On Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, Redskins HC Mike Shanahan addressed the media following afternoon practice at Redskins Park in Ashburn, VA.
On the injury report:
"Did not practice today was [safety Jose] Gumbs – ankle is still a little bit sore. Limited was [wide receiver Pierre] Garçon, calf. People that practiced full were [defensive end Stephen] Bowen, [safety] Reed Doughty, [quarterback Robert] Griffin III, [wide receiver Leonard] Hankerson, [nose tackle Chris] Neild, [tight end Logan] Paulsen and [running back Chris] Thompson."
On starting slow:
"We've been working on that to try to get something going, but I think that, especially the first drive, you try to get that consistency and move the ball down the field and score some points, but we haven't been able to do that. But that's what we're working on."
On quarterback Robert Griffin III's knee:
"It's a non-issue. I didn't notice it today. I know he's still probably a little bit sore. He didn't share any of those thoughts with me today. I know he's getting treatment, but I didn't see anything out on the field."
On what he wants from tight end Fred Davis the rest of the season:
"There's always a lot of rumors and speculation that are out there. That happens all the time when somebody gets out there and there's some talk about being traded. I just shared some of my thoughts with Fred and let him know that I expected him to practice at a certain level and have his mind ready to play in the game and you never know when that situation is going to occur. We had a good conversation and he practiced well today."
On if Davis being inactive has been related to a bonus in his contract:
"Well, to be honest with you, [Communications Manager] Ross [Taylor] just shared that with me. One thing I try to do as a head coach now as compared to when I was in Denver – I don't look at any of those incentives. I keep myself away from those things. I didn't know that until I was just told about two minutes ago that that was a clause for those reasons. I don't make decisions based on money."
On safety Reed Doughty:
"Talking about Reed, I think he will be able to go. At least the last few days were positive. There have been no setbacks. He practiced today so that was a good sign."
On where the passing offense is at this point in the season:
"We're a work in progress right now and every once in a while you'll see something very positive like you did a week before against Chicago and then you see ourselves in that fourth quarter against Denver have the ball seven times and we had five turnovers. I've never been associated with something like that before, I don't believe anyhow, and that was disappointing. So, we're working on the little things. Making some headway and hopefully we can do that."
On how to keep players happy when they feel they are not being targeted enough:
"You're not trying to keep everybody happy, you're trying to get people to perform. It's not my job to keep them happy, but you talk about the things you do poorly. If it's a dropped pass, an errant throw, a missed read, a block, a missed assignment, those are all things that contribute to you being successful or not. To be where we were last year on offense, you've got to eliminate mistakes. We were very good in that last year. We've got to get back to that, and if we do, then we'll have a great second half of the season."
On why the defense has not been able to play its best for a complete game yet:
"Well, it depends what you're talking about. It was a great job for two-and-a-half quarters and they had a couple of pretty long drives. They did a good job of making a fourth-and-1, fourth-and-2. I thought we put them in some tough field position, when I say we, I mean our team. Three times inside the 35-yard-line, you turn the football over, they always want to turn it into field goals, not touchdowns. We put the defense in some tough field position and at the same time we got four turnovers, so they did enough to win the football game, but I think I addressed that pretty strongly afterwards. You can't do what we did in the fourth quarter and go against a good football team and win. That's what we're working on today and hopefully by the end of the week, good things will happen this weekend."
On the importance of pass rushers getting sacks, specifically outside linebacker Brian Orakpo:
"It's pressure – you don't have to actually have sacks but you want to keep the quarterback off-balance. You want him to step up. Maybe somebody gets a sack because of the way that you are rushing the quarterback. A guy – being able to jump on that football with [Broncos quarterback] Peyton Manning to get a turnover over there – Rak's done a number of good things this year, but let's evaluate a guy after a year, not after four games, five games – let him play out the year and let him get a full year under his belt. Then it's a lot easier to talk about somebody's season."
On the difference in Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers this year:
"I've been watching Philip Rivers for a lot of years. He's an excellent quarterback and I just smiled when people thought his game was going the wrong direction because you can see just by watching him that he's a solid player – more than a solid player, he's probably playing as good as anybody in the National Football League right now. When you're throwing for 74 percent like he is, you know he feels very comfortable with his supporting cast. They did add a few players on the offensive side of the football which has helped him, but he is playing with a lot of confidence. He's making throws that he's done throughout his career. Very impressed with how he's played."
On if the team has a number two receiver and what it will take for someone to win the job permanently:
"When you say you have 'a guy' is when a guy starts performing. We can't have dropped balls. We have to execute properly. I think we do have a second guy. Who that guy is right now I'm not sure. But we've got guys competing and we're going to have a guy step up. We've got guys with the ability to be a number two, but you want to take control, and that takes everybody. A guy not getting the pass doesn't necessarily have to do with him not getting open, it may be us functioning as a unit, and that's when the numbers come up."
On how receivers can be effective playing in a rotation:
"When they go in and they get an opportunity, then they better show us that they deserve to be in there more time and if you do, then you'll stay in there longer. If you don't do something outstanding and you're full-speed, the chances are you're not going to be in there all the time."
On what has caused struggles in the downfield passing game:
"I know why, but I don't get into detail on that. We try to go out on the field and work on it, practice on it, but the difference between this year and last year to me is very obvious, but different things that we work on every day to hopefully get to where we want to be."
On if defenses are playing differently to eliminate big passing plays:
"Oh, you get a number of different things. Every year it changes. I can't go into detail for obvious reasons but I get a chance to read about it every day."
On how to coach defenders to hit legally but still play aggressive:
"That's what you try to do. I mean, we all understand that you can't go to the head. You've got to try to go in the chest area and above the knees, and what [linebacker] London [Fletcher] is basically saying is it's tough sometimes. In the heat of battle, you're trying to hit a guy and then all of a sudden somebody ducks at the last second and you have helmet-to-helmet contact. We all understand that, and it has nothing to do with intent. That's probably what London is talking about. These guys are aggressive guys. They want to go out there and play hard. All of a sudden every once in a while something like that will happen. For an example – like 'Rak, you know 'Rak was fined and all of a sudden it was close, but when the league took a closer look they took the fine away. They said, 'Hey, we looked at it and that was a good hit,' but it still was a penalty. We got charged for the penalty. Sometimes that's the difference in winning and losing the game, so from a head coaching standpoint, you talk about the rules, not that you always agree with them. But whatever rules are implemented, it's your job to make sure they're enforced or they'll make sure they're enforced and you've got to obviously deal with those rules and hopefully not cost yourself a game."
On how much of the team's offensive performance is related to the difference in Griffin III this year:
"We talked about this a year ago. We talked about what type of offensive scheme did we use last year – a little bit different than we're using this year. Denver had a little bit more team speed. Sometimes your game plan will change. Part of the growth of a quarterback is getting as many reps as you can. He didn't get a lot of reps this offseason. We knew what they had to defend – different defenses. They know Robert is not exactly the same as he was a year ago and so we are going to get different defenses. That's very obvious. But, as you can see, over the last few games, at times, you can see that speed has come back and he's feeling more comfortable. We're not just going to put him out there just to run a certain offense. It all depends on what type of players we're facing and what we think gives us the best chance to win the football game."
On if the chemistry was affected by Griffin III not being able to participate in the offseason:
"It has nothing to do with chemistry. It has to do with repetition. You want your quarterback in his second year to get as many reps as possible. He didn't get any reps in the second year, but he's still doing a lot of good things. Collectively as an offense, we're going to go against some different defenses than we did a year ago just by the nature of where we're at and we've got to work through it."
On if he favors having helmet-to-helmet penalties reviewable by replay:
"Well, to me it [Brian Orakpo's hit] it was tough even on replay. You had to go back to a close-up on it to see that that didn't happen. I'm not sure they would have saw it on TV. We talk about things all the time. We'd like to clean it up but sometimes you'll stop the game. You can't have replay for everything, but I was just pleased that 'Rak was playing hard – it was close but it was in the chest area. I'm just glad they took back the fine."
On his presentation to the team prior to last year's winning streak and if he will make a similar presentation this year:
"I don't think you've got to be a math major to figure out – the Giants got six losses, Philly's got five, we've got five, Dallas has got four. We've got a bunch of games left. Whoever finishes the season has a chance to take the NFC East… [Last year] we just came off of a bye week and we said, 'Hey we've got seven games left, we've got Philly at home, we've got a chance if we win out. We've got to take them one at a time.' Our football players know that this is a journey and you've got to take them one at a time and even though there's a lot of things that go on during a season you've got to persevere, you've got to work hard, because once you get on a run, you've got a chance to do something special. It's who's playing the best in January who's got a chance to win the Super Bowl. A year ago, I think Baltimore last their last four out of five. We beat them here. They found a way to win the Super Bowl. They started playing the best football after they played us, so anything is possible, but you've got to play good, solid football and that's what we're trying to do."
On performance of safety Bacarri Rambo against Denver:*
"He had an excellent game. Gumbs went out, he came in, took advantage of his opportunity. That's what you want. You could see that he was a different player going out there tackling – more of a sense of urgency. You can tell that if he does get on special teams, if he works his way up to special teams, he's going to play with a chip on his shoulder. Sometimes it takes a guy not being up for a game or two to understand how important it is for him to play. The thing I like about Bacarri is he stepped up and played at the level where he'll get a chance to play again."