’s practice, he’ll talk to the doctors. They’ll clear him for tomorrow if he passes his test. He’ll do the same thing tomorrow.”

On if Griffin III was limited in practice:
“I would say you would list him as limited to full. Maybe a couple of less plays, but not much. Instead of taking 85 to 90 percent, it was 75 to 80 percent. So he’s close.”

On cornerback Cedric Griffin’s Thursday practice:
“He practiced today. He was limited. The hamstring is getting better. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow, but it has gotten better each day so that’s a positive.”

On Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder’s progression and if the same progression can be expected for Griffin III:
“We’ve talked about this from the beginning. Each game is a learning experience for him. If it’s running, scrambling, dropping back, play action, you always want to put a quarterback in live situations as many times as you can. When you do that, the game usually slows down for him. Initially, everything is sped up, everything is going 100 miles an hour. I think Ponder would tell you that this year he is a lot more comfortable than he was a year ago.”

On the quick recovery of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson from a torn ACL:
“You never know with those ACLs. I’ve had people come back quick, and other people never came back. You never really know the seriousness of the injury. Those ACLs have a lot of different degrees of having that surgery.”

On if he is pleased with the team’s punt return unit:
“It all depends on the punts and the coverage. Brandon [Banks] has got some ability and that can change very quickly. All he has to do is break one and all of a sudden that average is different. We haven’t had the opportunity to break one yet, but when you look at his past history, you are hoping we could improve and he could come up with some big plays because he does have that type of athletic ability.”

On if teams are kicking away from [Brandon] Banks:
“Yeah, you see that at times. You see a guy kick it out of bounds but most of the time they’ve been giving us a chance to return them.”

On Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin:
“He’s faster than everybody on the field. So when he is faster than everybody who is over 200 pounds or right around there, he has a chance to go the distance every time he touches the ball.”

On the pass rush:
“You always want to put as much pressure on the quarterback as you can with a four man rush. That’s the ideal situation. If you can’t do it with a four-man rush, then you’ve got to find ways to put pressure on the quarterback. When you do that, obviously you give up different areas in zone and man coverage. When you blitz five, six, or seven, there are advantages and disadvantages. We will try to have a game plan, keep people off-balance, and sometimes we may have to rush more than four because of the quarterback. But in a perfect world, you’d like to be able to put pressure with four or five guys.”

On who was limited during practice:
“[Doug] Worthington did not practice. [Brandon] Meriweather obviously was out. [Evan] Royster was full participation.”

Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan

On what hinders the offense on third downs:
“I don’t think it’s ever one thing in particular. It’s a little different thing each week. We have to get better at it in all areas. Last week we had a few drops on third down, which was two of them. We had a couple third-and-long situations. For the most part we were in some integral situations – missed a third-and-two and a third-and-one running the ball – two drops. That’s four right there that takes you to 50 percent if you make them, so we have to make those plays.”

On trying to do too much in third down situations:
“I think at times guys do. I don’t think that’s been the issue so far. I think everybody does after a certain time when that’s obviously what you’re struggling with each week.”

On his third down philosophy:
“That always depends on the opponent. I think whatever your philosophy is changes year to year, it changes game to game and it changes quarter to quarter. It depends on what your players can do – putting them in the best chance to succeed. That has a lot to do with not just what they can do naturally, but what defense you’re going against – what schemes, what fronts, what players and their personnel. It’s changing. It’s constantly what we’re working on throughout the week.”

On if he has to develop multiple game plans when he is unsure if one quarterback is going to play:
“I think all three of our quarterbacks are capable. They all can do most of the offense. The option and the zone reads and stuff aren’t going to be too high on my list with Kirk [Cousins] or Rex [Grossman]. I still plan on calling them some day with them, but it’s definitely not high on my list. So that stuff changes, but from the passing game standpoint and all the other runs besides that, all three of them can do the same stuff.”

On keeping quarterback Robert Griffin III healthy after his concussion:
“If he’s cleared and he’s healthy, then you go into it the same way you always do. He’s been great at practice this week. It sounds like he’s going to be alright. Once I wait for that and get that cleared, you go into the game assuming he’s healthy and you see how it plays out. You never want him to have to run the ball too much, see what the defense does. You have to make sure that, when he isn’t running – especially on those pass plays where nothing there is he protects himself.”

On if he expects Griffin III to make plays like the one he missed against Atlanta in year two:
“I think it could be year two, I think it could be later in that game, I think it could be this week. Anytime you’re a rookie, you’re not going to be automatic in all those situations. The good thing with Robert is that he can watch the film and he always keeps it real. He’s an honest person who’s hard on himself. He can see that he could have made that. It definitely wasn’t an easy play that should have been just automatic, but it’s something he was capable of making and he sees it. I think Robert – as much as anyone I’ve been around – he’s learns from his mistakes. When he does something, he’s quick to try to figure out why. He wants to know why – not just giving himself a way out. How could he make that play better? When he does get those opportunities, he does learn from them and I expect him to get better from it.”

On small details affecting scoring opportunities:
“It’s like that every year. Football – everyone says – is a game of inches. It’s such a fine line. There’s 22 guys on the field and just one guy misses one thing and it makes a possible house call into a negative run. It’s always like that. We have a lot of players out there capable of those home run plays. When you have guys like that, the little things do come into play – how good the last guy in the play [is], the receiver on the backside is blocking that guy. That’s the difference between a 12-yard run or a 60-yard run. Just making the catch where you go from second-and-four and you make the catch, a first-and-10 with a 30-yard gain, but instead you don’t run the right route or you drop the ball and you get sacked, you could go to a third-and-14 and it changes everything. I think this year we feel real confident in moving the ball. We’ve got some guys who are making plays. They’re playing well together. They’re moving the ball – hasn’t been an issue. Third downs are what’s stopped us. When it is third downs, it’s not always just the third down, it’s what happened on second down to get you into a third-and-long sometimes. We just need to move the chains and we feel confident if we can move those chains, we’ll get more points. When we have, it’s worked out.”

On planning for Vikings defensive end Jared Allen:
“It changes in a game when you see how your guys are handling stuff and what they’re doing. That usually goes into the game plan. What’s the plan for those type of guys? How are we going to slow down the pass rush? No matter how good your O-line is, really almost every single D-line you against in the NFL, if they know it’s pass then they can tee off and they’re going to get you. Guys in this league are too good at rushing the passer. You try to balance them out and make them play the run, make them play screens, make them play the quick game, make them run sideline to sideline and if they’re thinking about a lot of stuff, then they can’t just tee off. Any guy, especially a guy like Jared Allen, if he knows it’s pass then he’s going to get back in his stance and come off that ball and they’re extremely hard to block. The main thing is just to try not to be predictable – to keep them guessing.”

On any other aspects of the Vikings’ defense that concerns him:
“I think it’s like our third year in a row playing them, maybe four because we played them in Houston too when I was there. It’s a very sound scheme. Being around the scheme when I was in Tampa, it’s a Tampa Two scheme where we bring in Coach [Alan] Williams over there and then mix in some more quarters and stuff. It’s very sound. They play fast, they play hard, and when you have sound scheme like they do with the players they do, it’s always an issue. It’s tough to get big plays. They make you work, they make you go down the field, they make you beat them five yards at a time. If you can’t do that…they wait for you to make a mistake. They wait on your holding onto that ball too long and their pass rush will get to you. They stop you on a few runs and you get into a third-and-long and they can tee off in that situation. When you go against a scheme like that, you have to be sound fundamentally on offense too. You have to throw and catch, be on time and you can’t turn it over.”

On quarterback Kirk Cousins:
“I thought Kirk came in and he obviously made a big play on third down that got us that touchdown. On his second interception, it was a bad play. He was forcing something and they were just in a soft Tampa two defense. They should have checked it down to the back over the ball. The last interception I don’t put on him, it was a route that…It was a ball he had to let go. He was about to get sacked. 'Tana [Santana Moss] was going to be there and he collided with the nickel Sam, something that gets called a lot but it didn’t there. 'Tana got rerouted about 10 yards down the field, so it was a pick.”

On calling plays after Griffin III’s concussion:
“I feel if I went into a game thinking I had to call a different game because if he got hit he was going to get hurt, then he shouldn’t be playing. If he’s cleared, he’s cleared – he’s OK. That’s my assumption. I think Robert is a pretty smart guy and I don’t think he would do something stupid like that and act like he’s not OK to get back out there. I feel very confident that if Robert is playing on Sunday, he’s good to go and 100 percent healthy and calling a normal game.”

On wide receiver Pierre Garçon’s foot injury:
“He’s battling it, I can tell. You can see him on the practice field and stuff and in the games that it hurts him to run. He has a lingering foot problem and it does hurt him. He’s been able to play through it here the last couple weeks and it helps us having him out there, but no, I don’t think he’s 100 percent. I appreciate him battling through it and being out there for us. I just hope that each week it gets better.”

Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett

On if wide receiver Percy Harvin stresses him out:
“Oh yes he does. Him, [running back Adrian] Peterson, [running back Toby] Gerhart – that’s a good group right there. All three of them are good running backs. Harvin may be the best athlete in the NFL. He can do everything. He’s a heck of a football player. They put him everywhere. You’ve got to know where he’s at. You’ve got to find his number and you’ve got to know what he’s up to all the time. They find ways to give him the ball. He’s a great player to have that you can do a lot of different things with. He can throw the ball. You can run him. He’s a returner. He does everything. He’s fun to watch. He’s fun to watch unless you’ve got to play him. Then he’s not so fun.”

On how the defense will shut down the run and pressure Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder:
“This is going to be one of those four-hour games that you’ve got to fight all day. You can do a good job in the first quarter. You can do a good job in the second quarter. You can hang around in the third quarter and they’ll break about three or four open in the fourth and then all of a sudden at the end of the day you think you did a good job and they’ve got 200 rushing on you. So this is an all-day fight and our guys know that. They’re going to have to be on top of it on every play. They bring Peterson in. They throw Gerhart in. Then they throw Harvin in. Then they come back with Peterson. So you’ve got to be on top of it and be ready to go all day. It’s going to be a long day.”

On if he saw a letdown in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons:
“I didn’t think so. We were playing a high-powered offense. We got a lot of plays. We just were on the field too much. We just did it to ourselves. The first drive of the game we had a chance to get off on three plays and we didn’t get off on a third down we should’ve stopped and they extended the drive eight or nine plays. So that’s our fault. We’ve got to get off the field in those situations.”

On taking more chances on the pass rush:
“Last week, we did a lot of three-man rushing because of how they were blocking things. We were trying to double the two receivers. If you do that you kind of expose the pass rush a little bit. We were mixing it up last week. We blitzed a couple times. The other times we played a lot of three-man rush. We had some four-man rush. We’ve got to mix it up. But we’ve got to find ways to get more pressure on the quarterback. I thought we hung in there pretty well last week doing what we had to do to win the game.”

On linebacker Rob Jackson coming off the field on third down:
“Rob does a lot of things. There’s different reasons why we do different things. We just feel the best thing for us last week was to have [linebacker] Chris [Wilson] in there. Chris covered the back a lot and did a lot of things and Rob played on first and second down.”

On evaluating Jackson and Wilson:
“I think Rob does a really good job on the running game. He pawns the heck out of tight ends. He’s really good in the running game. We obviously would like to get more pressure from those two guys. We’d like to get pressure from everybody. That’ll come with [time]. As coaches, we’ve got to try to mix things up and put them in better positions.”

On how he would rate the pass coverage:
“Actually, I thought we did a nice job in that area. [Tony] Gonzalez caught a bunch of balls but they were all sticks, hitches, and he pushed off every time he’d catch the ball. The best thing he does is his run after the catch was outstanding and it was good against us. But he didn’t hurt us down the field or any of that stuff and I thought we did a pretty good job on the two receivers.”

On mixing in safety Jordan Pugh:
“He’s a good athlete. He doesn’t know what we’re doing yet. I think he’s smooth the way he runs. Pretty smart guy. We’re just trying to find the right combination. We know [safety Brandon] Meriweather again [is] probably going to be out for a while. We’re just trying to use all four of the guys we have and put them in the best position to help us win games.”

On finding the best safety combination:
“Well, they don’t fall out of trees, if that’s what you mean… Safeties are kind of a unique breed. You’d like to have a safety, one who can play the run, and he’s tough, he’s smart, and understands because you’ve got to play a lot of different positions – you’ve got to play strong and free. You’ve got to have one who can go out and cover a receiver. That’s not easily said. There’s not too many guys who can do that. One who get matched up and not worry about getting mismatches. So you’ve got all those combinations.”

On how not having cornerback Cedric Griffin affected the defense:
“Everybody in the league has injuries. We’ve got them. Everybody’s got them. You try to put the guys you have in right positions to be successful and I don’t think we have done a really good job of that right now. We’ve just got to keep working and trying to find the right combination.”

On the improvement he’s seen in defensive end Jarvis Jenkins:
“I thought Jarvis is doing a really good job on the run. I thought he’s played exceptional again on the run. We’ve just got to keep working him. We need to get him a little more involved in the pass rush also. But he’s doing a good job on the run game.”

On nose tackle Barry Cofield’s performance against the Falcons:
“I thought Barry played well. I think Stephen [Bowen] has played well every game. But I thought Barry played well last week… He’s another one that we can maybe rely on to get some more rush because he’s got a good knack on that, knocking balls down and doing things like that.”

On Ponder:
“You can tell he’s much more comfortable with the offense. He’s a really good athlete. I like watching him on film. He’s a really good athlete, got a good arm, really mobile, can take off and run. Last year you could tell he was a young guy kind of learning his way. But you can tell he’s smooth right now. He feels good about the offense, and like I said, they got the three-headed monster of a running back. They can put them all back there so that kind of relieves him a little bit.”

On the growth he’s seen in linebacker Ryan Kerrigan:
“Kerrigan’s the real deal. He can do everything. He can rush. But he’s got to understand right now he’s getting chipped, banged, hit. I mean they were flipping – we moved him to one side, and they flipped it back to his side last week so they were trailing. They were following him around last week. He’s just going to have to find ways to beat the double team and beat the chip because he can’t get him free. All the time we moved him around and we’ll try to put him in the best position to rush but he’s going to have to keep working at it. And he’s still good in coverages, really good in the run game. Obviously by the interception, it shows you what kind of athlete he is.”

On how he teaches Kerrigan to beat the chip:
“It’s going to come with time. When you get chipped and you get pinged out of your lane, you’ve got to learn to go attack the chipper. You’ve got to learn to squeeze the edge on those type of things. It’s all new to him but I think he’s a heck of a player. He’s doing a nice job with everything.”

On if the defense’s three touchdowns were a product of the players or the defensive scheme:
“That’s the product of your guys on the field working hard, making plays. Like I said, I think we do a good job of trying to talk about turnovers all the time, trying to get them and score touchdowns. The disappointing thing is we scored three and we didn’t win the game. Usually when you score on defense, you win the game. Maybe we’ve got to get two.”

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