Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay and defensive coordinator Joe Barry give their thoughts heading into Sunday's 2015 Week 2 matchup against the St. Louis Rams.
Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay On if he has seen a difference in the Rams' defense since last year:
"They're obviously a great defense. I have got a lot of respect for Coach [Gregg] Williams. He does an excellent job of getting everything coordinated. They are very similar from what we've seen in the preseason and the first game — very aggressive, they've got a great front four, and backers that can run and excellent in the secondary — so we know it's a great challenge for us and one that we're excited to see how we do."
On how tough it is to run the ball on the Rams:**
"It's very difficult. There is a lot of movement. There is a lot of pressures on first and second down. They do a good job mixing it up on the back end. Anytime that you have a front that has as many moving pieces with the type of players that they do have at those spots, it presents a big challenge for us."
On TE Derek Carrier:
"I'll tell you what, I was very impressed with Derek Carrier. For the amount of snaps he played, for the amount of time that he's been here, he exceeded my expectations. With what we asked him to do, he did an excellent job last week and I think we're looking to see if he can build on that performance and do a better job as we move forward."
On the matchups on the offensive line this week:
"Well, it's a little bit than last week where Miami's defensive line played sides. You know [Robert] Quinn is going to be on our left side going against Trent [Williams] and they're going to play Chris Long on their right and then usually [Aaron] Donald is the three-technique when they play an over defense. It kind of depends on how you set the front with where the tight end aligns and how they decide which fronts they want to play and then where Donald aligns. But he'll be lined up against both Brandon [Scherff] and Shawn [Lauvao] and [Michael] Brockers is a very good player that typically plays their shade. Those guys move around inside, so all three of our players inside need to expect to go against him."
On if it is more difficult to wear down the Rams' defensive line because of their depth:**
"There's no question about it, Chris. They do a great job where they bring in their second-team guys and they're starting caliber players. They go very deep on the defensive front and they do a good job of rotating those guys in and out. Ideally, you'd like to be able to try and wear guys down and be able to sustain the run game and stay ahead of the chains, but against the front that does have as much depth, it does make it a little bit more difficult."
On getting speedy wide receivers involved to keep the Rams' defense honest:
"Anytime that you miss a DeSean Jackson where he does have the ability to stretch the defenses different than most guys around the league, it presents a little bit more challenges. But I think we've got to do a good job kind of mixing in when we take our shots and keeping them honest. They're an aggressive defense that for the most part when you plan some of those personnel groupings with two backs and a tight end or two tight ends and two wide receivers, you're going to get some aggressive fronts where they want to play seven- and eight-man fronts. We've got to do a good job picking our spots and making them be honest with what they're doing on the back end and hopefully get some plays down the field."
On if the short passing game will continue be used to keep the ball moving if defenses focus on the run:
"Yeah, I think in the first half we were able to sustain some drives. Really when you look at the second half, I think we did a poor job of taking ourselves out of position, you know, where we're jumping offsides, we're having self-inflicted wounds that we certainly can't afford to have. But our quick passing game is always going to be priority because I think it's something that we have receivers that can separate quickly on the perimeter. I think Kirk [Cousins] does an excellent job in that. So, I think just kind of giving a flow and a feel for the game, that's always something that you want it to be a part. How much of a part of it is kind of predicated as you go throughout the course of a game."
On if he noticed a change in QB Kirk Cousins' resiliency last week: "Yeah, Mike. One of those things that he was able to face a little bit of adversity in the Baltimore game, and just like when he had the early pick that was kind of an unfortunate situation where I didn't really put him in a great spot there, I didn't sense any blink. It was the same exact thing the other day. He knows those are situations where we've got to be smarter with the football and just take it underneath or throw it away and let's punt the ball and get ourselves a fresh set of downs when our defense comes back. But, he responded, had some great throws on that next drive when we were able to sustain a long drive and score a touchdown. So, I think you are seeing a more resilient guy that handles adversity better for sure."
Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry On the challenge the secondary has faced by not being able to play together consistently this year:
"Yeah, but that's the NFL. It's a challenge each and every week, but the thing that we just keep preaching and keep talking to guys about it is the NFL season is a marathon. It's not a sprint. It's war of attrition and you've got to have the best guys up every week. We kind of have a motto, 'We have starters and we have starters-in-waiting.' So, we don't have a bunch of backups; we have guys that are starters-in-waiting. Every starter-in-waiting is one play away from being that guy getting his number called. So, that's the way you've got to prepare, that's the way you've got to think. Whether it's to go in and finish a game or going and having to be the starter next week for the rest of the season or an extended period of time or one week, that's the mindset that we try to build with them from day one, so next man up, let's roll."
On how CB Bashaud Breeland looks:**
"Well, I think all of you guys have gotten to know Bree in the time that he's been here. In the five months that I've been with him, he is – as a competitor – he is one of the best competitors I've ever been around. So, I think Bree is always going to come out there and compete. There's no doubt about that. I think the thing that was good for him is that he got that fourth preseason game in and was able to knock a lot of rust off. The thing that really stinks for Bree is that he not only has this suspension to that he had to deal with last week, but he was out three or four weeks with the knee injury that he got early in camp. So, the good thing was he came back a lot earlier than expected. He practiced the whole week of Baltimore. He practiced the whole week obviously of Jacksonville. He was able to go out and get some game reps. He played almost three quarters, knocked a lot of rust off. So I think anytime you go play your first game, for him his first game is going to be this week, but from a competitor-level standpoint, I don't worry about him going out and competing."
On Breeland's versatility:
"I think it's huge. He can play inside. He can play outside and we will do that with him. We have different packages. Bottom line, I'm fired up for him because a guy that is so passionate about the game, a guy that loves the game so much, it's going to be fun to have [No.] 26 out there with a helmet on."
On how important it is to have a leader like S Dashon Goldson in the secondary:
"No doubt. I think I mentioned it last week. I refer to… Dashon is 'the dude that drives the bus for us.' He's the leader, and to have him back there not only as a player, but just leadership. I think I bragged on him last week on how smart he is, how he calls plays out before they're happening just because of certain formations or certain splits. So when you have a guy like that with his ability and veteran presence, it's awesome."
On S Trenton Robinson saying he is working on alignment issues and understanding his help, and if Barry has seen Robinson working on those things in practice:
"Yeah, sure. That's everything, I think no matter what position you play, but especially playing in the back end. Leverage and knowing where your help is everything. Now obviously the guy that you're covering, they get paid and they practice too. They get paid to beat leverage. But I was proud of Trenton for stepping up in the way he did when Duke [Ihenacho] got hurt. What was it, the eighth play? To be able to go in and us really not miss a beat with him playing, that's kudos to T-Rob and the way that he's prepared and really the offseason and preseason that he's had. He's improved and that's what we always talk about – daily improvement from phase one to phase two to phase three of the offseason then obviously the training camp, each week playing preseason games. He's steadily gotten better and improved, so he's a great example of a dude taking advantage of his opportunity."
On DE Jason Hatcher playing inside:**
"I think in what we do here and what he's really good at it, it's just a system fit. We're going to let Hatch do what he does and that's playing on the edge of people and getting off and using his explosiveness. People also don't realize how good Hatch is on the move. I think it was just a perfect fit in the things that we ask that position to do and the things that he's good at. I bragged on D-Gold last week. Hatch is, when you talk about a veteran leader, it's good when you have veterans that are good players but a veteran that's a good player that does everything right, that studies, that works hard, that comes out and practices every day, that takes notes in every meeting – that's fun. We got that obviously in a guy like D-Gold and D-Hall in the DB room. We've got that in Hatch in the D-Line room, and that's impressive for me to see."
On if there is pressure on the defensive line to create pressure on quarterbacks:
"That's the thing, we refer to it as – it's kind of ironic – it's pressure getting on the quarterback but D-lineman don't look at it as pressure on them to get pressure. Because you ask any D-lineman 'Hey, you want to rush four or you want to come after them? You want to blitz or you want rush four?' They'll be like. 'No. coach let's rush four. Let us do it.' So I think it's a mentality and a mindset that has to be created. We have that here with that room. You'll ask each one of them man-to-man, 'Would you rather them call a blitz or just a four-man rush and drop seven?' Every single one of them would be like. 'Hey, put the rush on us, let us rush four and let's go.' That's fun when you get that mindset and that culture built. But it does, it puts it on them, because again, they're outnumbered. There's five O-linemen, there's four D-linemen. They possibly have a tight end, they possibly have a back. So sometimes you're rushing four against five, six or seven. It's something that they embrace and they love the challenge. They love rushing four."
On how he has had to adjust because of the shuffle at cornerback:
"Again, like we've said before, injuries and guys getting banged up and coming in and out of the lineup, that's part of today's NFL. We never really make a big deal of it. Like I said, it's a next man up mentality. I'm always a glass half-full guy the way I look at things. With some of those injuries that we had in camp – some guys missed five or six days, some guys missed a couple weeks – that was an opportunity for young guys to get reps. They're really going to use that, they're going to refer back to those reps that they were able to get in camp."
On CB David Amerson:**
"He got spun around a little bit on the touchdown but that's a tough down for a corner down there. We were in man coverage. We had rotated everything away for him so he was basically zero on the backside. Now, we challenge him to win that. Could have been a little bit better with his technique, could have been better with his eyes that would've helped, but David's a guy that every day just comes to work and shows up and forces him to get better."
On LB Preston Smith:
"I think with Preston, Preston is definitely able and ready to play more. He will play more. You can never set a perfect number when you have rotation. It was the same thing with [DE] Stephen Paea. We got a rotation, it's a series rotation. Well, if one guy's series you go three-and-out and the next guy's series goes eight plays, then the numbers are going to be skewed. But that's a good problem to have when we have depth and we have numbers. Preston, his play numbers will increase every week because he's a good young player. That was a big play that he made. It was a heck of a rush."
On how much more he values Goldson's leadership when he sees the changes in the secondary:
"Like I said, I said it last week, I'll say it this week, I'll probably say it every week. There's nothing better than veteran leadership. There really is. Genuine veteran leadership, a guy that not only talks the talk but he walks the walk. I tell the young guys all the time, when you're fortunate enough to have a guy like that, I mentioned last week I was fortunate enough to be around Derrick Brooks. I told every rookie when they walked in the building, 'If you want to know how to act and be a pro in this league, watch that guy,' and it's the same thing. I've told young guys, 'Watch Dashon Goldson.' Every aspect of his game — whether it's in the weight room, the meeting room, the practice field, game day — that's how a pro should be. It's vital, no question, when you can really have a guy like that and rely on a guy like that."
On LB Ryan Kerrigan's performance last Sunday:
"Well, I mean, he had a half-sack, had a huge fourth-and-one tackle for loss. But Ryan is… Again you guys are asking me about guys that are easy to brag on. It killed Ryan Kerrigan, he was embarrassed that we kept him out of the preseason. And a lot of times, unfortunately in this day and age, you keep a veteran out of a preseason game, they're thanking you as a coach. He was legitimately pissed off because we were keeping him out of games. We weren't playing him. He felt, 'I'm not earning my check. It's a game. I've got to go play.' So I think that's what makes Ryan Kerrigan the type of player that he is. If it's a pass, he thinks he should be getting a sack on every play. If it's a run play, he thinks that he should be defeating his man and making the tackle on every play. That's the way he drives himself and that's the way he thinks. He's one of those guys that it's easy to coach hard because he wants to be coached hard. He wants to be not told, 'Hey Ryan, you did a good job,' because he's looking, 'No, I didn't. I didn't make a play.' He is very, very hard on himself. Most of the really, really good players in this league are very hard on themselves. He's another phenomenal guy to be around."
On if he got a sense from the defense that they were close last week and are ready to get back out there:
"I went around and told each man, 'There's no consolation prizes for losing or for second place. This is a win-or-lose business.' Our job is to hold our opponent to one less point than we score. We didn't do that. We didn't do enough. But, I think the guys were… We came in — it's always a little hairy, you never know how the guys how are going to act when you come back, the first day from a loss — but they came back in, we watched the film, corrected the things that we needed to correct. We left a lot of plays out there. We mentioned we only had one turnover. We left four or five legitimate turnover opportunities out there that we missed. You point those things out. You point the things how we can even play better and improve on. They loved it. They were eager and had a great day at practice yesterday, had a great day at practice today, so it was good."