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Skins Quotes 9/10: M. Shanahan


The Commissioner
Staff member
BGO Ownership Group
Apr 11, 2009
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Greensboro, NC
Military Branch
Marine Corps
Alma Mater
September 10, 2012
Redskins Park

Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On long snapper Nick Sundberg’s broken arm:
“He’s pretty sore. We’re having it evaluated right now. We got a chance to talk to the doctors a little bit later today [to] see how long it may take to heal until he could possibly play.”

On if there’s an update on wide receiver Pierre Garçon’s right foot injury:
“No, there isn’t. It’s sore right now. The X-rays were negative, which means he’ll have to deal with the pain. Depending on how much he can deal with that pain will determine if he can play and how much, so we’ll get a better feel tomorrow when he tries to practice.”

On if Garçon’s injury is a bruise:
“No, it’s kind of like if you have turf toe, but it’s not your toe. It’s in the middle of his foot. So it’s just a nagging injury that I’m not really sure of right now.”

On Sundberg’s “heroic” effort playing with a broken arm:
“It didn’t surprise me because we have a number of guys who can do the same thing. A guy like Nick, a lot of times you get a snapper that just deals with snapping and all of a sudden, they get injured and you’ve got to go in another direction. Nick is a guy who was injured during the game with a broken arm and is still able to fight through the pain. Obviously he did a great job and I think all of the players appreciate it. But it wouldn’t surprise me if every member of our team would do that. That’s the type of character that you have and guys will play through a lot of pain. Sometimes you can deal with that kind of pain through a game, other times you just can’t do it. So I was very proud of him.”

On safety Jordan Bernstine’s injury:
“He’s going to be out for the year. It’s almost everything in the knee, he’s got a lot – ACL, MCL, PCL. Until you actually get it operated on, you don’t know for sure, but it’s definitely a season-ending injury.”

On his disappointment in Bernstine’s injury:
“He was doing a great job in the game, too. He’s a great kid, a lot of energy. He was doing a great job at the safety position. He’s doing an excellent job on the special teams. It always hurts when to lose a guy like that – a lot of energy, was playing well. But it is what it is. He’ll do a great job in rehab and come back next year ready to go.”

On if he has to bring in another safety:
“We’re looking at those options right now. Obviously safety is a position we’re looking at.”

On if he had to expand his own knowledge base to coach quarterback Robert Griffin III:
“What we’ve got the ability to do is look at a lot of film at the collegiate level and professional level. I think that’s what football is about. You enjoy doing those things, watching what other people do. You see this going on not only in the National Football League, but at the collegiate level. You’re studying all the time because you’ve got to defend it. You look at all the different type of options that work. When I first came into coaching, I was with Oklahoma for a couple years. We ran the wishbone and then you ran the veer and then you ran the counter-option and the speed option, so you’ve been through a lot of these things through your years of coaching. It’s kind of fun to do some of those things you haven’t done for a while. When you’ve got a guy like Robert who has the ability to really keep a defense off-balance with his ability to do a lot different things, then you’ve got to make decisions what you think works best with his talents. There are a lot of different directions we can go and we’ll experiment as the year goes on.”

On if he talked to Baylor head coach Art Briles about Baylor’s scheme:
“I’ve obviously looked at all their film. I never had a chance to talk to him relative to how they run out their option or the reads or anything like that. But I’ve looked at all the film and all the people that run the option at the collegiate level. You’re constantly looking at different players, different schemes, different things that you enjoy. I enjoy watching film and seeing what people do schematically.”

On if watching film of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton prior to last season’s game against Carolina helped him with ideas for Griffin III:
“I watched everyone –Carolina, take a look at Denver, take a look at everybody who runs different forms of the option on the pro level to see how pro defenses adjusted to it. College defenses are a little bit different because they don’t have quite the passing attack that we have at our level. But it’s always interesting to look at study.”

On if this season is his first time tailoring the offense to one individual player:
“I don’t think so. I think you always tailor your offense to whoever your quarterback is, taking a look at what he can do. I think, with Robert, the difference is you have a guy that can run under a 4.4 40 and then has the capabilities of really putting pressure on the defense. You only have to run the option or the option scheme one or two times a game. You may run it 10 times a game. But in the back of their mind, a defense knows you have the ability to do it. So you have a chance to keep them off-balance even if you don’t run it a lot, and you can run whatever kind of offensive system you want. So the fun part about being able to experiment with some of the things we’ve done is keeping the defense honest because it’s them not knowing how many times you’ll run the option.”

On balancing the effectiveness of the option with the number of hits sustained by Griffin III:
“Remember, the option is, at least the intent of the option, is to not have the quarterback carry the ball. But when he does carry the ball, like you saw in the game, he carried it for 10 yards and knew when to slide and not take those shots.”

On the coaching staff’s confidence the game plan could be executed without live game experience throughout the preseason:
“Now remember that in a practice situation and a game situation, the way we practice, there really is no difference except for tackling, and you still get hit even though the quarterback doesn’t get some of the shots some of the other players do get. But everything we try to do is at game time speed. So, when you’re practicing, you still have the speed. You’re just not taking guys to the ground. Robert had over 600 rushing attempts in college and he has a good feel for when to slide, a good feel when to get out of bounds. Now, it’s not going to be perfect every time, but quarterbacks have to learn that and he did a pretty good job at the collegiate level knowing when to slide and stay healthy.“

On the defense’s acclimation to the option scheme in the preseason and in practice:
“Well, first of all, the defense has to work on it, because teams we play run it. So it’s a win-win situation. Sometimes you’re doing it for the defense, other time you’re doing it for the offense, but when you go against each other, obviously both sides benefit from it.”

On changing the attack in the second half:
“You’ve got a game plan, and sometimes when you run a certain formation, a certain scheme, then all of a sudden something changes that you go in a different direction. I’m not going to go into detail into why we do things, but yeah, you do have the ability to alter the game plan if you’re trying to take something away. You may go more play action, more drop back, you may get out of the pocket more – there are a lot of different directions you could go.”

On defensive third downs against the run:
“We’ve been pretty good in third down situations. You want to get better and better. I was happy with the way we stopped the run, but you’re not going to stop [New Orleans quarterback Drew] Brees and that offense. You’re just trying to control it and not give up the big plays. They got a couple of big plays on fourth down, which kept them in the game, but the way we fought, I was very pleased.”

On the hype surrounding Robert Griffin III leading up to the season opener:
“I’ll be honest with you, when you’re here for as many hours as you are and you’re practicing, you don’t really get caught up in that. I don’t get to read as much as I’d like to during the season. And if you do read, it’s usually at the end of the week to try and go back through everything when you’re getting ready for a game. Like I said to the team after the game, it’s one game. We played well. We beat a good football team in their backyard and you’ve got to feel good about yourself, enjoy it about 24 hours, and it’s one game. We’ve got 15 left. You’ve got to take it one game at a time. I think our football team is mature enough that it’s a nice win, but it’s one win. What you do over the course of the season dictates what type of team you are. You have got to feel good about what you did, but when they come back here on Wednesday, it’s over and we get started.”

On the team’s speed relative to past seasons and the emphasis on finding playmakers:
“It was an emphasis since the first day I got here. Sometimes it takes a little longer to get those players, but you have to have speed. You’ve got to have playmakers at all different positions. We improved at the wide receiver position. Obviously, we have got some depth at the tight end position. Running back, I was very pleased with Alfred [Morris]. He came in and for a rookie, he did what I thought was an excellent job. And our offensive line played well together. It’s a group of guys playing together on the offensive line that usually dictates if you have a good offensive line. A lot of times people want to say, 'This guy is this or this guy is that,’ but it’s five guys playing together, and especially in that environment, I feel pretty good about it and hopefully we can keep up that standard up.”

On guard Kory Lichtensteiger’s performance in his first game back from injury:
“I thought Kory did a great job considering he hadn’t played in a game-type situation. To be able to play as many plays as he played and at the level he played at, I was very pleased.”
On the suspensions of two Saints players being lifted before the game:
“I knew that there was a chance they would be reinstated, but I wasn’t sure. I shared that with the team on Wednesday. I was happy for them, to be honest with you. I was happy for them. I hate to see anybody suspended. When they did get the chance to play, I was really happy for them because you always want to play people when they’ve got their full team – especially with suspensions. When it was lifted, personally, I was happy for them.”

On if he viewed the suspensions as if the players were injured and their return was questionable:
“Exactly right. All of a sudden, at the last second, they’re OK.”

On if there was one particular part of the game by Griffin III that particularly impressed him:
“I think everything. Any time you have a rookie go into that environment, you know you’re going to have a lot of situations where it’s not going to be perfect. When it wasn’t perfect, he was able to make a play or not make a mistake where he turned the football over or he made one of those plays that you can’t recover from. He was pretty collected throughout the whole game and did the things he needed to do to win. I think everybody can see a couple of those throws he made – a couple hots – with good timing and the different things you hope a quarterback does, especially in this first game.”

On Saints tight end Jimmy Graham:
“He’s big. He’s tall. We had great coverage on him a couple times and they put the ball right in the perfect spot and he came down with the play. That’s just a great athlete making a play and a great, great throw. I was pleased with our coverage overall with the way we played him and how hard we played. We made them earn everything they got.”

On the blocked punt:
“We had a missed assignment. Any time you have a missed assignment on those, you’re going to get a punt blocked. What’s more disheartening is when a guy gets run over and, all of a sudden, for some reason, physically he just didn’t step up. That wasn’t the case. When you have a missed assignment – sometimes those things do occur. Unfortunately, it did and we recovered from it.”

On how long he would stick with Alfred Morris at the running back position if he struggles:
“What I’ve seen in preseason and how he’s handled himself, I’d say we go with anybody. I say that because I don’t want the opposition to know, but Alfred right now is our starting running back. I thought he did a very good job. He had two or three runs in there that a lot of people can’t make. We’re going to substitute him when he gets tired. Or like you mentioned, maybe he’s not playing well, maybe he doesn’t have a hot hand, but right now, what I’ve seen in preseason and what I’ve seen through the first game, he will be our starting running back. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot of belief in [Roy] Helu [Jr.] or [Evan] Royster. Those guys did a heck of a job for us last year and they’ll continue to do a great job for us this year, but Alfred will be our starter.”

On wide receiver Brandon Banks fumbling twice:
“You forgot about that third-down-and-six that he makes that he’s probably the only guy that could make that guy miss, that corner, where he dips through the inside and makes a first down. The one thing Brandon will do is he’ll look at the punt, he’ll look at the coverage – sometimes he’ll take his eye off it at the last second and still get on the football. He knows that he cannot turn the football over. That’s been our big emphasis throughout the OTAs and throughout the summer camp – is not turning the football over. You turn the football over and I don’t care who you are, you lose. Offensively and defensively, you have to get turnovers. If you don’t win that turnover ratio, it doesn’t matter if it’s the regular season or the playoffs, the chances are you’re not going to go very far. That will be a big emphasis, and Brandon knows that.”

On the performance of safety DeJon Gomes with the early penalty and the fourth quarter interception:
“I thought DJ played exceptionally well. I thought he played well. He made a couple mistakes. I’d like him to pull off. I think it was probably a questionable call. It could have gone either way – but don’t put the official in that situation. Don’t do it. If there’s any question, and you know he’s down… He wants to get over there, he’s very enthusiastic, but he made a number of plays in that game where if we get everybody playing like him, we’ll be in good shape.”

On how much more detailed the game plan is with the first opponent than the second with only having a week to prepare:
“It’s not just the game plans, it’s the health of your football team. When you have three or four months to prepare for somebody, whatever it may be, obviously you know them inside and out. The thing you have to adjust to during the season is your football team. You may lose three tight ends. You may lose three wide receiver. You may lose three defensive backs, three safeties – you have to be able to adjust. I think the real good teams are able to adjust. They’ve got some depth where it’s a little bit easier to adjust than some other teams.”

On how helpful it was to have the entire offseason to prepare for the Saints:
“It’s always easier. It’s easier for both teams, not just one team. Both teams have three months, so it’s not like anybody has an advantage. Normally you’ve got a better indication two weeks before who your players are going to be than it is during the season.”

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