The Washington Redskins (2-2) on Sunday play against the Atlanta Falcons (4-0) in 2015 Week 5 action at the Georgia Dome.
On Wednesday, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and quarterback Matt Ryan spoke to the Washington, D.C., media about their upcoming matchup against the Redskins.
Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn
On the key to installing his style of football:
"Well, I think coming into the offseason we really were just trying to say, 'Can we have the best offseason you've ever had?' New schemes for players, here's a couple technique things we think you can improve upon. That was kind of the challenge that we issued to all of the players and to all the coaches as well. Can we just have the best camp we've ever had? One of the things I was hoping would jump off on tape was just the effort in terms of guys coming off the ball on both sides of the line of scrimmage. I was hoping the toughness would show up on tape and our ability to finish. Those were kind of three of the things we were hoping to get accomplished in our style, our effort, our toughness and our finish and having that be demonstrated as often as we could."
On having Kyle Shanahan, Raheem Morris and other former members of the Redskins in Atlanta:
"No doubt, we definitely have a bunch. Chris Morgan, Mike McDaniel, we definitely have a big crew, Chris Chester, a couple guys, Bobby Turner. So, yeah, definitely some familiarity. Why don't we deal with Kyle first. Just the detail that he has in the game planning, the detail that he goes into in how to attack, that's one of the things that I've been most impressed about. I know the system and what he has done has been hard to defend through the years – the pass game, the keepers, the run game. We're just trying like crazy to have a really balanced attack that's tough as can be. Raheem for me has brought a lot of stuff. Not just the help that he adds on defense from the pass game but also a guy that has been a former head coach and understands some of the challenges that goes on, so he's been a terrific help to me moving forward as well. He and I have a long history together. He was actually playing at Hofstra when I was coaching there, so I've known Rah for years and he is doing a great job."
On how his relationship with Shanahan developed:
"Like a lot of relationships, we had mutual friends. That's how we first kind of got connected. It might have been through Raheem from years ago, maybe all the way back from when he was at Tampa. Through the years, you just have this respect of a style and I thought, 'All right, if I ever had a chance to get going, I'd like to do it in a system that he does where you can feature the run game, where he knows how to use the players in their best capabilities and then having the ability for him to have all the different routes and the keepers that come off of it.' And I thought it'd be a great fit for both of us. So I tried to explain to him that we were going to run a style defensively that I was familiar with and give him the freedom and creativity to do his thing on offense. I think that's probably why he and I have been such a good fit together."
On what he has seen from Redskins QB Kirk Cousins:
Redskins wide receiver Leonard Hankerson is entering his fourth year in the league in 2014.
"I think one of the things that jumps out to me is the accuracy. I'm not sure but I think it's close to 70 percent in terms of the decisions, and that's not all just quick game, so it's the shots down the field, the quick game, the keepers that come out of it. I thought just from a guy who has real knowledge of where to go with the ball, the decisions to make with it, those are things that probably jumped out to me the most."
On WR Leonard Hankerson:
"Every once in a while you get a chance to take a shot on somebody that has maybe been banged up. I thought that was totally worth it with Hank here. I think it's the catching radius that he has. There could be a ball that's way up high, he can go up to get it, or it's out of bounds and he has the length to extend to go get it. He's been a real factor for us on third down as well. He's off to a great start with us. He worked extremely hard to come back, as you guys know, from all the injuries. He's just off to a terrific start with us. He's gained the respect of the people here by the style and the attitude that he plays with."
On the challenges of coaching a team that was perceived as underachieving last year:
"I really just tried to stay exactly true to the style that we wanted to play with. When I came here I just wanted to partner up with Thomas Dimitroff and do it in a style together. We didn't spend a lot of time talking about what had been. We just really spent the most time that we could on, 'This is the style and the attitude that we want to play with.' That's really where I geared my attention of moving forward. I looked at obviously all the players that we had and how we could best feature them. Honestly, it was just full steam ahead in terms of the style and the attitude that we wanted to play with."
On why the Redskins have been so effective on third downs on both sides of the ball:
"I think from the offensive side first, I don't know where they're at numbers-wise, but it certainly doesn't seem like there's tons of third-and-longs. So there's a lot of third-and-two, three, four, five and six. I think anytime you're in those neighborhoods, the odds are going to be so with you. I think the run game has been a real factor. I've got tons of respect for Bill Callahan and the job that he's done through the years. I've coached against him for years and I've coached with him. Somebody that I regard highly. Defensively, we just know the style that Joe Barry is going to bring – the toughness, the attitude that goes along with it. When you see the guys play and you see how hard they're playing, it's no surprise that third down they've been playing really well."
On if any Redskins rookies have caught his eye:
"Well, a number of them have, I'll kind of talk a little bit about each of them. [Brandon] Scherff, just inside you feel the toughness, you feel the quickness that he has off the ball. When you're trying to identify, 'OK, here are some ways, whether it's in pass protection, that he may have got beat,' there's just not many pictures of those there. That's a pretty good sign for a young guy who is coming in where his technique and detail is already down. You know, he came from a spot that has the tradition of really good offensive linemen and then to be partnered up there with Bill I thought was a pretty unique spot. Matt [Jones] I had a chance to know. I actually worked at Florida when Matt was there. So I know the competitor that he is and for those of us that know him we're thrilled that he's off to a great start. Lastly with [Jamison] Crowder, somebody that we looked at really hard in the draft and had a lot of respect for, not just from the production but what he did with it after the catch and then his return ability. I think it's no surprise that the guys they selected are playing so well."
On what attracted the Falcons to LB Vic Beasley:
"I think it was the pass rush ability. It was more than just the speed. He put I think it was back-to-back-to-back years of multiple sacks. It was that ability to finish that we were really looking for in a rusher. We know we wanted to add more speed to the team so he has that. Then we're teaching him and he's developing really well in terms of the finish of the pass rush. You guys have got some good pass rushers yourselves, so you know part of it is not just the first move but it's the finish that really sets you apart. I think that's the spot that he's making the most progress in. So after the first four games, lots of stuff to improve on but the mindset and the attitude is there for sure."
On how tough if it is to defend WR Julio Jones when he moves around formations so much:
"I think that speaks to the volume of how bright Julio is. He's got a terrific football mind. He can play outside, he can play inside. I think it's unique the relationship with he and Kyle that, 'OK, we're going to move you all over the place.' He studies and works at it hard enough to know, 'Hey, wherever I've got to go, I'm going to be inside, I'll be outside, I'll be on the left, I'll be on the right.' He's just that type of guy. I love the attitude and style. You guys don't get a chance to see him practice, but the OTAs, the training camp, the practices during the week, he makes everybody better just by how hard he goes. I love that part of his game."
On both teams' success in time of possession and what he focuses on as a result:
A look back at some of the top images in games between the Washington Redskins and Atlanta Falcons.
"I think usually for us it comes down to the ball in terms of making great decisions offensively and then defensively all the shots and the opportunities that we go after to go get it. It's really the area of emphasis that we talk about every week, not just specific to a game that has two offenses that really know how to take care of it. That's it for us, it's about the ball. So if we can take care of it and really guard it offensively and go after it like crazy defensively to keep giving the offense the opportunities, that's when we're at our best."
On if it changes when playing a team that holds the ball 36 minutes per game:
"Yeah, that's what I'm saying. If you can disrupt some of those drives with a turnover, that's where the real change occurs."
On what he asked Shanahan about his previous experiences:
"Well, I did get a chance to talk to him about his past and the experiences he had, and all of those experiences help us grow, myself included. The times that I've spent back in college, back in Seattle, what did we learn from experiences as we go through. And I think for him he totally has learned from ones to say, 'OK, how can I do this better or this different.' He's such a unique guy and I thought for both of us to partner up together where he could use his creativity on the offensive side where I wasn't going to be over the top and trying to say 'Let's do this or let's do that.' I thought that would be a unique spot for him. It was more just that I stressed the opportunity that we would have together not as much about what he had done in the past."
On what he has learned about being a head coach:
"No doubt, I don't know if we have enough time to cover it all. What I can tell you is that the things I knew I had to spend a lot of time on were clock management and managing some of the game scenarios. With my defensive background, that was one of the things I went through in the offseason as hard as I could to help prepare so I could be at my best for the team as well. We just want to be known as a great finishing team, so we spent a lot of time working two-minute at the half, two-minute at the game, the end of the game scenarios or end of the half scenarios so we can just be at our best. Early on I knew I had some good advice to say, 'Hey, make sure you stay true to your own style and be yourself,' so I tried to listen to that advice in all the opportunities that I've gotten. Just make sure it comes across in my own style and doing things in my own way without trying to think, 'This is how it ought to be done. This is what I ought to say.' I'd rather do it my own way."
On if he has taken things from each of his previous stops:
"I definitely have. I've been really, really fortunate in that way. I first started in the league with Steve Mariucci, who – for you guys that known Mooch – has got an electric personality and can connect with just about everybody. I went to the Miami Dolphins and I learned under Nick Saban a great deal. It was like going into a football lab – all the scheme, all the X's and O's. I wouldn't trade my time with him for anything. I grew as a coach tremendously. And then after that I went and spent two years with Eric Mangini, and then out with Coach [Pete] Carroll in Seattle. So I think all those experiences, I've learned that 'OK, what are the things that connected with me the most?' Developing my own philosophy, which was probably the No. 1 thing that came out of those experiences, was 'OK, if you're going to do it, how would it come across?'"
Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Matt Ryan
On to what he attributes the Falcons 'hot start':
"You know, I think early on, the first couple of weeks, we've had to finish games really well. That's kind of one of the things that has been the reason we've been successful. All sides of the ball – offense, defense and special teams – we've found ways to get it done in the fourth quarter. And then, this past week, it was a little different than the first three weeks, but I really liked the way that we finished games and we need to continue that in order to be successful moving forward."
On Falcons Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan's impact:
"It's been great working with Kyle. You know, obviously, he's a guy I had a lot of respect for before just having watched him play and having gone against him. You know, obviously, knew he was very good in terms of getting the run game going and being creative. I've learned a lot from him in a short amount of time. I think he's done a great job through the first four weeks of the season."
On what he has learned about the offense from Shanahan:
"I think, certainly, the run game has been really different from what I've done in the past. You know, just trying to get as up to speed as I can in a short amount of time, in terms of the checks, in terms of how we want to operate, getting us into the right look. I think that's probably been the biggest difference. In the pass game, there has been similar stuff to what we have done in the past, so I think that part's been a little bit easier. But I've certainly learned a lot and continue to learn every day that I come into the facility."
On if Shanahan is more hands-on with him than Falcons Quarterbacks Coach Matt LaFleur:
"Yeah, no, I think it's a combination of both. I think Kyle and Matt have been great to work with. Both of those guys, as you well know, do a great job. But, Kyle is very involved in the quarterback room and Matt has cut-ups and all those kinds of things and helps us a ton, but Kyle is very involved."
On if Shanahan does things differently than other coordinators he's been around:
"Sure. I think every coordinator is different. Obviously, the third coordinator that I've played for. I started with Mike Mularkey and then Dirk Koetter and now Kyle Shanahan, and so everyone's different. What they believed in is a little bit different. You know, I've learned a lot from all three of them and I certainly feel like I'm a better playing having played for all three of them."
On when he got a sense that Falcons WR Leonard Hankerson would have the role that he has now:
"I think Hank has done a great job. He is a guy that's been super professional every day that he's showed up. I mean, he works really hard. He's a guy that's helped other guys because of his experience within the system and that's been beneficial for us. But early on, I knew Hank was going to be a solid player for us because he showcased it during OTAs and during training camp. I mean, he made a lot of plays during that time. I think it's translated into early success for him this season, so I knew kind of right when we got him here and had a chance to work with him just a little bit, I knew he was going to help us out."
On maintaining offensive balance and resisting the urge to go deep:
"That's one of those things you've got to strike the balance as an offense. You know, we want to play aggressive all the time, but that doesn't always mean just throwing it deep every time too. So, I think we'll have a great game plan. We've got a lot of work to do this week, but it'll be important for us to really execute our game plan at a high level. Whether that be taking shots down the field or running the football or throwing outside quick, whatever it is we feel like we need to do, I think we'll do that."
On the Redskins' third down defense:"I really think their pass rush has done a great job. I think they have got something like nine sacks on the year and a lot of it is from internal push. They play relentless up front. It's sacks that they just collapse the pocket really well and that's one of those things we're going to have to be ready for."
On how the Redskins make things difficult for quarterbacks on third down:"Obviously when there is not a great pocket, it's tough to convert in the passing game and I think that's one of the reasons they've been successful."
On former Redskins G Chris Chester:"Chris has been awesome. He's a guy that has played for a long time, has had a lot of success. He's a guy that knows the system inside-and-out and has really helped the other guys on the offensive line and myself in terms of pass protection. I'm fired up we have him here. He's done a great job the first four weeks and he's been a great teammate."
On being able to get WR Julio Jones the ball despite the attention he receives from defenses:"Even when he gets double covered, he's able to get open. But, I think Kyle has done a great job of moving him around to different spots and making it a little bit more difficult for defenses to key on where he's going to be. I think that's one of the reasons he has continued to be successful."
On if there is a way to stop Jones:"He's a great player. He really is. He's a great player and he's so consistent week-to-week. He's so unselfish too. When guys around him are making plays, he's just as fired up. They have to account for where he's at. Whether or not you can stop him, we always feel like he's going to make plays for us."