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Skins Quotes 11/05: Shanahan/Griffin/Frazier/Peterson

Washington Taylor beat Panthers

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Marine Corps Virginia


November 5, 2013
Redskins Park

Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan


On the injury report:
“Everybody was full at practice today, so no injuries.”

On keeping Vikings kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson in check:
“Kick it out of the end zone – that gives you your best chance. Our coverage teams are getting better. They have been much improved over the last few weeks so hopefully we can continue to do that and we’ll find out – we’ll be tested Thursday night for sure. He’s No. 1 in the National Football League in kickoff return yardage and we’ve got our work cut out for us, that’s for sure.”

On the key for a quarterback to stay consistent week to week:
“Just your growth – continued growth at the position. The more comfortable you feel with reading coverages, your technique with throwing, your ability to side-step and move around the pocket and still focus downfield, your familiarity with the strength and weaknesses of football players – be it a cornerback, a linebacker – a lot of things go into it.”

On the key to controlling Vikings running back Adrian Peterson:
“I know the one game he got hurt, so he went out early. I think everybody knows how talented he is and if you give him one step, one chance, breaks a tackle, he’s got the ability to go the distance. So you’ve got to have everybody involved. Everybody has to have a sense of urgency to get to the football because he’s got the unique ability to make people miss and if you don’t have a lot of people around there, he’s going to get some big plays. Team defense is going to be the key for us, a lot of people getting to the football.”

On what has allowed the offense to sustain long drives the last few weeks:
“I kind of said this after the second or third game, I said evaluate us at mid-season and evaluate us at the end of the season. That’s football. We’ve talked about third downs, it may be a third down play, it may be a dropped ball, but the consistency with 11 guys playing together is usually the key.”

On the importance of conserving energy in a short week:
“When you have a game like we did Sunday afternoon, when you have a practice today, today’s Friday for us in game preparation. So Friday is usually the day that you’re not pushing the guys too hard, you’re getting ready for the game. A lot of it right now is mental preparation – watching a lot of film over the next 48-plus hours. It’s not really physical coming off that game we just had, especially going into overtime, but you take all those factors into consideration in a short week.”

On what they thought of Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder prior to the 2011 NFL Draft and what they think of him now:
“I don’t go through a lot of those things for reasons because of free agency and when it does come up you don’t always show your hand, but we had him in here, I think he’s a great kid. He’s a guy that was ranked very high. Really a class individual. A good athlete as well. He’s in that 4.6 speed, or has that 4.6 speed. He’s quick and he’s got a good arm, so I’ve got a lot of respect for him.”

On comments by Vikings Head Coach Leslie Frazier that they limited Peterson until November last season and how that applies to Robert Griffin III this season:
“That’s a good question and I think the big difference with a quarterback, especially coming into his second year, is what you miss in the offseason. As a running back, what do they really do in the offseason in trying to get themselves in great football shape, working on their strength. As a quarterback, you’re working on your drops, you’re working on mechanics, so many things that you do after your first year of learning the system, learning the terminology, and I think that’s the big difference with a quarterback because you miss all those months of preparation getting yourself ready for your pro debut and when I say that going into your second year because now you know the terminology, now you know the system, but I thought Robert did a heck of a job getting stronger, quicker, got a lot of mental reps, did everything he could do to get himself ready. Now you just kind of work through it, and that’s what he’s doing. His best game was last week.”

On if playing Thursday games seems counterintuitive to the NFL’s push for player safety:
“Yes… I don’t want to get into it obviously. Do I agree with you? Yes, yes I do, but you know they didn’t call me up when they scheduled these games.”

On what the Vikings do to be effective stopping the run:
“That’s a great question. That’s a playoff team a year ago, and they’re playing like that. They’ve given up some yards on pass defense, but when I take a look at them playing Dallas I see that Dallas had 36 yards. They didn’t even try to run the football. They’re no different. They’re a heck of a defensive football team and I’ve got a lot of respect for them – a lot of players that are out there playing extremely hard. They decided on Ponder as their quarterback and he played extremely well against Dallas and had a good chance to win the football game. So our football team understands that and we know playing over there with a 1-7 record – people don’t like 1-7 records in the National Football League, especially a team coming off a playoff [appearance] with a lot of pride so we know we’re going to get their best shot.”

On who is responsible for monitoring locker room behavior:
“Every team is a little bit different. I think the situation we are talking about in Miami is really a unique situation. I read a little bit more over the last 12 hours exactly what has been transpiring. That’s quite unusual. I’ve never heard of anything like that before. So to compare that with most locker rooms in the NFL, I wouldn’t even make a comparison there because I don’t think it happens very often. I’ve never heard of anything like this happening, but you’ve got your leaders in the locker room that hopefully would prevent anything like that from happening – that they knew about, anyhow.”

Quarterback Robert Griffin III

On the key to carrying forward his level of play from last week:
“I think it takes everybody. The offensive line did a great job of keeping me upright the entire game and giving me passing lanes. The receivers were where they needed to be and they made the big time catches. [Wide receiver] Pierre [Garçon] bailed me out a couple times on a couple throws. There were other times I had to be on the money and they made the plays. I just think it takes everybody and it’s just getting in that flow of the game and we got into that. We ran the ball, set up the run to help us with the pass, and then on third downs, that’s where you have to stay on the field and everybody was on top of it.”

On if he felt like he was “in a zone” during the game against San Diego:
“During the game, you kind of just feel a certain way about the game. But looking back on it, yeah, I think we were in the zone with a lot of that stuff. That’s why we were 71 percent on third down, which is not easy to do.”

On if he communicates with the medical staff and coaches throughout the season on how his injury is progressing and what he is able to do like Vikings running back Adrian Peterson did during his recovery:
“No, I really don’t have those conversations with our staff. It’s like you said – Adrian plays a different position. My college coach kind of said the same thing. He felt like after a few games, you get back into the swing of things. Coming off an injury, it’s never easy, but you always believe you can go out and just be fine right away. I think Adrian felt the same way. I talked to him multiple times and the latter part of his year last year was an amazing run and people don’t even worry about the beginning of the season based on how it ended and it ended with an MVP for him and I’m not even focused on those kind of things. For us, it’s just about winning and it starts on Thursday. We’ve got to get another win.”

On the key to sustaining drives last week:
“I think it was third downs. You would think going – what was it, 12-of-17 on third down? – you would have a lot of short third down conversions and we didn’t really. We had some third-and-8s, third-and-10s and guys just executed. You throw a five-yard route and the guy gets you three more yards to get a first down and that’s what it’s going to take – just everybody being on top of what they have to do and when they have that opportunity to make the play, they make it.”

On why the offense has been more effective on third downs:
“Like I said, everybody being where they’re supposed to be, running your route like you’re the number one guy. Don’t really look into the quarterback’s progression. Don’t look at the coverage and say, 'Well, versus this coverage, I’m not going to be alive on this play.’ Just going about it every single way – if you’ve got to check wide, run your check wide at full speed. If you’ve got to come back on the backside and we never throw the comeback on the backside, this game we might throw it, so get to where you’re supposed to be. I just think everybody having that desire to go out and do their job individually has helped us.”

On the impact of new offensive wrinkles such as the triple option and the three-tight-end sets:
“I think it can be a little confusing for a defense, you know, with their responsibilities. It’s not traditional, so when you get away from some of the traditional things, it can mess up the guys’ keys and you might have a guy or a play that works and you get a big gash and that’s all you need. All you need is a few, a couple big plays every game to kind of help you establish yourself and get in a rhythm as an offense, so that’s where it kind of helps us. You like to throw a wrinkle out there every now and then and it was a good wrinkle for us.”

On the mood of the team coming off a win directly into a short week:
“It’s a huge mental week and we had this experience last year going into our Thanksgiving game. There’s not much contact. You don’t get to go out there and run every single play, get multiple reps at it. You kind of have to be on top of your studying, be on top of your film work, being in the short week. But the other team has the same situation and no one’s going to feel sorry for you. You’ve got to go out there and step up on Thursday and go win the game.”

On his relationship with wide receiver Pierre Garçon:
“We both want to win. Whenever you have two guys – your quarterback and your top receiver – that want to win football games, they’re going to be competitive. I think that’s a great formula for success. Pierre’s going to be Pierre; I’ll be myself. On that field together, we’ve shown that we can do some really good things. And it’s not just 'P.’ It’s the rest of those guys and it takes all of us and I can’t say that enough. But he definitely stepped up big for us and made some great catches and then the plays that were there to be made, he made them. That’s all you ask for out of your No. 1 receiver – go out there and make plays for us and help this team win. He wants to help this team win and that’s what you have to see out of all that.”

On if he could sense that Garçon was poised to have a big game against San Diego:
“Yeah, I feel like we try to get him the ball as much as we can in every game to have him have those big days, those big games. I think he caught seven for 172 and that’s a huge game for any receiver, especially for him in our offense. We set it up with the running game with [running back] Alfred [Morris] and those guys and DY [fullback Darrel Young] scoring those touchdowns. So you can pull guys up and then you’ve got to be able to throw it over the top and he helped us in that area. So it was a huge game for him, a huge game for us as an offense.”

On how a productive running game helps the offense:
“I think it helps a lot. In other games, we’ve had opportunities to kind of get into that second level throwing, second and third level, and it just hasn’t worked out. But everything was clicking for us this past week and that’s what you need. You need to have that balance to where you can run for 200 and throw for 200. Those are the kind of games that you look for. It doesn’t happen very often, but anytime you can have that kind of balance and get your receivers involved, not only in the dropback and third down, but also in the play action, that’s big.”

On if the preparation during a short week is more mental or physical:
“I think the physical part is just your body recovering so you’ve got to get all the bumps and bruises out, the aches – whether it’s through cold tubbing, foam rolling or stretching, getting some extra sleep, which is hard to do in a short week. I think that’s the physical part. Then mentally it’s just taking what you usually get in five days and compressing it into two and getting ready for that game.”

On his reaction to the situation in Miami:
“I can’t touch that one. Bottom line is we’re not in Miami. They have to deal with that. Their team is having to deal with that and we’ve got to deal with what we have to do up here.”

On if a similar situation could happen in Washington:
“Like I said, I’m not touching that one, guys.”

On if this season is starting to feel like the end of last season:
“I just think the thing that’s most similar aside from the record is – which we don’t want to be 3-6 – I think that it’s just the offense starting to gel. As a team our defense is playing really well for us, getting turnovers, getting us the ball in good situations on the field. So we’re winning those areas and I think we are coming together more as a team which we thought throughout the whole offseason and through the preseason that we were setting ourselves up for a great season ahead and it just didn’t work out that way the first couple of weeks of the season. I think that the team is just starting to feel a lot better about its self. Defense is playing well, offense is getting in a rhythm, and we’ve won a couple of tough games. I think that’s where guys can kind of feel like, 'Hey, we can go on a run here and put ourselves in a good situation.’”

On he feels pressure because of the team’s record:
“I don’t know if there’s pressure. Every time we step on that field regardless of your record you’ve got to perform at a high level, and I think because of our record we know that we have to perform right now. There is no tomorrow for us. I think that’s the approach we took last year and it benefited us and we’ve got to do the same thing this year. You don’t want to put yourself in that situation, but for us it’s a must.”

On if it takes time to settle into a game after a short week of preparation:
“No. I just think the biggest part is, like we talked about, just getting your body back ready to go. It’s a short week. It’s a really short week, and this is what we have to do. This is what we do in the NFL now, so you have to play those short week games and I think everybody is feeling OK and then tomorrow they’ll feel better and on Thursday we’ll peak.”

On if his opinion on diving for a first down vs. San Diego changed after watching the film:
“Yeah, I mean I watched it and it’s like he said, it’s not something that you ideally want to do. It’s just a heat of the moment thing and I’ve tried this year to eliminate a lot of those kind of plays and it just happened. So I took the first down. We needed that in that moment. Hindsight is 20/20 so maybe don’t jump next time, but in that moment when it’s a tie game, that’s what I had to do.”

Vikings Coach Leslie Frazier

On the challenges of preparing for a Thursday night game on a short week:
“There are depths and challenges, especially if you have injuries like we do – trying to get the players on the field in a short week. In our case, if we had a couple extra days, there are some guys who probably would be able to play on Sunday, but because we’re playing on Thursday, they’re not going to make the game. Then from a game plan standpoint, it condenses everything you would ordinarily do in a week’s time to two days. So it has a lot of challenges both on the physical part of it for the players as well as the mental part of grasping a game plan and the turnaround from a Sunday game to a Thursday game. It’s a challenge.”

On how difficult it is to get a team to perform at a high level for a Thursday night game:
“You play 16 games and the majority of those games are Sunday to Sunday games, so that’s what you get accustomed to and that’s how you kind of orchestrate your schedule – based on having that full week to prepare for a game. So to do it in a shortened week, it has to affect play to a degree. When you look at the amount of time you spend during a normal week in scouting your opponent and becoming familiar with your opponent, then to condense that to a Monday-Tuesday, because Wednesday’s the day before the game where everything is shortened even shorter, you can’t say it’s the same as playing Sunday to Sunday or Monday to Sunday. It’s far different, far different.”

On when his coaching staff began planning for this game:
“Some of our coaches began on Friday afternoon after we finished our final preparation for our previous opponent and some worked on the Saturday and some guys came in Sunday night when we landed from Dallas. So throughout the weekend, guys were doing a little bit to prepare for our Monday meeting with our players.”

On if he believes the short turnaround leading into Thursday games makes them counterproductive to the NFL’s safety initiatives:
“That’s something more for the league to address. I know they’re doing a ton of research on player safety, so I’m sure they are evaluating these football games on Monday nights, Thursday nights. You know they’ll come up with a conclusion that’ll be good for the players and good for the league.”

On how he integrated running back Adrian Peterson back into the game plan in 2012 after he returned from his torn ACL:
“We just tried to monitor his progress all along the way, you know, month by month, week by week, day by day. As the doctors informed us and our medical staff informed us on how he was doing, we would give him a little bit more work on the football field based on what we were hearing from the medical staff. And by the time we got to the regular season, you know, we put him on a pitch count. We didn’t treat him like he was in Week 6 of the regular season because we had scaled things back in the preseason. We didn’t just throw him out there and say, 'Go be the Adrian Peterson that’s 100 percent.’ So by November, boy, he had really hit his stride. He was the Adrian that we all knew. But we just kind of took it slow early and it worked out well for us.”

On if Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is more dynamic in recent weeks after returning from a similar injury:
“Yeah, I mean you can see he’s really looking more and more like the Robert from a season ago, so he’s coming into his own. You can definitely see the difference.”

On the next step quarterback Christian Ponder must take to become a consistent and solid starter:
“I want the quarterback play to be consistently good throughout. There are going to be some ups and downs and you’re going to have to be able to bounce back from those. Making good decisions is probably the thing we want to see most from Christian. He has the tools to lead a team and have success and lead you to a championship, we believe. But the consistency is the key at that position, along with the leadership that’s required.”

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson

On what point last season he felt fully healed from his knee injury:
“I never really felt like I was 100 percent as far as the power in my left leg. But I want to say around about Week 5 I really felt strong and confident in my leg – well, you know, the strength of the leg – but I still knew I had a little ways to go.”

On his contact with Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III about the recovery process:
“I really didn’t have the opportunity to really talk to him like that. I know that he spoke with my personal trainer so they kind of talked a little bit, and I think he was kind of able to give him some information on what kind of stuff I did during my recovery and some things that would kind of help him out.”

On if he pays attention to how Griffin III is doing because they went through a similar ordeal:
“Yeah, you know, and I’ve been watching and I’ve had a chance to see how he’s been doing and the best indicator you get is being able to watch and I can definitely tell that he’s more comfortable than he was at the beginning of the season and he’s just improving each week.”

On if this season has been different by being healthy from the start:
“Yeah, it was a lot different. Totally different mindset. [I’m] more confident and stronger than I was last year, so I was ready to roll.”

On how he prepares differently on a short week:
“You’ve got to come in and take care of your body. So you do the normal things, you know, working out, trying to flush the legs, hit the cold tub and just mentally making sure you have the game plan ready. With playing a Thursday night game, there’s a short window and it comes around fast. You’ve just got to make sure your body is ready to go.”

On if he has noticed the Redskins defense doing something different that has kept him from rushing for more than 100 yards against them in the past three years:
“No, not really. Hopefully I’ll break that streak this week, but I haven’t really noticed anything that they’re doing differently. They normally are good against the run and, do you know what the record is in our games? [2-1]. Oh, OK, well that’s all that matters right there.”

On bouncing back from a tough loss in Dallas:
“You’ve just got to try to take the positives and just know, 'Hey, you’ve got eight more weeks to make something happen.’ You’ve just got to take that one week at a time and try to make one more play than your opponent if it comes down to that. So just try to bounce back like I said and make the corrections and keep fighting.”

On his relationship with college teammates tackle Trent Williams and guard Chris Chester and what it is like to face them in the NFL:
“It’s always good going up against those guys. You know, technically I won’t be going up against them, but just to see those guys out there and they’re playing well... Me and Trent Williams we have a pretty good relationship, I was around him a little more – I think me and Chester played a year together – and Trent was there with me for a couple of years and he’s a good friend. We talk every now and then. During the offseason we work out together. So I know when he steps on the field he’s going to be ready to play.”

On Williams’ play this season:
“I haven’t really watched film on him, but I’ve seen the 'Skins play and he handles his own. He’s out there, he gets the job done. He’s just so talented of a player, just period, and just the work he puts in helps him out a lot. He’s one of those guys that could really go the offseason with really doing nothing and then still go out and be one of the best linemen out there, but what makes him stand out is the work he puts in.”
 

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