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Skins Quotes 11/30/11: Shanahan, Grossman, Ryan, Burress

It is done.


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

Marine Corps Virginia

Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On what made him believe running back Roy Helu would be a good fit:
“Well, we liked what he did as a first/second down back and he fit in well as a third down back. He was doing some things relative to the running game, he didn’t do a lot relevant to the passing game, but we thought he would fit into our nickel package. We thought he had a chance to be an all-around back even though he didn’t do a lot of blocking. That was kind of a work in progress since he’s been here.”

On why Helu got almost all of the carries on Sunday:
“Well, we wanted to give him an opportunity to show us what he could do. Anytime a guy’s averaging 4.7 yards per carry that means he’s been pretty productive when he’s been in there. We didn’t want to overdo it for a number of reasons. We thought he earned the right to go in, have all the reps and see what he could do in a game situation. He really took advantage of his opportunity.”

On linebacker Perry Riley’s progress since being named a starter:
“He gets better and better. There’s always going to be a missed assignment here or a missed assignment there—maybe a run support or a pass coverage—but you can see his quickness and speed and his ability to tackle in the open field. He’s got a big upside. I think he’ll just keep on getting better and better the more he plays.”

On the difference between learning in a game situation and a practice situation:
“Well, you don’t want to put a guy in there that’s going to cost you the game because he’s going to miss an assignment in coverage or miss an assignment with his blocking responsibility or his gap responsibility. You try not to put too many young players in those situations, because if you do, it will cost you a game. When you feel somebody is ready then you put them in. You know there’s going to be growing pains, but those pains are usually full speed. He’s going to make some plays and he’s going to give up some plays. We saw in practice enough good things that [Perry] deserved a chance to show us what he could do and he took advantage of it.”

On the different learning curves associated with playing different positions:
“If you take a defensive lineman, it’s not quite as complicated as being an inside linebacker where you’re dealing with a lot of different personnel groups and a lot of different coverages. A linebacker is going to take a little bit longer than is a defensive lineman. A running back is going to take a little bit longer than maybe a wide receiver because all of the protection that’s involved with a running back—different personnel groups, three-man fronts or four-man fronts—just compared to a guy going outside. A lot has to do with the position.”

On why the running back scheme is complicated:
“It’s not just our terminology or our system. I think we do a number of different things relative to personnel groups. We ask our backs to do a lot of different routes and a lot of different protections. We don’t want to throw a guy in there until he’s ready. We think [Helu] has done a good job picking it up as quickly as he has. Like I said, he played well.”

On if running back Roy Helu has cemented himself as the starter:
“Yeah, he’s got the job, so it’s his to lose.”

On nose tackle Barry Cofield’s growth at the position:
“He’s a student of the game and he takes pride in everything that he does. He’s exceptionally bright. And you take a defensive lineman – he wants to know every blocking scheme, he wants to know what’s going to happen before it happens and there’s not too many linemen that can do that, at least that I’ve been around those type of linemen. He can play at nose tackle, he can play at three-technique, he can play at four-technique, which means he can play over the guard [and] he can play over the tackle. He can play over the center and he doesn’t make errors. He’s a student of the game. That’s why he takes as much pride in everything that he does. He’s ready to play and you don’t find a lot of guys like that.”

On his comfort level with playing nose tackle:
“Well, especially at the nose tackle position, when you’re playing in the 3-4, they do so many different things to try to hit you – so many different directions. Sometimes, it will be a center setting you up by taking off and it looks like he’s missing a block. Maybe a tight end will be blocking you one play. A fullback or a tiger man will be blocking you another play. So you’ve got to have your head on a swivel and you’ve got to feel very confident in yourself.”

On quarterback Rex Grossman’s confidence now compared to earlier in the season:
“I think he’s even more confident now. You can see just by playing [and] kind of just by getting in the flow of football season. You know you don’t have OTAs and you come in and Rex wasn’t able to go in the first week and I think you just become more comfortable with yourself, more comfortable with defenses [and] more comfortable just playing in game situations.”

On cornerback DeAngelo Hall’s play against Seahawks compared to against the Cowboys:
“That’s the nature of this job is you’ve got to be accountable. I thought he was very accountable. He had a great week of practice and it showed on Sunday that he deserves NFC Player of the Week. That doesn’t happen all the time and to have an even better game, but to have the mental toughness to come back and play one of your better games.”

On not giving up long runs in the past few games:
“As we talked about before, [it’s] really gap responsibility – people having their assignments down. One guy has to be off, just like this and, all of a sudden, there’s a 50-yard gain. All of a sudden instead of giving three-and-a-half yards a game, you’re giving up four-and-a-half [or] five. That’s been the big difference. I think we gave up one run of 12 yards and we can be even better. We had some missed tackles in that area and hopefully we can improve.”

On calling timeouts in spots when you might not necessarily want to:
“Well, I’m looking at the clock all the time and sometimes it will get close and I probably think it warrants a called timeout. Other times, I might just let it go down and go to first-and-15. That situation was a little tough to even hear over the headsets. It was a loud stadium. A couple of times we couldn’t get the communication between the quarterback and Kyle [Shanahan] calling the plays. But those things do happen on the road and you have to play through it.”

On signing cornerback Brandyn Thompson to the active roster:
“We had a chance to lose Brandyn or bring him up on our squad. We wanted him on our football team. We didn’t want to lose him to another football team.”

On if Thompson knows he’s staying with the Redskins if he goes back to the practice squad:
“Not necessarily. If somebody makes an offer to him and he wants to go and he thinks it’s a better opportunity to play for another team, then he has the right to do so. I think he likes it here. He knows sometimes we’ll have injuries. We may move him down just to bring another guy up because it’s the best thing for the team, but he’s well aware that we like his skills, we like the type of person he is and we think he has a future here. So I think that’s one of the reasons why he stayed here.”

Quarterback Rex Grossman

On the success in moving the ball offensively the past two games:
“We’ve done pretty well on first down. Getting chunks of yardage and keeping us out of so many third downs. Third down in this league is tough. You’re going to lead the league and be 40 percent or something in that area. If you stay out of third down it gives you a chance. And when you are in third down, converting, obviously, is extremely important. Limiting those opportunities to put yourself in those tough situations has allowed us to move the ball well.”

On if he believes wide receiver Anthony Armstrong will be an offensive spark going forward:
“I hope so. [The third-and-19 touchdown catch] was definitely a big play and it was fun to run that play and, at the end, to see Anthony come down with it was huge. Especially where we were in the season, just with everyone frustrated, it felt like we’d played well all game and didn’t have a lot to show for it. To pull out a victory when you’re down 10 points in the fourth quarter—it was big.”

On if he’s having fun playing right now:
“Yeah, I’m having a lot of fun right now. It’s still a sport. I love the game of football. Anytime you make plays it’s fun. Celebrate with your teammates, step up in the pocket, linemen protecting you and you step up in the pocket and make a play, celebrate, win the game—it’s fun. There’s a lot of enjoyment. That’s why we started playing this game—to make plays.”

On if he believes getting a few wins will validate their belief that in themselves during the losing streak:
“Anytime you’re 4-7, you look back at some of the games that you could’ve or should’ve won, and a lot of things can change in the course of a season, but you look back at those games that we could’ve or should’ve won and it gives us confidence moving on. You are what your record says you are, but we still feel like we’re a talented football team that can win every week.”

On if he thinks about how things would be different if they had won both Dallas games:
“Yeah, but, that’s the nature of the NFL. There’s not any team in the NFL that doesn’t have some sort of scenario, one play here or there. Everybody’s saying that. We just need to stop saying that. We need to get it done and see if we can beat the Jets. That’s all we’re worried about.”

On offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s preference to throw on first down:
“First down is definitely the most advantageous down for an offense because you can do anything. You’ve got two more downs to work with. You’re going to get some defenses that take care of a pass route and they have to take care of a run so it definitely allows you to run your whole offense on first down. When we do throw it, it’s definitely schemed up to get a completion with the possibility of having a play for another first down. It’s not just [we’re] gonna throw it. Usually our first down passes are completion oriented.”

On Kyle Shanahan’s preferences inside their own 5-yard line:
“We were backed up and we ran it on first down and then we threw it on second down…I don’t want to give away his tendencies or anything. On first down, our whole playbook is available. He does a good job of studying people’s tendencies also—in every scenario.”

On if last Sunday’s win was more gratifying than the first month of the season’s wins:
“Anytime you’re on a losing streak and you win a game where everybody’s fighting—you’re fighting a 10-point deficit with 10 minutes left and then to pull out a victory like that and stop the bleeding—it’s definitely gratifying. We’re not patting ourselves on the back too much, we’re ready for the Jets and we want that feeling again.”

On if he believes this was his best game in Washington and the Super Bowl year in Chicago:
“No, we had the [San Francisco] 49ers down 41-to-0 at halftime that year. I’ve played some good games. This was a good game. I thought I played my best game against the Giants and this was close to that.”

On if he’s noticed a mood change since the win:
“I really haven’t. Everybody’s stayed pretty positive and working hard all throughout this last six or seven weeks. It’s not a huge change. I know that everybody was pumped up to get a victory, especially just offensively to start moving the ball and scoring points again. Our defense has been playing well all year, so to match their level of play—it was gratifying.”

On changes he’s seen in running back Roy Helu’s play this season:
“He’s a smart football player. He understands protections. From day one, he got it. We have a little bit more complicated protection scheme for running backs than most and he picked it up right away. His athleticism is obvious and he’s a gamer. He plays hard, plays well. His speed and his elusiveness is only going to get better with just feeling out the NFL speed and the NFL game and how he fits in it. He’s going a great job.”

On how being a free agent in the offseason affects his weekly play:
“I put so much effort into each week of preparing. Each week in itself is so important to me, personally, throughout my whole career. Every week is an audition. Even if you did have a huge contract—things happen fast in this league. You could be the greatest player in the world for three weeks and you have a couple bad games and you’re the worst and vice versa. I try to concentrate on each week as being the only week I’m concerned about.”

On whether he derives comfort from knowing his starting job is secure:
“Not really. That’s a fair question, but I really don’t. I never really have. I’ve really been concentrating on performing and don’t let distractions get in the way of that.”

On the hit he took after throwing the negated touchdown pass to wide receiver Jabar Gaffney:
“I don’t know if it was a late hit but I definitely got driven into the ground on my shoulder. I don’t know. I was trying to recover. I really couldn’t tell.”

New York Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan

On quarterback Rex Grossman’s play over the past few games:
“He threw the ball over 300 yards. I think in this last game they did a nice job of mixing the run and the pass. Their receivers are good route runners—they’re pros. They find ways to get open. The tight end is a good receiver...that’s what it is. I think their protections are better.”

On the effect changing quarterbacks has on an entire team:
“I really haven’t been that way. Maybe for a game or so, a guy gets injured or something, but it wasn’t…I think that situation would be different. I really can’t speak on it because I don’t think I’ve been in that situation before.”

On quarterback Mark Sanchez’s solid play the past few weeks:
“I like the fact that you said he had a solid game because everybody around here says, 'Oh, it was horrendous’ and all that. But I’ll take a horrendous game anytime you can throw four touchdowns. You sound like me because I agree with you. I think it was a solid game. We still have to get better. Our passing game isn’t where we want it to be and whether it’s timing, whether it’s communication, whether it’s protection—we’ve had some breakdowns. I think we’re getting better. I think this is the best we’ve protected the quarterback…it might’ve been the best I’ve ever seen somebody protect the quarterback. It was a great game for us protection-wise. Obviously if we can get that kind of protection, we’re going to be successful. It starts with protection but we’ve gotta do a great job of running our routes, and then when they’re open, having Mark hitting them.”

On the benefit of having a stable quarterback now and in the future:
“I think it’s huge. He is the guy. It’s a quarterback-driven league. Generally, if you hit on that position, you’re going to be set for 10 years. That’s where I think we are. You look at him, very few guys—well, nobody—in the history of the league can say they’ve got more road playoff wins than Mark does and he’s only played two years. So I think that speaks volumes about Mark. I like judging quarterbacks on wins and, if you’re going to break it down further than that, it’s probably fourth quarter comebacks and how well the quarterback plays in crunchtime and I think Mark’s at his best in those times.”

On if it is dangerous to split reps between quarterbacks:
“I think that’s fair to say. I’ll say this though, in Mark’s case, I do it just to…I know the kind of competitor he is. He can’t stand it and he’s going to go out and show you and prove it and all that. That’s how he takes things. I know Mark very well. I kind of know what drives him and if it takes me giving a backup quarterback two or three reps in practice than I’ll go ahead and do it. Mark—he is our quarterback. Everybody knows it, but every now and then, it’s still good to give him a little shot in the arm.”

On quarterback Mark Sanchez handling media scrutiny in New York:
“He does a great job with the media. Like I say, there’s a lot of great quarterbacks out there but not all of them could play in New York. It is different. It’s probably truthful to say that about Washington [D.C.] as well. But in this market that’s part of your job. You’ve gotta have—as I always say—skin like an armadillo. You’re going to get criticized when it’s not your fault. You’re going to have to take it. And he does that. He’s a great teammate. When clearly it’s not his fault he takes it upon himself. He doesn’t have to do it but he does it all the time and I’m sure his teammates appreciate that.”

On if it’s difficult to prepare for a team like the Redskins that looks different week-to-week:
“They’re a good football team. There’s no doubt. When you look at it on defense, [Defensive Coordinator Jim] Haslett is doing a good job there. It’s a very aggressive defense and they’ve got a couple of good pass rushers. They’ve got some guys in the back end that can really play. When I look at them, I look at their defense and I think they’ve been very good. On offense, they have weapons. I think having [wide receiver Santana Moss] back, coming off injury, has really helped them as well.”

New York Jets Wide Receiver Plaxico Burress

On his performance this season:
“It’s coming along. I’m just working at it every day at practice. You know, just getting better week by week and my football legs are starting to come back to me and get a little more bounce in my step and my cuts and different things like that. I’m just starting to feel football-ready going into December, so that’s when you want to be playing your best ball going into the playoffs. I’m getting to where I need to be for my team and go out and make plays.”

On if he can feel the difference of getting into better football shape:
“No doubt. Week in and week out, my legs are getting stronger. I’m getting back to doing some of the things that I know I can, and it just feels good to finally be getting that feeling and be getting in football shape. I just feel a difference as far when I’m practicing, being able to practice harder, practice as hard as I can — going out trusting my skills on Sunday, getting back to some of the things I know I can do on the football field.”

On his ability to readjust to playing in the NFL quicker than Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick:
“I think the difference between Mike and myself is that I play a position where I’m basically running every down. With that being said, over time you have a chance to get into shape faster. So I attribute it to the fact that while I was away, I stayed in pretty good shape. I told myself if I can stay in really good shape and do some different things with my legs that I haven’t been able to do – squats, different things like that – if I stayed in pretty good shape, I’d get back faster than a lot of people thought I’d be able to.”

On the Redskins’ secondary:
“I know some of the guys. I basically have played against all of them. You’ve got a new addition in No. 20 [safety Oshiomogho Atogwe] coming over from St. Louis. He’s a pretty good player. Everybody knows about those other couple of guys. They’re a fast team. They’re an aggressive defense. They’re going to come out fighting. They always play tough. Ever since I’ve played against them, that’s the one thing that I respected about playing their team was, you know, it didn’t matter what their record was. Defensively, they were going to fight to the end and I don’t expect anything less than that from them.”

On Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis:
“Darrelle Revis is the best cornerback in the world. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

On Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall:
“He’s a good player.”

On Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez:
“He’s going to continue to fight. It doesn’t matter what people are saying about him, saying things he can’t do or isn’t doing. He’s just going to keep working with that fire… He’s just as passionate about playing the position as any player I’ve played with. That’s the single thing that jumps out most to you. He loves what he does. It hasn’t gone particularly well for him at times, but he comes to work and makes us work hard. That’s what you love about a competitor. Playing with any teammate that when things are not going the way they would like to, they’re going to come out and fight and they’re not going to go into the tank. He’s going to keep preparing, keep working hard to be better every day. I think we all see that and have to love that anybody that you’re playing with is not going to get down on themselves. They’re going to do the only thing that you can do. They’re going to fight through it and work through it.”

On if he enjoys playing for Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan:
“I always say that if you can’t play for a coach like Rex Ryan, you can’t play in the National Football League on anybody’s team. I mean, you’re talking about a guy who the atmosphere around here is so incredible that he keeps it that way. He’s 110 percent supports the players versus anything that you do. He’s going to put you in a great situation to go out and have success and he’s just that personality that he’s going to motivate you, keep you going, and he’s a great person to play for, a great coach. I love being around him. He’s a fun guy to be around and he knows when it’s time to work and he knows when it’s time to have fun. That’s one of the things that I noticed when I first came here was that I’ve never laughed so much in his meetings and the vibe that he brings around, but at the same time, he’s a hell of a coach.”

On if he was offended by the celebration by Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson last week:
“No, I wasn’t offended at all. I didn’t hear about it until after the game in the press conference. People do that to me. It’s not the first time that I’ve seen it. It really doesn’t bother me. It’s something that happened in my past. I put it behind me and moved on. It didn’t bother me at all. It doesn’t offend me. They can do it every week. It really doesn’t bother me at all because I’ve been throw it, dealt with it and moved on from it. That was his choice to actions, so I don’t have any problem with it.”

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