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December 19, 2013
Redskins Park

Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On the injury report:
“The first thing that we were talking about is [tight end] Jordan Reed will be out for the remainder of the season. He did see a specialist today in Pittsburgh and they recommended for him to stay away, or at least not practice for the next three weeks, so he’ll go on IR. [Fullback] Darrel Young was limited today in practice. [Cornerback] E.J. Biggers was full-go and [offensive tackle] Trent Williams was full-go.”

On if it is difficult to balance being firm with players and avoiding alienating them:
“I don’t think so. I just think that relationship grows in time and the more time you spend together, I think the better the relationship gets. You’re going through some tough times. You’re going through some great times. But all relationships develop and a lot of times when it’s stressful, sometimes it’s a little bit tougher than when things are all going great. But you’re always hoping to pull in the same direction and everybody’s got the respect for one another, knowing how tough their jobs are, and just try to improve to get better.”

On if he has a corresponding move after the decision to move Reed to IR:
“No, we haven’t decided. I just found out within 20 minutes ago. That’s one of the reasons I was late. I was talking to Dr. [Anthony] Casolaro and [Head Athletic Trainer] Larry [Hess] about the specialist and his recommendation up in Pittsburgh.”

On if he has decided on who will fill Reed’s roster spot:
“No, I just found out that he wouldn’t be able to go.”

On center J.D. Walton:
“We liked him out of college. We liked the way he played in Denver for the first couple of years. That’s one of the reasons why we claimed him.”

On if quarterback Robert Griffin III being Walton’s teammate at Baylor factored into the decision to sign him:
“Well, the first thing is, is a person a football player? That’s a bonus because Robert knew him. He knows what type of character he has and what type of guy he is. You always look into somebody’s background and Robert gave him the highest recommendation as a person. But we’ll go back and take a look at the film and we liked what he saw, not only in college but at Denver as well.”

On if Walton would be eligible to play on Sunday:
“No, I think this is for the future. He would not play this week or next week. It would be him coming back to the squad next year and competing with the rest of the offensive line.”

On Walton’s medical status:
“You never know, but we just know what we thought of him coming out of college. We evaluated at Denver – two years, started all 16 games [in 2010 and 2011] and four games [in 2012]. You can see he’s a football player. You’ve always got the question mark with the medical, but we’ll see that in time.”


On quarterback Kirk Cousins’ development over his first two seasons:
“Well, one thing I think that he was able to do is with all the OTA reps, with the summer camp reps, he got a full share, which was big in his development going into this year. Then all of a sudden, you don’t get any reps until last week, so I know that he’s enjoying the repetition that he’s gotten and he gets to work with the first unit again. So that’s a big plus for him. You can see he’s more comfortable this week than he was last week.”

On Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker’s season and his thoughts on Baltimore having a coach who specializes in kicking:
“Well, if we can get 35-for-37, then you can guarantee me that we will get a kicking coach, I promise you. Yeah, maybe it’s due to his coach. If it is, he should ask for a raise, because that’s pretty impressive.”

On if he has ever had a kicking coach on his staff:
“We’ve had people come in that have worked with kickers, not necessarily full-time. But we’ve had guys that have worked throughout the offseason with a kicking coach and sometimes we’ll bring a guy in for a few days if they get a little off-kilter. But a lot of these kickers and snappers will work with somebody in the offseason to try and tone in their expertise.”

On balancing production on the field and wanting to see more of safety Bacarri Rambo:
“What happens – it’s not only the position, but it’s special teams as well. So he may play free safety, strong safety… Who is the best guy for that 45th, 46th spot to help you in that area? So part of it is based on special teams and part of it is based on position. That’s why going into each game, you’re never really sure who that 44th, 45th, or 46th guy is. It depends on how they practice and what you think gives you the best chance to win.”

On if he makes changes to practice to keep players from “checking out”:
“Well, first of all, regardless what type of practice that you have, you’re hoping guys don’t check out. But it is a little bit different toward the end of the season on any football team than it is through the first half of the season with your walkthroughs, with your live reps. Again, you’re trying to do everything to give them the best chance to be ready for the game and still be prepared.”

On if it is tougher to get full effort out of players at the end of the season:
“No, it’s not really, not if you’ve got the right guys, you’ve got the right character. You’re getting full-speed effort. They understand that this is their profession and if they don’t handle it that way, then the chances of them being around for any length of time is not very good.”

Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan

On if he expects to return next season:
“That won’t be up to me. That’ll be up to our owner to decide if he wants us here, but to say reports that I want to distance myself from my father is totally untrue. I came here with a goal to win here, and I’ll keep trying to do that until they don’t want us here. That’s not a decision that’s up to me, but I’m going to coach here until I’m told that I can’t anymore and I’ll finish that through.”

On if he wants to see what he is capable of away from his father:
“Well, I do know what I can do on my own. I was on my own before I came here. I was a coordinator for two years before I came here and I do know what I can do on my own.”

On if he thinks about being a head coach:
“Yeah, I always set goals. I’d like someday hopefully to get a chance to be a head coach, whatever path that takes. I’m not trying to force that issue. I think of things year-to-year. I try to do the best thing for me, for myself and for my family. We had some success last year. You get mentioned for head coach jobs when you have some success. When you lose, you don’t. No matter who you’re coaching for or what you’re doing, it’s about winning games, doing a good job at your position – which is me as a coordinator – and I really just focus about what I put on tape.”

On how coachable quarterback Robert Griffin III is:
“I think Robert is very coachable. He came out of a system that wasn’t really similar to ones in the NFL. He’s been awesome to work with since we’ve gotten him. He’s tried everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s gotten better in a lot of areas. We’ve asked him to do things that he hadn’t done before until he got here. I think he did a hell of a job with that stuff last year. He’s continued to grow this year.”

On why he thinks there is a perception that Griffin III is not coachable:
“I don’t know. It sounds like really there’s a report really about everything right now. I think it’s pretty boring to talk about our three wins, not much else going on, so there’s a lot of stuff out there. There’s a report out on everything. Some things there’s partial truths to, but when it comes to working with Robert, nobody works with Robert except for myself, the quarterback coach, and we love working with Robert and he’s great to coach.”

On if there is one thing that has meant the most for the development of quarterback Kirk Cousins:
“Just the overall maturation of him. Kirk is very analytical. He’s very A-type personality. He wants to know the whys to everything, where everybody is. He’s on top of his stuff, and just the more time he’s been here, all the reps that he got in OTAs and training camp, being able to go with the first group and stuff… He didn’t get as much in the preseason because he got hurt also, but he did in practice and everything. He’s been a lot sharper this year with just knowing where everybody is. He always works at that stuff, but it’s not about just knowing it on paper. It’s about knowing it out there without thinking. You can’t really think in this game. Once the play starts you’ve got to react and you’ve just got to feel things and let it rip. I think with Kirk it’s become natural for after a lot of hard work that he knows where all the eligibles are on the field and he progresses pretty fast.”

On how he keeps the players from “checking out”:
“First of all, you’ve got to have the right type of guys and you’ve got to have guys that enjoy football, that football is important to, that are intrinsically motivated in that way. I think we do. We’ve got a real good group of guys, as good of a group of guys as I’ve been around. It means a lot to them. They’ve got a lot of pride. I thought they played real hard last week. I felt no let-up by them at all, I felt no let-up by our coaches at all, and I’d be really surprised if anyone did.”

On how the offense changes when operated from under center instead of the Pistol:
“Really the only thing that changes is that we didn’t run the zone read, and it doesn’t mean you can’t, it’s just not as high on my list until maybe [quarterback] Rex [Grossman] got into the game then maybe I’d probably run it a little bit more [laughter]. But you could run it versus some good looks. You see [Eagles quarterback Nick] Foles run it for some good stuff in Philly, but it’s not something they’re trying to dial up versus a lot of looks because you do have to have a certain type of speed tojust run that versus a lot of looks. We don’t do that as much, so you get a little different play-actions off of it. When you’re not running the zone read, you don’t do as much play-pass off of it either, but you still do the same concepts down the field. Your play-passes are built off the runs that you do in the game so everything looks the same, so just the actions of what we play-fake with and one run that we don’t do, that’s the only thing that changes.”

On how the selection of plays changed last week and will change moving forward:
“The first 13 games with Robert there wasn’t just a certain type of plays — I think it was different every week. There’s some games where you saw us drop back and throw it more with Robert, there was some games where you saw us run it a lot more. There was some games that involved bootlegs or some games that involved play-action, so we really try to base it off what the defense is doing first of all — find the weakness in what they’re doing. We like to feel that we can do anything that the defense presents itself with, so we try to attack the defense, and at the same time you want to put players in a position that they can be successful. So you always want to attack the X’s and O’s of what a defense is showing you, but you also want to do stuff that players are capable of doing. You don’t want to just attack something because it makes sense if your player can’t do it, so there’s a fine line between both and that’s really what we work at trying to figure out throughout the week and throughout practice reps.”

On trying to be unpredictable with play calling in certain situations like being on your own goal line:
“Yeah, it’s hard. You’ve got to mix it up. I think that’s some of the stuff that we did a lot earlier in the year and then we went to runs for a while, so it’s a 50/50 chance of what you’re going to do. It’s a scary situation for an offense to be in, in general, whether you’re on the one [yard-line]… There’s a lot of different philosophies people have. Some people just do quarterback sneaks or fullback dives or just try to hand it up to the back, some people take shots out of there. Really, whatever play you do makes the coaches a little bit nervous. You can run an inside zone play and all one guard has to do is take the wrong step and you’re going to have a big three-technique right in the backfield and get a safety on your back. You like to pass it just to get it out of there quick. You’ve got to have one guy miss and you get either a sack or a holding call and it’s a safety. So it’s a fine line. You definitely don’t want to be predictable. I do think we do throw it more than some people so that’s why you notice it, but it’s definitely a 50/50 type deal. Some people, no matter what they do they’re just going to quarterback sneak it and get it out of there and try to punt. I always feel if you punt when you’re backed up, I look at that as we as an offense just gave the other team three points. All they need to do is go about 10 yards after they catch that punt and they already have a field goal, so I feel it’s very important when you’re backed up to get a first down. We’re not just going to play conservatively to not get a safety. We’re going to do whatever we can to get a first down.”

On the play of wide receiver Aldrick Robinson since the injury to wide receiver Leonard Hankerson:
“Al’s done a good job. Al had a real good camp for us, good OTAs. He fell a little bit behind with Hank stepping up, and we never go into a game trying to force the ball to anybody. We just call plays, we attack coverages, quarterback goes through the progression and tries to distribute it to the guys who the coverages aren’t taking away, and it’s worked out good for Aldrick the last couple of games. When it’s came to him, he’s made the plays and we’ve been happy for him to get some results.”

On if Robinson has played at X or Z receiver:
“The majority of Aldrick’s reps have been at Z just because [wide receiver] Pierre [Garçon] is the guy we consider our number one receiver, so we rotate all those other guys at Z. When Pierre is getting a break, we put Aldrick in at X also, but Aldrick is very smart and knows all the positions. He’s capable of doing all three of them. I think the majority of his reps come at Z because Pierre owns the X spot a little bit more, but he is all over the place.”

On if Robinson did something to earn more looks or if it was related to injuries:
“I think we’ve always believed in Aldrick but it’s always about the other players in the rotation. I think it’s made it a lot easier for him to get out there since Hankerson got hurt. When Hankerson wasn’t hurt, it was more Hankerson and [wide receiver] Josh [Morgan] rotating at Z. We like to keep our guys fresh, and it was more Pierre and Aldrick rotating at X. Since Hank got hurt, there’s a little bit more of a three-man rotation because Aldrick can play both positions, so he just gets out there more because we lost a player.”

On if having Robinson and Garçon on the field at the same time keeps defenses guessing when a deep ball is coming:
“Yeah, I think so. I mean, Aldrick, everybody knows he’s our fastest player and you usually like to send your fastest player deep over your slower players, but there’s not really a play in our offense that just says we’re throwing it deep. I kind of want them to cover Aldrick deep. Please cover him so we can throw it to open people underneath, as long as we’re sucking up the linebackers on a play-fake. But if they don’t cover him, if they don’t honor that, that means nobody else is going to be open, you have to let it go in time deep, so that’s the goal of it. It’s usually a three-level throw. You want your fastest guy on the top level so it makes it an easier read. You don’t have to sit there and hold onto the ball to see what’s happening. Usually that is Aldrick. There’s been times he’s gone deep and everyone goes with him and that’s good because then it opens up someone right underneath for a big play, so I always would much rather have the deeper throw because it’s easier to score when you only have to throw it once instead of 10 times, but having a threat to where Aldrick is not always in those same positions, I do agree with you – it helps.”

On if it is difficult to evaluate Cousins because he is going against lower-ranked pass defenses:
“I don’t really think so. I think it’s the NFL. I think everybody’s tough. I thought Atlanta was 20th, but it really doesn’t matter, I mean, I heard about how they’re all rookies back there, and there were three rookies, but two of those rookies were starters –[cornerback Robert] Alford and [cornerback Desmond] Trufant are pretty good players and I think you guys will hear a lot about them over the years. I know they were starting a rookie safety who was a backup player, but people faced us last year with a rookie quarterback and a rookie running back and I think that wasn’t considered a weakness. I thought that they had some pretty good players and it’s just one game, you can’t go all off that, but I’m not going to fault him for the competition he was going to. I thought he did a solid job.”

On if something changed after the first series to get the ball out of Cousins’ hand quicker:
“No, we didn’t change anything. They brought a cross-dog on a play-pass. We missed it. Our back was trying to get to him, the guy got blown off the ball a little bit, the back got picked so they had a free hitter. He did a good job still getting rid of it, not taking the sack. On the second one they had an all-out blitz that we did pick up but it was tough to really step up in there with the all-out blitz internally. And then [defensive end ] Osi [Umenyiora] did a good job going around the edge and got a hand on the ball. I think we just did it cleaner the rest of the game. We didn’t change anything protection-wise or play-wise, it was just two plays that we didn’t do our best on and I thought we did better at later times in the game.”

Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett

On his reaction to linebacker London Fletcher announcing his likely retirement:
“We didn’t discuss it but you kind of had a feeling that it was coming, but what a great football player. The guy has done it for years. It’s been a great pleasure to coach the guy, probably one of the best I’ve ever been around, probably a Hall of Famer. You can’t ask any more — he’s a great person, great family man, he’s a great leader on your football team, an unbelievable skillset. He’s a guy that you love talking to football-wise because you could talk to him and five minutes later he takes the stuff on the field, so it’s easy communication. It’s like talking to another coach. For him to go out and execute and play as many games as he’s done over his career, and consecutive games playing that position, because I can tell you playing that position that usually you’re going to get beat up, break something – fingers, hands. So to me that’s incredible what he’s done over the 16 years he’s played.”

On if has been around a player like Fletcher that can diagnose plays before the ball is snapped:
“A few, but not like this. I’ve been around guys that played with guys like that, it’s just — even today he said, 'Watch the draw! Watch the counter!’ I mean, he kind of knew exactly out of those three formations you were going to get these three plays, so like I said, his preparation is better than anybody I’ve been around.”

On Fletcher’s legacy:
“Well, he leaves, one, with a Super Bowl ring, which they’re hard to get. The second thing is he’s a guy that’s played more consecutive games at that position than anybody. I don’t know anybody else that’s played to his age besides Matthews, I think it was Clay, he was 42 I think when Clay was playing. But it’s remarkable that a guy can play that position, inside, Clay played outside, play inside and have the consecutive streak. I’ve seen a guy get nicked up, beat up, have a high ankle sprain, and go out and play, not practice all week, and play at a high level. I think it’s incredible what he’s done.”

On how what he had heard about Fletcher compares to what he has learned about him since becoming his coach:
“I’ll say this, when I was in New Orleans as a head coach, London was in St. Louis and we used to be great rivals and I used to watch him in that system and I thought the guy was unbelievable that he could run and do the things he did from a skillset-wise. Then for whatever reason he ends up in Buffalo and he does the same thing, and then the Redskins were lucky enough to get him and finish it out here which, it’s just remarkable that he can play at that high of a level in consecutive games and everything for that length of time, it really is, for that position. I don’t know anybody who could do that. I got about five in and I got beat up.”

On if he has seen Fletcher be frustrated or worn down by how the season has gone:
“I think everybody, including him — London is the kind of guy that he gears up. Wednesday he’s focused in on the game plan and he’s taking notes, probably the best note taker I’ve ever been around. He mentally gets prepared for practice on Wednesday. Thursday, he comes in, he’s a little more grumpy because he kind of knows what’s going on. Friday, I don’t even talk to him because he’s got the focus on ready to play the game on Sunday, so if you’re going to communicate with London, you’ve got to do it on Wednesday or Thursday because Friday and Saturday he’s geared in on the game — so it’s something. I just love the way he prepares and the way he takes coaching and he’s one of the best ever. It’s amazing.”

On if he has been thinking about the changes that may come on defense in free agency:
“That’s something that happens when you win three games. It’s something that you prepare for. We’ve got a lot free agents on that side of the ball and on this side of the ball. It’s something you’ll deal with but it’s not uncommon in the NFL.”

On if Fletcher should go into television or coaching:
“He could do either. Knowing London, just being around him and he sees the hours that the coaches work, I think he loves that part of the game but I don’t think he wants to stay here from 4:00 in the morning until 11:00 at night when he has young kids, so I would probably say the other way if I’m a guessing man.”

On linebacker Brian Orakpo having more responsibilities than “elite” players at his position, leading to lower sack numbers:
“I don’t know what you’re calling elite, but I’ll say sack-wise, numbers-wise, he’s got 10, and you’ve got [Green Bay linebacker Clay] Mathews has 16 who rushes every down, [Rams defensive end Robert] Quinn who has 15 I think, he rushes every down — I don’t know who else is in between — but I would say that’s fair because he doesn’t rush every down. He rushes every time on third down or nickel, but he does drop into coverage. He’s really good in the run — I think him and [linebacker] Ryan [Kerrigan] are two of the best I’ve been around at covering people, so I don’t think it’s fair. He’s not a true four-down lineman. Now, that being said, there’s other guys that have made that transition to a down lineman and they’re not that successful because it’s hard to do it every single snap. It’s a little bit of a different breed down there.”

On if he would vouch for Orakpo being equivalent to those other elite players:
“Yeah, I would. I think the guy is a heck of a player and I think he showed what he’s worth to this organization over the four years. He’s been very successful, obviously he’s a heck of a rush guy, but the other things he does besides that he’s outstanding, you know, covering tight ends and backs to the flat and in the run game. Him and Ryan are the reason we’re so successful in the run. It’s hard to get outside because of those two.”

On how to force Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo into late mistakes:
“I tell you, people or the media or whoever, overdoes it with Tony because he’ll make a bad decision or something will happen and he’ll get an interception, but they don’t see like the Minnesota game where he takes the last two series and drives it down the field to win the game. So I look at the positives. I see a guy that is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, he throws for 5,000 yards almost every year, makes plays with his feet, stays alive, runs the offense, does a little bit of everything. So I see a guy that to me is one of the elite quarterback in the league. If you’re going to throw it 60 times a game, yeah, maybe something bad is going to happen, maybe someone’s going to drop a ball or it’s going to get intercepted or something, so I think it gets overdone with him because of the situation. I think he’s one of the elite quarterbacks in the league.”

On what went into the decision to make safety Bacarri Rambo inactive versus Atlanta:
“Just because we’re getting other guys up and giving them an opportunity. We played [safety] Jose Gumbs in third down situations last week — wanted to see what he could do. Just trying to find a situation where we can find a safety that can be consistent.”

On what changed after allowing a long touchdown drive on the Falcons’ first possession:
“I think we were 0-3 on that first drive on third down and we just didn’t execute to be honest with you. We had opportunities to make a play, I think the corner and the safety were right there and just couldn’t make the play. And then after that, we didn’t change anything. I actually stuck to what we were going to do and I told these guys to make some plays and they did. They went 0-8, the next eight they were 0-for and we did a nice job in the run game which was number one, and then we got some heat on [Falcons quarterback] Matt [Ryan]. And then I thought the guys covered after that first series. We did a nice job, especially on third down.”

On defensive end Chris Baker:
“The reason he played so much and we started him is because we thought… you know, it’s been a growing process with Chris. He came in, you know everybody knows the background, a little bit immature, kind of grew up, got better and better every year. He was a guy when we first got here if the phone went off in a meeting it was probably Chris. You don’t see that now. He’s grown up from the standpoint he’s focusing on football which I think is important to him now, and I think he’s playing at a high level. Obviously he’s very athletic. He’s 6’3”, 330 lbs. He’s very athletic, can run, powerful, and I think last week was his best game. We gave him the opportunity to start and I thought he did a nice job, probably his best game he’s played, I think he had seven or eight tackles, a couple of pressures, on the goal line stand he was the reason why we made the fourth-and-1 stop, he knocked the guard back about five yards in the end zone, so I think he’s come into himself and hopefully he can continue to keep growing and become the player that we think he’s going to be.”

On if he prefers the 3-4 or the 4-3 defense:
“It really all depends on the personnel you have what you want to do. If you have 4-3 people, you better have good edge rushers and you better have a three-technique that can get upfield and do a lot of different things, have a nose [tackle] that can handle the middle. A 3-4 is a little bit different, you have two outside linebackers that can do what Ryan and Rak do – they’ve got to be able to rush, they’ve got to be able to beat up tight ends in the run game, and they’ve got to be able to cover in the flat. We don’t ask them to do a lot of covering, but the covers part of it is the easy part. You’ve got to have a great nose [tackle], and then whether you’re in a 4-3 or a 3-4, the inside guys really don’t make a difference because the coverages are all the same.”

On how he deals with the “noise” over the last few weeks:
“To be honest with you, everybody hears about it sooner or later or on your plane or whatever. I don’t really get concerned with it because, like right now I’m just worried about one thing and that’s Dallas. The players, the same thing, I think the players are excellent. When we get in the meeting rooms and on the field, they’ve done a great job last week, at least the defensive guys I’m talking about. They did a good job focusing on what they have to do. So from a coach’s perspective you really don’t see it because I come in at 4:00 in the morning and you’re watching tape and getting ready for meetings and all that stuff and then you leave at 11 and you really don’t hear about it that much. Obviously, when you get on the plane after the game you hear some stuff, but it’s kind of over then.”
H
 

Bulldog

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I am a passionate critic of Shanahan but if another reporter asks him if he will be back next season I am going to scream!

That question has been asked and answered the same way for 2-3 weeks. Get over it.
 

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