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Skins Quotes 10/19/11: Shanahan, Beck, Grossman, Moss, Rivera, Smith



The Commissioner
Staff member
BGO Ownership Group
Apr 11, 2009
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Greensboro, NC

Marine Corps Virginia

October 19, 2011
Redskins Park

Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On why quarterback John Beck gives the team the best chance to win:
“No. 1, I thought John did a good job with three of our starters out in the fourth quarter against Philadelphia. To come in a situation when they knew we had to throw the football — he had nine first downs. [We] could have attempted a field goal on the one. He took us down the field, a 75-yard drive for the touchdown. He impressed with that. [We] put a lot of pressure on him in that situation. I like the way he has been practicing the last few weeks. He’s done a good job in practice and I think he deserves the opportunity for us to see what he can do.”

On if was a difficult decision to name Beck the starter:
“Yeah, it was very difficult… I sat down and talked to Rex. Rex has played a couple of good games. I thought he did a great job against the Giants, Arizona, parts of the St. Louis game, and probably not quite as good as he would like to play in either the Dallas or the Philadelphia game. I just told him, 'I believe in him.’ I just felt, right now, that I’m going to give John a chance to see what he can do. I believe in both guys. You’re one play away from begin a starter. And, yeah, it’s always a tough decision to make. To do what John did in that game, with some of our guys out, with his mobility with some of our offensive linemen out, I believe he deserves a chance to show us what he can do.”

On if Beck has shown something different now than in the preseason:
“Well, I think right now that he’s more comfortable with the system. He was out for that week in there. Like I said, I like the way he’s practiced. Rex didn’t quite have the same practices as he did earlier – as I spoke to Rex. It’s a constant evaluation and you have to go with your gut. Like I said, we have two guys that we can win with, but I’m going to give John an opportunity to see what he can do this week.”

On Beck’s performance against the Eagles:
“For those opportunities, two times on that drive, he was able to show his speed and get out. One time he made a run and the other time he stepped up in the pocket, got away from the rush and made a couple of plays. It was a situation where he had to go get it done in the fourth quarter — two of those drives. We had nine first downs in the fourth quarter and that’s pretty impressive for a guy coming off the bench. To throw him in the situation, that’s pretty tough.”

On if Beck’s mobility factored into the decision because of the injuries on the offensive line:
“There’s always factors involved, but I think a big plus for John is his mobility. He’s a 4.7 [40-yard dash] guy. He can make plays with his feet. He has a good command for the offense. I think he feels more comfortable with it now than he has since he’s been here. So now he’s going to get his chance.”

On if there is a timeline in which he would remove Beck and go back to quarterback Rex Grossman:
“I’ve been saying this from day one – at any position, you have to prove yourself. You constantly have to prove yourself, regardless, if you are a starter in this league for 10 years. You have to go out there and prove yourself, that’s at every position. But I have a lot of confidence in John. I just think he needs an opportunity and he’ll get better and better.”

On if he said he had a lot of confidence in former quarterback Donovan McNabb:
“No, I didn’t say that about Donovan… I thought Donovan had a lot of ability. He can throw the ball as good as anybody in the NFL, but what I don’t share with you guys are things that I don’t know about a guy when he comes in. But you have to make some tough decisions and, when you make some tough decisions, you go with it.”

On going from McNabb to Grossman to Beck:
“Well, let me say this, when you do pick somebody — you pick a guy, use Donovan, for example — and you give a guy every opportunity you can to prove what he can do. Then, you have to make a decision. Do you want to move forward? Will I have him for two years, three years? Do you want him to be the quarterback of your future? Those are the decisions that I have to make as a head football coach. We did make the decision to go into a different direction because we thought it was in the best interest of our football team not to have him, but to have somebody else. We’re going to try a lot of guys and give them chances. But for them to be here long term and be the guy, they are going to have to prove to us that they’re going to prepare the right way, work the right way and they’re going to do the best thing possible for us to win.”

On how changing quarterbacks makes him feel about this team:
“If you’re in this league long enough, you make a lot of decisions. I think the toughest one I ever made was the one with Jake Plummer and Jay Cutler [in Denver]. It was tough. Jake had won 72, 73 percent of his games, but he lost the [AFC] Championship game to Pittsburgh. I thought that was as good as we could play with Jake Plummer. I don’t want to take anything away from Jake, but, any time you win 72, 73 percent of your games and he plays for the Championship game, he does a lot of good things. I thought Jay Cutler was a guy for the future. I really believed with his ability that we had a chance to take us to the next level. Next year, we were second on offense in the NFL with a young football team, so he did do some good things and I still think he has that type of ability. I have a lot of confidence in John Beck because he does have that mobility and he has a strong arm. I’m not going to put him in the Hall of Fame yet, but I really do believe that he has a lot of talent, just as he showed in that fourth quarter. Hopefully, he can keep on doing that and we can see some of his mobility help us out as well.”

On if naming Beck the starter puts more pressure on him because this is his third starting quarterback:
“The first year when I came here, I had to make the decision with Jason Campbell or Donovan McNabb. And I went with Donovan. I took a shot. There wasn’t a whole lot out there at that time. [There] were a lot of decisions to be made. Obviously, that didn’t work out, but I wasn’t going to keep him here for three or four years. You make a decision if he’s the guy for the future and he wasn’t, so we went with Rex and obviously we have John Beck as well. We’ll see how these guys do. I have a lot of confidence in them, but we have to play well. It’s not just your quarterback — it’s your whole unit playing well together.”

On if Beck can be the long-term quarterback even though he’s 30 years old:
“I don’t think there’s any question about it. It doesn’t matter if you’re 30. How much is your body bruised up? He has some experience there and he still has his speed. I like what I see and you have to see who’s out there. I mean it’s not like they fall out of trees, so you have to take a look and see which guy fits your system. I like what I see. Hopefully, he can play like he did in the fourth quarter against Philadelphia.”

On what Grossman has to do to minimize his turnovers:
“That’s what I talked to Rex about. I said, 'hey, to keep that position, quarterback in the NFL, you have to eliminate those mistakes.’ Like we talked about in the Giants game, there’s always going to be mistakes made in the game, but you can’t constantly turn the football over. If you do, you’re going to lose your opportunity to lead the football team. But I think we run an offense and a system that Rex will keep on getting better at and I think he feels more comfortable every day. That’s why he’s on our football team. Like I said, he’s one play away from being the starter again.”

On if there is one particular mistake that led to replacing Grossman as starter:
“What you have to do to play at a high level as a quarterback in the NFL is you have to eliminate those mistakes. That usually comes with experience, and if you keep on making those mistakes, then you lose your job. You’re second team or third team or you’re out of the league. He’s played some good games for us, but I think with what we just talked about – [against the] Giants, he played well. [Against] Arizona, he played well. [He] did some good things in St. Louis, did some good things in Dallas. But to be that guy, you have to constantly do it. If not, then somebody else gets an opportunity.”

On gearing the offense towards Beck:
“First of all, if you want to be great in the NFL and you want to be a great quarterback, you better have an excellent supporting cast. I think we all know that. The better off you are in your supporting cast, the better off you are going to be. That’s everybody. Now, John has some certain talents that we’re going to utilize that you couldn’t with some other quarterbacks. I’m not going to go through our game plan, but he can do some things that were evident in that game. When you scramble, he can make some plays that some guys can’t make. One time he got to the outside and got the first down on that first drive. I thought that was pretty impressive.”

On center Erik Cook:
“I thought Erik did a good job in his first game coming in. The thing that was interesting about Erik was that [trainer] Larry [Hess] came over before the game and said 'he’s out.’ He pulled a calf muscle. So he didn’t even go through warmups. When we were out on the field, he said, 'if someone goes down, I think I might be able to go.’ And so it was a surprise to me that Erik could even go, so [with] that calf he pulled earlier in the game, he was able to fight through it. So I felt very fortunate, not only that he could go back in the game but that he played pretty good… You never know until guys play. But I just liked the way he handled himself at the center position. He’s played center and guard. I thought he handled himself well against Philly.”

On what the offense is capable of without turnovers:
“Well, hopefully wins… Running the football, we’ve been pretty good. Throwing the football, at times we’ve been good. So we’ve got to be able to put it together. It takes continuity, and when you lose three guys on offense, you better get together pretty quick because people aren’t going to feel sorry for you. You’ve got to go out there and get very cohesive very quickly and eliminate some of those mistakes.”

On the timetable for the return of tight end Chris Cooley:
“He had the surgery today. I think the surgery went well. I really don’t know [about Cooley’s return]. I think Chris is going to talk to Dr. [James] Andrews after the game on Sunday, and I think after he talks with him and talks to the specialist that worked on his hand, we’ll have a better indication where we’re at.”

On the timetable for the return of offensive tackle Trent Williams:
“Usually high ankle sprains are a couple of weeks, sometimes more. But I’d say in the area of 2-3 weeks.”

On running back Tim Hightower being announced as a starter despite not playing last Sunday:
“Well, one of the reasons why I did it is that he’s been the starter for most of the year and I didn’t want to let them know who was going to start in the game. I thought he deserved it. I talked to Ryan [Torain] beforehand and said, 'I hope you understand.’ He said, 'Coach, I thoroughly understand.’ But I really thought that Tim deserved it because of what he’d done through the preseason, what he’d done through the regular season and it was really an acknowledgement to the fans of who Tim is. I thought he deserved to be introduced.”

On if he can consistently win in the NFL without a “difference maker” at quarterback:
“Everybody’s looking for a difference maker. Everybody knows that. All of the sudden, you take a look at a guy like Drew Brees. He was released by San Diego. Who was going to pick him up? Miami? Nobody knew he was a difference maker. Everybody knew he was probably pretty good, but now everybody knows he’s a difference maker. To me, he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the National Football League. I’m amazed every time I watch him, so there are people like that that get the opportunity to take advantage of it. There’s a lot of things that go into it. But everybody’s looking for a difference maker.”

On if he’s frustrated by the amount of turnover at quarterback and running back since taking the job:
“Let’s talk about Donovan to start out with. We don’t mind going to bat, taking a shot at a guy that was very talented. I watched Donovan through the years. One of the things I thought made Donovan was his great arm strength, [and] his ability to make plays running the football. We brought him in here to see if it would work out. It didn’t work out. We gave up a second-round draft choice. For Jason Campbell, we got a fourth in return, so it was really a second and a fourth, but releasing Jason and bringing him down here, we gave up a second. We moved from tenth to 16th [in the 2011 NFL Draft] so we got our No. 2 [pick] back. But we made a decision after we were done — hey, it didn’t work out. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you made a mistake or that a guy’s not your future of the organization. The mistake I think you make is when you try to justify something you did and you don’t believe it’s going to work out. We’re going to play — at least from my opinion — the guys that are going to work out, guys we feel that are hungry, guys that are going to take us to the next level. We’re going to constantly stay with those guys, regardless. If it’s a [draftee], if it’s a free agent — I’m very happy with our free agents this year. We brought a free agent in here that didn’t work out, even if we did pay him a lot of money. [He’s] not going to be with our football team. I believe that’s why you build a great organization. Are we going to make mistakes? Sure we are. But those mistakes, obviously, we’ll try to go through the little things so we can eliminate them. But we will make them from time-to-time.”

Quarterback John Beck

On how Head Coach Mike Shanahan told him he would be starting quarterback this week:
“He just brought me in and said 'we’re going to give you an opportunity to play this week.’ … [He said] 'just go out there and play your game, I’m happy that you were ready when we needed you last week and we just made a decision.’”

On if he thought he would get the starting job after Sunday’s performance:
“I was hoping for it but the quarterback position is a tough position to be in because there are so many factors that play into your success or things going well. Sometimes it’s not necessarily the quarterback, and when you watch the tape you can see things clearly. I really didn’t know. I was just kind of saying whichever way it goes I will be fine with it. I’m going to continue to work regardless of whether they decide to go with me or not.”

On his emotions about getting the opportunity to start Sunday:
“I’m definitely excited. There’s been a lot of hard work that’s gone into this and you never know when your opportunity is going to come so you always have to stay ready. I’ve tried to do that and I just want to go out there and do my best.”

On if Shanahan has said that the starting job is now his to lose:
“Really, we’ve just talked about these couple of days, saying 'hey, go out there and let’s get you some reps.’ I’m not thinking it. He’s probably not thinking it. We’re just saying we’re trying to beat the Carolina Panthers. That’s our goal.”

On strides he has made since the preseason:
“Well, the thing that has been good is — because of the missed time with the lockout and because I missed a week of training camp, there was really only a couple weeks that I had to practice — so it’s been good to be able to be in the No. 2 position this year. Last year I was only in that position for a couple games at the very end of the season [while] still learning the offense. Since that time I’ve been able to learn the offense a little more and now when I watch Rex at practice and in the games, my knowledge is greater. I kind of look at things with a different eye. It’s been good to see him at practice because he’s been in this offense for years. The quarterback room is a different feeling now with the knowledge I have.”

On if the knowledge he’s gained since the preseason made him feel different last Sunday:
“Definitely. Each game that you go into, you obviously feel a little bit more comfortable. You don’t get any reps in practice, so if there’s a play on the scout team that’s like ours, I tried to simulate it like it’s our play. I try to put myself in a position at practice when I watch Rex take his reps where I can get as much as I can out of it. Even just getting the walkthrough reps right here is good because it is a different look and a different feel.”

On why he didn’t get the starting job five games ago:
“I don’t know. I can’t answer that. I’m not the one who made the decision. I’ve just tried to get better from that point and continue to work.”

On what it’s like to step in as quarterback in the middle of a season for the second time:
“The situation that I stepped into as a rookie was a very difficult one because we were winless. The organization [Miami] had been through a lot of struggles that year and we were already 0-9. This is still the beginning part [of the season] and this team has a good feeling about it. When we’re together, on game day, when we’re with our coaches, we feel good about the situation. That’s different than the one I was in.”

On the state of the offensive line:
“We’re missing two starters on the offensive line and we’re missing Chris [Cooley] at tight end. Anytime you lose starters, especially guys of that caliber, it’s going to be tough but I feel strongly about the guys that we are bringing in. Those are the guys that played at the end of the game when I was in. [Erik] Cook was at center, Will [Montgomery] moved to guard, Sean [Locklear] was at tackle. Those are the guys that we’re going to go out and to try to win with. That’s just the way this league goes. I’ve been on a lot of teams and injuries are part of the game. You have to have guys that step up and make plays. That’s their opportunity to step in there and show what they can do.”

On how he balances making plays against ensuring ball security:
“That’s the tricky part of the quarterback position. There are a lot of plays that happen in the NFL where quarterbacks take chances and sometimes it works for you sometimes it doesn’t. That’s the quarterback position. Because the windows are so small in this league you have to be aggressive. I’m just going to go out there and try and do the very best I can. Ball security is a point every single week. It’s very hard to win in the NFL if you turn the ball over. Now it’s on my shoulders to take care of the football and put our team in the best position to win.”

On being able to handle the emotions of starting:
“You have to be able to shoulder a lot. You have to be able to have thick skin. Things change in the blink of an eye and you always have to be ready. I’m just trying to move forward with this opportunity and do the very best I can. I was hoping the day would come when I would get the opportunity but like I said I just never knew. Over these last six weeks, I’ve just been trying to prepare myself for if this did happen and now this preparation will come into play.”

On his conversations with Rex Grossman since the quarterback change:
“I tried to be as supportive as I could for Rex when he was the guy and Rex and I have already had a conversation. Rex is a really good guy and he wants this team to win just like I wanted this team to win when I was the backup. You just want the team to win. You want the feeling to be right in the locker room [and you want] the feeling to be right after games. We haven’t had any problem at all throughout the season with being in the same room, going together and watching tape together and I’m sure that will continue.”

On if he was in the facility during the players’ day off on Tuesday:
“We were here… All quarterbacks will be in their buildings on Tuesdays watching tape and trying to get ahead. Really what you want to do is get a feel for the other team’s defense and what they do before you get your plays for what you’re going to be running during the week. That’s a norm for quarterbacks to be up here a lot on Tuesdays.”

On if he feels Sunday’s game is a tryout or if he will be given the time to establish himself:
“I don’t know because we haven’t had that conversation. I can’t really think about that because if I try to think of it as 'oh ,I have to do everything right now,’ that can be putting too much pressure on yourself. You just have to play. Just play football. Just go up and do the best that you can and let the chips fall how they may. That’s really how it has to be. If you try to overthink things, you’re taking away from your preparation for the game and the way that you can naturally play. We’re all here in this league because we have an ability to play the game. The things that take away from that are the overthinking or the worrying… You just can’t do that.”

On why the fans should believe he can bring stability to Washington’s quarterback position:
“I don’t ever want to try to convince somebody from a microphone. I just want to go out on the field and play the way I can play. The quarterback position is tough, especially in the NFL. Like I said, windows are small. You need to take calculated risks and sometimes those risks don’t work. That’s part of the quarterback position. That’s part of the game of football. Sometimes the ball does not bounce your way but you have to continually battle. Sometimes there’s going to be adversity and I just try to prepare myself as best I can for all those unforeseen adversities that will come. I try to do the best I can to put our team in a position to win.”

On if he believes his mobility was a factor in the quarterback decision:
“I’m not sure. For me, mentally, because I know there’s a change on the offensive line and it’s not the starters, I just want to feel confident. I don’t want to have to put that in the back of my head. I want to be able to stand in the pocket and trust those guys just as much as I trusted the other guys that I don’t have to worry, that my backside is just fine when I’m going to stand in there and deliver the football.”

On the benefits of playing against the Eagles:
“It was good to get in, especially because, like I said, of injuries, the group that I was out there with at the end of the game is the group that we’re going to be out there with for this game. With [Erik] Cook at center — he’s the guy that I was taking snaps from in practice on the scout team — so I felt very comfortable with his snap. It was good to get to play a little bit before you’re going to go in and start a game.”

On wide receiver Santana Moss’ comments supporting quarterback Rex Grossman earlier this week:
“Everybody is going to have their opinion and I do like the loyalty. If I was the starting quarterback, I would want my teammates to feel that very same way about me. That’s what makes those guys good players — it’s because of that loyalty. If you want to be a championship football team, you have to have players that are loyal to the people that are on the field. So by no means will I ever get offended by anything like that. As a quarterback that steps into an opportunity, you just want to earn their respect by playing well. That’s my No. 1 goal. I’m not going to worry about anything else. I just want to go out there and play well and give our team a chance to win.”

Quarterback Rex Grossman

On his reaction to John Beck being named the starting quarterback:
“I was frustrated.”

On if he was surprised:
“Not completely surprised, but disappointed that I wasn’t able to come back off that game [against Philadelphia last Sunday].”

On how Head Coach Mike Shanahan told him about the decision:
“He told me in his office and told me yesterday.”

On his performance against the Eagles:
“Any time you watch tape, it’s funny how things aren’t always as bad as they seem and they’re never as good as they seem. But [it was] definitely an unacceptable performance.”

On if he thought his performance got worse between the first game and last week’s game:
“The frustrating part about it is that I do think they were good performances. The frustrating part about it is they should have been great. I mean statistics and ratings – you go out there to win – you don’t try to put up numbers. It’s very obvious when you do have a great rating and you put up a lot of points that there’s no doubt you played great. Any time you don’t produce enough points, it leaves room for judgment. I had an opportunity to make it clear as day and it wasn’t. For the first four games, I played well. I could show you to prove it, but it doesn’t matter. At this point, it is what it is. I wouldn’t point out the Cowboys game as a whole, but the other ones, I played well.”

On if he was looking over his shoulder through the first five games:
“No. I felt secure in my job so that wasn’t the case at all.”

On why he thought he played well:
“It doesn’t matter at this point.”

On if he turned the ball over too much:
“Yeah, I mean – whatever you want to say about turnovers, there’s always a reason. But, ultimately, I’m responsible for the ball.”

On if losing his starting position will affect his preparation:
“No. I’m a professional. I’m going to go about my business the same way. I know this offense. If I do get back in there, I’m going to feel really good about it and feel really good where I’m at. I’m just going to try to get better and build on things that I did well. Having success and winning games will propel my confidence if I do get back in there. Obviously, there are things that I need to clean up, but, for the most part, I’ll be in a good frame of mind.”

On if there are some patterns in his turnovers:
“If you want me to generalize it, which is hard to do, just maybe [my] mindset. That’s maybe the only thing that I could do that would maybe encompass all turnovers. Just have a little more conservative approach due to the fact that turnovers are bad, but they’re emotional mistakes that create emotion in the stands and creates an odd emotion everywhere. They have an odd way of feeling worse for your momentum… Like the first interception, they should have had the ball on the three-yard line. It was third-and-16, it was better than a punt, but it didn’t feel like a punt. Having that mindset might help.”

On playing in Washington and Chicago where the teams have had revolving quarterbacks:
“It’s a scenario where, as a player, you don’t think about [it]. It’s your job to go out there and win.”

Wide Receiver Santana Moss

On naming quarterback John Beck the starter:
“I told you on Monday, there’s nothing that we can do about it. Whatever Coach [Mike Shanahan] decides to do, we’re going to go with it. I told you all on Monday that we had two quarterbacks that we’re very confident in and we know that when the decision — whoever was going to start or whoever was going to play — that we have to go with it. And that’s how I feel.”

On if he talked to Shanahan about his support for quarterback Rex Grossman:
“No. I just stated my opinion to you all. You all asked me the question and I stated my opinion. I feel like everybody has an opinion, whether you get heard or not. I feel like Mike felt the same way when it comes down to those decisions about our team. That’s where he comes in. He has to make the right decisions for the team. Therefore, whatever decisions he makes, it’s going to be the right decision for the team.”

On Beck:
“I think he’s a very talented quarterback that really hasn’t had his shot yet to prove who he can be in this league. He had a shot and hasn’t really done anything since that shot, [and] hasn’t had a really good chance since then. I mean he’s one of those guys that wants to prove himself. You watch him every day — man, he’s one of those guys that really gets into what he does. I’m just really looking forward to his opportunity. Like I said before, Monday, I sound off to you all, I told you all that I just felt like that I didn’t think Rex didn’t deserve to get one more shot.”

On if Beck’s mobility can make a difference, especially because of the injuries to the offensive line:
“I’m pretty sure that his mobility is going to make a big difference, regardless of our situation on the line. I think, when you have a mobile quarterback, when anything breaks down, the next best thing to do is use your legs. I’m pretty sure he knows that and we’ve seen him use it in the preseason a number of times. We’ve seen him use it last week. He has enough in this game that he can do whatever he wants to do. He can throw the ball. He has a pretty strong arm and he can run. I’m pretty sure he’s not going to think twice when it’s time to sue any one of those.”

On if it’s going to take a while to get acclimated with each other:
“You never know. It’s one of those situations where the more we are out there together, the more and more confidence we build in each other. It’s not something that you can just do overnight, but it has worked like that overnight. I’ve been in a situation where Mark Brunell was thrown in the first game of the season and we hadn’t had any reps, so you never know.”

On how quarterback changes affect the franchise:
“You can’t look back at all of that stuff. All you can do is try to build on what we’ve got going on now. I feel like, this year, we have two quarterbacks. You have Rex or we have John. Now, it’s John’s chance. Whatever happened in the past is in the past and we feel that we’re a pretty good team with both of those guys. Right now, it’s John’s shot and we’re going to go with it.”

Carolina Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera

On rookie quarterback Cam Newton:
“I think Cam’s developing. He’s kind of reestablished where we expected him to be. He had a real nice start to training camp and as camp progressed you could see his development. When we started the season, what he did at Arizona and then at home against Green Bay really got a lot of people’s attention. It’s right along the lines of what we expected of him — just not this early. I mean he really has done a tremendous job. The hard part for him is having been in a situation where he hadn’t lost a lot. Now he’s trying to adapt and grow into this role of having to develop and manage our expectations and go through this process as a team.”

On the effect on building the program when you have a solid quarterback:
“That’s huge. This really has become a quarterback’s league. I know a lot of the rules are slanted towards passing games and teams that have these franchise-style quarterbacks are the ones that you see constantly at the top. Teams that have been able to settle in at that position and not be in flux where you’re constantly trying to find a guy — you hear so many teams go “oh, if we just had a quarterback” — so I think we’ve gotten to that point where it looks like we’ve got the guy who’s developing. He’ll be a stabilizing force for us at that position for years to come, hopefully. We can focus and concentrate on other things like finding and keeping playmakers to be around him, building our lines, building the offensive and defensive sides of the ball without constantly having to worry and focus on the quarterback position.”

On the importance of having a set quarterback while he was coaching at San Diego:
“Being able to come in with Coach [Norv] Turner and watch him develop Philip Rivers into the player that he is today… you couldn’t ask for a better situation as far as that’s concerned. That position will be handled for the next five, six, seven years in San Diego. That’s what we want. We want that position to be handled for the next ten years here, minimum.”

On the effect of switching quarterbacks midseason:
“It’s probably tough. The hard part — or the positive — is if you’ve got two quality quarterbacks and they’ve both had good camps and you had to make a decision on one and then fall back on the other. That’s not a bad thing. The Redskins have got a couple guys that are solid athletes and that have done some good things. Rex Grossman has won a lot of football games in this league. Heck, I was with him when he went to the Super Bowl and he was tremendous. John Beck will come in and do what he does best and they’ll know that they’ve got a good guy like Rex ready to come back on the field.”

On preparing the defense for John Beck:
“Truthfully, you really don’t prepare as much for the individual as much as you prepare for what they do offensively. [Offensive Coordinator] Kyle [Shanahan] does a tremendous job in running that offense. It’s very similar to the offense that Mike Shanahan was running when he was in Denver and obviously Kyle’s learned it. Now you watch it and you do see flashes of what his dad used to do, but now you see flashes of his own personality as well. You prepare for the offense. You prepare for what they’re doing and you prepare for trying to eliminate those things. If you sit there and worry about who’s going to be the quarterback — guess what — they’re going to do the same things they do with each quarterback. I think John Beck is a bit more of an athlete whereas Rex [Grossman] has a major league arm. They’re both competitive guys and they both run the system.”

On if the Panthers will watch tape of John Beck:
“We’ll look at tape just to watch him to see what he does and what he does best. Obviously you have to sit there as coach and say 'okay, he may throw a better deep ball. He may like to throw the check downs. He may like to scramble to his right or he may like to scramble to his left.” Stuff like that — those are things that we as coaches have to see and tell the players. It’s not the players’ job to sit there and have to study this kid when he was coming out or when he was a rookie. It’s our job as coaches to give that information to them and then for them to see those things. We’ve got to present it to them.”

On wide receiver Steve Smith’s impact this year:
“He has been an outstanding pro for us. I know so much was written and said about him early on about him not wanting to be here. When I first got the job he came and saw me and I said, 'Steve, give us a chance and let us put things together. We can’t make decisions until after this work stoppage is taken care of but when it’s all said and done come and see me.’ After we went through the draft, and after we put all of our pieces in place and we were getting ready for training camp Steve came and saw me. We sat down and had a great conversation. He told me 'Coach, I’m all in.’ Steve had enough foresight to see what this offense could potentially be. He went back and looked at San Diego’s tapes and saw what the receivers were doing and thought 'man, this could be special for me.’”

On how the Panthers can move from a dangerous team to a winning team:
“The biggest thing is we need to mature as a team. The whole team has to. We do some good things obviously but we do some things to hurt ourselves. We’ll get some untimely penalties, unforced errors, things like that, and maybe a little bit of bad luck. Last week, just before the half, Cam makes a great decision. He’s got [wide receiver] Steve [Smith] wide open in the end zone. He delivers the ball and the guy who was covering [tight end] Greg Olsen, who was in a trail position, puts his arm up at the last second and tips it and it gets intercepted. If that guy is all over Greg or he’s underneath Greg he never touches the ball. But, he was in position, he tipped the ball and they got the interception.”

Carolina Panthers Wide Receiver Steve Smith

On if he’s surprised by quarterback Cam Newton’s play:
“I’m not surprised. You watched him in college. He did phenomenal. Then, I had some workouts with him in the offseason slash lockout so I was pretty aware of his ability and his drive and willingness to learn and stuff -him going back to the IMG Academy with Ken Dorsey and Chris Weinke so he was putting in the effort, personally. His management team was doing a good job of putting him in situations to be ahead of the curve. It’s showing right now.”

On if he’s benefitted from having started since week 1:
“Every circumstance is different. Obviously, you look at the great example of Aaron Rodgers. He was sitting behind Brett Favre. He got to watch a lot of positives and a lot of negatives, but that served Aaron Rodgers well. So if you look at Cam’s situation, I think the opportunity that he’s getting serves him well. I think each individual is different in how they handle the circumstances.”

On if he’s surprised by some of the plays Newton is making in games:
“No, because I’m the guy catching [them]. I don’t have time to. I have to move on to next week. To be honest, you know, you can look at him, you can see the guy coming through the door and how good he is. He has that ability to be great.”

On the dimension added to the offense with Newton being able to run the ball:
“With Cam being an option to run the ball, it adds another feature, but, also, this offense is night and day. Just to be plain and simple, no disrespect to anybody, but it’s night and day as far as the numbers that our offense - not me or one guy - is putting up is remarkable with no offseason [and] with a rookie quarterback. It kind of shows. Obviously, the old regime that was here, you look at the offense, they took the offense down there with them. That offense looks like our offense last year. You have a guy throwing the ball – he threw 8,000 yards last year and, now, he can’t even start.”

On Newton’s ability to see the field and diagnose coverages:
“He’s coming from college to pro. When you’re coming from college to the real world, this business of football or whatever business that is, it’s a growing process that everybody experiences. For you guys writing for the college paper to writing for the AP, it’s much different. Of course, there has been an adjustment. Everybody goes through it. I had an adjustment coming from college in the [Mountain West], coming to the pros. It’s always a learning curve for everybody.”

On Newton as a leader:
“Off the field, he’s fine. We’re constantly texting. I woke up 7 a.m. this morning on my way into work and he already had texted me, talking about some things, 'hey, let’s get going.’ When I met with him in the offseason at my house, after we drafted him, he came up – drove down from Atlanta - and came to my house and we sat down and talked for about two hours, three hours. I got to speak, he got to speak and he was telling me what he foresaw and what he wanted and what he was expecting out of me and what I brought to the table. As far as leadership, every quarterback is thrust into leadership, but not every quarterback is a leader. But I can say I feel Cam is a leader. He has that leadership role and he has that mentality of being a leader. He’s a general and, when he steps in the huddle, whether you like it or not, we do what Cam says if he calls the right play or he calls the wrong play. We win as a team and we lose as a team. We run the right play as a team and we run the wrong play as a team. That’s kind of the mentality. As a veteran, for me, I look at it – if we’re on the wrong page, that’s all 11 of us on the wrong page.”

On if he feels rejuvenated:
“No, I’ve just been sitting on the shelf for two years. You just have to throw some new batteries up in there. For me, you go into some families’ homes and you look in their fridge and you look in that shelf, some people have the batteries up in the freezer trying to save them. That’s what I was - in the freezer. In this new offense, they want to see if I can play, if I can still run. I wouldn’t say I’ve been rejuvenated, just taken the reins off and be allowed to run these routes and get downfield. They show that I’m able to work in a new system. Am I able to adjust? They always say 'you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’ I have the great opportunity. Deion Sanders talked to me last week before the game and he said that I have opened the doors for a lot of people because the same people writing about Cam as far as, he can’t read coverages, are the same people saying 'you don’t want a veteran like Steve Smith on this team. He can corrupt a young guy. He’s past his prime. He can’t run any more. He’s obviously lost a step.’ I have a unique opportunity where I can… I’m undersized. I’m not supposed to be playing this game anyway at 5-9, 195 pounds and yet I’m playing, I’m a No. 1 receiver and I’m putting up decent numbers. I’ll take them so I’m happy for that.”

(Courtesy of the Washington Redskins)

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