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Skins Quotes 9/5: Shanahan/RG3/Brees/Kromer


The Commissioner
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Apr 11, 2009
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September 5, 2012
Redskins Park

Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On safety Brandon Meriweather:
“Monday in practice he came down awkwardly on his knee and he has a sprained MCL injury. He will be out from 2-4 weeks. He feels a little more optimistic than that, but the doctors felt that it would take a little bit of time.”

On making adjustments at safety:
“We have four safeties left and five corners so we will come up with the best combination to try to slow down the Saints.”

On linebacker Brian Orakpo and guard Kory Lichtensteiger:
“Both guys practiced today. The only guy that was limited was Chris Baker with his ankle.”

On his confidence at the safety position:
“You’re obviously disappointed when you lose two safeties or two guys you thought could start. Of course, you are obviously disappointed with Tanard Jackson and Brandon Meriweather, but that is why you have depth. We felt like we had six safeties that could play. We went out and got an extra cornerback because we needed some extra depth at the cornerback position.”

On safety DeJon Gomes:
“It’s always much easier going into your second year. DeJon is a natural football player who is very smart. He has improved a lot from last year.”

On extra pressure on quarterback Robert Griffin III:
“Well, it’s pressure on everybody. You’ve got pressure on your defense when you’ve got an offense that put up numbers last year that have never been seen. We know we have to play well as a group, but it’s not Robert, it’s the whole offense.”

On Griffin III feeling antsy:
“You better feel a little bit antsy. It’s the NFL and it’s your first game. I don’t think there is anybody that doesn’t have butterflies going into a game like this. If you did, you probably would be retired or thinking about retirement. That is what you work for the whole offseason is to start off the season the right way. It’s a great challenge for us going to New Orleans and playing an excellent football team that is well-balanced.”

On Griffin III’s preparation for his first game:
“You feel comfortable as a quarterback because of your preparation during the week and your preparation during OTA’s. He’s worked extremely hard so you let him go and let him execute a game plan. It’s a big challenge for us but we are looking forward to it.”

On preparations for New Orleans’ crowd noise:
“We’ve been working on the crowd noise for about the last three weeks. It’s not something that you just work on the day before or two days before because it is tough. I bet you won’t be able to hear the snap count. If you’ve ever been in an environment where you can’t hear anything, especially in an indoor stadium, you realize that you’ve got to work on it and we have worked on it inside and outside the bubble.”

On wide receiver Joshua Morgan returning from injury and being productive:
“Usually when you have a broken bone, it’s not as bad as something like a knee. Usually a broken bone heals. Sometimes a knee you are never really sure if it quite healed correctly. It didn’t surprise me that he came back full-speed. He has worked extremely hard to put himself in this position and he has gotten better every day. I’m really proud of what he has done with himself.”

On Lichtensteiger and his usage of all three running backs:
“Kory has done a good job. He has had a couple practices and hopefully there is no setback in the next couple days and he is ready to go. We will evaluate the running backs this week. We have three guys that we know that can play and I have a chance to evaluate them this week and see Roy Helu’s and Evan Royster’s health.”

On Saints defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo:
“They are going to do the same scheme. I’m sure there is always a couple of different wrinkles that he is saving for us, and like you do in most first games in the regular season, everybody has a little package offensively or defensively that they throw on the opposition because they had so long to prepare for them. So it’s nothing really new and it usually happens in the first game so you just have to adjust.”

On playing with younger players:
“We are just trying to get the best football team you can possibly get and when I take a look at this football team, you are looking at a really young football team. You are looking at a lot of guys just looking forward to getting in that first game. I’m looking forward to seeing them play because we have a lot of character and a lot of guys going in the same direction so I’m anxious to see this team play.”

On the Saints’ defense attempting to confuse Griffin III:
“You’ve got to have a game plan that adjusts to the crowd noise, a game plan you feel you can execute and not put your team in a lot of penalty situations.”

On Saints quarterback Drew Brees:
“First of all, he has great mechanics. He has a great base to throw the football and he is extremely intelligent. What I mean by that is he knows what everybody is doing on every play. If he is in the zone and he has got time, he will look into the hole and know where the open receiver is. It took him some time. He was in the Broncos’ division when he was in San Diego and it took him a few years for him to get where he can dominate defenses. It does take some time and it took Drew Brees some time. The first game is something you look forward to as a rookie, but you understand there are a number of things that will happen that you are going to adjust to over time.”

On Griffin III’s seriousness:
“If you don’t have a quarterback who puts everything into it, you know that right away. Then you have to make decisions on whether to keep him or not. It was an easy decision spending time with Robert seeing what type of work ethic he had and how he handled himself, not only spending time around him but spending time with his friends and family, and he hasn’t disappointed us.”

Quarterback Robert Griffin III

On his anticipation for his first NFL regular season game:
“It’s every kid’s dream to play in the NFL. We made it through preseason. The guys were working extremely hard to make the team and we’ll move forward from there. So I’m excited about it. I think they’re really excited about the opportunity to go to New Orleans and play in the season opener and then move on from there.”

On how the transition from preseason to regular season has made him feel different:
“I didn’t think I would, but I do feel different. I feel like the guys are… It’s real. It’s not that guys weren’t out here working hard or anything like that, but I think everyone’s working knowing that stuff counts. This game’s going to count and hopefully we can go out and get that victory.”

On how the noise in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome will affect him:
“It will be really loud. I’ve played in domes before. I’ve never played in an NFL dome, but I have been to Saints games and it’s loud. So, we’ve just got to go out and make sure we can communicate non-verbally and then make sure guys aren’t making little mistakes because they can’t hear each other.”

On how he feels about his regular season debut:
“I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how some of the stuff we do works out, and hopefully it will work out extremely well. But you try not to get too antsy. The coaches talk to me about it. Don’t try to go out and show anything or prove anything. Just go out and play and have fun. I think that’s the kind of approach I’m taking toward it rather than 'OK, now it’s time to show what I’ve got.’ It’s just a matter of going out and executing.”

On the last Saints game he attended:
“I don’t actually [remember]. But I was there for the Sugar Bowl for Virginia Tech and Michigan. At that time, it was nowhere near as loud as it is at Saints games. But it’s going to be loud.”

On if he worries about every detail:
“You just try to prepare for every detail. I think worry is a bad word. You try not to worry about things, so I just prepare for them and take care of what I’m supposed to take care of. Coach is going to make sure my mind is clear. I know what I have on certain plays and what I need to pay attention to. That’s what I need to pay attention to and not make the game harder than it really is.”

On his influence on the offensive huddle:
“You know what you prepared. What I tell the guys is, 'Trust your preparation so that when you step on the field, you know that you can go out and do it.’ You can stare at something all night and go take the test the next morning and get it wrong. It’s either you know it or you don’t. The way I approach it is to stay calm and make sure you walk in the huddle with confidence so the guys are confident with what you’re running and go from there. I know what I’m supposed to be doing. They know what they’re supposed to be doing. Just go out there and do it.”

On if he gets nervous:
“Everybody gets nervous. Everyone gets antsy, anxious, any word you want to use to put on that. And it happens. But you do try to stay calm. And I have to stay calm. I can’t go in there and stumble on my words or be too excited in the huddle with those guys. I try to make sure I keep an even keel. I do get excited when we do good things because that’s what the guys need to see. But for the most part, I do try to stay calm.”

On how he prepares for his nerves:
“It’s in my music collection at the beginning of the game. I try to stay real cool, calm and collected. I throw a little Michael Jackson in there to spice it up, but other than that, you just try to clear your mind and don’t think about it too much. Up right before a game, you can be really thinking about things and you worry about things too much. But I just try to stay calm. I know what I’ve got. I know what we have. I know we have to go out there and win, and that’s what I’m going to try to do.”

On what he learned from being too excitable at times during his college career:
“I’ve learned a lesson. I was that way all the way through high school and my freshman year of college. I think my sophomore year, I tried a little too, and as they say, 'college crunk.’ I didn’t play well for about three games doing that getting crunk stuff. It’s just not who I am. So I just try to make sure I stay calm. Stay cool, calm and collected. And don’t worry about what other guys do. Everyone has a different way of getting ready, and it just happens to be my way and I know that.”

On the advice he received from veteran quarterbacks:
“Just don’t try to do too much. Everybody wants to go out and show 'This is what I’ve got to do, what I’ve got.’ But it’s less about you and more about the team. And you can say that and say it’s cliché but it is really true. If you go out and try to do too much at any given point, a lot of times you will mess up. There will be a play when it breaks down when you make a good run or you make a good roll on a move. But you’re not going out there looking for that and you’re trying to work within the offense. That’s what I’m trying to do. Just make sure I stay focused and do what I can do within the offense. If something breaks down, if something happens, then just use your God-given ability to make plays.”

On having his family at the game:
“I love it. I think it will be great. My whole family’s from there. My mom and dad were both born and raised in New Orleans, La., so I have a lot of family members there, anywhere between 30 and 50 family members there. I’m only paying for seven, but because the rest of them are Saints fans or were Saints fans before I got drafted. They’ll be there. It will definitely be fun. Even though there will be a lot of boos, I’m sure I’ll hear a few cheers coming from a few sections.”

On playing against Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees:
“It’s an honor. Drew Brees is one of the greatest of all time. He’s proving it time and time again. Whether God says you can or can’t do things, he’s gone out and shown he can do whatever he puts his mind to. I think that’s something everyone can strive for. So it will be fun. I know quarterbacks always say we never face another quarterback, but you guys keep asking questions, so we’ve got to keep answering them. But it will definitely be fun and I wish Drew Brees the best.”

On trying to match Drew Brees:
“You never try to match what another quarterback does. You do want to respond to what another offense does. I’ve never been one to concede to an offense. I definitely think our defense can go out and do what they need to do to win the game. Whatever that is, I’m sure they are up for it. So I’m not going to say they are going to put up numbers on our defense because I believe that is a slap in the face to our defense.”

On his maturation in the four months since being drafted:
“I was sitting there talking, saying I’ve learned a lot as a pro just in the few months that I have been a pro. It definitely not what you think it is when you’re growing up in junior high school, high school and college. It’s a lot of responsibility. It’s on you to make sure that you go out and do what you have to do to be successful. I think I have grown a lot. I’ve never been a guy that has gone out a done a lot. I’ve stayed true to who I am and I’ve made sure that I’ve continued to do stuff that helped me be successful.”

On how many times he hopes to run the ball:
“If I was a running back, maybe 20-25 touches. As a quarterback, I don’t ever put those kinds of numbers on a goal sheet or in my plan. Being a mobile QB, you can go out there and make a couple of runs and it happens like that sometimes, so I’m not going to put a number on that.”

On from where his confidence to start as rookie derives:
“It’s confidence in the guys around me. You’re playing with the best guys in the world when it comes to being in the NFL. Guys aren’t being recruited. Guys are here getting paid to do their job. It’s my job to make sure they can go out and showcase their skills as well. I think the guys around me help me be confident and know that I’m ready. It’s just a general belief in myself and in what God has blessed me with. Then it’s my preparation. If I didn’t prepare and I came out here cold every day and said, 'I am going to rely on what God gave me to help me make it through everything,’ I probably wouldn’t be as confident. I do prepare and take care of what I’m supposed to and that helps me come out here and make sure I can be confident and go in that huddle with that confidence [fullback] Darrel Young was talking about.”

On the Saints trying to confuse him:
“The biggest thing is you know what you looking for. That’s the general thing that defenses try to do to young quarterbacks is confuse them, whether it’s moving guys around, disguising coverages, blitzing or doing all types of different things. So you’ve just got to make sure you rid your mind of the things that aren’t important in a play. You just have to make sure you’re on top of what you need to be on top of what you need to be on top of and I think that’s what Coach is showing me in practice.”

On his dream to play in the NFL:
“I’ve never dreamed to play in the NFL, really. I was a basketball player growing up, and track of course. I thought I would be running in the Olympics or something like that. God just so happened to lead us to two state championship games in my junior and senior year in high school and that’s how I ended up playing football. I never really dreamed about it, but once I got to college, definitely. I thought I was going to be an NFL quarterback, go out, play, be successful, retire, be well-off and be able to take care of my family and whatnot. At first thought, I never really dreamed about those particular things, but hopefully, I’ll go out there and be successful.”

On not having to deal with the circumstances that Saints rookies have had this offseason:
“It’s definitely good to have stability. Coach Shanahan does a great job making sure he keeps the guys around, make sure the team’s together all the time. Those guys [the Saints] will rally together. I’m sure they already have rallied together to go out and have a very good season, even without their head coach, fighting for him and all the accusations that came out against him. I think those guys will be ready to go. I don’t think it’s going to hurt them by any means. At least that’s not the way I’m going to treat it. We’ll just be ready for the Saints.”

On his expectation for Steve Spagnuolo’s defense:
“Exactly what you guys think. He will try to confuse me. They will do different things, give me different looks. But see, that’s fine. That’s football. I’ve just got to get used to those kinds of things and be ready to go. I’ll be ready to go.”

On running back Alfred Morris:
“He’s done great. If he runs for a 100 yards in a half pretty much in a preseason game, that’s a pretty good stat. He’s definitely a good running back. He’s done a great job. Even after he did what he did, I was really impressed with what [Evan] Royster and [Roy] Helu came back and did and ran extremely well . They showed their worth as well. We’ve got three quality backs. They can all go out there and tote the rock. Hopefully one of them can separate himself from the rest, but if not, we’ve definitely got three guys that can do it.”

On his reaction to pundits not expecting much from the Redskins this season:
“It doesn’t bother me at all really. If anything, it can continue to try to knock you down and it’s just about you not listening to that. I always think you never want what bad things people say about you to motivate you, but it can give you a little extra juice in your tank. When those kinds of things come out, you just try to make sure that you don’t really worry about it because you’re not looking for an individual award. When they talk about you not making the playoffs, you just go out there and say, 'All right, you don’t think we’re going to make the playoffs and we’re going to make the playoffs.’”

New Orleans Saints Coach Aaron Kromer

On game planning for Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III:
“The first thing I would say is that that’s a great move by Bruce Allen – to bring in Robert Griffin the way he did, trading the picks and getting the player of that magnitude in that program. That guy, Robert Griffin III, is a difference-maker. Not only can he run and pass, but he is smart and he looks like communicates well with the rest of the team. I know they didn’t put everything on tape that they’re going to do, but you could just imagine with his speed and ability to throw the ball that not only is he going to be able to drop back and scramble if he needs to, but they may use him in the running game. Shoot, he is the first one we think to throw a bomb pass over the top if he can get it. It’s going to be a tough day defending him.”

On if he expects many option plays from Griffin III:
“I would. I would use him as a runner. I know you have three good runners right now in the backfield that have done a good job and I would add Robert Griffin III to that and let him run the football for me.”

On either containing or spying Griffin III:
“I think you have to do both. I think you have to spy him some and I think you have to contain him some. I don’t think you can do one thing the whole game. I think a guy of that magnitude will hurt you.”

On if previously scouting and playing against Carolina quarterback Cam Newton has helped the Saints prepare for Griffin III:
“I would think [they’re] similar. I think Cam is a powerful, good runner as well. If they were racing, I think Griffin might win.”

On challenging Griffin III with different types of pressure:
“I think any quarterback, and especially a rookie, you want to change up what you’re giving them. You don’t give them the same thing the whole game. But I do think this guy is different. I think Robert is different from most rookie quarterbacks. He seems advanced in his knowledge of the game and his ability to take off running. If you miss him, that’s definitely a weapon.”

On the New Orleans crowd:
“The New Orleans Saints’ crowd in this dome is always amped up. Any time they go through any adversity, it just takes it up another notch. It’s going to be extremely loud in there.”

On his defense:
“I think they’re really picking up Coach [Steve] Spagnuolo’s defense really well. They were doing a good job of working out the kinks early in training camp, then they got a lot of stuff hitting us. It was tough on our offense during training camp.”

On the team’s mindset following a tumultuous offseason:
“We’ve had so many things happen to this team since [the suspension of Head Coach] Sean Payton – whether it be hurricanes, suspensions – a lot of things have happened to this team. This is a resilient bunch. This is a resilient area that we live in. They get hit by hurricanes, they get flooded and they come to a football game and forget all about it and they scream like crazy. That’s what we love about it. Our team doesn’t flinch in situations like this.”

On how valuable quarterback Drew Brees has been in creating a sense of normalcy for the team:
“We have a great group of leaders on this team, offensively and defensively. Drew leads it all. We have a great group of leadership in the coaching staff and throughout the building. It’s a family atmosphere here and it’s led by some great people. They’ve pulled together and not allowed this to become a distraction.”

On Saints tackle Jermon Bushrod’s development:
“Jermon has done a good job. He went from being a backup in this program to being a starter when Jammal Brown got hurt in Houston in the preseason a couple years back. He jumped in there and, I’m telling you, he struggled early because every left tackle does. He just kept getting better and better and better, and last year was his first year making the Pro Bowl. We’re proud of him.”

On what helped Bushrod make the transition from backup to starter:
“Playing – just getting the opportunity to play, and working through the kinks, working through the techniques that he needed to make himself successful. Every player is a little bit different. You can’t coach them the same. You have to find what their strengths are and what their weaknesses are and try to maximize the strengths.”

On what concerns him the most about the Redskins' defense:
“The front seven. That is a powerful front seven with [defensive end Adam] Carriker and [defensive end Stephen] Bowen and [Barry] Cofield playing the nose. You’ve got [outside linebacker Brian] Orakpo coming off the edge and [outside linebacker Ryan] Kerrigan off the edge. How many years can this London Fletcher be great? Because he is still great. Then you look and you say, 'Who is this Perry Riley that comes in and does a wonderful job at the inside linebacker position?’ He’s instinctive. He can cover. You see him in the nickel and that group can really get after the quarterback, I think. And they’re really good against the run on first and second down. We were practicing that today and the more you watch him, the more you like him. Obviously, in the defensive backfield with [cornerback] DeAngelo Hall, making plays, and [safety Brandon] Meriweather… It’s the case where we think it’s a very strong defense.”

New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees

On his offseason:
“It was interesting. It was also very awkward. That was a first-time experience that none of us really could have prepared for – uncharted territory. And then last year as well and with this past offseason – just uncharted territory, things that for me, [I’ve] never been in a situation where I was negotiating a long-term contract. Obviously, I know that process took a little bit longer than we all hoped for, but in the end, it all worked out the way it was supposed to. Obviously, all the bounty stuff seems to be stuff that’s kind of ongoing. Losing a couple coaches, losing a couple players, it’s been tough at times, but I feel like we have great people in this building. We’ve built our organization the right way. We’ve got a culture here and an environment that’s conducive to winning and doing things the right way and so we trust in that and we believe in that. I think the type of people we have here, the leadership and the character, it’s what’s allowed us to kind of work through that. We’ve encountered adversity – maybe not to this magnitude – before and we’ve always found a way to work through it. Whether it be being evacuated for a hurricane, which has happened to us a couple times, or dealing with offseason distractions, which has happened to us a couple times. We’ve always found a way to band together and get through it. For me personally, and I think for all of us, the season couldn’t get here fast enough. We just want to get on the field and start playing football again, get in that locker room with one another again and just hunker down and focus on football.”

On his first career start in the NFL:
“We played back in Cincinnati in 2002. That was with the Chargers obviously, my second year in the league. Obviously, a lot of excitement, a lot of adrenaline, a lot of emotions in your first start, a lot of nerves. It’s a big stage. It’s what you dream about. It’s exciting. Certainly for myself, watching RGIII [Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III] from a distance, he’s a fellow Texas kid, a high school quarterback. I always kind of watch those guys and root for them. It’s exciting to watch him last year and his Heisman run and what he was able to do at Baylor, which I guess I would kind of compare to a little bit of the situation maybe when I was coming out of high school going to college at Purdue. You’re going into a place that wasn’t one of the strong teams in the Big 12 when he got there, just like Purdue wasn’t one of the strong teams in the Big Ten at the time. [Quarterback Chase] Daniel, who’s here, goes to Missouri, not recruited by any Texas schools, kind of was a part of the turnaround of that program. You root for those guys. It’s been exciting to watch him from afar and what he’s been able to accomplish.”

On if he gave any advice to Griffin III when they met during Super Bowl week:
“It was funny, because when I met him we were actually playing in the Madden Bowl against each other. It was me, [Saints tight end] Jimmy Graham and [Jets quarterback] Tim Tebow against him and some college guys coming out – some of the rookies. There was more trash talking than talking and talking shop. It was fun. Like I said, he’s such an exciting player. He’s admired from afar for what he was able to accomplish in college. Little did we know at the time that we would be playing the first game against each other – or that our teams would be playing each other.”

On his advice for Griffin III about playing in his first game:
“What advice would I give him? Well, he’s on the other side so I’d like to be the one that wins and not him. Like I said before, it’s exciting. This is what you dream about. I’d say the amazing thing is when you look at football now, we have five rookie quarterbacks starting this season in the NFL, which is unheard of. I remember when I was coming out of college in 2001; guys are just so much farther ahead now. Whether it’s the style of offense that they run in college, the crossover, or so many college systems with pro systems or college coaches with pro coaches, it just seems like these guys are so much more prepared to become starters immediately in the NFL. It’s pretty remarkable. You look at everything that he’s been able to accomplish – he’s played a lot of big games and played well in a lot of big games, so I don’t think he needs any advice from me.”

On how beneficial it was to sit out his first year and watch quarterback Doug Flutie:
“It was very beneficial because you learn a lot being on the sidelines. There are things that you see from the sidelines that you don’t see from the field and vice versa, obviously. I think for me being able to kind of have that little bit of a slower development – I had a chance to compete against Flutie going into my second year and win the job to start [and] became a starter my second year. I couldn’t imagine at the time being a starter, going into that first game when I was a rookie. It just seemed like a whirlwind. Everything that you get adjusted to stepping into the NFL: the system, the speed of the game, all those things. Like I said, it seems like guys are so much farther along now.”

On how he thinks Griffin III’s game will translate into the NFL:
“He’s a winner. He is a phenomenal athlete. He can do things with his legs and his arms that most people can’t do. You figure it’s only a matter of time before he takes this league by storm. I just hope it doesn’t happen on Sunday.”

On the biggest threat in the Redskins’ defense:
“I would say this — London Fletcher is a guy that I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for. He’s played a long time in this league. I’ve played against him a number of times. I don’t — despite his age and the number of years he’s played — I do not see a drop-off at all. The guy is still all over the place making all kinds of tackles. You can tell he’s the leader of the defense. Guys look at him for a lot of things. He doesn’t come off the field. He’s just a great player. I think any time you’re going up against a guy like that, especially since he plays inside linebacker, it’s a little bit of a chess match.”

On the feeling of having the same offense but adding new parts to the defense:
“I think continuity and consistency is so important. There’s a trust factor there. I’ve been with these guys for a long time. The guys that are on the offensive line, the receivers, tight ends, running backs, there is a lot of continuity. We’ve been through a lot together. We’ve got a lot of time on task together within the system. That breeds confidence and that shows in the way that we play.”

On his comfort in the change along the offensive line:
“Really, [guard Ben] Grubbs is the only new face. Everybody else is here from last year. I think he’s done phenomenal and he fits right in with just the type of guy he is. He’s a smart worker. He’s detailed. He’s coachable. And he’s a great player – very versatile both in the run game and the pass game. He fits in extremely well with what we do within our system. He’s just a great guy in the locker room, and in that meeting room amongst the other offensive lineman, he fits in perfect.”

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