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Press Release: Quotes from Shanahan, Haslett, & K. Shanahan


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September 22, 2011

Redskins Park

Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan

On if safety LaRon Landry is still limited in practice:

“Same thing. He’s working in some drills. He’s still limited but he’s getting better every day. We’re still hoping that he can get back in football shape, do what he’s capable of doing without setting him back.”

On if Landry will try to play at full speed by the end of the week:

“I think he’ll try to, depending on how he feels at practice. I think you always want to upgrade your tempo as the week goes on. You don’t want to overdo and set yourself back like he did before. But a hamstring is one of those muscles you go with your gut and see what happens.”

On if Landry’s positive outlook toward playing on Monday is encouraging:

“Like I said, we’ll just have to wait over the next couple of days and see how he practices. It’s really not attitude, it’s how your hamstring responds and hopefully it responds accordingly.”

On the injury status of cornerback Josh Wilson:

“He was limited, too. But, you know, it was nice to see him out there.”

On the injury status of safety DeJon Gomes:

“He went through drill work. He didn’t take any team reps. But he’s still limited.”

On fullback Mike Sellers’ taped ankle:

“He just got it stepped on out there. I’m not sure how serious it is. It did swell up. He was limited in practice in the last couple of periods so hopefully it’s not a big setback.”

On the team being “boring in a good way” according to players:

“Most of the time I’ve been around boring teams. That’s what you like. You like guys taking care of business and I guess compared to the first year, it is kind of boring.”

On passes from quarterback Rex Grossman being batted down:

“Anytime you throw the ball 40-something times a game, and you’ve got guys that are 6-8 or 6-9 on that defensive front, it happens quite often. It happened against the Giants too. You watch the game and you get some of those big guys – [Giants defensive end Chris] Canty – inside who are 6-7 or 6-8 with great wingspans, you’ve got to find a little alley in there. That’s going to happen with defensive tackles that are that size when you throw as many times as we did.”

On if defensive linemen drop off the line of scrimmage to defend passes if they don’t get an initial rush:

“A lot of defensive linemen do it. We do it. Most teams do if they can’t get any quick penetration. Key the quarterback’s eyes and the great ones are able to knock them down, sometimes knock them up in the air and possibly get an interception.”

On defending the run against teams like Arizona that spread the field:

“Well, they had three plays — three runs, three draws — averaging 15 yards a carry. That’s something that you work on. They are in a passing situation and not showing a lot of draws. That’s something that we didn’t do a good job stopping. It was a good game plan on their part. In the weeks to come, we’ll get a lot better in that area with the nickel defenses against those draws.”

On how Grossman’s performance against the Cowboys last year helped his confidence:

“I was pleased that he played well, especially in the second half, considering that we didn’t go live during the week. That was one of those off-weeks, too, with the weather with the frozen field and I believe the rain. To come back and do what he did in the second half, it felt better. We had a chance to close and we didn’t. You either get it done or you don’t.”

On how film study has changed:

“By comparing the old players compared to the newer players, the new athletes – it’s a chess game, no question about it. How people study, it is a lot different than 20-25 years ago. There’s no question about it. All of the different personnel groups and all of the things you can do… It’s interesting when you do look back. If you really sat down and looked at the video then and compared it now, you would almost just laugh with what you’re able to do now.”

On if he ever overthinks plays:

“What you want to do is take it out of the players’ hands. You still have to block and tackle and they have to know what they’re doing. There can’t be any second guessing. You have to be physical and you can’t take that out of the game. Sometimes you think too much and you game plan too much – you have to take it out of the players’ hands. I’ve done that before and I think every coach has. There is a fine line between letting your players play and giving them a game plan where they can be effective.”

On the Cowboys moving linebacker DeMarcus Ware around a lot:

“Everybody is going to know where Ware is and everyone is going to know where [linebacker Anthony] Spencer is. That’s two of their great pass rushers, so regardless what team you’re on, you’re going to know where those guys are. They are easy to find, but they’ll blitz them inside or outside. I think they do the same thing – they don’t want to over think themselves and let their players play and do what they do best.”

Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett

On how often he has a cornerback shadow a receiver all over the field:

“It depends what type of player you have and what type of player you’re going against. I think DeAngelo [Hall] is one of the best corners in the league so if we feel there is a good matchup – we thought there was a good matchup on both sides. Arizona’s other [receiver] is fast and Josh [Wilson] is fast so we thought it was a good matchup for him. It’s not just one guy. We kind of look at it on the whole perspective as a team.”

On cornerback DeAngelo Hall’s performance against the Cardinals:

“I thought he was excellent. The times he was on [Larry Fitzgerald], he had a six-yard and a five-yard gain to start the game. Since he caught seven-route on us and we were in a zone, [the completion] had nothing to do with it. It was our flat defender that didn’t play deep-to-short. The last ball, he was in great position to make the play and, obviously we had a blitz on, and we didn’t get there fast enough. Overall, beside that one play, he did a nice job.”

On Hall’s overall performance in the first two games:

“He’s played excellent both in the run and pass. He’s done a nice job. He’s tackling well. He’s always been a good tackler and he’s always done a good job in that area. He has good ball skills. The turnovers haven’t come his way yet, but they will because of the scheme and he has to be ready for when they come to capitalize on them.”

On the defensive play-calling against Arizona:

“I’ll give you an ex-player’s perspective - I don’t know what a rhythm is [with] calling [plays]. It’s a lot easier to call a game when you have better players. It’s easy from that standpoint, but I think our guys have a better understanding what we’re doing right now and some of the new guys are picking it up. We still have mistakes, but we’re trying to correct them on a day-to-day basis to get to where we want to be. I think so far, up until this point, we’re doing a good job.”

On the pressure from the linebackers against Arizona:

“Ryan [Kerrigan] did a nice job of beating the guy. [brian] Orakpo did the same thing – beat a guy. Rocky [McIntosh] was a hug-up. We were playing man-to-man coverage and Orakpo ripped inside of the guy that was blocking him and Rocky wrapped around and got the sack. We actually blitzed a little more from inside-out than these outside guys did the week before. The front seven has done a good job of putting pressure on the quarterback and hopefully we can keep that up the next 14-15 weeks and keep those totals up. The more you can pressure nowadays, the better you are going to be in this league.”

On linebacker London Fletcher as a blitzer:

“He’s a good blitzer. He’s good coming up the middle and he’s good coming off the edge. He does a good job and he’s kind of wiry and slippery. He gets in there and, if he has to, he can be physical and bull rush people. We think he’s a pretty good blitzer. All of these guys, even Rocky’s a good blitzer.”

On if Fletcher is blitzing more than he did last year:

“Probably a little bit [more] right now up to this point, but that’s a game-to-game thing.”

On if he’s seen an improvement in linebacker Ryan Kerrigan’s play:

“I thought Ryan [did] exactly what we worked on in practice. He was physical on the tackles. The sack he got, he bull rushed the tackle, ran into him and leveraged him. Ryan’s strong, but he has to keep working from that aspect. The first game he was just trying to beat the tackle and not get a sack. The second game he was trying to get a sack, not worrying about the tackle. He’s not the kind of guy that’s just going to run by people all of the time. He’s 270 pounds and 6-5 so he needs to use a combination of speed and power.”

On the biggest challenges of facing Dallas:

“This is a great football team. Obviously, the quarterback, it starts with him. [Tony Romo sits to pee’s] on fire right now. They have grea,t skilled people and a heck of a running back. Their [offensive] line has a new young guy [Tyron Smith] who is really good and the other tackle, [Doug] Free, is really good. [Jason] Witten, obviously, we haven’t stopped him yet so he’s another guy that we kind of have to slow down. We played one game well last year and the second game we didn’t play as well. It’s our challenge to get out there in that hostile environment and play well.”

On how the defense would cover Cowboys tight end Jason Witten if safety LaRon Landry plays:

“First of all, I don’t know what his status is going to be. It’s going to be a game-time deal. LaRon’s fast and he can run. We just have to make sure when he’s ready that he knows everything we’re doing because he hasn’t played in a long time. He hasn’t played in a year. When you look at it, he hasn’t done anything in a long time. I know when he’s ready that he’ll be ready though.”

On the injuries in the secondary:

“I don’t worry about these types of things. Whoever is out there, we expect them to do what we want done. If [cornerback] Brandyn Thompson is the guy out there, I expect him to step up and do a good job. If [byron] Wesbtrook is out there, I expect him to do a good job just like the other day - he came in and made the game-winning play. He came in and knocked the ball out and Reed [Doughty] recovered it. I feel good about Reed. I feel good about Westbrook. I feel good about Thompson even though I haven’t seen him, but I like him and he’s going to be a good player. That’s kind of the nature of the league – you can’t worry about who’s playing for you. You have to figure out what [players] can do best and what position to put them in to be successful. I feel good about the group we have.”

On Hall’s comments about Tony Romo sits to pee:

“Well, you think about it – he’s not allowed to him in the head and he can’t him below the knees so there’s really only one place you can hit him. It’s just a shame he’s hurt. I think he was joking more than anything. He was kind of chuckling about it and, realistically, it’s the only place you can hit a quarterback. I know Romo sits to pee is a tough guy. He’s a tough-minded guy so he’ll be ready to roll.”

On if he’ll bring more pressure against Romo sits to pee early in the game:

“I try to put us in position so that we can get off of the field as much as we can. We have a plan for guys that are playing or not playing, but you have to adjust as the game goes on. I’m not worried about those types of things.”

On if the defense prepares for the no huddle offense week-to-week:

“We do it every day. Sometimes we huddle and sometimes we don’t so we’re ready for it whenever it comes up. The truth is, for a defense, it doesn’t make a difference if you huddle or you don’t huddle. They just have to communicate and line up.”

On if Kerrigan has impacted the way teams block:

“We haven’t played enough to really determine it. If Ryan keeps establishing himself and Orakpo is one of the better players in the league, then I think things will change based off that. It’s just the same thing as when you play Dallas or Pittsburgh and they have two great [pass rushers]. Hopefully, we can get to that level.”

On Dallas Cowboys rookie right tackle Tyron Smith:

“I think he’s excellent. He reminds me a lot of Trent [Williams]. He’s athletic and physical. I think he’ll play either side – right or left. I think he’s a really good football player. I think he’s one of the better linemen that they have.”

On if adding weight helped cornerback Byron Westbrook improve:

“Being around the scheme for another year made him better. I don’t know about bulking up when you go 180 to 185 [pounds]. He looks good to me, but I’m not sure about the bulking up part.”

Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan

On what running back Roy Helu provided off of the bench against Arizona:

“He gave a good change of pace. [Tim] Hightower played very hard and Helu came in there fresh, well-rested and ready to go. He ran hard and ran strong. We know he has a lot of speed and he did a good job for us.”

*

On if he feels more comfortable with Helu going forward:

“It all depends on the flow of the game and how things are going. It was exciting with how well he did. It obviously would be encouraging to get him in more, but it’s just a feel with how Hightower is doing, what the defense is doing and really how the game goes. There’s not a whole lot of consistency it, but when you have those backs and Ryan Torain – they are three guys who we feel are capable of being starters. You can’t make a wrong decision with them.”

*

On how hard it is to take out running back Tim Hightower:

“It is tough because he can do it all. I think we left him in there a little bit too much the first week — not that he was doing poorly, but it tires the guy out. We have to make sure that we do make those decisions and, even when it’s hard to pull a guy out, especially when he’s having success like he was, it’s just going to help him and the team in the long run.”

*

On if he gets into a rhythm as a calling plays:

“To me, as a play-caller, I feel getting into a rhythm is all about having plays. It’s really tough to get into a rhythm when you don’t have long drives. When you can start getting longer drives and getting first downs — and we’ve been able to go on a bunch of long drives this year — it helps as a play-caller. You don’t feel like you can call passes two times and knowing that if you get a first down, you’ll end up running it. You can call runs and get a first down and you can end up throwing it. You can mix it up a lot when you have drives. If you go three-and-out, you either ran it too much or threw it too much. Once you can get first downs, it makes it a lot easier for play-callers.”

*

On if the type of personnel on the field helps with play-calling:

“Yeah, and you can switch it up too and can change personnel, go to different groupings and get a defense on its heels. You really feel like you’re attacking them.”

*

On the offensive balance:

“All games are different, but I think if you look at how we’ve been in Houston when I was there and how this system has been in Denver over the years – we want to be a balanced team. We weren’t as balanced as we wanted to be last year, not even close. I think we’re doing a better job of that this year. I think it goes back to the last question, too, when you do have longer drives, you can get both plays in. You can throw the ball and run the ball, so it helps out.”

*

On mixing up the play-calling during long drives:

“I just think you can set things up better. You can show the defense a lot more stuff and they show you a lot of what they’re doing. You get plays that work over 10 consecutive plays and you can build up for something else. You get a chance to see how they’re stopping you when they are and you can come back with a counter play that really plays off of that. When you don’t have long drives, it’s really hard to do that.”

*

On tight end Chris Cooley’s role:

“Cooley is extremely important. I think he’ll continue to have a big role in this offense. Fred [Davis’] success has been really good for him and really good for the team. It has been expected. Cooley didn’t take one snap in the entire training camp and the entire preseason. Cooley’s really exceeded expectations with us. We weren’t sure if he was going to be able to play as much as he has. Any time you miss all of training camp because of injury and stuff, we were really worried that we weren’t going to be able to get him for these games. The fact that he’s been able to go in and play [is big]. I don’t know off of the top of my head, but he’s been playing at least 40 plays a game, if not like 60, in the first week. He’s playing a lot more and he’s exceeding our expectations for what we had going in.”

*

On if he knew on the third down against Arizona that he would go for it the fourth down that led to a touchdown pass to wide receiver Santana Moss:

“I can’t give you all of my secrets, but it definitely would have been a lot harder for me to call a run there if I didn’t think I had two shots at it… I knew what play I wanted if he was going to give me the chance to go for it.”

*

On if the fourth-down play was designed to go to Moss:

“No, it was the decision by what the defense gave him. There are always a couple of options. We’re not just throwing it deep no matter what they do. We got to a certain alignment in the formation and we’re reading one guy. The corner did something that told [quarterback Rex Grossman] exactly where to go. Rex read it right and didn’t hesitate in the situation, made the read he was supposed to make and got a good result from it.”

*

On the team’s success running to the left side:

“I think it’s just a coincidence. It has to do with what hash you are on and where you’re set in the formation. In the zone running game, you would like to think that you want to run it to whatever side you think is better. The back side is just as important as the front side in the zone game. We are probably cutting more plays back than actually bouncing to that side. As a play-caller, I rarely think when running zone plays, ‘hey, I want to go to this offensive lineman,’ because you have no idea where it is going to end up.”

*

On if Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware is one of the top pass rushers the team will face:

“It’s very rare that I don’t feel that way every single week in the NFL. I can say this probably 10 times, but I think he’s as good as it gets… They move him around a lot more [this season]. They are mixing it up. He’s a little bit harder to find.”

*

On slowing down Ware:

“You can’t let him tee off on you. If he can tee off on you and he knows what you’re doing, it’s going to be a long day for whoever is blocking him. You have to give them mixed looks and keep them off-balanced.”

*

On quarterback Rex Grossman having passes batted down:

“First thing, when things get tipped, people talk height a lot. I personally don’t believe that tipped balls have much to do with height. Even tall guys don’t really throw over people, they throw through windows. I think the defensive line in that game got a little tired inside and weren’t rushing as hard. They have some really tall players with long arms. Sometimes when they were up the field, Rex got up there in the pocket a lot. That’s when it’s tough and you’re throwing right through people. I don’t think he has that problem all of the time. They did a good job tipping our balls, but hopefully it will be better this week.”

*

On how Grossman’s performance against the Cowboys last year helped his confidence:

“That was his first game with us and it was my first game playing with him. We started out shaky in that game and [he] played as well as someone could in the second half. I think it was big for him and it was big for me to see what he was capable of and I think it was big for the team for them to see him and how he can play when he is on the top of his game. It’s a whole different [Cowboys] team this year and it’s a whole different system, so it’s not like we’re going off last year with the way we are attacking them. I think that did a lot for him just for people believing in him.”

*

On Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan:

“He’s aggressive and he’s all over the place. He’s going to try to confuse you. They do a lot of different things and you never really know what to expect. It’s not like they do the same thing week-in and week-out. You have to see how they are going to play you and you always have to be ready to watch the defense and be ready to adjust from the first play on.”

*

On center Will Montgomery is in charge of adjustments at the line of scrimmage:

“We have our rules that our guys go by. The quarterback can help some and take over certain things. That’s mainly things coaches are looking at and things we get to them on the sideline and adjustments we make each series.”

*

On the red zone offense:

“It was really good one game and really bad last week. Any time you get down there seven times, you’re doing something right. But, when you get down there seven times and you only score twice, you’re obviously very disappointed. You have a chance when you get into the red zone seven times to have a really high scoring game and we didn’t. And that’s because we didn’t produce down there. I thought they had a good plan against us. We just have to get better in that area. We did better the first week and we didn’t do well this week. Sometimes the NFL is like that and we have to rebound and improve this week.”

*

On improving the red zone offense:

“You just have to get better each week. Not every facet of your game is going to be perfect. Two weeks ago, we were very good on third down and this week we weren’t. We have to do better on that and I don’t think it’s anything in particular that we’re missing. We didn’t make the plays. We had a 3rd-and-3 that our false start turned into a 3rd-and-Goal from the eight and that’s a tough situation. We had a turnover down there too and a blocked field goal. We’re just focusing on it and working harder, but we’re not making any wholesale changes or anything like that.”

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