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Skins Quotes 12/21/11: M. Shanahan/Haslett/K. Shanahan



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

Marine Corps Virginia

December 21, 2011
Redskins Park

Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On if he spoke with tight end Fred Davis and tackle Trent Williams:
“I didn’t talk to them, but [Strength and Conditioning Coach] Ray Wright did. We’re going to have them come in here over the next couple of weeks, get some good workouts in and make sure they’re in shape. We’re not going to do anything football-related relative to the meetings — getting our guys that are going to play in the game, get them ready for the game plan. But more so, just conditioning the next couple weeks.”

On if he thought having Davis and Williams in meetings would be a distraction:
“When you have people that are on IR, people that get hurt, when you prepare for a game, it’s time consuming. Everybody’s really focused. It’s really hard to get ready for a game when you’re not going to be part of that game plan. So we’re going to just make sure that we work them pretty hard and get them in shape.”

On why there was a delay in determining whether or not suspended players could be at the facility:
“I’m not really sure why, to be honest with you, but it’s different than a year ago so they can be part of your organization for if it does happen to people in the future.”

On if he knows safety LaRon Landry’s plans for surgery after being placed on the Reserve/Injured list:
“Not yet… He’s going to see a couple of specialists and make a decision on what direction he’s going to go.”

On if he believes teams play up or down to the level of their competition:
“That’s a hard question to answer. You’re always hoping that you’re ready to play and you practice accordingly. I think our football team wants to play at a very high level, just to kind of get back on track and finish the season on the right note. There’s a lot of distractions that go on throughout the National Football League this week with Christmas and the holidays – a lot of distractions – and you’ve got to work with those distractions during a week like this. So hopefully our team is focused ready to go.”

On running back Evan Royster:
“In college, I just liked how productive he was. You know, you take a guy that’s been very consistent over a four-year time frame, yards per carry, obviously how many yards he had per season. And I see that in the way he handles himself with us. He’s very consistent. He’ll get you that extra couple of yards. He always seems to hit the right hole. But you never know how somebody is going to play until you put them in a game-type situation, so when he has played, he’s played just like he’s practiced or like he played at the collegiate level – very consistent. He’ll get more reps as time goes on and hopefully he can take it to the next level.”

On relying on two rookie running backs:
“I don’t look at them as rookies at this time of year because they’ve had a chance to get a lot of reps in practice, get a few reps during games, obviously [Roy] Helu a little more than Evan. But [they are] very sharp guys that I think have a bright future in the National Football League. Hopefully they keep on improving.”

On using yards after contact when evaluating running backs:
“We don’t keep a stat on it or anything like that. You can take a look at the great running backs and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that they have the 'it factor’ that they can break tackles, they can make people miss. Some are a little bit better than the others because their offensive line, because of their scheme. When you take a guy like [Adrian] Peterson this week or take a look at Philly… When you take a look at how consistent they’ve been through the years, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out they’re pretty good. But Peterson is kind of off the charts. You take a guy who is 6-1, 220 pounds that has got great speed and can make a cut just like that, he’s one of the best in the league.”

On if he has been surprised how quickly Barry Cofield has adapted to playing nose tackle:
“Not really. When he was playing a three-technique, you kind of watched his technique over the guards and then you heard how unselfish the guy was, how he played more than he plays anybody else. He ran sideline-to-sideline. [He’s] just a team-oriented guy. And you can see he’s really focused and goal-oriented, and to put that same person over the center position, there’s really no difference except there’s a lot of different blocking combinations. He’s taken it as a great challenge and he’s really stepped up and he’ll make a great nose tackle for years to come.”

On if playing nose tackle looks second nature to Cofield now:
“Oh, yeah. He’s pretty consistent. He’s going to put a lot of pressure on himself. He still wants to get better, but he’s one of the better ones I’ve watched, especially his first year playing.”

On if Cofield is one of his smarter defensive players:
“Yeah – he’s off the charts. He’s a student of the game. He takes a lot of pride in everything he does. He was that way in college at Northwestern. You know, when you’re watching him play at the collegiate level, you could see that he was just a guy that took care of business, and when you interviewed him in college, he was the same way. He’s a pro. It doesn’t take long to figure out when you talk to him why he’s been successful.”

On if he prefers players on the Reserve/Injured list to be around the facility:
“I really kind of encourage them to do whatever they need to do. It’s really hard to be part of the football team and all of the sudden, you’re not. And most of the guys that I’ve had through the years that have tried to stick around, it’s been very hard on them because they’re goal-oriented. They want to get back. They want to help the football team and they know they can’t, especially when you can’t do a lot. Chris Cooley just said the same thing to me, said, 'I want to be around. I want to be in every meeting.’ I said, 'Whoa, Chris. I guarantee you, once you go through this, it’ll be a little tougher than you think it is because you want to play, you want to be out there.’ I think that once guys do go through an IR season, they do realize that it’s probably better to kind of stay away a little bit. Come around when you want to, get your workouts, get your treatment, but get ready for next season.”

On if it is difficult to balance personal and team rehab programs:
“No, it’s not. You get with the trainers to make sure you get the right rehab program so you’re getting them healthy. You get with the coaches. Some guys need a little bit more help. A guy like Jarvis Jenkins, he’s going to be in every meeting because he needs it. A guy like Chris Cooley doesn’t need it. Some players need a little bit more depending on how old they are and those players that need the meeting time will be in the meetings.”

Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan

On playing without tight end Fred Davis and tackle Trent Williams:
“Whenever you win, you’re happy with it. We moved the ball well versus the Patriots, but we didn’t get the W, so there’s always things you second guess yourself with. Everybody as a coaching staff and players, you’ve got to change things up a little when you lose some key guys. As you’ve seen, we’ve done a few different things, mainly personnel-wise, but run plays have pretty much been the same.”

On the three-wide receiver and two-back set:
“It’s got to be different stuff when you don’t have a tight end in there. When you don’t have a tight end, you can’t double team the defensive ends with that tackle unless you teach a receiver how to do that, which they wouldn’t be good even they learned how to. But really there’s two open edges. It’s kind of like four-wide sets with two open edges, you’ve just got a fullback, so it changes some of the run fits for the defense and some stuff we’re not totally used to that we’re trying to work though too. It’s not something we’ve done a lot, but it’s been good for us the last couple of weeks.”

On the reverses for wide receivers Anthony Armstrong and Niles Paul:
“We knew they had a real good pass rush and their front four and the backups are as good as anyone you face throughout the year. You’ve got to get them moving in all different directions. We want them to try to see everything when they’re covering the field sideline-to-sideline playing the pass [and] playing the run. If you can get them looking around and seeing a little too much, you can kind of get them and not teeing off. When you’ve got some of those guys like [Jason] Pierre-Paul and everything, if they just tee off and rush the quarterback, there’s not too many people in the league who can block them.”

On if he’s been more aggressive without Davis like with the flea flicker:
“No, I actually got that question a lot not from you guys, but from other people. We ran the flea flicker earlier in the year. We haven’t done it the first play of the game. We thought it would be good with their pass rush and their secondary down. The reverses and stuff we’ve done a bunch in the first 15 [weeks] throughout the year. I don’t think it’s been that different, but we try to mix it up for them.”

On if he likes to call plays like reverses after there has been a change in possession:
“You’re like that sometimes and definitely those are probably the ones you remember, but if you’re like that every time, you can see that [and] the defense can also see it and they’re ready for it. So you do have to mix it up and I think against Dallas we had two reverses in the first three plays of the game. Against Buffalo, we had a fake resverse where we wanted to go downtown and we didn’t. We just didn’t let it go, but we’ve had a lot of that stuff in. You saw it a lot on Sunday. Every time we had a chance, Rex [Grossman] did go down the field. On the first flea flicker, he should have, but Santana [Moss] went a little bit early, the corner jumped and Santana went early and it was just too far away for Rex to get it there. On the next pick that he went downtown, the safety was too deep. It’s something we do a lot. You don’t always take them when defenses are deep, you go to go to the underneath deal and we thought we could get over the top of them.”

On when he started to see that running back Roy Helu was playing hurt:
“You could see it early in the game and I could see it with him coming to the sidelines. I knew he was hurt and talking throughout the game. We only had two guys up, so we definitely still needed him to go. But when you get on the tape, [you can see] how much more it affects him when you get that end zone copy. There were times out there in the game where, in the last month, he’s gone six yards. In this game, you could tell I was thinking he was going to get it and it wasn’t quite as much. So you had that feeling throughout the game, but it’s not really until you see the tape that it’s completely confirmed.”

On if he was impressed with Helu’s toughness on the play where he lost his helmet:
“I’ve been saying the last month that he’s really turned it on this last month. He’s gotten some confidence to him. Yeah, he hasn’t been scared at all. He’s tough. He lost his helmet and still didn’t cringe up at all and definitely got a little banged up because of it. He looked jacked up with his eye and he still does today, but I don’t think that affected him through the game. It’s just some facial stuff. It’s the wear and tear on the rest of the body that ends up affecting how you run.”

On how big of a challenge tackle Willie Smith has facing against Vikings defensive end Jared Allen:
“He’s got a huge challenge, but just as big as it was last week. There’s not many weeks in the league where you don’t face a very good defensive end. Jared Allen has been one of the best over the past years and he’s having one of his better years. So it’s a huge challenge.”

On what kind of advice he gives to Smith going against Allen:
“You just have to keep battling. He can’t get concerned with how we’re helping him and stuff. We’ve got to help him from a standpoint by not putting him in that position too much – not allowing Jared to tee off, kind of like what I was getting at in the beginning, not allowing the defensive linemen last week to just tee off and rush the quarterback every time. When you have pass rushers like that if they know you’re going to throw it every single play, they’re going to get after you and it puts your quarterback, your offensive line and everybody in a tough situation that’s hard to be successful in. The main thing with Willie is to just keep battling. You know he’s going to beat you some times. You hope that the quarterback can make a play [and] get rid of the ball when that does happen. If it doesn’t, you just hope he can hold onto it and not make it a worse play. But the main thing for an offensive linemen is when they do get their sack to come back at them. Don’t start changing your technique, stick with what you’ve been working at [and] keeping going because it’s going to be a long game.”

On where he thinks he is an offensive coordinator at this point:
“I don’t think as a coach you’re ever comfortable in any situation. Green Bay’s undefeated and they lose this week and now they’re probably not comfortable. I’ve been really proud of our players the past few weeks. We hit that lull where we were struggling in a three-week span and then you keep losing guys and to still climb out of it, I’ve been really happy with the guys how stepped in [and] the guys who we’ve asked to do stuff who haven’t even been here the week prior. Guys have kept battling. I think they’ve been doing the stuff well. Not everything’s perfect, but I’ve been really happy with the progress guys have made, especially in the last five weeks.”

On if he’s going into the offseason knowing what the offense needs to get to where he wants it to be:
“Yeah, definitely. We knew that last year too. The problem is you don’t always get to fill every need you have. We know this is a work in progress and it’s something that we are constantly evaluating. We did all last year. The hard thing about last year was not having all those pieces [and] the room to do it as far as free agency and the draft and everything. The hardest thing was not having an offseason where you don’t really get to work and develop some things, but you’re excited when you can do some stuff with guys. You go into a year when you do have some draft picks and you feel like you can improve the overall talent and also some time where we will have an offseason this year where you can work with guys to fine tune them.”

On how hard it was to wait for the defense to be improved first before the offense:
“I think always you want all the good players. That’s definitely the truth about that, but you also have to understand that. When I was in Houston, we had a pretty good offense that was a little more talented than our defense and we did a lot of good things on offense, but we never could get to the playoffs. We were losing a lot of close games and then you see how good their defense is doing this year. It’s all about winning. You can’t fix everything at once. You have to make sure when you do try to fix things that you’re taking steps in the right direction. I think we definitely improved ourselves this offseason. We added some key players on offense that have helped us. All those guys have gotten hurt and stuff, but I think we got a solid foundation on defense. I think we got guys on offense that we know are tough football players, but I know we’ve got to keep adding some guys.”

On if quarterback Rex Grossman has played well enough to be on the roster next season:
“That’s something that, first of all, is not my decision. It’s something that I really don’t think about until the offseason. I evaluate it all. It’s such a 'live in the now’ as a coach that I’m just trying to get to Sunday and give ourselves a chance to win. We’ll look back, we’ll break it all up and we’ll evaluate it all. One thing I know is Rex has done a decent job. He has way too many turnovers, which is not acceptable. I know not all of them are him. I think you can help around him better. I can do better to help out him not having so many picks, but he definitely need to get that down. But Rex has done some real good things in these past couple of weeks.”

On if Grossman’s two interceptions were different because they were down the field:
“It all comes down to 'do they score after it?’ And our defense having a three-and-out right after it, so it wasn’t a big deal as long as it doesn’t affect the psyche of the quarterback. And you guys can see that it doesn’t with Rex. I didn’t have a problem with his first one. It’s hard to gauge how far the guy was down the field. Santana had him beat, but the timing was off and Rex threw it about 60 yards and he needed to throw it 80. I’m the only guy that can throw it 80 yards [laughs]. I didn’t mind him taking that shot. It was something we decided to live with. The defense stepped up. The next one was a bad decision. We were trying to high-low the safety [and] the safety was very deep. Someone was in Rex’s face and he didn’t want to miss a touchdown throw, so he let it go and it was the wrong decision. Those are the ones that he’s got to be pickier with and not always go there [and] take the underneath route, which is still usually a 30-yard gain when you’re high-lowing off of a play-pass.”

On if there was a conversation about focusing on the defense this past offseason and if there will be a focus on the offense in the future:
“I’m sure that’s a conversation that people who make those decisions have. They don’t really care about my opinion too much on that. I'm going to be a little bit biased towards the offense. I know Jim [Haslett’s] going to be a little bit biased towards the defense and Danny [Smith’s] with the special teams. The one thing that I did know is we weren’t just one person away. So it wasn’t like I was going to stand on a table to go get one specific player, I know that we needed a few things. I know the defense needed a few things. What I did like about the draft is that we didn’t have many draft picks and we were able to move back in the draft and we were able to help ourselves in a lot of positions. Where we didn’t take that high-flash pick with the 10th pick for offense, but we traded back and got a defensive player [and] gained picks in the other rounds, which allowed us to get guys like Helu and [Leonard] Hankerson and guys who I really do believe will help us in the future.”

On Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder:
“I like Christian. I liked him a lot. He was definitely kind of what in my book what everyone else was said – he was one of those top five guys.”

On Grossman being in the league for nine years and still having turnover problems:
“I don’t necessarily think it’s 'shaking the turnover bug.’ It depends the situations you put him in. Rex hasn’t made all the great decisions, but a lot of those picks haven’t been his fault. Now, I’m not giving him an excuse. He’s got to play better than that, but when you’re not playing great around him and when he’s not always at the top of the game, I think Rex can cut down on those turnovers. Even though you’re saying he should have now by his ninth year, I think Rex could get better with some better spots around him. I think he can get better. I still think he can make better decisions and I’m not just going to say, 'Hey, no matter what he’s going to always throw picks.’ I do believe he can do better.”

Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett

On how pleased he was with three interceptions against the Giants:
“It was good obviously to get the three turnovers. We had a nice lead early and that gave us an opportunity to play a little more cover-2 and do some different things where the corners got to play more like man-under and play two-deep behind it. So Josh [Wilson] made a nice pick in the red zone and obviously DeAngelo’s, it was a great play by him.”

On the difference between getting picks against Giants as opposed to knocking balls down against other teams:
“Well, sometimes they come in bunches. When you have more wins, obviously, you get more turnovers. So, it kind of goes hand in hand. Last year, I think the first half of the season, we had about as many as we have now. So, the production from that standpoint is down in turnovers, but we’re going to keep working at it and hopefully in these next two games we’ll get a few more.”

On the overall play of Oshiomogho Atogwe and other safeties:
“We went into the game knowing that we were going to rotate three guys in there. We knew that D.J. [DeJon Gomes] would be the starter, but obviously we wanted to take a look at O.J. to make sure that we feel good about him and to see where he’s at. He had a great a play. That was a great interception by him. The one where he stripped the ball out and he made some good tackles. So we felt good about him and he actually felt good about how he played last week, which is more important.”

On Byron Westbrook’s play against the Giants:
“Well, obviously on that first deep ball, the one that hit off the facemask of Nicks, he was supposed to stay inside on that. That wasn’t a really good play. We actually took him out for a couple of plays and put Kevin [Barnes] back in. And then we gave him a shot to play some corner. So, I thought he played really well at corner. We’re going to give him another opportunity to play and try to find out where he’s at also these next couple of games.”

On evaluating Westbrook:
“Yeah, I’d like to take a look at him. It’s not like free for all where we’re just trying to play guys. We’re just trying to win the game, play well and take a look at some guys and see where they fit in as we go.”

On Westbrook’s coverage on Giants receiver Victor Cruz where he and announcer Troy Aikman wanted a pass interference call:
“I thought it was excellent coverage. [Aikman] was sitting in the box saying that but I was down there right beside it and I thought it was great coverage.”

On London Fletcher’s durability and productivity:
“Really, London to me is truly a phenomenal football player. One, to do what he can do at his age, because I was in that situation, and my body started to fall apart way before his. He amazes me not just with his on the field production, but what he can do off the field, his leadership, his intelligence, studies the game and then he takes it to the field. To me it’s just unheard of. And then to be so productive and lead the league in tackles, cover the way he covers . . . He did a nice job on the deep ball, the one that O.J. made the interception, he made a nice tip and O.J. got the play. He’s just phenomenal. He takes care of himself. He takes care of his body. He’s truly a professional.”

On Fletcher’s leadership and mentorship of the younger linebackers:
He runs the show when he’s in there. He runs the front seven. He helps Barry [Cofield] out a lot. Ryan [Kerrigan] and [Brian] Orakpo are kind of on their own out their but he gets everybody set and he’s smart. He’s like having a coach on the field.”

On the importance of bringing Fletcher back next season:
“Obviously, that’s going to be up to management and him. But, from my perspective, I think he’s the perfect guy to help to keep building this defense. He’s got a lot of time left in him. We just have to take care of him and make sure that we don’t wear him out.”

On nose tackle Barry Cofield:
“He’s getting better every time. Even he said last week after he watched the first Giants game, he was saying 'Boy, I was bad that first game. I’m a lot better than I was that game.’ I said, 'Well, yeah, wait until next year, so now you don’t have to start thinking [about the plays].’ See, Barry’s the kind of guy that analyzes everything and he wants to be perfect on everything. He’s really smart. Now he’s starting to let it loose. He’s not overanalyzing things. He’s cutting it loose. I think he’s going to be one of the best noses in the league when he comes back.”

On how long he thought it would take Cofield to feel comfortable at nose tackle:
“Well, we didn’t know if he actually could do it per se. As a whole, we thought he could based off the film that we had for four years in a four-man line. You’re not really sure because it’s totally different. You can ask him, it was totally different than what he was doing. I had an opposing coach come up to me and say he thinks Barry will be the best in the league because he can play front side, he can go from sideline-to-sideline, he’s a pass rusher, which you don’t get too many of those at that position that can do that.”

On if he thought Cofield could always play end if need be:
“Oh yeah, he’s played some end. We actually looked at him at end when we had a couple guys nicked. We were hoping that he could be the nose, but we know that he could play end.”

On if it’s fair to evaluate an outside linebacker like Brian Orakpo based on his sack totals:
“No, not really because if you look at the game last week, he probably got chipped six to seven times, he got doubled six or seven times. We ended up starting to move him on the other side of the field and they slid the line to him a couple of times. They know where he’s at and they’re going to take care of him. I think the good ones they do that. He’s got to find ways to combat that. If they’re going to chip him, then he’s got to go chip the chipper. If they’re going to slide his way, then he’s got to find a way to beat them. So I think his next progression in being a great football player is he knows they’re going to look for him and he knows they’re going to take two guys that work him. He’s got to find ways to overcome those, but he has [and] he’s getting better at it every time. He’s done a great job on the run. He’s done an excellent job in the coverages. His totals are not where he wants them to be. He’s missed a lot [of sacks]. He’s taken some bad angles when he’s been free, but I think he’s a heck of a football player.”

On the pressure defensive end Adam Carriker was able to create:
“I thought he probably could have had three or four sacks against the Giants. A couple of times he came free and he leaned back into the tackle. Two times I think Eli [Manning] just eluded him, just slipped him out of the way. I thought he did a good job rushing last week.”

On cornerback Josh Wilson:
“I think Josh, he’s another one kind of like Barry, he gets better and better and more comfortable with the scheme as we go. I thought early in the season he was hurt a little bit [and] he wasn’t playing up to where he’s playing right now. I think he’s flying around and he feels comfortable. He knows what we’re doing and it’s really paying off. He’s done a nice job.”

On Wilson not having to worry about where he needs to line up:
“There’s a lot that goes into playing those two positions because you’re not just playing corner, corners play safety, our safeties play linebacker. We move them all over the place. He’ll sit there and learn that it’s not an easy defense to learn. For him to come in – from the Seattle scheme where he was playing two coverages and then Baltimore is actually more like us or we’re like them- I think as the season wore on, you’d have to ask him, but I think he’s a lot more comfortable than he was earlier.”

On what the difference will be in the defense from year two to year three:
“I think we still have a long way to go. We can improve in a lot of ways. There’s a lot of things we can do better, little things that make us a lot better in the long run. I think the more you learn the scheme, the better you get. You watch a couple teams that do run this type of scheme you see they play fast. They make up for a lot of things because they know where they’re going and what they’re doing and they’ve been together for a while and they just fly around. That’s where we’ve got to get to.”

On having to rely on 4-3 players to run this defense:
“I think we’re out of that mode right now. We just have got to keep building with the guys we have and try to get better. We’ll add a couple more as we go.”

On linebacker Lorenzo Alexander:
“Lorenzo was a five-star athlete coming out of high school. Not too many guys are five stars, so he’s a heck of an athlete. He’s a guy that can play almost any position. We played him on goal line last week at Z corner. He’s the one that actually forced the two runs early. He’s the one that got the penetration and knocked the guys back, so we’re going to try to continue to find ways to get him on the field and help us in situations. I thought he took it as a pro. Here’s a guy that almost started the whole season and then he moved back to the really the number three, four position and just plays… He’s always positive, he’s always upbeat and he’s a great guy. [He’s] a heck of a football player [and a] great special teams player and a guy that can help on the defense.”

On how much defensive end Stephen Bowen has improved as a run defender:
“I always thought he was a really good run defender and a guy that we hard to work on breaking some bad habits in the passing game. That’s kind of how we looked at him because he had some wasted movement in the passing game that we wanted to take out of his game and make him more of a straight ahead [rusher] and make his moves faster. That’s where he’s improved to me. I always thought he was a really good run defender. Even in Dallas, I thought he did a great job. The areas that we want him to improve on – that’s why he’s got the six sacks. I’m not saying it’s because of us because he’s actually taken some bad technique out of his game and he’s really improved in that area.”

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