On Thursday, September 26, 2013, Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan addressed the media following an afternoon practice at Redskins Park in Ashburn, VA.
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."