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Skins Quotes 11/20: Shanahan/RG3/Garrett/Romo

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November 20, 2012
Redskins Park

Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On linebacker London Fletcher’s consecutive starts potentially being in jeopardy:
“It matters to London. It matters to us, not necessarily the streak, but playing. And there is a reason why he has played all those games because he plays when he is hurt and hopefully he will be able to play. But I can’t tell you for sure.”

On when Fletcher will be tested:
“I would say pregame.”

On wide receiver Pierre Garçon’s confidence level:
“A lot of people think just because a guy comes back he will be a full component of the offense and the team. You really never know depending on what coverages you get and how the match up. But hopefully he will be out there and play at that level that he played at before. The question mark is the turf. We will get a chance to evaluate that before the game and hopefully the pain is not such that he can’t play.”

On the difference between turf and natural grass:
“Natural grass is much softer. [Field turf] is hard. You can feel that just going on this turf out here. It is a big difference between that and the grass. He had a hard time even in our facility, and we have the best turf there is.”

On why he had success playing against Dallas with Denver on Thanksgiving:
“We had a pretty good team to start out with. You’ve got to have a good team and we look at it kind of like a bye week. If you do play, both teams play early, you get a chance to have a few days afterwards to kind of regroup and hopefully heal up a little bit. But you have to go out there and play because Dallas is always ready to play. Obviously, [it is] in their backyard and they get excited for it. Fans will be into it. It is a nationally-televised game. You want to represent your organization the right way and hopefully we can do that.”

On the toughest thing about playing on a Thursday:
“I think everything is a little bit different. You have about a day and a half of preparation time, so, yeah, your preparation is going to be a little bit different. You don’t have the time to look at the film. Doing it before, you kind of mentally know what you can do relative to your football team with meetings and how much of a game plan you can put in. But mainly your players have to be ready to play. Our guys know there is a lot at stake and hopefully they will be ready to play and play at a high level.”

On the team having to draw from their experience in regard to mental toughness:
“No question. They have to do that. I think in the back of their mind they know they get a few days off after the game so you don’t mind putting in the extra work and all the preparation you have to do over a 48 hour period which they are doing now. Our guys had a great practice today. They were into it. I think we got a lot done so hopefully it carries over.”

On the increase in Thursday night games in the NFL:
“I think everybody has differences of opinion. People talk about maybe it’s too tough on a player’s body with all the Thursday night games. Other people think it is exciting to have another game during the week where people could evaluate, people could look at the game. I’ve always enjoyed Thanksgiving. I know before I got into pro football, you just look forward to it on Thursday. 'Hey, everybody gets around the house and gets a chance to watch a couple of games’ and now there are three games; I think it is great.”

On quarterback Robert Griffin III playing two games in five days:
“You can tell the young guys right away. They have a hop in their step. When you are 22 years old compared to a little bit older, I think the body recovers a lot quicker. You ask Robert that 10 years from now, I think he might have a little difference of opinion.”

On the team’s time to recover after two games in five days:
“I think everybody knows when you play on Sunday and then play on Thursday, the recovery time is a lot less. It is the same for both teams. You go back and you prepare, deal with it mentally and you got to find a way to win. Both teams are in the same situation. Everybody says, 'Well, it is a lot tougher when you travel.’ I say, The way travel is now; I don’t think it is a big difference. In a couple of hours you are there. You have all the perks of getting to your hotel very quickly and now you have to go play.”

On if the coaches started preparing for the upcoming game immediately after their victory last week:
“A number of coaches came back and not only watched our game but watched some of the other games. Everybody is a little bit different but I think the big thing is we were able to look [at film on Dallas] on our off week. We had a couple days of preparation time that we could spend which is a little bit unusual during the season.”

On his comments after the Carolina loss:
“What I said - we have 46 guys that dress out for a game. We had 26 of those guys unseen playing the second half of the season. The last couple of years, some for a year, others for two years, we had 20 guys that played in the last game that I have never seen play in the second half of a season. They were either free agents, they were draft choices, they were guys on IR, and you always want to see how people step up and play in the second half of the season. You’re always evaluating those players just like I did last week. I was so impressed with the way our football team played. Everybody on that football team played hard for 60 minutes. That is what you have to have. To win a game like that against a very talented football team, you have to play hard and you have to play consistent and I thought that is what we did.”

On building on this season’s success in preparation for next season:
“It is not building, it is this year. That is what our goals are. We control our own destiny, except for the Giants. We’ve got to have the Giants, if we win out, the Giants have to lose one game. We understand that. But we take games one at a time. We understand how hard it is but we have to focus on the game at hand.”

On linebacker Ryan Kerrigan never missing a snap until Sunday:
“You can’t go on those streaks. It’s more starting streaks than it is playing. We want to take care of him and obviously do what we think is best for him to stay healthy.”

On Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant’s tendency to either perform very well or disappear:
“I’m hoping he disappears [Laughter]. He is a tremendous athlete. I think everybody knows that. You can see the way he jumps and he runs. He made that big play against us last year on the blitz and just went up there and grabbed the ball. So, you just have to play good. Everybody has to do their job, everybody has a responsibility and it is kind of like how we got ready last week. You just have to play your best football in the second half of the season and hopefully we do that on Thanksgiving.”

On evaluating mental errors his team made last week despite a 25-point victory:
“I think you always have to look at yourself. Even when you win a football game, you look at the things you did poorly. On offense, we had five false start penalties. We were very aggressive, we were very physical but a lot of times you get too aggressive and you take off, especially when you are in the shotgun. That is five penalties. We had one illegal formation and we had one holding. We were able to overcome four of those. Defensively, we had four. We had two on the last drive. They had 50 yards on that last drive. We could have had them twice off the field and we had the ball back. So you always look at that. We had two on special teams. You say, 'OK, how do you create that perfect scenario,’ and the only way I know is try to work out perfection during practice during the week and we’ve got the guys that are working like that so we have a chance to get better.”


Quarterback Robert Griffin III

On playing the Thanksgiving Day game in his home state of Texas:
“It will be fun. I’ll see a lot of familiar faces. I have a lot of fans down there who got to see me grow up in Copperas Cove, Texas. They go to college at Baylor, so it will definitely be a good homecoming, more so of a homecoming than New Orleans was. Certainly looking forward to having fun, but we’re going there with one goal in mind and that’s to win.”

On Cowboys Stadium:
“I think I’ve played there twice. Obviously everyone knows it’s a beautiful stadium. The screen is what everyone likes to talk about. The field is good. It’s just about playing on a big stage and playing at a high level. I think everyone on this team is ready to do that.”

On his previous games at Cowboys Stadium:
“I thought I did well.”

On if he won both games at Dallas Cowboys Stadium:
“I think we did. I think both of them were against Texas Tech. Baylor is playing Texas Tech this week, so I’d like to keep that streak going.”

On if he watched the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day while growing up:
“I think a lot of people who are football fans watch football on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys are usually always on, so you always have a chance to see them go out there. I had a friend who was a Cowboys fan and I was a Broncos fan, so the one year the Broncos beat the Cowboys, I had bragging rights.”

On the Cowboys always playing on Thanksgiving Day:
“I had some friends who were big, big Cowboys fans. They would always want to get together and watch the games and things of that nature. For me, I was never a Cowboys fan, but it’s always good to watch football on Thanksgiving.”

On for whom his friends will be rooting for on Thursday:
“They told me that they would be cheering for me, but they still want their guys to win. I guess I can accept that. We still have to go out and get the victory.”

On the difficulty of having a short week:
“You have to game plan. The game plan is not going to be dumbed down because you have a short week. Coaches have things that they want to run. They put a lot of time and effort into watching film. As players, we have to make sure we take advantage of the little bit of time we do have to master the system that they’re putting in this week. That’s probably the toughest part. It’s just a quick turnaround. Guys get beat up on Sundays and put it all on the line and then get back out on there on Thursday with not very much rest. We’ll see how tough our football team is.”

On if he prepared for Dallas during the bye week:
“I did not. I’m not sure if the coaches did or not, but I tried to get away from the familiar and refocus my mind and everything. I didn’t watch any film of the Cowboys.”

On his confidence after the bye week:
“Basically, we knew what was at hand, the hole we dug ourselves in. Like I said, we were in every single game and we could have won every single game. It’s just a matter of going out and executing. I thought guys came back fresh- fresh legs, fresh hands, fresh mind. I just felt a vibe like we were going to go out there and click. There were a few things I think I needed to say. It wasn’t because they voted me captain; it was just some things as quarterback you have to say to your team. I made sure to echo those things throughout the locker room. We went out and dominated.”

On his message to the team for this week:
“It’s the same message. I haven’t seen this team play as physical as they did this past Sunday, offense and defense. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but there was a certain tenacity, a certain attitude that was brought to the game and you could feel it. The fans could feel it. The players could feel it. I think that’s the kind of mindset you have to bring into every game. That will be the call this week.”

On his performance against the Eagles in Week 11:
“That’s high praise and good company to be in, so you don’t downplay a thing like that, but you try to just move on to the next week. You don’t have games like that very often. That’s why there are so few who have had them, but you’d like to think that you can do that all the time. I know 14-of-15…that might not come around anymore. You definitely remember that it did, and try to make sure that you can duplicate that throughout the weeks.”

On his health entering Week 12:
“I feel fine. We didn’t have very many plays in the first half, so I took most of my hits in the second half. I didn’t have any clear shot or brutal hits, so that was good. Like I told the team, I have to protect myself better and I have been. I feel actually really good and ready to go.”

On if he can sense that opposing defenses are struggling to grasp the complexity of the offense:
“At times you can. There is so much focus on the new things that we’re doing. They don’t really focus on what we have done. We’re mixing it up, throwing different formations out there, different routes at them. That’s what you have to do. Their defense [The Cowboys Defense] isn’t easy by any means. The way they run it and the blitzes that they do, so I think both teams have a problem when it comes to the short turnaround. We’ll both hopefully make the most of it.”

On the effect wide receiver Pierre Garçon has on the offense:
“Pierre brings an attitude to the game. He’s going to talk. He’s going to play hard. He’s going to block. He’s going to let you know that he’s out there, whether it’s me or the defense. It’s just that attitude that he brings to the other receivers on the field. That’s what you can feel the most. He looked really good on film. Based on what we saw, he ran great routes. He was open most of the time. We’ll look to get it to him.”

On if discovered why he had one incompletion last Sunday:
“[Laughter] It was a little miscommunication between me and the receiver. I threw it a little inside. He was fading away to the sideline. I just have to put it on the sideline, so that’s all it means.”

On making his father proud:
“It’s paramount to me. I didn’t even know what that word meant until he taught it to me a few years ago [laughter]. It’s really important. He was there for me. He sacrificed so much for me, so I want to make sure I make him proud. Everything I do, I try to think what my parents would think if they were sitting right there watching. Whenever I come off of the field after a game-win, loss or draw, which I haven’t had any of those and don’t want any of those-he gives me his criticism or praise. There are some games that we lose the game and I think he’s going to tear me apart and he doesn’t tear me up. There are some games like the last one where you go 14 of 15 and he’s chewing you out, and you’re like, 'Come on, Dad.’ I appreciate it and he knows that. He’ll keep it coming and you never know what you’re going to get out of him.”

On what his father criticized him about following last week’s game:
“I thought I protected myself pretty well, but he mainly pointed to the play when [Eagles defensive end Jason] Babin got me on my side and my legs got messed up a little bit. He told me I can’t do that. I said 'I know, I know, Dad.’ [Laughter] Just little things, not holding the ball up when you scramble, he just makes sure he sticks those points because sometimes out here the coaches are so focused on other things that they might miss a minor detail and he definitely brings it up.”

On if he is a tougher critic than the coaches:
“No not at all. Kyle [Shanahan] and them are tough on me, pretty tough. My dad has always been tough on me no matter what sport it was. It’s give and take.”

On what he’s thankful for:
“Just to be able to wake up every morning, my parents, family, all of you guys asking all of these questions [laughter]. There are so many things you can be thankful for, and I learned back in 2009 after my season-ending injury in college that you have to be thankful for the little things. The ability to walk, do those kinds of things and get around and move, because not everybody does. Be grateful for what you have and whatever you want, strive to go get it.”

On the message on his cleats:
“Adidas surprised with me by putting my mom and dad’s names on the tongues of my shoes and making the tongue of my shoe camouflaged on the inside. They can’t put it on the outside, for various reasons, but we won’t get into that. They put that on my shoes for me as a salute to those who have served. Both of my parents served. It was pretty cool. I wanted to show her what they did and show it to my dad, so I sent him a picture and I tweeted a picture out of it. What they have done for this country means something to me and means something to a lot of people.”

Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett

On Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III:
“I think he’s an outstanding player. I think we all knew that when he was coming out of school. He played so well at Baylor and it’s pretty obvious why the Redskins moved up to draft him. He’s a really talented guy. He seemed like the right kind of guy and has played really, really well really early in his career. Right from the start it seemed like he had a real command of what they were trying to do there and has played great. He’s run the ball, thrown the ball, he’s led their team, done a great job.”

On the difficulty of preparing for Griffin III on a short week:
“Well, you’d rather have more time than less, there’s no question about that, particularly when you’re facing him and the scheme they’re using is a little bit different than you see every week. But that it what it is. We just try to prepare as best we can as quickly as we can.”

On what he has learned about preparing teams on short weeks:
“I think one thing that is a little bit different now is that every team in the league is playing in a Thursday game because of the NFL Network package, so this isn’t as foreign as it used to be to other teams. I think more than anything else, you get a schedule that you’re comfortable with about what you’re going to do on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday to get yourself ready for a game because the rhythm of the week is completely different. Usually you have a couple of days, then you start back into your practice week and you start with this content in practice and you go to the next day and the next day. Then you have a couple of days before the game again. This is all condensed, obviously. So you’ve got to kind of figure out how you want to do things and when you want to do things and make sure you get your work in leading up to the game.”

On Redskins kicker Kai Forbath, who spent last season with the Cowboys:
“We really liked him. We liked him coming out of school and we really value that position. Obviously, any time you have an opportunity to score points, it’s an important position. We feel really good about the kicker we have, Dan Bailey, but at the time we kept Kai, Dan Bailey hadn’t really done anything. He too was a rookie. So Kai, for the most part with us, was hurt and we didn’t see that much of him, but we really liked what we saw coming out of UCLA and we felt like he could be an outstanding kicker. And sure enough, if given the opportunity, we felt like he would do that and he’s certainly done that in Washington.”

On what he saw from Forbath’s time at UCLA:
“He was very professional. He seemed like he was very consistent and accurate, and those are important traits for that position. He made a lot of kicks.”

On being in contention despite uneven play:
“You’ve just got to battle and that’s the nature of this league. It’s a challenge to win a game every week in the NFL. Anybody who has been around this league understands that, so you just have to keep fighting as a player, as a coach and as a football team. You’re going to have some success and you’re going to have some adversity and you’ve just got to keep banging away and try to do things the right way in terms of your preparation to play your best on Sunday and just keep going. It’s a long year. We have a lot of different stories that are told throughout the year. You’ve just got to keep trying to do your best and be your best each week to try to win ballgames.”

On quarterback Tony Romo:
“Tony’s been an outstanding player for us. You know, we have turned the ball over more than we want to early on in the year. He had a couple games where he had multiple interceptions, but I think he’s battled well. We’ve had a lot of different combinations of guys playing up front and around him, and I think he’s handled those situations well. Obviously he can play better and better and better. He’s done a lot of good things for us and hopefully he’s getting better as the season progresses.”

On injuries suffered by the team this year:
“There are injuries all over the league. Every team has them, and the best teams are the ones that are able to absorb them. You hope that you don’t have a rash of injuries at one position. Often times you have a quality backup, other times you don’t have two quality backups at different spots. This is the story for every team around the league. Somehow, some way, you’ve got to figure it out. When you get guys banged up, you’ve got to put the next guy in there and hopefully he can rise up to the challenge and do what he’s supposed to do. Our running back had been in and out of the lineup. DeMarco Murray hasn’t playing in about four or five weeks. He’s been a real positive influence on our football team in so many different ways. We’re hoping to get him back sooner rather than later, and that takes a lot of pressure off the quarterback and really everybody. But injuries are a part of this thing and you just have to keep going forward, put the next guy in and you have to battle as best you can.”

On Miles Austin missing both games against the Redskins last year:
“Well, again, we certainly like Miles. Miles has been a really good player for us. At different times, he’s battled through some injuries himself, a hamstring injury. I think the games you were referring to he was out with a hamstring injury last year early on in the season. He’s been a good player for us. He can play both inside receiver and outside receiver and sometimes he can be a hard matchup for people. He and Tony [Romo] have a real comfort level with each other. He actually dealt with an injury early on in the season. He’s been healthy here for a pretty good stretch and playing pretty well for us, so he’s certainly a pretty big part of our offense.”

On how much he will look at the Redskins’ previous opponents to help identify ways to defend Griffin III:
“I think you’re always watching the tape and you’re looking for ideas about how to play certain things you see on the tape. That holds true on offense, defense and in the kicking game. I do think you have to be careful of copying other people’s stuff that you don’t know real well. Typically there’s been a lot of time spent and a lot of work spent for offenses or defenses or the kicking game working on those schemes to make sure they’re game ready. There’s certainly some ideas that you always look for if you’re trying to attack somebody or trying to stop somebody. That’s part of what you do as a coaching staff. But at the same time, you have to have your own identity. What makes it a little different is that you don’t play teams who do what the Redskins do with Robert Griffin as much as you see some traditional-style, NFL-style offenses. I think your point is well-made; you have to see how teams attack him and see if any of that can help you.”

On if the Cowboys benefit from having faced Carolina quarterback Cam Newton earlier in the season:
“I think they’re probably the closest to what the Redskins do. They go into that mode of the read option and a lot of the stuff you see the college teams running. Also where they’re similar is both these guys are really talented. They can play what I would call NFL-style quarterback as well, meaning they’re dropping back and throwing it in their dropback game or playaction game from under center. There is a similarity there. They’re both really talented players. And they use them differently but kind of in the same way in that they can do a lot of different things that can attack the defense.”

Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo

On the importance of the next few games on the Cowboys’ schedule:
“They’re very big. It started for us two weeks back. We’ve been putting our head down and grinding, going forward and trying put together win after win.”

On the effect the tough win against the Browns will have on the rest of the season:
“I think you’re going to play in games like that. You want to go out and win by 30 points every week, but in the National Football League, that’s not the case. We’re going to be in a battle every week that we play. We understand that and we have to do little things to try and overcome some other things. I think that’s what we’re trying to do right now is do the little things right that give us a chance to keep winning.”

On what he has learned over the years to deal with a short week of preparation:
“I think you just have to immerse yourself in the tape and really just keep watching it over and over and over. You’re going to be tired. You’re going to be mentally a little bit fatigued, but you feel very prepared at least by Thursday if you are constantly watching tape and constantly putting in the time that it takes to get comfortable with what you’re going to see. We’re expecting a lot of pressure from the Redskins. They’re a pressure package type of team and we have to be prepared for it. We’ll be ready.”

On getting hyped for a quarterback matchup like Thursday’s against quarterback Robert Griffin III:
“I think what you look at is that I’m never going to have to throw the ball against him and he’s not going to be throwing the ball against me at all. It’s about their defense. I have to trust my defense, our special teams, to go out and play well. If they do that, then we have a great chance of winning.”

On what stands out about the Redskins defense:
“They do a lot of stuff. It depends on the game that you’re watching and what they’re going to do and how they’re going to attack different quarterbacks. I just know that, in our history with them, they want to pressure us. They want to get the ball out. They want to have guys looking at the ball a little bit. We understand that and we’ll have to prepare for it.”

On playing against linebacker London Fletcher:
“London has been a great player for a long time. He really makes a lot of their stuff go. He’s smart. He gets to the football. He works really hard. He’s obviously been a catalyst there for a long time. You always have to prepare for him.”

On the multitude of injuries to Cowboys running backs this season:
“We’ve obviously had a few guys banged up here and there. We’ve shuffled guys through, but it hasn’t just been there, it’s been everywhere really. Our offensive line we’ve had to move guys around and do different things. You just have to keep putting your head down, step up and guys have to play. Guys have been doing a good job of that.”
 

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