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Skins Quotes 9/19/11: Mike Shanahan


The Commissioner
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Apr 11, 2009
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Greensboro, NC
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September 19, 2011
Redskins Park

Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On his decision to go for it on fourth-down in the fourth quarter:
“It’s normally just a gut feel. Some people kick a field goal [in that situation] and other people go for it. Either way, you have to do what you think will give you the best chance to win. I just felt, at that time in the game, we needed to score a touchdown. The percentages were with us on that down and distance… You go through all of [the fourth-down percentages] if you go for it on fourth-and-one, fourth-and-two on your two-yard line or one-yard line and what are the percentages after a three-and-out getting a field goal. You go through all of those stats, but usually it comes down to a gut feel.”

On if his philosophy has changed on fourth down over the years:
“I’m always leaning to the other side [in] not being very conservative. I usually take chances. That’s usually my mindset, but sometimes it all depends on the tempo of the game, the team you’re facing, how good is the defense and how’s your running game going. A lot of ingredients go into something like that.”

On cornerback DeAngelo Hall exclusively covering Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald:
“He has the capability to matchup on any wide receiver and that was part of our game plan… The great ones do [embrace that challenge]. The great ones want to go against the best. They look forward to that opportunity and Larry is obviously a great wide receiver. It was a good matchup.”

On the injury status of cornerbacks Josh Wilson and Kevin Barnes:
“There’s no reason to talk about injuries until we get a good feel on what’s going to happen on Thursday when we practice so we’ll then go through treatment and I haven’t even talked to [trainer] Larry [Hess] today.”

On Wilson’s injury:
“He had a lower back, head and neck [injury]. It was a combination of all of those things, but I told you after the game that it wasn’t too bad. I still feel that way, but it was a little bit more sore today than he was after the game so we’ll wait and see.”

On if he watched the Philadelphia Eagles game on Sunday night:
“I watched bits and pieces of it. I had my family in so we went out to dinner, so [I watched] just from a far, some of the highlights.”

On the importance of divisional games:
“If you win your division, then everybody knows you’re guaranteed a home-field [playoff] game so it’s very important to win your division. That’s the way your mindset is – you know how important those division games are. That’s the way it is throughout the NFL. There is always a big emphasis on all teams in the division and we’re no different.”

On quarterback Rex Grossman having another comeback victory:
“You’re always hoping that your quarterback can pull you through in the fourth quarter. That’s what he did, especially when you start out a little bit slow and a little bit shaky. You have to keep your poise and you have to keep your composure, especially early when you throw a couple of interceptions and, all of a sudden, the pressure starts to mount. I was pleased with the way he handled himself in the fourth quarter.”

On Grossman’s two interceptions:
“It really doesn’t matter and I don’t get into detail. I don’t critique our quarterback through the media, but we’ll sit down and go through every play in detail. Sometimes, [the interception] will be on the receiver and sometimes it will be on the offensive linemen or protection. At the end of the day, you have to find a way to make some plays. I like the way he handled himself in the fourth quarter.”

On if tight end Fred Davis is No. 1 on the depth chart:
“We don’t go through our depth chart for obvious reasons. In the game yesterday, we had two tight ends start – both Fred and Chris [Cooley]. We have two excellent football players.”

On if tight end Chris Cooley is getting healthier:
“He’s getting in better football shape and I think it was good for him to play a number of plays. I liked the way he performed. Chris is a very unselfish guy. In fact, in the second quarter, he said, 'hey, I think we need to get Fred the ball.’ He was a little frustrated and we had a couple of plays in the game plan designated for Fred and Chris kind of alerted me so that shows you the type of mindset Chris is in. He understands his teammates and he understands coverages. That’s what you have to have – unselfish people looking out for the team. That will give an idea of what type of guy you have with Chris.”

On running back Roy Helu:
“Once you have to teach a running back how to run, you have the wrong running back. When you get a guy like Helu, you don’t know why guys make plays, but the great ones do. I think Helu is giving people the idea that he does have some skills. He has some speed and some running ability. It’s going to be an ongoing evaluation of him. Can he pick up blitzes? Can he hold onto the football? I was pleased with what he has done thus far through the preseason and our second regular season game. Hopefully, he just continues to grow.”

On how difficult it will be to increase Cooley’s playing time because of Davis’ play:
“Like I said, those are the problems that you want. We will play the best players. If we have four tight ends that are our best players, then we won’t have wide receivers out on the field. If we have four wide receivers that are great players and our tight ends aren’t playing at a certain level, then we’ll have four wide receivers [play]. We have the type of flexibility on offense to do what we want to do and you can’t do that on defense. We dictate on offense who’s going to play and how many reps people are going to get. That’s dictated on what they do through practice and how they do through the games.”

On why the players did not approach Josh Wilson after he went down for an injury:
“Anytime somebody goes down on the ground, your teammates are supposed to stay away, as well as the head coach, the assistant coaches, to give the doctors a chance to review the player. Let him breathe. We tell our players, when someone goes down, even though you want to be there—everybody wants to be there—please let the doctors do their job. Then, when [the doctors] get them off [the field], the players will join in.”

On the strategy behind Helu’s extended playing time:
“What I think you’ll see throughout the year, not just at the running back position but at the wide receiver position and tight end position as well, is that sometimes people get tired. You want everybody that’s playing to be close to 100 percent and sometimes it’s a good change-up, especially if your guy gets a few carries and he looks a little tired, to put somebody else in. Give [one player] a chance to recover, and another to show people what he can do. That’s going to happen throughout the year, not just at the running back position, but at other positions as well.”

On the difference in defensive strategies resulting in sacks from defensive lineman versus linebackers:
“You really don’t know, depending on how a team sets up a game plan, who’s going to get the sacks. A lot depends on what type of defensive game plan you have. Sometimes it may be all out max blitz, other times it will be fire zones. You can change it up, and a lot of times it will change depending on the game plan.”

On the improvements of the right side of the run blocking:
“I think we’ve been talking about this since the first preseason game. We’re going to emphasize the running game and hopefully we can become good at it and be very consistent. I think the only time we haven’t really been consistent was our first regular season game against a pretty darn good defensive team. We’re just a hair away on a few plays and we’re going to continue on that. We really believe that we can run the football and that is going to be an emphasis with our football team. Some days will be better than others. I thought they worked well and had a few big plays. Hopefully we can put a few more points on the board with those big plays.”

On the need to emphasize falling on the ball in fumble situations:
“You practice it in your turnover drills. We’re not really concerned about guys picking the ball up and going for the touchdown. Usually what happens is they try to pick up the ball and they drop it—especially linemen. They have no chance to run with the football. Everybody wants to carry the football and when they do pick it up, they usually fumble it. We tell those guys 'definitely do not try to pick up the football.’ Every once in a while, you’ll see a corner do it, like DeAngelo Hall, in the open field. There’s a guy that’s got great hands and is used to doing it all the time. We try to emphasize, just get on the ball. We’ll take the turnover and let the offense take its course. ”

On if the team has surprised him the past two games:
“I can’t say really that anything has surprised me. Guys are working hard. One thing we keep on emphasizing is don’t get caught up with everything. Take it day-by-day, ready to come to work, and I think our football players have been doing that in the way we practice and in the way we go about our business. Even on game day—just keep your poise, good things will happen, just keep on working. If you’re up or you’re down, don’t get too excited, just keep pushing. That’s been our mindset and hopefully we keep it up.”

On what it means to start 2-0:
“You just won two games. That’s about it. I don’t think our players get overly excited that we’re 2-0 because they understand that we have a big game Monday night against Dallas and things change very quickly. Our concentration will be on Dallas. [We’re] not really concerned about what our record is.”

On the adjustments to the practice schedule before a Monday night game:
“We normally set up a normal game plan. Our players will have a normal Wednesday—just like we would for a Sunday game—so it would go Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and we’ll normally have two Fridays. You get about an extra day of preparation with a chance for recovery time because it will be a short week the following week, especially on the road.”

On linebacker Ryan Kerrigan’s play:
“He’s doing a great job. We put a lot of pressure on the outside linebacker position, both in the run and the pass, and Ryan’s picked it up very quickly. He’s made some plays both in the running game and the passing game and pass coverage. I like what I see.”

On the Redskins’ red zone offense against the Cardinals:
“Everything is week-by-week. You work on the things you did poorly and that’s what we’ll do. It’s nice to get down to the red zone as many times as we did, but as I said after the game, you need to finish. If you finish, you score 40 or 45 points. If you don’t finish, then you score 22 points like we did. We’re going to keep working in that area. Obviously it’s not very good—not good enough. We scored 22 points with the way we moved the football, being down in that red zone several different times, but we only came away with two touchdowns. That will be an area of emphasis this next week and hopefully we improve.”

On Will Montgomery’s evolution at the center position:
“At the center position you need to evolve and do everything. You need to do a good job with the running game, you make all the calls for the offensive line, protections and different fronts. Will’s really a student of the game. He really works extremely hard, he’s really accountable and he’s really helped us up front.”

On what he said to quarterback Rex Grossman after his throwing two interceptions:
“When he came off to the sideline after the second interception I just smiled at him and said 'those things do happen, just shake it off. You’re going to play well the rest of the game.’ Sometimes a ball will be tipped, other times it will be a bad decision like we’ve talked about. It could be a missed assignment, but at the end of the day you’re responsible for that ball. Rex has been a quarterback for long enough to understand that you need to wipe those things out and find a way to win. That’s what we’re able to do.”

(Courtesy of the Washington Redskins)
Yep, don't give Davis or Helu too much credit for 2 games. Make them keep earning it :)

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