On Thursday, October 17, 2013, Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan addressed the media following an afternoon practice at Redskins Park in Ashburn, VA.
On quarterback Robert Griffin III re-establishing himself as a runner vs. Dallas:
"I thought it was his best game running athletically. He looked fresh out there. He competed hard with his legs. He kept some plays alive. He made some designed plays in the zone-read. He did a good job and it opened some stuff up. It makes them defend a lot of stuff."
On what having a defender spying on the quarterback does for the offense:
"It depends how they're doing it. With Dallas, it's not really a technical spy. They play such a zone defense and they have all eyes on the quarterback, just the type of scheme that [Cowboys Defensive Coordinator] Monte [Kiffin] has coached over the years whether it's Tampa 2 or 3-deep/4-under. So they don't really designate a spy for him, but those inside backers, especially those hook players always have vision at him so they can react to things quicker. Whether it's him scrambling or whether it's him moving, they have eyes on him and they move with his eyes."
On tight end Fred Davis' role in the offense:
"We've got four tight ends, as we've said all year, that we believe in. We think they all can help us. Each week they compete in practice for playing time. Fred got out there a little bit in two tight end sets and got in there in our two tight end, fullback and one receiver sets we call 'U-personnel'. He got some playing time out there, but it's a week-to-week thing. It depends on what plays we are running, what package we've got in personnel-wise, it's a week-to-week deal."
On the miscommunication between Griffin III and wide receiver Pierre Garcon:
"It's something that happens, but it's not something that you just don't worry about because it is a big deal. You definitely don't want to waste a play, especially in that situation. Robert signaled a route to him and Pierre was looking inside adjusting his feet and he missed it. It costs you a play and it costs you time in a crucial situation. It's something that you understand why it happened, but it's something you don't want to happen again so you address it. You've got to make sure that when you signal to a guy the wideout has got to keep their eyes on the quarterback and the quarterback has got to make sure they see them."
On whether the running game is where he would like it to be or not:
"I mean, I don't think anything is ever where you want it to be, especially when you're 1-4. We've done some good things. I think we've done some good things the last two weeks in particular. You see the yards per carry are up. It does help when you get some big runs. That always helps the average. I'd like to eliminate more of those negative runs. I think we had a few negative runs in the game. When you call a run on second-and-10, you want to at least feel – worst-case scenario – it will be third-and-7. We had a couple of situations where we got into third-and-12 and things like that. I think our main goal as an offense is to always have a positive run and if you can keep your guys on the field and you keep getting positive runs and moving the chains, then you're going to have a good average because it's a matter of time before you're going to get that 15-yarder, in some cases a 40-yarder. That's really what helps your average."
On what caused the red zone struggles and if they have emphasized fixing that this week:
"Yeah, you've just got to look at why it happened. Any time you get field goals, you really can't count on winning. You've got to get touchdowns. You've got to score in this league. You can feel as good as you want about getting yards, and stuff but it only matters when you get points and we didn't get enough and that's why we lost. When you look at our red zone trips, the first one in particular I think was most disappointing because we had first-and-goal at the nine. We had a dropped pass on first down. We had a no-yard run on second down. Then we had third-and-goal from the nine and it's about a 10 percent chance of scoring on third-and-goal from the nine. We ran a quarterback draw. We were two yards short. So I think, in that case, we've got to do better on first and second down. The next time we got down there was on the 17-yard-line with 20 seconds left so, you know, it's tough to get in the end zone when you've got that, especially going against a bend but don't break defense, but we didn't do good there either. We threw two incompletions and got into a third-and-long so then we just really ended up, knowing we weren't going to get into the end zone, ran a quarterback draw there too. The next time in the red zone I think we only got to the 20-yard line, so we got to the 20-yard-line and it was second-and-nine, ran the ball, lost two yards, and then had third-and-11. So, that third time I don't really think we truly, really got in there, we just got to the 20. Yeah, we've got to get better, and we won't win if we can't score in the red zone."
On if there was one particular thing that caused Griffin III to complete less than half of his passes:
"No, I think it's just a process. We knew it would be a challenge with those guys. It's a good defense. They've got some really good backers inside in their pass coverage with their zone drops and everything, [Cowboys linebacker] Sean Lee being as good as anybody. The corners did a good job on the outside being physical with our receivers and [Cowboys defensive tackle Jason] Hatcher made a few plays in the rush. We just missed a couple of throws, had a couple drops and they start to add up, but I think that's a situation that we didn't put him in as much last year and he's getting more experience at it. I feel he's getting better and the things that he does struggle with he's trying to improve this week."
On if they talk about Griffin III playing more instinctually:
"No, that's something – that's usually what I start off saying to him before every game, 'Just make sure you go out there and be you and have fun.' During the week it's about fundamentals, execution, your technique, trying to get a guy better, but when you get to game day, it's about playing. You've got to let it loose and go out there and just react and see what happens and when you make mistakes you've got to get it corrected that week in practice. I think Robert is starting to feel more comfortable the more he gets healthy. I think he says that because he's feeling he can be more of himself and I think it showed a little bit on Sunday night."
On how the Bears' defense has changed since the retirement of linebacker Brian Urlacher:
"It hasn't changed as far as scheme even with a different staff. They're still doing the same stuff they did when [former Head Coach] Lovie [Smith] was there. It's a hard eight-man front and then it's Tampa 2. They're a very sound defense against the run and the pass. They make you work for everything. It's tough to get big plays on them, very similar to Dallas. Maybe mix in a little more Tampa 2 than Dallas did, but they make you go down the field. You can move the ball a little bit on them but they make it tough to get in the end zone. When you mess up, they are opportunistic. They get picks. They've got guys out there like [cornerback Charles] Tillman and stuff and you've got to execute versus them. If you don't or you're a little bit off, they get turnovers and that's how they win games."
On if the quarterback draw is becoming available now because of the improved health of Griffin III:
"No, we've had it in the game plan. You just don't like to call it when you don't think it looks good. I can't give you guys all of our secrets but there's times this year that we have called it that you don't end up running it because of certain looks you get in the defense. There's premier looks to run that play and then there's not. Last year we ran it, it seemed, a ton early in the year and we stopped running it as much because defenses were playing it. When defenses were playing it, you're not just going to beat your heads against the wall, you've got to do some other stuff. We ran it with [quarterback] Kirk [Cousins] on a two-point conversion last year to send it to overtime vs. Baltimore, so I think that was the last time we'd done it. I think I called it once earlier this year but we got out of it because of the look."
On if other teams will make adjustments based on Griffin III's success running against Dallas:*
"You always look for that, but I didn't really see it that way with Dallas. They play a one-plug defense, which is man-free with a four-man rush. Anytime there's four guys rushing and six guys in coverage, they've got one left there to be a plugger. How do they use that plugger? Usually that guy reads the quarterback's eyes and floats around. He is the free one. It's really necessarily a spy for a rushing defense, it's more of a run-coverage, but he is a free guy. I don't mind when there are spies for the rush. I kind of like it because it takes a guy out of there, and I think if Robert gets out there free, that guy's going to have to be pretty fast to catch him. So I don't think it's too much of an issue."