Mike Shanahan On Redskins Offensive Struggles

Washington Redskins executive vice president/head coach Mike Shanahan spoke to the media Tuesday about Robert Griffin III, the offense and the team’s 3-8 record.

On what led to offensive struggles:
“I think if you take a look at the game, you could take a look at the first quarter – not a lot of production, a couple of three-and-out. Second quarter, we had a couple of good drives, [but] weren’t able to finish those drives and had to settle for field goals. In the second half, we really couldn’t get a whole lot done. We had no penalties in the first half. We had three penalties on offense, a couple of holdings [that] really set us back, [and] an offsides. We were 0-6 on third downs. When you do that you’re not going to get a lot of yards, but I felt like we stopped ourselves in a number of situations and you can’t do that against a good football team.”

On having a successful drive when the 49ers went hurry up, and the resulting frustration of not being able to get it going again:
“It kind of goes back to what I just said. If you go back and you take a look at it and you take a look at the first series of the third quarter, we missed a fourth-and-two. Then, all of a sudden, you have a holding penalty, you have a sack and you go against that football team in long yard situations, you really put yourself in a hole. That’s what happened to us. We didn’t stop ourselves in the first half. They stopped us in the first quarter. We got a lot of momentum going, at least I felt we did, but we couldn’t finish it.”

On having to call a timeout at the end of the first half with the clock stopped:
“We had plenty of time, obviously. He was out of bounds, so we were sitting there, and a lot of times we’ll have a play and we’ll can it with something else depending on what the coverages are. One of our lineman was asking what the can was, and at that time wasn’t aware of the clock, so we had no choice but to call a timeout. Sometimes that occurs. You don’t like it because it’s the difference in winning and losing a football game, but someone did not hear what the can was and they went over to [quarterback] Robert [Griffin III] and at that time, we had to call a timeout.”

On calling a similar timeout earlier in the half:
“Sometimes those things occur and you’ve got to fight through it. You never want to call a timeout if you have to, but sometimes there’s a miscommunication and you have no choice.”

On the report that tight end Fred Davis missed meetings during the week:
“I don’t go through what we do with discipline with players, but if somebody does miss a meeting [or] if somebody is late, we’ve got fines, we’ve got possible suspensions if I feel a guy is not doing what he needs to do to help our football team win. Any type of discipline we do have – and we have some pretty strong discipline with missing meetings or being late, those type of things – is because everybody is accountable and everybody’s time is very valuable. If I did have something like that with Fred, I would address him individually.”

On injuries updated for tight end Jordan Reed, fullback Darrel Young and defensive end Stephen Bowen:
“Stephen Bowen – unfortunately, in his cartilage they’re going to go in sometime next week after Thanksgiving. They’re going to take a look at it, and there’s a possible microfracture with it after they look at the cartilage, but he’ll be out the remainder of the season. If he does have the microfracture like they think it might be, it’ll take about a six month recovery. Jordan – don’t know for sure. [He] felt much better today. It looks positive. And DY was working out on the treadmill today, which was a good sign. I’ll have more information for you tomorrow.”

On the impact of losing Bowen and where the injury came from:
“I’m sure it’s a combination of everything, but at the end of the day, when they do test him and there’s a lot of fluid, usually there’s a reason why there’s so much fluid in that area. He’s had a lot of fluid for a few days and they think it’s in his best interest for playing [in the future] that he gets it operated on. Obviously, any time you lose a guy like Stephen, it’s a blow to your football team, but everybody is going to lose players in the National Football League and it’s the next guy up. Stephen has meant a lot to our football team. He does mean a lot to our football team. It’s always hard to lose a guy not only with his play, but with his character, but other guys will get an opportunity [to step up].”

On what has caused multiple sacks on Griffin III in recent weeks:
“Yeah, [left tackle] Trent [Williams] had a tough game. He didn’t have one of his better games yesterday. He played against a couple of pretty good players, too. He gave some great effort, but didn’t have one of his better games. We didn’t play like we normally play with the offensive line. It wasn’t one of our better games and for us to win, we have to play better.”

On what caused Williams’ struggles:
“He [San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith] is a great player. They’ve got a number of great players there, but [when] you go against a guy that has long arms, [is] incredibly quick and you’re just not [using] perfect technique, they can make you look pretty average very quickly.”

On if Griffin III has regressed from last season:
“No, I don’t believe so. I think I shared with everybody that we tried to do things a year ago that gave him the best chance to be successful and things that he could do very effectively that I thought he was very good at. The drop-back passing game takes some time. It doesn’t happen overnight. Robert is getting better and better every game. He feels more comfortable with it and we’re putting him through a lot of situations. It’s a constant growth in the drop-back game because it’s not only reading coverages, it’s looking at personnel, it’s stepping up into the pocket, getting rid of the football going against blitzes, different coverages, all the things that go with the maturation of being a quarterback. That’s something he’s going through right now.”

On if it is important to show well in the final nationally televised game on Sunday again the Giants:
“Well, we want to play well to play well. We’re thinking about our football team. It’s not who’s looking at us on TV. If it’s a Monday night game or Sunday night game or a Sunday afternoon game, we want to prove that we’re a good football team [and] we’re a great organization. To do that you have to win, so it’s been disappointing we’ve lost some of these games, but the only thing I know is to keep on practicing hard and work on the little things and hopefully find a way to win.”

On what he looks at to provide confidence that the team can still be successful:
“You guys have been with me since I’ve been here. You guys understand where I was at at the start and where I’m at right now. I don’t have to go through any stats. You guys can look at that and draw your own conclusions. I think I’ve stated a couple of times what some of the things I thought were needed – a little bit more depth. Other than that, you’ve got to win some tight football games, which we won a year ago that we’re not winning right now. You’ve got to find a way to win those games. When you lose them, I understand that snowball starts going, but I’ve got enough confidence in our guys that we can fight through it and hopefully we can.”

On the depth of the roster:
“I’m talking about winning Super Bowls, I’m not just talking about getting to the playoffs. I’m talking about what it takes to win Super Bowls, and that’s when you talk about depth. You can win ten games or nine games or eight games and you can win them in the last seconds of the game, then all of a sudden you look at your schedule, look at your injuries [and] it changes every year, but at the end of the day we’re talking about what it takes to win championships. That’s what I’m talking about.”

On if he sensed any lack of execution in practices:
“I think sometimes the way you practice is the way you play, if that’s what you’re asking. I don’t go through the practices during the week. I think some weeks you have better practices than others, but when you go against a team that’s playing pretty good run defense like they do with a seven man front, you’ve got to be at your best. We weren’t at our best yesterday and those stats showed why.”

On what he tells the players about what is at stake the rest of the season:
“I think the players are smart enough to understand that if you are 3-8, everybody is playing for their jobs. That’s the nature of our business. I don’t care if it’s players, coaches, support staff…The nature of this game is to find a way to win and if you don’t win, everybody is accountable.”

On the direction of the franchise and if making them a routine playoff participant has taken longer than he expected:
“I think we’ve talked about this enough and it’s something I don’t like talking about during the season because I want to concentrate on the job at hand, which is the Giants. We can talk about that at the end of the season—the different things that I think are the difference between winning and losing for an organization and where we’re at at that time, but right now I’d like to concentrate on the Giants.

On if he feels players are still listening to him and how he can tell if they aren’t:
“You can see when they’re not playing hard. I’ve been in situations before as an assistant or as a head coach where players just don’t play hard. You get the feel when guys come in and I haven’t seen any of that and I don’t expect to see it with the type of players we have on our football team.”

On if he is disappointed in how Davis handled his opportunity to return this week:
“Like I said, I have conversations with guys and some people have different reasons for having a problem. I talk with those players and if I don’t feel comfortable with it, they’re not with us. I think that’s been proven in the past. If there is something out there that I think merits maybe different discipline, then I use that. Everybody’s a little bit different. One thing we want is people [who are] accountable, and the people that aren’t accountable, they don’t last very long.”

On if there is a scenario in which he would start quarterback Kirk Cousins in place of a healthy Griffin III:
“Like I said, [in order to promote] the growth of a quarterback [and] the maturation process, you need those repetitions. That’s why he’s going through these repetitions – to get better. He hasn’t had a lot of these repetitions in college, which we’ve talked about. One of the reasons why we had the success that we had, probably the type of success where he separated himself from every other rookie in the history of the game, is he was able to do some things that other quarterbacks couldn’t do. We had a dual threat. Now, that threat is not quite there as strong as it was a year ago, but now we go to a different direction – we run play-action, we still run some of the zone-reads. That will come – that maturity will come, but it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a growing period, and if you take a look at so many of these quarterbacks, you go back and think of all the Hall of Fame quarterbacks, they’ve had much tougher years than what we’re going through so far. It doesn’t happen overnight, but he’s got all the ability in the world to make that big jump and you just have to be patient.”

On balancing the desire to evaluate young players with still competing to win each game:
“No. 1, you play the best players. I see in practice guys that are going against their defense every day. They’re on the scout team, and that’s how you make the jump. That’s how we take guys and we build them from the practice squad to being an active player. If we think that guy gives us the best chance to win, he’s going to play. We’re not going to experiment with guys and think, ‘Hey, this season’s over. We’re going to play young players.’ That means you’ve given up. We’re going to play the best players every day. We tell our scout team that if you want to make the team, you better look pretty good against our first team defense, and what [would be] a better way to do it than against your starters.”

On stopping the run on defense:
“One of the things I thought we did pretty good job [of] was stop[ping] the rush. Any time a team like that averages under three yards a carry, it’s pretty good. The thing we gave up is we gave up some big pass plays. We gave up three touchdown passes, and you do that against a team like this and a couple field goals, you’re in for a long day. We did some good things against the run, but we didn’t keep them out of the end zone, and ultimately, that’s the key.”

Source: Washington Redskins Media

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