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Marine Corps Virginia


October 17, 2013
Redskins Park

Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On the health of cornerback David Amerson:
“He practiced today. He did some drill work. No contact. He passed his tests. He’ll be tested every day and go through the protocol and if he passes his tests each day, he should be ready to go.”

On if he has noticed a difference in Bears defensive end Julius Peppers, who has one sack this season:
“I’m just hoping that after this game he still only has one sack. Very talented player. They’ve had a couple of guys go down. Those guys should be ready for us, at least two guys, and two very, very good defensive players should be back this week.”

On the role of tight end Fred Davis:
“We have got four tight ends that we believe are football players in the National Football League and each week it could change. We could have three guys up, we could have four guys up. Each week we’ve had four. It all depends on who practices great during the week. We’re going to play our best players. Fred has come off an injury. Jordan Reed has really stepped up, especially in the passing game. He’s gotten more reps and he’s really taken advantage of that opportunity. We’re going to evaluate these guys week-by-week and whoever practices the best and performs the best in practice we usually give that opportunity in the game.”

On if Davis is moving as well as he did before the injury:
“Yeah, I think so. I think there was that setback after that – I forgot what game it was when he hurt himself – it took him a few days to recover from that. Besides that, his health is pretty good.”

On if it is hard to incorporate two pass-catching tight ends into an offense:
“Anytime you’ve got talent, that’s what you want. You want depth, and that’s what I feel like we have. We have some depth at that position. We’ve got a lot of guys competing, guys that can do both – guys that can block, guys that can catch. That’s why we kind of go through the week and determine who has the best practice and who can help us that week and sometimes it will be a scheme, sometimes it will be just a matchup. It all depends on the team we are facing.”

On the Cowboys’ defense adjusting to quarterback Robert Griffin III’s success running by having linebacker Sean Lee spy him:
“First of all, they didn’t have Sean Lee spying us. They played man-free and the two linebackers were free and whatever way the back went, that linebacker took that guy man-to-man. The other guy just was in the area and they played 3-deep zone. It wasn’t a spy. It was just the type of defense that they run.”

On if other teams will game plan more for Griffin III rushing than they did in the first four games:
“I think everybody will approach Robert differently, but you’ve got to get ready for a quarterback that has the ability to run and pass. There’s no question about that. I think everybody could see that he made a couple of plays with his legs, so he is able to make plays where you couldn’t really see that in the first four games. So, yeah, I think anytime you have a quarterback that can do a few things, it puts a lot more pressure on the defense.”

On the growth he has seen from linebacker Perry Riley, Jr.:
“Perry is a worker. He’s got a lot of athletic ability – his speed, his quickness, his toughness, and you want to keep him on the field as much as you can. As he gets more experience being a veteran player, we can expand his role. If it’s blitzing or if it’s one-on-one in coverage, he kind of has the ability to do it all. He’s a playmaker and he just feels more comfortable every time he’s out there. He’s a big plus for our defensive football team.”

On what Bears Head Coach Marc Trestman has done to return quarterback Jay Cutler to the level of success he had under Shanahan in Denver:
“Well, you can see that even though they do go downfield, they have a short passing game as well. That looks a little different than what I remember from the past. Yeah, everybody’s got a little different flair on how they deal with the quarterback. You can see Jay right now feels very comfortable within their system and he’s doing a good job.”

On what he saw out of Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall when he drafted him in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft:
“We had [Elvis] Dumervil and him – we had Brandon – and [Domenik] Hixon. That was three guys in the fourth round that turned out being pretty good football players. Champ Bailey came up to me after the first minicamp we had and he said, 'What did this guy do? How come he lasted to the fourth round?’ That was after the first day of one-on-one. 'He said he had to have done something bad, because there’s no way this guy could last until the fourth round.’ So that’s what our players thought about Brandon the first time they had one-on-one. You could always see his speed on film. You know, he did play free safety the year before. Then, after the year at free safety, he went to wide receiver. You didn’t see all that speed unless you worked him out one-on-one. But he was very talented, very strong. You have a hard time bumping him because with his strength, DBs usually just bounce off of him. That’s one of the reasons why he’s had so much success.”

On if there are adjustments for young players like tight end Jordan Reed when defenses begin to focus on him:
“Any time somebody takes somebody away, especially if it’s a tight end, usually you have to double-team him, and if you do, then you open up somebody else and that’s what you want. You want to have as many weapons as you can. Most people will try to put a corner or maybe a big safety on a guy, and hopefully, with their athletic ability, cover a guy like that… He’s got a lot of confidence in himself and we’ve got a lot of confidence in him that not too many people can cover him one-on-one. He’s got some size. He’s got some strength. He knows how to set up people running routes and for a rookie, that’s a little bit unusual.”

Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan

On quarterback Robert Griffin III re-establishing himself as a runner vs. Dallas:
“I thought it was his best game running athletically. He looked fresh out there. He competed hard with his legs. He kept some plays alive. He made some designed plays in the zone-read. He did a good job and it opened some stuff up. It makes them defend a lot of stuff.”

On what having a defender spying on the quarterback does for the offense:
“It depends how they’re doing it. With Dallas, it’s not really a technical spy. They play such a zone defense and they have all eyes on the quarterback, just the type of scheme that [Cowboys Defensive Coordinator] Monte [Kiffin] has coached over the years whether it’s Tampa 2 or 3-deep/4-under. So they don’t really designate a spy for him, but those inside backers, especially those hook players always have vision at him so they can react to things quicker. Whether it’s him scrambling or whether it’s him moving, they have eyes on him and they move with his eyes.”

On tight end Fred Davis’ role in the offense:
“We’ve got four tight ends, as we’ve said all year, that we believe in. We think they all can help us. Each week they compete in practice for playing time. Fred got out there a little bit in two tight end sets and got in there in our two tight end, fullback and one receiver sets we call 'U-personnel’. He got some playing time out there, but it’s a week-to-week thing. It depends on what plays we are running, what package we’ve got in personnel-wise, it’s a week-to-week deal.”

On the miscommunication between Griffin III and wide receiver Pierre Garcon:
“It’s something that happens, but it’s not something that you just don’t worry about because it is a big deal. You definitely don’t want to waste a play, especially in that situation. Robert signaled a route to him and Pierre was looking inside adjusting his feet and he missed it. It costs you a play and it costs you time in a crucial situation. It’s something that you understand why it happened, but it’s something you don’t want to happen again so you address it. You’ve got to make sure that when you signal to a guy the wideout has got to keep their eyes on the quarterback and the quarterback has got to make sure they see them.”

On whether the running game is where he would like it to be or not:
“I mean, I don’t think anything is ever where you want it to be, especially when you’re 1-4. We’ve done some good things. I think we’ve done some good things the last two weeks in particular. You see the yards per carry are up. It does help when you get some big runs. That always helps the average. I’d like to eliminate more of those negative runs. I think we had a few negative runs in the game. When you call a run on second-and-10, you want to at least feel – worst-case scenario – it will be third-and-7. We had a couple of situations where we got into third-and-12 and things like that. I think our main goal as an offense is to always have a positive run and if you can keep your guys on the field and you keep getting positive runs and moving the chains, then you’re going to have a good average because it’s a matter of time before you’re going to get that 15-yarder, in some cases a 40-yarder. That’s really what helps your average.”

On what caused the red zone struggles and if they have emphasized fixing that this week:
“Yeah, you’ve just got to look at why it happened. Any time you get field goals, you really can’t count on winning. You’ve got to get touchdowns. You’ve got to score in this league. You can feel as good as you want about getting yards, and stuff but it only matters when you get points and we didn’t get enough and that’s why we lost. When you look at our red zone trips, the first one in particular I think was most disappointing because we had first-and-goal at the nine. We had a dropped pass on first down. We had a no-yard run on second down. Then we had third-and-goal from the nine and it’s about a 10 percent chance of scoring on third-and-goal from the nine. We ran a quarterback draw. We were two yards short. So I think, in that case, we’ve got to do better on first and second down. The next time we got down there was on the 17-yard-line with 20 seconds left so, you know, it’s tough to get in the end zone when you’ve got that, especially going against a bend but don’t break defense, but we didn’t do good there either. We threw two incompletions and got into a third-and-long so then we just really ended up, knowing we weren’t going to get into the end zone, ran a quarterback draw there too. The next time in the red zone I think we only got to the 20-yard line, so we got to the 20-yard-line and it was second-and-nine, ran the ball, lost two yards, and then had third-and-11. So, that third time I don’t really think we truly, really got in there, we just got to the 20. Yeah, we’ve got to get better, and we won’t win if we can’t score in the red zone.”

On if there was one particular thing that caused Griffin III to complete less than half of his passes:
“No, I think it’s just a process. We knew it would be a challenge with those guys. It’s a good defense. They’ve got some really good backers inside in their pass coverage with their zone drops and everything, [Cowboys linebacker] Sean Lee being as good as anybody. The corners did a good job on the outside being physical with our receivers and [Cowboys defensive tackle Jason] Hatcher made a few plays in the rush. We just missed a couple of throws, had a couple drops and they start to add up, but I think that’s a situation that we didn’t put him in as much last year and he’s getting more experience at it. I feel he’s getting better and the things that he does struggle with he’s trying to improve this week.”

On if they talk about Griffin III playing more instinctually:
“No, that’s something – that’s usually what I start off saying to him before every game, 'Just make sure you go out there and be you and have fun.’ During the week it’s about fundamentals, execution, your technique, trying to get a guy better, but when you get to game day, it’s about playing. You’ve got to let it loose and go out there and just react and see what happens and when you make mistakes you’ve got to get it corrected that week in practice. I think Robert is starting to feel more comfortable the more he gets healthy. I think he says that because he’s feeling he can be more of himself and I think it showed a little bit on Sunday night.”

On how the Bears’ defense has changed since the retirement of linebacker Brian Urlacher:
“It hasn’t changed as far as scheme even with a different staff. They’re still doing the same stuff they did when [former Head Coach] Lovie [Smith] was there. It’s a hard eight-man front and then it’s Tampa 2. They’re a very sound defense against the run and the pass. They make you work for everything. It’s tough to get big plays on them, very similar to Dallas. Maybe mix in a little more Tampa 2 than Dallas did, but they make you go down the field. You can move the ball a little bit on them but they make it tough to get in the end zone. When you mess up, they are opportunistic. They get picks. They’ve got guys out there like [cornerback Charles] Tillman and stuff and you’ve got to execute versus them. If you don’t or you’re a little bit off, they get turnovers and that’s how they win games.”

On if the quarterback draw is becoming available now because of the improved health of Griffin III:
“No, we’ve had it in the game plan. You just don’t like to call it when you don’t think it looks good. I can’t give you guys all of our secrets but there’s times this year that we have called it that you don’t end up running it because of certain looks you get in the defense. There’s premier looks to run that play and then there’s not. Last year we ran it, it seemed, a ton early in the year and we stopped running it as much because defenses were playing it. When defenses were playing it, you’re not just going to beat your heads against the wall, you’ve got to do some other stuff. We ran it with [quarterback] Kirk [Cousins] on a two-point conversion last year to send it to overtime vs. Baltimore, so I think that was the last time we’d done it. I think I called it once earlier this year but we got out of it because of the look.”

On if other teams will make adjustments based on Griffin III’s success running against Dallas:
“You always look for that, but I didn’t really see it that way with Dallas. They play a one-plug defense, which is man-free with a four-man rush. Anytime there’s four guys rushing and six guys in coverage, they’ve got one left there to be a plugger. How do they use that plugger? Usually that guy reads the quarterback’s eyes and floats around. He is the free one. It’s really necessarily a spy for a rushing defense, it’s more of a run-coverage, but he is a free guy. I don’t mind when there are spies for the rush. I kind of like it because it takes a guy out of there, and I think if Robert gets out there free, that guy’s going to have to be pretty fast to catch him. So I don’t think it’s too much of an issue.”

Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett

On if he feels good about the progress the defense has made:
“It’s like I said last week, I think everybody’s committed to getting better and we did a lot better in a lot of areas last weekend. There’s still areas that we need to improve in and not just defense – offense, special teams, everything. I think the players and the coaches are all committed to getting better. There are things that disappointed me last week. The offense turned the ball over at the two and the 15, we had great chances of stopping them and holding them to field goals and we didn’t do it. I think we’re good enough – we had a situation with the one touchdown we had them right where we wanted them and we let them out and they scored. So there’s things we have to keep working on to get better and I think our guys are committed to doing that.”

On if cornerback DeAngelo Hall’s game against the Bears in 2010 will have a residual effect on Sunday:
“No, not necessarily. It’s totally different on offense, what they’re doing. But this is a good opportunity again. I thought DeAngelo played a heck of a game last week and it’s another opportunity for him to shine. He showed that he can do it against a really, really great receiver. Now that we saw it on tape, I want to see it every week now.”

On opponents’ starting running backs not finishing games so far this season:
“Can we get [Bears running back Matt] Forte to leave early? [Laughter]. No, I think he’s a really good running back, that’s why I said that. I think it’s just an unfortunate thing that those guys have gotten nicked up or hurt and I think it’s just kind of how it fell. I don’t think it’s anything we’re doing on defense. It’s just something that happened.”

On if he coaches the defense differently after turnovers and/or in the red zone:
“We think different ways. You look over the years at the pattern and the history of the offense and try to figure out if they’re that type of team that’ll take a shot or what’s their mentality – what do they do in the red zone or what do they do in the gold zone? So I think there’s different ways to approach it. And we try to study it hard. Our coaches – [assistant defensive backs/assistant special teams coach] Richard Hightower does red zone, [linebackers coach] Bob Slowik does third down, [defensive backs coach] Raheem [Morris] does first and second down, [defensive assistant] Bobby [Slowik] does formations – so everybody has a segment that they study and then I look at the whole thing and then we come up with a uniform game plan based off of what we see.”

On Bears quarterback Jay Cutler’s start:
“They’re running a familiar offense that we’ve faced before. So I think it’s a quick passing game. He’s doing a nice job getting the ball out of his hand. He’s a little over 69 percent completion, and I’m impressed with the way he’s throwing it. I’m impressed with the way he’s running; I think he’s running the ball more. And then he’s got some great weapons. They’ve got big, tall receivers that are really good football players – one of the best receivers in the league, a heck of a running back. I love their running back. They have a really good line, they’ve got a couple young guys that are good football players.”

On the importance of being an opportunistic defense:
“That was the other area probably that was disappointing last week. Our goal was to get three turnovers last week; we got one. We did a lot of good things but I think it’s not the yardage you give up. If you worry about yardage in this league, like for every hundred yards you give an offense they give you five points or something, then you worry about it, and same thing on defense – you worry about points given up and turnovers obviously are a big thing because when you get a turnover you take possession away from the offense. We’ve got to increase that volume, especially in the fumble area.”

On the challenges tall receivers pose for a defense:
“Obviously we don’t have any DBs that big but I think our scheme and what teams are doing – you can limit them to their jump balls and back throws and you kind of know what they’re doing. I think they are really good receivers, all of them, all three of them.”

On if Cutler has been getting the ball out faster this year:
“I think the scheme is the reason why the ball is coming out of his hand a lot faster.”

On the pressure having a variety of targets able to catch the ball puts on a defense:
“Like I said, you’ve got 40 catches by one, you’ve got 31 by one, you’ve got 29 by another, you’ve got a running back that’s got I think 31 catches so they get balls. They’re a big screen team. They get the ball to their best players. The tight end [Martellus Bennett] is a good player. We faced him both at Dallas and New York and I think they utilize him, what they’re doing in Chicago, a little bit better, and that’s nothing against Dallas and the Giants, they just utilize his talent. He’s a big tall guy. He can go up and catch the ball.”

On the improvement of the Bears offensive line with the offseason acquisitions:
“[Tackle Jermon] Bushrod’s one of the best in the league and I’m a fan of all the Longs – Howie, Kyle, all of them, Chris. Heck of a family, and he throws a hundred mile an hour fastball, so that’s a pretty good deal.”

On if he has a relationship with Bears coach Marc Trestman:
“I’ve never worked with Marc. I know Marc and I think he does a great job. I think he’s a heck of an offensive coach and obviously he’s doing a great job as a head coach.”

On what the offense does to help Cutler get the ball out fast:
“It’s just a quick passing game. He doesn’t have to read a lot of things. He can get it out of his hands fast because he knows where the receivers are at. I think he’s doing an excellent job with that offense.”

On facing the Green Bay offense helps in preparation for the Chicago offense:
“I don’t think it’s the same type of offense.”

On how the secondary prepares for Cutler’s quick release:
“Obviously, you’ve got to get him in the situations where if you utilize them – we’ve got to stop the run, number one. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that the last few weeks. If we can get in those situations where they’ve got to throw the ball on third-and-long, you have a better chance of winning the game.”

On if Hall can sustain his high level of performance or if the play of cornerbacks depends on the matchup:
“If he did it one time, why can’t you do it every week? I say that to our guys up front. I thought we did a great job in certain areas. For instance, [defensive lineman] Chris Baker, two weeks ago against Oakland, it was his best game he’s played. I told him, 'You’ve set a standard for yourself. We’ve got to have that every week.’ We tackled much better this week. We were a really good tackling team this week. So, I want to see it every week. You set a standard for yourself. Let’s do it every week now.”

On if Hall’s varying performances are a matter of “getting up” for certain matchups:
“I don’t think it’s that. I just think he just had a heck of a game.”

On if he discusses special teams with his defensive players:
“Like I said, I think this whole football team – coaches and players – are committed to getting better, and that includes special teams. Most of those guys on special teams are defensive guys. I don’t coach them, but I actively get involved in telling them that if you want to play and you want to be on this team and you want to be active for this team, then you’ve got to do a better job on special teams. To me, I think special teams are very important. So if you’re the third and fourth safety, or third and fourth corner, or third and fourth running back, whatever, you better be a pretty good special teams player. We’ll get better in those areas.”

On the play of cornerback Josh Wilson in the hybrid safety/cornerback role:
“Josh has played a little bit of everything. Josh has played nickel, corner, safety, free safety, strong safety and he’s done an excellent job. One time he played strong safety with big people in the game last week because we made a mistake. We got him in the game and they ran the ball and he was in the box. He did a nice job. Josh is playing excellent football and he’s practicing great. It’s like he’s revived or something because of what he’s doing – we’ve been playing a lot of different roles with him.”
 

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