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Skins Quotes 10/3: M.Shanahan/M. Smith/Ryan/Griffin

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Boone

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Marine Corps Virginia


October 3, 2012
Redskins Park

Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On team injuries:
“[Safety Brandon] Meriweather is out. [Cornerback Cedric] Griffin did not practice with his hamstring. Limited in practice was [wide receiver Brandon] Banks with his hip. [Wide receiver Aldrick] Robinson was a concussion. [Running back Evan] Royster was his knee. Full practice was [tackle] Trent Williams and [wide receiver] Pierre Garçon.”

On Robinson:
“He’ll have some tests tomorrow and if he’s cleared with those tests, he’ll practice tomorrow.”

On Williams’ role as captain motivating him to play through pain:
“I think any time a football team elects somebody captain, to me that’s the highest honor a player can get because he is elected captain from his peers. They thought enough of him to elect him captain. Especially after what happened to him last year, I think he felt the responsibility to play when he’s hurting. I thought he played at a very high level. I thought it was his best game of the season.”

On if he sees a difference in Williams this season:
“Well, I’ve said all the way to the OTA days over the course of camp that he is in great shape. He looks like he’s doing everything that you would want a player to do. He’s playing at a very high level thus far. He has a lot of work to do but I like his attitude. I like his demeanor. It was big for him to play in that game with limited practice during the week.”

On Garçon:
“There is no way you miss two-and-a-half weeks of practice and play at 100 percent. We didn’t expect him to play at 100 percent but he played a lot of plays and he played at a very high level. He helped us win the game.”

On if Garçon’s injury set him back:
“I think he’ll be back in football shape. He’s been practicing every day this week. Hopefully, there is no setback. There wasn’t a setback today. He had a full practice. I’m just guessing he had some pain but not enough to keep him out so hopefully he’ll play at a very high level this weekend.”

On if winning the game with a field goal, rather than a touchdown, boosted Billy Cundiff’s confidence:
“It would’ve been a lot easier on my heart if we got a touchdown. That’s for sure. You like guys who step up. That’s part of this game. Going through some tough times. As with any position, after you go through a tough time, you want to be able to step up to prove to your teammates that you can play, make a big field goal and he did that.”

On if there would be doubt about Cundiff’s job security if the game ended with a touchdown instead of a field goal:
“Yeah, I think common sense prevails there. You always want somebody to go out after a tough outing and prove himself and he did.”

On if Meriweather needs surgery:
“The doctors said that we’ll have a better idea where he’s at in a week. But he’s definitely out for this game. So I’ll be able to tell you a little bit more detail exactly where he’s at.”

On quarterback Robert Griffin III’s personality:
“Everybody’s got a different personality. For Robert it’s very natural for him to be very businesslike. He does have a great sense of humor or he can change very quickly from being very serious to being very jovial, joking mood. But it may seem pretty easy to him. He’s very natural.”

On what he has learned about Griffin III since seeing him in Waco on Baylor’s Pro Day:
“I don’t think you ever know somebody until you actually spend some time with them, through the tough times, through the good times. It just takes time to know people. But I’ve been impressed with how he handles himself and the way he relates to people. His work ethic we’ve talked about. Everybody can see a skill but you just never know if a guy’s going to take it real serious and be a natural leader. He’s done all those things that you were hoping that he would do.”

On quarterback Robert Griffin III not carrying out fakes all the way to prevent hits:
“What we did is emphasize to him when to slide. If he is a competitive guy, he is going to compete as hard as he can. But we also shared with him how important it is for him to stay healthy. If you don’t show your hands or you don’t do it quick enough, you’re going to take some shots that you don’t have to take. He’s going to learn every game. There is going to be different things that happen that is going to be a learning experience for him. I think that’s one of those things that he learned in that game. That when defensive ends are coming at you about 280 pounds and runs a 4.5 40 [yard dash], take your hands and show them you don’t have the ball because if not, he is going to take a shot at you.”

On if he talks to the officials prior to games:
“There is all different type of alerts you talk to about the officials with the team you are playing. You always want to make sure your quarterback is protected. You talk about different things that you do and how you are going to handle those situations. So yeah, there is a lot of talk going on before.”

On the Redskins leading the NFL in yards after catch:
“First of all you have to have players that have the ability to do that. The guys we went out and got, Pierre Garçon and Josh Morgan, got that ability to run after the catch. You’re not always able to get those guys, but fortunately we are able to get a couple of those guys. Then you get a guy like Leonard Hankerson who really did a pretty good job for us but he only played one game. Then you have a guy like Aldrick Robinson who’s always had the ability, but in your second year who has just stepped up and made some plays for us.”

On if there is a disparity in the league with wide receivers which can block:
“You have to take pride in it. It has to be important to you. There are a lot of guys that don’t block because they don’t think it is very important and there are a lot of guys that take pride in everything they do. Our guys right now are blocking as good as anybody in the National Football League as wide receivers.”

On if the addition of Garçon and Morgan improved the way they blocked:
“They are more physical by nature, there is no question about it. There was still an emphasis the last couple of years, and we weren’t bad. But we weren’t as good as we are now.”

On if running back Alfred Morris as met or exceeded his expectations:
“When Alfred first came in, you knew you had a guy that was pretty special. Just the way he ran, his body-lean, the way he handled himself and you can see that throughout the preseason. Each game that he played during the preseason, he gave you more confidence that he could be the go-to guy. By the end of preseason, you knew you were going to give him that chance to be the starter. Each game he gets more confidence, and I think everybody can see he is pretty natural at the position.”

On Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan:
“He reads coverages extremely well. He knows where to go with the ball. He doesn’t have any wasted steps. He makes most of his decisions off the first hitch or the second hitch. He doesn’t hold the ball too long. He has all the things you look for. He is a natural thrower. You can see he is playing very well.”

On what quarterbacks do well that can handle blitzes:
“It’s a combination of a lot of things. Number one, the quarterback knows where to go with the ball. Usually he has to be pretty accurate with the ball, especially in man-to-man situations. You got to have some good wide receivers that have the ability to separate and make some good catches, tight ends as well, and have a running game. They’ve got all those things, which are why they are one of the better teams.”

On if it is tough to keep safeties healthy:
“Well, it’s crazy this year because I thought we had more depth at that position than any position that we had. We had six guys that I thought would make this football team. I liked all six of them. To lose three guys like we have is quite unusual, so good thing we did have depth at that position. And we went out and got [Jordan] Pugh. Even though we lost three, we still have guys that can play and we expect them to play at a very high level.”

On if the safety position is becoming a position where guys are getting hurt more because of the physicality of the game:
“I think there are some safeties that are safeties/corners because sometime with the three, four, five receiver sets, the safety has to be like a corner sometimes. Some situations the safeties are a little bit smaller, maybe not quite as big. Everybody is looking for that 6-foot-2-and-a-half, 6 foot 3 guy, 230 pounds who can play pass defense as well as run support, but, there is not too many of those guys out there.”

On whether running back Ryan Grant will play on Sunday:
“He is getting more comfortable with the system. I can’t tell you for sure if he is going to be dressing, but I like what we’ve seen. I like they guy. He picks things up very quickly. He’s very sharp. You can see he has got some running skills, so it’s a good addition for us.”

Quarterback Robert Griffin III

On the versatility of the offense:
“First of all, I want to give a shout out to [wide receiver Brandon] Banks. He did a great job completing that pass to me. That’s always fun. Like I said, as a quarterback it’s always a lot more fun when you can do things you don’t normally do. If I can catch a pass and make a play for the team, that’s what I’m willing to do. Coach talked to us today and the biggest thing is we’re winning as a team. It’s not that any individual people are just going out there doing things on their own. Everybody is contributing. [Running back] Alfred [Morris] is running the ball extremely well, but our offensive line is blocking for him and our receivers are blocking for him downfield. To hit that many targets and show we can win as a team…And then we do have guys who can put up those monster games as well. The future is looking bright for us. We also know we have to take it one day at a time and we’re doing it.”

On what he takes away from the first four games:
“We can be what we want to be. I think offensively we’ve done a good job of moving the ball. In every game we put up a lot of yards, we just have to make sure we continue to try to put up more and more points. The game is still football. It’s fun. It’s a lot more fun winning. It’s always that way. It’s still football and it’s a dream come true to play at the highest level. That’s what every kid wants to do, no matter what sport it is or what profession you’re in. You want to do it at the highest level. We’re doing that right now. We’re 2-2 but hopefully we can go out and continue to have a good second quarter this season.”

On feeling positive during the week after a big win:
“It’s a big difference. We were a few feet, a few inches from being 1-3 and not feeling good today. Wins in the NFL – from what I’ve heard – are extremely hard to get. I haven’t been here long but I definitely realize that and the guys know. I think practice was a lot more upbeat today. It’s better when guys are feeling good and not necessarily down about a loss. You’re not going to practice and lollygagging, but everybody has a little bounce in their step because we won a game. That’s how you want it to be, so hopefully we can continue to have that feeling.”

On tackle Trent Williams playing through an injury:
“I didn’t notice it. Not at one point did he come to me and complain about his injury. He did a good job out there toughing it out for us, even though he didn’t practice really all that much the whole week. He went out there and balled out for us on Sunday. That’s what you have to do. You have to have leaders like that on your team.”

On if Williams gave the team a lift by playing through his injury:
“To see guys like Trent, [wide receiver] Pierre [Garçon] toughing out his injury, guys that get banged up in the games…To go out there and continue to perform and put it on the line for the team when we know they don’t have to, it tells you a lot about the character of a man when he can go out there and put his body on the line for his teammates. Those guys definitely give us a lift and we know we have to have them.”

On the challenges they will face against the Falcons:
“They’re a great, opportunistic defense. They create a lot of turnovers. They have a good offense on the other side of the ball, so that’s what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to give their offense more possessions, or to say they want to steal a possession from our offense. There’s something to say about being 4-0. They’re a good team and that’s the bottom line. We could very well be a 4-0 football team. There are a lot of football teams out there that could be 4-0 teams. You’re that close from being there. It’ll be a challenge for us but it’s not something we look upon as a hill or a mountain we have to climb. It’s a football game and we have to go win.”

On if the way the offense has clicked surprised him:
“No, not really. We kind of had a feeling. I think everyone is going to say that when they have a game-winning drive. You have a feeling that you’re going to go win the game. That’s what you’re supposed to have. I think the guys were really confident going into it. Having the headset go out was something that was unexpected, but it’s something we prepared for. We executed and that’s what you have to do when it matters. We just have to make sure when we have the opportunity to put teams away that we put them away early in the game.”

On Mike Shanahan saying the Tampa Bay game was his best game:
“I think it was my best game. After doing the film study, it was just a more complete, solid game. didn’t really take any bad sacks. I got through my progressions, hit my checkdowns and guys were working for me. In order to go through all your progressions, everybody has to be where they’re supposed to be when they’re supposed to be there. Everybody was doing their job and that helps me be able to go out and execute as a quarterback and lead the offense. I think it was definitely by best game.”

On if it’s easier for him to have a good day as a passer with more traditional play calls:
“You get in a rhythm. I think when you can sit back and pick apart a defense for a few plays, it definitely helps your confidence. It helps you see things. You can see how they’re playing routes, know what you need to go to next. That’s a big thing. The zone read and stuff like that is stuff we’ll sprinkle in. Like I said, I’m always going to wait on pulling the pass. I’m always willing to do whatever it takes to help us win. As a passer, that’s what you want. You want to be able to sit back and throw the ball and complete over 70 percent of your passes.”

On what the comeback victory meant to him:
“It’s [my] first comeback victory in the NFL. That’s huge for any quarterback. You celebrate it for a day and then you don’t forget about it, you just move on to the next game. That was definitely a big moment for me. Rex [Grossman] was talking to me on the sidelines saying that I should want their kicker to make the field goal so that I can go and lead the team to victory. That’s what we do.”

On if the officials were paying attention to him making it clear when he wasn’t carrying the fake:
“I thought they were on point, especially the head ref. Actually, one time I carried out my fake and didn’t put my hands up and he came and found me and said, 'Make sure you put your hands up.’ I said, 'All right, you got it. I got you. You’re watching. That’s good.’ I thought it was great. They protected me a lot more as the quarterback out there, which is how it’s supposed to be.”

On calling a play when his headset went out:
“It was just back to muscle memory. You have to realize that once you move the ball to a certain point on the field what defenses are going to try to do. They came out and they played a soft coverage the first play. We gashed them for 15 yards with [wide receiver] Santana [Moss]. After that, most of the time once you get gashed in a two-minute situation, teams are going to blitz you. They blitzed, so I called a quick passing play that gave me a couple options to the field. I hit [tight end] Fred [Davis], who was wide open because they forgot about him. The rest of the plays are just odd things that happen in football games. That was the one play that I called on my own. The rest I was either looking to the sideline for [offensive coordinator] Kyle [Shanahan] to signal me a play, or I would just go on out there and do it on my own.”

On the receivers blocking downfield:
“They’ve done a great job. Whenever you can get receivers to buy into the running game, it completely changes your team. [Running back] Alfred [Morris] had – I think it was – the 39-yard touchdown run and [wide receiver Leonard] Hankerson is down the field blocking for him. [Wide receiver] Josh Morgan is the one who got the block to spring him. Whenever those guys are doing those kinds of things, it turns five and six-yard gains into touchdowns. Alfred is definitely the guy that can definitely do that for us. It was similar to what we had at Baylor, if you don’t block, you don’t play. You have to be able to run block because it sets up everything for those guys in the passing game. They realize that and they know their touches will come as long as they continue to block the way they are.”

On Fred Davis and Trent Williams this season:
“They try to go about it and do everything the right way. They’re two talented guys. No one can take that away from them. It was just about being accountable, just making sure they took care of their business. They’ve done that. Fred has been big for us this year – catching the ball and getting extra yards after the catch. Trent is one of the best tackles in football. If we can keep those two guys focused and hungry, we’ll be good.”

On how he can go from joking to serious at the flip of a switch:
“There’s no one moment to say how it came about. It’s just you have to learn [that] there’s a time to joke and there’s a time to be serious. On game day, I’m more of a serious type but I try to make sure guys feel comfortable and have fun. You don’t want to be uptight all the time or extremely focused all the time. It’s just my natural personality to laugh and joke and try to keep guys’ spirits high. Other than that, I’m a focused guy. I try to make sure I take care of my business first, so that they know I’m their leader and I’m doing what I’m supposed to do to help them win. But I can also make them laugh in the meantime.”

On being first in the league in yards after catch:
“I think it’s a little bit of everything – guys being determined to make sure that when they do get their touches, they’re getting a lot of yards from it. That’s just part of being a team. You don’t have to put the ball on the right spot to help them get up the field. They have to break tackles, and that’s what they’re doing. Just be determined that every time they touch the ball, they score. The guys are doing a great job with that, even with the limited touches that they are getting since we are spreading the ball around pretty well.”

On wide receiver Pierre Garçon opening things up for other players:
“With Pierre, teams are going to try to cover him. He’s a dynamic receiver. They’re going to definitely know where he’s at on the field. It can open up other guys – open up checkdowns. Just to have his obvious presence out there, the physicality that he plays with. The attitude that he plays with can sometimes get the best of him, but it’s better to have that attitude than to go out there and be soft. Pierre definitely brings a different mindset, a different attitude to the football field. We love having him out there.”

On getting a win at home:
“Your home field is your home field, so you have to take pride in protecting it. I think the good teams win at home. They win on the road as well, which we have done, but we definitely have to win at home. It’s something that…Last year, my team didn’t lose a home game last year at all. You have to take pride in that. I take pride in it. Our fans deserve it. We’re definitely going to go out and look out to make sure we get away with the W.”

On wearing pink for breast cancer awareness month:
“It’s just paying tribute to all those who have had to fight breast cancer. Me personally, I don’t know if anyone in my family has ever been affected by it. I know it means something to a lot of different people. Sometimes, it’s not necessarily what you’re doing for yourself that can make a difference in this world. It’s what you’re doing to try to bring awareness to other people’s struggles.”

On if he will wear a pink sleeve:
“There will be a pink sleeve.”

On the areas in which he is looking to improve:
“Just making sure I’m consistent and more complete as a quarterback, whether that’s taking the checkdowns, not being disappointed that they took away my first two options, that I have to throw the checkdown. Sometimes checkdowns move the chains. So, just doing that more consistently. Getting us better on third downs and then, just scoring. If we scored 21 in the first half, I could care less what our percentage on third down is if we’re scoring 21 points. Just making sure that that happens. Eliminate negative plays and just be myself.”

Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith

On quarterback Robert Griffin III:
“Oh my gosh, he is very impressive. Through the first four games, to see a guy throw and run the way he’s running and throwing the football is very impressive. His ability to come in here and basically be one of the top five quarterbacks through the first quarter of the season in terms of quarterback rating is just unbelievable. I think they’ve done a very good job in their passing game and that’s not even his biggest strength. His biggest strength is his ability to run the football. He’s leading an offense that’s very effective at running the ball – not only with traditional plays, but zone plays that Coach [Mike] Shanahan basically made a staple in this league when he was with the Denver Broncos. The spread option stuff as well. It’s going to be a big challenge for us this week. [I am] super impressed with your quarterback.”

On playing Cam Newton and Griffin III back-to-back:
“It’s been a long two weeks, I can assure you that in terms of our preparation. Robert Griffin III has got track speed and that’s always a big concern. His numbers at the combine were just off the charts when you look at it. You see it translating out there on the field as well. He’s got a really strong arm as well. I’ve been impressed with his deep balls. He’s connected on a number of them through the first four games.”

On if facing Cam Newton helped his team prepare for Griffin III:
“I think that in some instances, it does. You can find out what doesn’t work. We did some things last week that weren’t as effective as we’d like to be. We also have a similar tinge in terms what they’re doing. It’s not exactly the same, but you have to account for the quarterback in their running game. Most teams that you face, the quarterback is the distributor – meaning he hands the ball off to a running back or he throws the ball to someone else. Now, you have to account for him in your run defense. You’ve got to really put an extra guy to get the math right when the quarterback is a runner.”

On how much he knew about Alfred Morris before this season:
“To be quite frank, I had seen his name but did not know a whole lot about him. I’m very impressed. It’s just another one in the long line of Coach Shanahan developing running backs. That’s what he did for years and years early in his career. He is a big, strong, north and south runner, one cut guy that has done a really good job in these first four weeks. He’s hard to tackle. He’s averaging four-and-a-half yards per carry and he does have some long speed. I’ve been impressed with his speed when he gets to the second level. He’s got enough size when he gets there that he’s going to create some issues for the defensive backs. Tackling is going to be at a premium for us this week.”

On if Morris has any Michael Turner in him:
“There’s some similarities. He’s a little taller than Michael, just a little bit. But he’s thick and when he runs, there’s nothing to hit. It’s shins and shoulder pads. That’s not a good thing.

On the relationship between he and Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall:
“DeAngelo and I had an opportunity to spend a whole lot of time there at the Pro Bowl. met with his family and everything – got to hang out. It was a great week. I really enjoyed it and he played awful well for us that Sunday as well. I think he got the MVP. Of course when you win, you get a little bit more in your paycheck, so it was able to help pay the bills for everybody. DeAngelo Hall is a dynamic defensive back. I think you can see that when you watch him play. The thing that is the most impressive is when he intercepts the football, he’s averaging almost 20 yards per interception return. He’s had, I think, close to 35, maybe 36 interceptions in his career. You’ve got great ball skills and he’s a veteran. When he gets it and he grabs it, he can take it to the house.”

On the conversation that helped patch their relationship:
“I went up and talked to him. We had a real good conversation sitting out by the pool the first night we were there. I initiated it. Hey listen, DeAngelo is one of the most competitive guys in this league. You can see it in the way he plays every week. Competition and emotion are a big part of being successful in this league and that’s why he’s been around for nine years and played the way he’s played. [He’s] been to multiple Pro Bowls. He’s a guy that you’ve got to know where he is on the field. Coach [Jim] Haslett does a nice job of moving him around. He’s not always going to be in the same place. He’s not always going to be lined up on the same guy. He could be on an inside receiver, outside receiver. That says a lot about his abilities.”

On what tight end Tony Gonzalez has added to the locker room:
“Tony has had an effect not just on the offensive teammates, but the entire team. I’ll start with that. Tony is one of these guys that when he comes out on the field and he’s out there early, he’s going to be catching balls, working on coming out of his routes, coming off the top of his routes on his breaks and everything. He’s going to catch 350-300 balls on the sideline during practice. Not just pre-practice, but during practice. I noticed early on, it started to trickle down to the other wide receivers. Then you look out there and there’s defensive linemen hitting the sled before practice starts, getting out there early, working on their trade. When you got a guy like that, you should tell your players, 'Hey, just do what he does. Mimic what he does in terms of his work habits.’ He’s got great work habits. For Matt [Ryan], it’s just another weapon in the offense. He’s able to control certain parts of the field schematically. It definitely creates a comfort level for a quarterback when he knows he can get the ball on certain formations to a certain guy and he’s probably going to win his matchups most of the time. He amazes me, guys – every time he comes out there. His work ethic, he’s always in great condition, he takes care of his body, he’s playing like he’s 26, not 36.”

On the ways you can make a rookie quarterback’s life easier in the NFL:
“I think you have to play to their strengths and define what they’re strong at. I think that’s what coach Shanahan and [offensive coordinator] Kyle [Shanahan] have done with Robert Griffin III. They’re going to identify what his strengths are and try to play to them and not put him in situations where he can’t be successful. I think that’s important with a rookie. You want not necessarily a rookie quarterback, you want a rookie players to have as much success as you can because it’s a very steep learning curve in the NFL – especially at the quarterback position.”

Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Matt Ryan

On quarterback Robert Griffin III:
“He’s doing a great job. I was just seeing some of the highlights of their offense the past couple of weeks. I think he’s done unbelievably well. I think he’s a talented guy. [He] seems like a very smart guy. I haven’t met him but I’ve been very impressed.”

On the importance of the supporting cast for a rookie quarterback:
“I think that’s important every year, not just your rookie year. It’s probably magnified when you’re a rookie because there’s so many things you have to learn. There’s so many things going on. There’s so many things that you have to adjust to – not only on the field, but off the field as well. I was fortunate. I had very good teammates around me – guys that made a ton of plays. Specifically on the offensive side, [running back] Michael Turner had a great year that year. [Wide receiver] Roddy White had an unbelievable year. Our offensive line played really well, so I was fortunate to be in a position where I was surrounded by really good players.”

On cornerback DeAngelo Hall:
“Good corner – very good corner. [He] always has been tough when we played against him. I played against him in Oakland as well as Washington. I think he’s a very good player – Pro Bowl caliber guy. [He is] certainly a guy with a lot of talent.”

On physical play the last time the Redskins and Falcons met:
“There’s physical plays every week in the NFL. It’s something, in all honesty, I probably hadn’t thought about until you asked me. That’s just part of playing in this league.”

On the pushing and shoving on the sidelines in that game:
“I didn’t actually see it, so I guess I was picking myself up off the ground. You see the highlights and those kinds of things. It happens. It’s an emotional game. Those kinds of things, crazy stuff happens out there.”

On if Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith is an emotional coach:
“He is. He’s a fiery coach. [He is] very even-keeled during the week, very organized and detailed, gets us well-prepared. I think everybody’s passionate – not just him but our entire team – when it comes to Sunday.”

On having a 4-0 record:
“I don’t worry about it too much. I think four games in we’re exactly where we want to be in terms of the record. I think in terms of the way we play, we can improve. We feel like when we watch the film each of the past four weeks, there’s lots of areas we can get better. We’ve made a bunch of mistakes but we’ve battled and we’ve been tough and we’ve fought through some of those things. That’s what you have to do in this league. It’s never going to be perfect. That’s just the nature of the NFL. You’re playing against really good football teams and really good defenses week in and week out. You just have to try and find ways to win.”

On tight end Tony Gonzalez:
“He’s been a big influence – a big asset for me early on. Now being in my fourth season and having played with him, I’ve learned a ton from him. On the field, I’ve learned a ton from him. Off the field, I really think he’s one of the true professionals that knows what it takes to get himself prepared week in and week out. He’s so consistent day-to-day in terms of his routine and what he does. I think that shows up week-to-week when he goes out and plays because he’s probably the most consistent player we have.”
 

tshile

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Thanks Boone!

What impresses me about Griffin is that he recalls the plays so well... He knows exactly who he hit on each play, why he went there, what the defense was, and for how many yards it went.

To me it's one thing to know a guy is smart, it's another to actually see it every single time he talks.
 

Elephant

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I think you're on to something tr1. This is a character game. If we can play them tough and keep it close since they are strongest at our biggest weakness, we should be great.
 

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