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Skins Quotes 9/26: M. Shanahan/K. Shanahan/Haslett


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

Marine Corps Virginia

September 26, 2013
Redskins Park

Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On the team’s injury report:

“[Listed] as did not practice was [kicker] Kai Forbath, [linebacker] Brandon Jenkins, [cornerback] Jerome Murphy and [tight end] Jordan Reed. Murphy was non-football, a family member passed away. Jordan’s thigh. Of course, Brandon is the ankle and Kai is the groin. [Tight end] Fred Davis, again, was limited with his ankle. Full practice was [wide receiver Leonard] Hankerson, [linebacker Ryan] Kerrigan, and [safety Brandon] Meriweather.”

On how injuries to the tight ends change the game plan:

“You always have to be ready for people going down, but Fred did get some practice in, which was good. Jordan still has a chance so we’ll kind of wait for game day and keep our fingers crossed that we have as many people healthy as we possibly can.”

On how to make adjustments defensively during the game to keep ahead of opposing offenses:

“That’s what game plans are. That’s what you try to do. That’s what football is all about. Hopefully we can do that.”

On if Brandon Jenkins’ ankle has gotten worse:


On how to balance his expectations for the defense against the public’s expectations:

“The key is not the yards, it’s the touchdowns, it’s the points. You’ve seen a lot of teams in the past give up a lot of yards but not necessarily the points. You can give up field goals. You can’t give up touchdowns. If you have a defense that is stopping the run consistently and putting them in situations where they have to pass, then you have the opportunity for turnovers and obviously not scoring once they get in the red zone. We did a little better against Detroit, but not good enough.”

On safety Brandon Meriweather’s shoulder injury:

“It’s just bothering him, but he’s practiced full this whole week, so he’s in good shape. That happened on game day.”

On tight end Niles Paul’s development:

“Like I shared with you before, I think we have some depth at that position. It’s one of the positions we have more depth than most people, so it’s always nice to have four guys that can play. Right now we’re at two guys that are healthy and two guys that are a little banged up. I think both of them have got a chance to play but you don’t know until game day, but we’ll know a little more after tomorrow’s practice.”

On if he would consider having kicker Kai Forbath handle field goals while kicker John Potter handles kickoffs:

“Well, if he [Forbath] goes out there to be able to kick a field goal, the chances are he’ll be able to kick off too because it’s the same motion. You’re not different on the field goals, you try not to be. You want to be consistent with your punch, your follow-through. So I think if Kai does kick field goals, he’ll kick kickoffs as well.”

On if he plans on having Forbath kick in practice on Friday:

“No. I told him he can kick tomorrow or Saturday, whichever one he feels, and we’ll get a chance to evaluate him then.”

On what the addition of Jordan Reed has meant for the growth of Niles Paul:

“Well, any time you have depth that’s what you are hoping that you have. Not only that, but Niles can play the fullback position as well as the tight end position as well as the H-back position, and he can help us on special teams. I don’t know if it hinders somebody’s growth, you just have more football players on your team and that’s what you want for situations like this when people are hurt, it gives another person an opportunity to go out there and play.”

On if he has always left on Fridays for cross-country games:

“When I was on the West Coast, we always went out on Friday. The first time on the East Coast we went out and played Seattle in Seattle and we took off on a Friday and that worked for us. So, hopefully this one will work for us.”

On his philosophy about leaving for long road trips:

“I think any time you have a three-hour time change, I think it’s always good to go out on a Friday either way. That’s been my philosophy. Now, when I was in Denver, for a two-hour time change, I didn’t feel the need to go a day early.”

Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan

On the progress of the offense:

“We just have to keep getting better. I mean, we couldn’t have started out much worse the first week, second week was not great by any means but it was better than the first week, and this one was our best one so far this season. By no means are we where I want to be or where we want to be, but we just have got to keep working and getting better.”

On if the increase in rollouts and read options by quarterback Robert Griffin III last week was related to his health or to game situations:

“It’s just game situation, we had the same plan in the first two games. We rolled him out versus Philly; I think he had two keepers versus Philly. We had some planned versus Green Bay, but we knew it was going to be tough versus Green Bay the way [Packers linebacker Clay] Matthews came off the edge and they’re always up the field. They contain and they kept you in the pocket pretty well. This game, we thought we had just as good of a chance just like we thought versus Philly, but we did better on third down, it was a tighter game and we were able to mix it up and keep them off-balance and it just worked out better.”

On if it’s difficult for Joshua Morgan and Leonard Hankerson] to separate themselves as the starting Z receiver when they’re rotating reps:

“We rotated them a lot in preseason, throughout training camp hoping one would – it’s a good thing when one shows that he’s a lot further along than the other – and we gave them that opportunity and they both had their moments and they both had their moments where they’d be up and down. Neither one really took it and ran with it, so it’s really stayed the same. We look at them pretty much equal until one separates themselves. Sometimes one does stuff better than the other on certain plays. We think there’s a plus to having them out there and a minus in certain plays so we try to keep it going until they distance themselves.”

On if wide receiver Pierre Garçon can be as productive late in the season without increased production from other receivers:

“We never really, and I never have – even when I was in Houston with Andre [Johnson] – you never want to force the ball to a wide receiver. You want coverage to dictate that. You obviously want to get your best players the ball as much as possible and you do try to do that at times but coverage usually dictates that. The position Pierre plays and how good he is with the ball in his hands, we’re going to always try to get it to him, but if he’s the only guy you go to, it makes it pretty easy for a defense to take that away. You have got to make sure that the defense respects that you have other people that can attack you and hurt you, and as long as they keep that respect then it’s easier to get Pierre the ball. So, we need other guys to make plays and to continue doing that, not only just to help out Pierre but the whole offense.”

On how to continue to develop a good running game even when defenses key on it:

“I think the first two games, I don’t think we ran the ball bad personally in the two games – we just didn’t get to run it much. This game, I think we did better. We got more runs than the prior two games. We stayed on the field a little bit longer. And you just hope you keep getting in there where you can run it more, and we want to be balanced. That is our goal and hopefully we can continue trying to do that.”

On his level of concern about the injuries to tight ends Fred Davis and Jordan Reed:

“It’s always a concern. We had some injuries at tight end last year and this year we have got two guys banged up. That is the good thing I’ve told you guys before that I thought it’s the deepest position on our team because I think we have four players who we are confident in and who all can play and all can start at any given time. You’ve got two guys banged up right now, which leaves us with Niles [Paul] and Logan [Paulsen], but Niles and Logan we’re confident in. We played with them for seven games last year where we won all seven. We know they can do the job, and we hope to have those other two guys there but it’s day-to-day.”

On running the ball to set up third downs:

“Third and short to us is usually one to two where it’s more of a run situation. Anytime you get it into that three and higher yards, it’s more passes. I think we were all passes in those situations. I don’t think we had as many third-and-10s as we did versus Philly. Green Bay we weren’t all in third-and-10s, but we struggled with those – one of the ones we made I think was third-and-11. But I just think we executed. We did better, made it easier for them. I think the guys made the plays, guys separated, the O-line gave [quarterback] Robert [Griffin III] time, Robert made the throws. There’s still a few third downs we would have liked to make that could have been the difference in scoring some points, especially opening the third quarter going down there when we ended up kicking a field goal, but we definitely did better and we didn’t have a choice not to. It’s hard to win in this league if you don’t do [well] on third downs and that was our best one yet.”

On the reason for the jump in Garçon’s numbers this season:

“I just think it’s a function of him being healthy and on the field. Pierre is as tough of a receiver as I’ve been around. He gets better understanding what we’re asking him to do. I think last year he played through a lot of games where he wasn’t 100 percent. I think you guys could all see the games where he was 100 percent some of the plays he’d make with the ball in his hands and the explosiveness he has when he gets the ball – he almost turns into a running back with how angry he runs – and that he is powerful and can get out of his stance. Pierre’s a big-time receiver and I believe he would have been the exact same last year if he would have stayed healthy. When he did come back, I think he was one of the main reasons that we took off that second half of the year when we went on that seven-game win streak.”

On if offensive coordinators are trying to figure out how to counter to defenses’ adjustments to mobile quarterbacks:

“Yeah, anytime you get the attention that we did, that San Fran did, Seattle did last year, when you have something that was that successful, guys are too smart. They’re going to work all offseason to find a way to stop it. And I think that when that happens you have to get better at the other stuff. I think we do have some other stuff, I think we are getting better at it. We did some of the stuff last year too, but the thing about last year was a lot of people weren’t ready for it at all, so it was easy at times. Now it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work, you’re just not shocking people like you were last year, and when teams are completely committed to stopping something, I don’t care what it is, they’re going to stop it. You have got to do other stuff and make them worried about other stuff before you want to come back to that and attack it.

On if he had to see defenses’ adjustments before he could counter them:

“Not really. I mean, I don’t think it was any real big secret about what are they going to do. There are certain ways you knew they’d stop it: Not just go get the quarterback; not allow him to run; make him hand it off every time; overload the defense, put everybody over there; take a safety out of the middle of the field and bring him down so you’re outnumbered. There’re not too many options. Those are all of the obvious options that do stop it. When teams do that, it leaves holes other places. When you have holes other places, how automatic are you at executing those plays that attack that? I don’t think we have been in all of those areas. I think we’ve been a little hit or miss, and we’ve just got to continue to be better cleaning all that up.”

On any memorable experiences against the Raiders or their fans:

“When I lived there, when my dad was a head coach, we were in L.A, so that was definitely different than Oakland. But just growing up a Broncos fan and stuff, it was always a rival. I went there I think like three years in a row when I played in Houston. I think I’ve been about .500 there personally, so nothing special with me. But it’s been fun always growing up with the Broncos, Denver rivalry. But it doesn’t mean much this week. It’s just another game.”

On Mike Shanahan initially being disappointed in Griffin III’s decision-making on his interception against Detroit and changing his mind after viewing the film:

“When I was on the field, I felt the same way. Robert looked in a position that looked impossible to make a throw, so when I saw that on the field, I felt the same way – 'You don’t attempt that. You can’t make a throw like that.’ When I saw the tape, he did make the throw. It looked like Pierre thought he was in an impossible position, too, and Pierre started to drift out of bounds thinking the play was over. It’s hard for me to really get on Robert about that because if Pierre would have stayed in-bounds, it would have been a completion. And he did make the throw, he did get it done. I think it was an unfortunate thing. You’ve got to realize that Robert can make some plays on the field. I think everyone agreed that it didn’t look very possible, but it was right on the money. And Pierre’s got to realize just to stay alive and keep working because he showed obviously there that he can do it.”

On his he would still encourage Griffin III to make similar plays when under pressure:

“Yeah, you just don’t want to speak in absolutes. You try to talk to the guy like a human being and not just a book and be like, 'We never throw the ball when anybody’s touching your jersey.’ I just think that’s kind of dumb. So I try to talk through it with him like I am to you. I thought it was not a smart throw when I was on the field, but I said, 'Hey Robert, it’s hard for me when I watch this tape with you – it is right on the money. Pierre was there when you were throwing it. It looked like Pierre was there. I understood what you were seeing. We’ve got to avoid turnovers, but we’ve got to understand the situation. You’ve got to protect yourself -- a guy pulling you down on a borderline horse collar.’ But he made the play, so it’s hard for me to really jump on him too bad. There’s been too many times where you want to get on a player real hard and speak in an absolute, and I promise you that’ll come back and haunt you as a coach. You’ve got a guy wide open for a touchdown sometimes, and they’re just tugging on his leg, and 'Hey, remember last year? You told me never to do it.’ I try not to be too stupid about that.”

On Griffin III’s sliding ability:

“I think it’s tough to work on. We just tell him to keep practicing it. He does slide in practice a lot. It’s something we haven’t done in the past really, but he’s been sliding out in practice ever since training camp. Robert’s just not used to it. He knows he’s got to get better at it, become more natural at it. I think anybody who hasn’t done sliding very much in their life, it’s not as easy as you think, especially a guy who makes a lot of plays running. There’s a fine line when you’re running and trying to get yards and stuff, when to slide and how to do it. I think he just kind of got caught up in it, stumbled a little bit. I don’t care whether he goes head-first there or slides. The bottom line is he’s just got to hold onto the ball. The way we practice it is I just tell him to do it, do it as much as he can. I’m not going to get up here and demonstrate to him exactly how to slide. I think it just comes with practice. I think it’s obvious that he’s spent his time in the spring and summers growing up on the track a little more than the baseball field. So I think just a few more reps of it and he’ll eventually get better at it.”

On if defenses are playing the zone read differently:

“I don’t know. I think they’ve switched it up. We’ve seen a couple of ways they’ve played us. Detroit ran right at the mesh point on a couple. They came underneath on a couple. The ones they came underneath, we were liable to pull it. Green Bay was straight up the field. We only got one call vs. Philly, and I think we just missed it. They’ve mixed it up. We haven’t got a lot of them called, but every time you do it, you don’t get to pull it. You’ve got to let the defense allow you to have it, and it hasn’t been there all the time. I think Robert’s proven he’s a big threat on it, so I think guys are a little more reluctant just to give the quarterback the edge. Hopefully we get more runs, get more runs going, and we end up seeing what happens.”

On balancing runs and passes last Sunday:

“When I look at the numbers, I’m just like you guys. Our philosophy is we always say we want to be balanced. When I look at the numbers after the game, and I’m like 'Man, how did that happen? It didn’t feel like it was that bad.’ You go back as a coach and you look at it and see what happened. When I go back and evaluate it, I can understand why it happened. When you look at first down, we were balanced; we had 14 runs, 13 passes. On second-down, six passes, 10 runs. Then you go to – we were in two-and-a-half two-minute drives. We had four passes in the two-minute drives at the end of the second quarter. We had 13 in the end of the fourth quarter. That took us down there and we kicked that field goal. Then we had four leading up to that Hail Mary. So that’s 21 passes there in a two-minute drill. We had 13 third downs, so if I can add right, that’s 34 passes that aren’t in normal situations. So we threw 16 passes in first- and second-down, and I think we had 20 runs. So we were fairly balanced in the scheme of the game. But when you end up having three two-minute drives and you throw on every play in those, it gets a little bit skewed, plus the 13 third downs.”

Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett

On the importance of keeping a steady demeanor when a team is struggling:

“I’m always the same through the good times and the bad times, but I believe the way our guys are working, and we went through this last year, that we’ll find a way out of it. I thought we made great improvement this week. We just had a few things go wrong, but in the run game we were much better. I thought we did a good job in that part. We could have done even better. I’ll stay the same through the whole thing.”

On if this year feels similar to last year:

“I don’t know. I don’t gauge it that way, I just gauge it by what I see.”

On adjusting during games:

“You do that throughout the game. I thought we made adjustments throughout the game. We went in with a plan, changed it, they changed, we changed back. We actually adjusted four, five, six times trying to counterpunch what they were doing throughout the game.”

On if his use of the defensive backs is related to game plans or personnel:

“That’s something you have got to kind of figure out. We just tried to utilize our players based on what they come out in and what kind of personnel they are using. I think we have some flexibility with the secondary. Some safeties can play corner and vice versa. We just try to utilize our players the best we can to give us our best matchup.”

On linebacker Nick Barnett and if he thinks he will continue to give linebacker London Fletcher breaks as the year goes on:

“I thought Nick played pretty well. Nick is still in the learning process of the scheme but he brings energy. He loves football. He runs around. He truly is a love-of-the-game [player]. He’s into football. I don’t know if it will expand. We feel good about all of our players playing. If somebody gets tired we tell our guys, 'If you can’t go 100 miles an hour all day, take yourself out and we’ll put somebody in.’ We have enough guys that are good players and can go in and there’s not a big drop off.”

On playing man coverage and his mindset on if he knows some big plays will occur as a result:

“You know, you are going against a great receiver first of all, and we matched [cornerback] DeAngelo [Hall] –

I thought DeAngelo had a heck of a day on him, but he’s going to get some catches. We understand that. The thing we want to do is, number one, stop the run, and then get some pressure on the quarterback. We had 18 quarterback hit. We just had one sack. We gave up a couple of big plays because we had a missed assignment and blew a coverage but that’s the stuff we have to keep working at and getting better.”

On how much of offense’s success this year league-wide are related to new rules and if it changes his expectations for his defensive numbers:

“I think it depends on who you play week in week out. We’ve played some great quarterbacks the first couple of weeks. You play [Green Bay Packers quarterback] Aaron Rodgers and [Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew] Stafford, I think each of them threw for 5,000 yards last year. It all depends on who you are playing. If you’re playing somebody who’s not as good, obviously the numbers will be down. In this league, all those stats, all those numbers are based off of who you are playing and what division you are in and what quarterbacks you’re going to play every week.”

On if he expects rookie mistakes from cornerback David Amerson:

“Obviously, we try to eliminate every single one. We had the one last week, but that’s something we just have got to keep working at as coaches and put him through it and make sure he sees everything so when he gets out there nothing really surprises him. Obviously, we didn’t do a very good job last week.”

On if Amerson has made progress each week:

“Yeah, I think it’s a learning process. Remember he’s a junior coming out, a young guy, this is really his senior year in college, so you’re going to have some of those. Obviously we don’t want to have them. We have got to eliminate those things. To be a good defense, to get back to where this football team needs to be, we’ve got to cut all those out.”

On safety Bacarri Rambo:

“He’s going to be a good player. We just feel good about [safety] Brandon [Meriweather] right now playing, and obviously the situation last week with the three wide receivers, we wanted to get another corner on the field so that’s kind of why we went in that direction. We feel good about Bacarri and his progress and he’s going to be a good football player.”

On what he is looking to do going into the bye week:

“I’m looking to try to get a win and then we’ll figure everything else out. I think before you can get anything going, you’ve got to get a win. So we’ll go out there this week, we’re going to practice – we had a great practice yesterday. We’ll go out there this week, try to get a win, then we’ll figure out what we’re doing.”

On how not knowing which Oakland quarterback they will face has complicated his preparation:

“First of all, he [Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor] is a great athlete. He’s a big guy. He’s fast, mobile, athletic, got a great arm. Obviously that’s a problem for anybody, and the other guys behind him are good football players. Solid. So we’ll be ready for either one based off who plays. They are both pretty good football players. One is different than the other, but one is really athletic.”

On his plan for Rambo’s playing time against Oakland:

“I don’t know. We’ll base everything off practice and what we’re doing.”

On if he can make quicker adjustments from the coaching booth:

“We made a bunch of them last week. We were on the go. Like I said, they were making one, we made one, they made one, we made one, just trying to keep the upper hand.”

On if he realized that would be one of the main benefits of coaching from the booth:

“Yeah, there is a benefit to it. You see things a lot faster.”

On the run defense:

“We’ve been good at stopping the run since I’ve been here. I think that’s what the defense is built for. We got away from it the first two games. We didn’t play our base defense. We got away from playing it. We played some nickel. We wanted to get back to doing what we do best. I thought if we did a better job in some of the areas of tackling – because they had an 11-yard run on missed tackles, they had an eight-yard run on missed tackles – we could have held Detroit to under 30 yards in rushing. So that’s just something – we thought we did a good job in that area. Obviously, we’ve got to keep improving in that, in tackling, and then the coverage part of it.”

On the similarities between the offenses run by Terrelle Pryor and Michael Vick:

“I think it’s two different schemes, two different ways. They’re just kind of hitting the edge with Terrelle. But it’s totally two different ways of thinking.”

On if in-game adjustments can be practiced or are all within the flow of the game:

“Well, you do both. Sometimes it comes up in a game; sometimes you anticipate it. We try to hit all of those things in practice and in our meetings in case it does come up. Sometimes you see things that you’ve never seen before and you just try to adjust as you can.”

On the team’s third-down defense:

“We did much better. I think they were 4-for-13, I think it was, but they were like 3-for-4 at one time. We did a better job on third down. As it wore on, we did some things that we normally do. We had some blitzes and some coverages, we just did a better job.”

On the situations in which he will try to spell Fletcher:

“It’s not the situation. We tell the players this: 'As long as you can go 100 miles an hour, you can go all day. If not, come on out, give yourself a breather, and we’ll put whoever else is behind you in.’ It’s not us really looking to spell him, it’s really his call.”

On if when Fletcher rests is his decision:

“If he can’t go 100 miles an hour and he’s tired or whatever, then he’s got to come out, or he should come out.”

On if he saw a benefit in resting Fletcher:

“You’d probably have to ask London on that, because I’m more in-tuned to the game – I’m not really sure. If I was down on the field, I would probably have a better feel for it. Slow [Linebackers Coach Bob Slowik] would handle that part of it… Let me tell you this: London played his butt off. Twelve tackles, flying around, I thought he was outstanding. I thought it was his best game he’s played this year.”

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