*On Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, Redskins HC Mike Shanahan addressed the media following afternoon practice at Redskins Park in Ashburn, VA. *
On his message to the team going into the bye week:
"The same message we've had throughout the year. You are trying to get better each week, each practice. It's what we try to do better this week. We talked about taking away the run or trying to take away the run. You go to giving up 3.4 yards per rushing attempt, you feel like you've improved. You try to put a team in a one-dimensional game and we were able to get some sacks and turnovers, and that's how you win football games."
On how he reminds players that turnarounds don't "just happen":
"I think what you do is you go back and you're tough on yourself, especially when you win when you look at the film. You talk about things you could have done to put the game away much earlier or what it takes to have a great day on both sides of the football. That's what you're constantly trying to do is look at the things you did poorly, try to improve on those. You always feel good when you win. That's the objective. Our football team is pretty realistic. They know what type of effort we have to have to get to the next level, what type of play we have to do consistently to win the division."
On how big the win against the Raiders was to avoid an 0-4 start:
"First-hand experience, I was with the Broncos when the Chargers started out 0-4 and they were in the playoffs, so I've seen things happen throughout the National Football League that, hey, you've just got to focus on the job at hand. Once you get too carried away, to me, that's when a team goes one way or another. You have to know what gives you a chance to win, and that's doing the little things the right way, and sometimes if you don't do all the little things the right way you lose a game and all of a sudden the sky is falling. The sky's not falling. You have got to go back and do the little things the right way, and if you have got that mindset and your players believe in the work, then you have got a chance to overcome anything. And even though we won the football game, we know we didn't play one of our better games, especially offensively. When that happens, then you have got a football team that has a chance to get better."
On how to correct third down struggles:
"Well, it's very easy. You take a look at what you did poorly in that third round. Was it a dropped ball? Was it a missed assignment? Was it a missed pick-up on the blitz? Was it one person that got overpowered? All those type of things. It takes 11 guys collectively to have the type of game we just talked about, and if you don't, you go back and you're tough on yourself and you say, 'Hey, we've got to do this as a team.'"
On his evaluation of his special teams unit:
"We have got to get better. We have a lot of people playing different positions that they haven't played there before, some young guys. You know at the one position we had the blocked punt, we've had a new left wing there a couple of weeks in a row – not that that was the missed assignment, but collectively we have got to get better working as a group. We do have some guys that haven't had a lot of experience, but we're getting some great effort. We have got to improve on our technique, but I like the effort that we do have. We just have got to clean things up a little bit and we have got to improve, there's no question about it."
On deciding the best time to use the no-huddle offense:
"It's always good when you use something that nobody has ever seen before, so you do catch people off-balance a little bit and I think that's what we did. We caught them a little off-balance. The pace was a little bit different, and I think it's a good changeup. I like what we did, both in the running game, they weren't used to some of our play-action passes off of it. I think we got them a little bit by surprise, and I think it got the momentum going in our direction. Sometimes you have to come up with different packages like that and use it when you think you need to, and at that time I thought we needed it."
On difficulty of preparing for a fake punt:
"You work on those things throughout the week. You don't know exactly what direction they're going to go, but they've been known for fakes so we've worked on more fakes this week than we probably normally do. Then you take a look at why something happened. Number one, number 22 [cornerback Taiwan Jones] is pretty fast. We had angles on him, at least from the inside going out, but we didn't have containment. We've got a guy looking inside on the quarterback sneak and, you know, he's got force, but, anyway, team speed was able to overcome that, and they got a big play on us. You have got to give them credit for calling it and having the guts to call it backed up in that position. I thought it was a good play and they took advantage of it. Now, as we all know, the big question mark, if we would have had the force and the containment we would have had great field position so we'll continually work on that and try to make a big play when we can."
On if it is better or worse to have the bye week this early in the season:
"I don't even think about that because when you've got your bye, it's your bye. It doesn't matter if it's the middle of the season, toward the end of the season or in the beginning. You can use excuses that it's the perfect time for any bye week. At the end of the day, we have got a chance to heal up a little bit. We have got a couple of guys banged up which is a positive for us to get these guys healthy. When you take a look at four preseason games and four regular season games and at least the last couple of weeks hopefully going in the right direction, we can come back healthy and we know where we're at in the NFC East and start the season all over again."
On if he is surprised at the state of the NFC East:
"Remember, this is a long season. Don't get carried away with things that happen very early or very late. Just stay the course. Understand your objective and your goals and try to get better each day. A lot of those games can go either way and people get healthy or they get injured and there is a lot that goes into it."
On running back Roy Helu, Jr.'s play in place of Alfred Morris:
"Alfred I think got hurt early, and you could see he was sore. Even in that first quarter he wasn't running normal, doing the different things that I've seen him do throughout the course of time since he's been here. You could see on film that he wasn't 100 percent. So, when Roy did get his opportunities, as I shared with you yesterday, I was really pleased with him because he was ready both in the running game and the passing game. You could see his speed, his strength, and he took advantage of a couple of opportunities to get some big plays."
On how well quarterback Robert Griffin III did communicating plays in the no-huddle offense:
"He did a great job. We've been practicing that all the way through camp. You go back to Richmond, we practiced it from day one. He's done a great job with it. It is hard in that type of environment if you are changing plays, and when he did change plays, we communicated it successfully. More importantly, I think that when you catch somebody by surprise, you have got a chance to gain a little momentum and that's what we did."
On versatility of safety Brandon Meriweather:
"Most people that have safeties, you have got to interchange. People, what they do with motions, with tight ends, wide receivers, if you don't interchange, you can really keep a defense pretty much off-balance, so those safeties aren't really sure where they're going to line up. The one thing about Brandon, if he's deep or he's in the box, he can tackle, he's going to make some plays. I think he's getting in better football shape. You can see each game he's playing better and he's getting healthier. You need reps to be good no matter what, and those reps are helping him."
On if he has an update on tight end Logan Paulsen:
"I don't. I haven't talked to [Head Athletic Trainer] Larry [Hess] yet. I'm sure as soon as they know something they're going to share that with me but I have not talked to him yet."
On how to separate big plays on third down from overall struggles on third down:
"I think you answered your own question. That's what we're trying to do is execute like we did in those situations, and we're trying to do it every play. When you do execute like that, that means all 11 people are on the same page. When you don't, usually, they are much better than you are or you haven't executed properly with your game plan."
On if he is concerned about any injuries from Sunday extending beyond the bye week:
"I really don't know since I haven't really talked with Larry yet. I haven't really been updated, but I think they would have shared that with me yesterday if they thought it was very serious. I don't think you know about Logan until you actually have an MRI, but Logan felt pretty good yesterday. Sometimes that doesn't mean anything. Guys can feel good and all of a sudden it's not very positive, so we'll keep our fingers crossed there."
On if the seven sacks were a function of the pass rush or the pass coverage:
"Well, it's a combination of both. Anytime you get sacks, you've got to have good coverage, and to get interceptions you've got to have pressure on the quarterback. I mentioned it a second ago, if you can put a team more in a one-dimensional game, a team that's counting on the run like the Raiders have done, if you can get them more in a one-dimensional game and have them throwing the ball and we can kind of put our ears back a little bit, get after the quarterback, it gives us an advantage."
On if he saw anything different from linebacker Brian Orakpo or if Orakpo just had more opportunities:
"As I mentioned again, 3.4 yards per rushing attempt, all of a sudden they feel like they have to throw the ball a little bit more and 'Rak gets more opportunities to get after the quarterback."
On if Orakpo had to shake off rust coming off injury last year:
"I think any time that you come back after an injury that confidence builds as you get more repetition, and I think that's for 'Rak, that's for Robert, anybody that's been injured, especially for any length of time."
On if he thinks the defense can continue to score and make impact plays:
"Yeah, I do. But I think you go back to each game, and I don't mean to really belabor a point, but when you take a look at the first game against Philly, they really kind of keep you off-balance when that running game is going. You know the yardage they had. And then you take a look as the games go on, and say, 'OK, what did Green Bay do that kind of got us on our heels a little bit?' They ran the football. So that's what I think has been the difference in the last couple of games on defense. Even though Detroit wasn't perfect, we made some strides, and this game, more strides. But even when we put a team in a one-dimensional game, they still can execute, so you've got to get after the quarterback, so hopefully we can keep on doing that."
On how Griffin III can improve on getting rid of the football when under pressure:
"We go over the things with Robert. If you do get put in a situation like that, and someone might miss an assignment, they may have an all-out blitz, which side do you throw it to? Do you throw it to the side with no wide receivers or the side with three wide receivers? All of a sudden, as time goes on, the process slows down a little bit, and with repetition, you get better."
On the development of wide receiver Leonard Hankerson:
"Hank is really playing well. When he gets the opportunity to set guys up one-on-one, he usually wins. He's one of the guys that has size, has strength and is becoming more comfortable not only with the system, but with himself. It's nice to have a guy that's healthy all the way through the summer, through the offseason, training camp, and he's been able to do that. Therefore, you can see the progress that he's made."
On the play of running back Chris Thompson as a punt returner:
"The one thing that the average fan would look at and say, 'Oh my god, the ball hit the ground too many times.' But if you watched him in practice, he was booming them and the wind was very strong, so we had him back there about 47 yards. As the game started, he drove them and most of them were short – a little bit different than in practice. We always tell our punt returner, if it's windy and that ball is kicked in an area that we're not comfortable with, let it go. It really didn't cost us any yards. But the thing that I don't want to do is a guy just lay out, make sure he catches it, and then all of a sudden he bobbles it and it's a turnover. That usually costs you the game. I was pleased with his decisions for a young guy coming into that type of environment. I wasn't disappointed because I know how windy it was down there. And some of the decisions he made – I like the decisions he made."
On if he thinks restrictions on contact in practices have made tackling is a lost art:*
"Well, when you can only have pads on one day of the week, you're not going to be great at tackling, but you want to get better as the season goes on. I agree, we still did miss some tackles in that game. I like the effort with the amount of guys we had getting to the football, so if somebody does miss a tackle, there's other guys there to make the tackle. But if you can average 3.5 yards per rushing attempt, good things are going to work out for you."