*On Monday, Oct. 14, 2013, Redskins HC Mike Shanahan addressed the media following afternoon practice at Redskins Park in Ashburn, VA. *
On the injuries to linebacker Bryan Kehl, long snapper Nick Sundberg and cornerback David Amerson:
"Kehl – ACL. He'll be out for the season. Nick, same injury he had last year with the meniscus tear, he'll be out [for the season]. And Amerson has a concussion and we'll monitor that day-by-day going through the protocol that we usually do on concussions."
On if the team has brought in a new long snapper:
"Not yet, but we will."
On the special teams unit and if its play is related to personnel or to the scheme:
"I think it's a combination of a lot of different things. When you play as a unit, whether it's offense, defense or special teams and they have success, everybody's got to do their job, and if one guy is a little bit off, you look pretty average. And even on that one punt return, we had a penalty that brought it back. We had them inside the 15, and the second one, that's when Kehl's knee actually collapses when he's making a cut right there with the ball carrier. But, as I said before, you have got to play well as a unit, and if you're a little bit off either way, you can look pretty average very quickly."
On what he'll emphasize this week to fix special teams mistakes:
"Same thing you always do – doing little things the right way. It's everybody being in tune to doing the little things the right way. Same thing we've talked about offense and defense. I thought it was one of the better games we've played defensively – it was the best game we've played defensively without a question. I'm very proud of our defense with the way they went out there and fought. You're going against a very talented football team like Dallas and to control them in the running game and somewhat in the passing game, to play at that level, I'm very pleased. So that's a very positive part of what happened against Dallas. But when you go and look at the offense and the special teams, we were pretty average. We weren't as consistent as we should be on offense and the same thing with special teams. One guy can be a little bit off. You can have a lot of yards, and you can look good in the running game and the passing game, but if you don't get the ball in the end zone, it really doesn't matter – score enough points to win."
On what he thinks is the reason behind the special teams struggles:
"I think anytime you take a look at a unit, you come together and that's what you do. Lorenzo Alexander is not going to show up, so somebody has got to take control of those special teams. One guy has got to define himself or two guys have got to define themselves, and it's us working as a group and it just takes one guy to look pretty average."
On if he thought tight end Niles Paul was clipped on the punt return for a touchdown:
"He got pushed in the back. Yeah, he got pushed in the back."
On the value of players like former special teams captain Lorenzo Alexander:
"That's what you're always looking for, that guy to separate themselves in one area, if its offense, defense or special teams. When you are voted captain, you kind of want to separate yourself from the rest of the pack. That's why we vote for our captain at the midway point, to see who kind of separates themselves in special teams, and we're still looking for that guy. We've got a lot of guys in different positions, some new players. They're getting used to different techniques and hopefully we can put it together this weekend."
On Special Teams Coordinator Keith Burns:
"I think Keith Burns is a very excellent football coach. Very capable. Like I said, to get at this level and to be in charge of something, it takes a lot of years of work to be put in this position, and I feel very confident that he'll get the job done even though we've started out a little bit rough."
On not being awarded the ball after recovering a potential fumble on a punt and if he has contacted the league about the ruling:
"No, I didn't have to contact the league, I saw it. It was a missed call. I saw it during the game, but if somebody makes a call incorrectly and that's what they see, you can't challenge it. So it's just a missed call. We should have had the ball there."
On if he will be more involved with special teams this week:
"What you don't see is how much time I do spend with all the areas – special teams, offense, defense. That's what a head coach does… Any phase that's struggling you always spend more time on that phase."
On if he thinks the hit on Amerson was helmet-to-helmet:
"Well, it was definitely helmet-to-helmet. David, of course in that position, he's going to learn in time that he's got to hit that hole a little bit harder. He can't wait. He's got an excellent opportunity to go in there and make the play and that's just a guy with a little inexperience. Next time he's in that position, he'll make the tackle."
On if he is encouraged by the improvement he saw yesterday:
"I think I shared with you that I was very pleased with our defense. I thought it was their best game of the year by far. Any time you have that type of run defense and you go against a quarterback that's had a lot of success and you play at that level, you feel very good. The defense gave us many opportunities to win that football game, but we didn't take advantage of it offensively or [on] special teams. In order to win those games, you've got to play good in all phases, especially on the road."
On if the hit on Amerson should have been a penalty for a peel-back:
"I don't want to go into detail for obvious reasons, but any time you get a helmet-to-helmet hit, there's always an evaluation process. But like I said, if he would have shot the right angle, he would have never been hit. Those are the things that we concentrate on."
On what quarterback Robert Griffin III making plays running will do for the team going forward:
"I think everybody saw that Robert did look more comfortable running the ball, making plays out of sequence. Really it's a credit to him making some of those plays, but collectively we've got to get better as a team. Obviously the more he can do the better off we'll be."
On what happened on the miscommunication between Griffin III and wide receiver Pierre Garçon:
"It was first-and-10 on the 18 right before the half and Pierre didn't see a signal that Robert gave him. Robert was giving him a signal and Pierre didn't see it and he thought he was going to run the go route, and if not, Robert probably would have worked the other side, but those things do happen."
On what needs to be done to turn the corner like last season, and if he thinks that is possible:
"The thing you can't do is look down the road. What you have to do is look at today, and that's what we'll do. We'll be tough on ourselves today, look at the things we did poorly. The players will come in and get a workout in, look at the film. Then Wednesday we'll get on to Chicago. But in order to beat a team like Chicago, you've got to take it a day at a time and just concentrate on that football team. If you get better as a group, then you've got a chance to win and at least that's the formula that I look at."
On the impact of losing Sundberg:
"Anytime you lose a guy that you count on, it takes some work, takes some timing. If it's on extra points and field goals, if it's on punts, it does take some time. There's a learning process that goes with it."
On the play of the wide receivers last night:
"They [the Cowboys] did play a lot of man coverage, a lot of eight-man fronts. We expected them to play that to stop our running game and it's always a challenge. Any time you go against DBs in a one-on-one coverage, you see very quickly if guys are open or if they're not. But a lot of times against man coverage, those windows aren't going to be as open as they are in zone, so you've got to execute."
On clock management decisions against Dallas:
"First of all, you're thinking before, if it's second-and-10, it does go to third-and-7 – why do you let the clock go down to 44 seconds? A lot of people wonder, were we trying to get a play off or were we trying to keep them from calling the timeout? In our minds, if we would have snapped the ball right away and we missed the third-and-7, then they have the ball with three timeouts with a minute and ten seconds left with [Cowboys quarterback] Tony [Romo] to possibly go the distance. By us going to 44 seconds and then calling a timeout, now you decide if you get the first down, which we did on the 18-yard line – and they let that clock go about an extra five seconds too long. We should have the ball with 25 seconds but that's neither here nor there – but we do have three opportunities there to go for the end zone before we kick a field goal and that's what you're looking for. You're trying to get points, possibly a touchdown, and a minimum of a field goal. We were hoping that they wouldn't call a timeout and we would let that clock go down a little bit so if we missed the third-and-7 we would keep them out of an opportunity to run the two-minute offense as well."
On if his general philosophy is to be patient or shake up personnel:
"I'm not sure how to answer that question. I can relate to a lot of different things. I don't really worry about those type of things during the season. What I'm trying to do is concentrate on each game just like the players do, and it's up to you guys to analyze all those type of things. I've got a lot of belief in our coaches, a lot of belief in our players. I know what we did last year on offense. We're not quite there yet like we were last year. We've been moving the football but we haven't been scoring points. For us to be the type of football team we need to be, we need to get back on course and the defense can play like they did last week. And special teams, like I said, we've got a number of new players playing new positions. We've got to get them to feel comfortable in their role, and if you do that, then you've got a chance to win."
On what goes into the decision to switch to a hurry-up offense:
"It all depends. Sometimes it's crowd noise. Sometimes it's the play of your players – if you think they're tired or not tired. The main thing you have to do is score. You've got to score the first touchdown to have the opportunity to score the second one, so that first one, you're a little bit more careful than you are on the second one because I think we proved at the end of the half – we had two minutes and 23 seconds, we had 80 yards to go – I never worried about three timeouts. Two minutes and 20 seconds, it's plenty of time, without even the timeout, so that's easy. What you want to make sure of, at least from my standpoint, is you don't want to return or give the ball back to them and give them a chance to score. So there's a fine line between both of them. I was happy with first-and-10 on the 17-yard line with 20 seconds left. It should have been 25 seconds left. They let it go down an extra five seconds. I was fighting to get that back, and if you see the replay on it, they did give them an extra five seconds, but that's [neither] here nor there. But at the end of the day, you go through all of those scenarios and you try to come up with the best thing that you think gives yourself a chance to win."
On going to a no-huddle attack in the fourth quarter:
"What you do is kind of speed up. You want to go different formations. Usually, when you go with a no-huddle, usually it's pretty base formations. You don't have as much formation variations. We thought it was very important with that seven minutes left that we score that touchdown, and we thought we could do so better by changing formations. Now, if we score that, the way we were playing defense, we felt we could get the ball back with two minutes left or two-and-a-half minutes left. So, we felt pretty good about our chances at least tying the game, being 15 down."
On safety Jose Gumbs playing instead of safety Bacarri Rambo:
"Yeah, Gumbs was strictly special teams. Gumbs has done a great job on special teams, or at least a very physical guy. We're wanted to take a look at him compared to Bacarri, and that's why he was up."
On if it is easier to stay positive at 1-4 because of the team's turnaround last season:
"I don't think of it that way. I take a look at it how you're playing right now today. I was pleased with our defense. For our defense to go over there, keep them to a little over 200 yards – not too many teams will do that, especially on the road. It was very positive how our football team stepped up on defense and played a very talented football team in their backyard. So I felt very good about that. That gives you a chance down the road to have a lot of optimism, especially after some of the things we did last year on offense. Hopefully we can get back to that point."
On where offensive lineman Maurice Hurt is in his recovery:
"He's feeling pretty good. Now we've got to make the decision on when we want to bring him up."