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Mike Shanahan On Redskins Wild Card Weekend

Washington Redskins executive vice president/head coach Mike Shanahan spoke with the media Wednesday night about the playoffs, Robert Griffin III and stopping Seattle Seahawks Marshawn Lynch.

On challenges of facing Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch:

When you have a big back that has all the things that you look for in a running back, thats why hes one of the best, to me, in the league. He can do it all. He can make you miss in space. He has the speed. He has the toughness. Hes got the running skills to make you miss, at the line of scrimmage and the open field. Hes a back that Ive admired for a lot of years.

On scouting Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson before the draft:

I really liked Russell. He has a lot of the intangibles you look for in a quarterback. Hes really a class act. Hes handled himself extremely well and a fun guy to talk to. I had a chance to be around him at dinner for about an hour one evening. We were together at the Senior Bowl which was a good experience to be around him. Hes got the intangibles you look for. Hes a natural leader as well. Hes playing some good football.

On comparing Wilson to Robert Griffin III:

One thing you do know is right away who you like as people. Theyre fun to be around. You know that they are leaders by the way they handle themselves, the intangibles you look for in people. I didnt spend the time with him that I did with Robert, but I liked him.

On how Wilson compensates for his lack of height:

How does [New Orleans Saints quarterback] Drew Brees compensate for not being tall? Drew is six feet and Russell is 511. Hes 4.5 in the 40. He has great running skills. Hes a sharp guy. Hes playing well. Well see over time.

On rookie quarterbacks doing so well this season:

The funny part about it is up until last year I really didnt know the stats on rookie quarterbacks. When you go back through 40 years and take a look at all the first round draft choices, there are only seven guys with winning records. Youre saying, How come? With all the first round quarterbacks that have gone on, only seven guys have winning records and to have three this year, its really hard to explain. Obviously three excellent quarterbacks. I think now colleges are a little bit more sophisticated in the passing game. You have three quarterbacks who are excellent football players. I think youll see more in the future.

On where the rookie quarterback readiness has come from:

I think theyre throwing the football a little bit more than in the past. I think that gives them a big advantage. I think they have the ability to come in, go through OTAs and really learn the system in the offseason, where I know 20 years ago you never had an opportunity like that. To go through a system again gives you time. You have a lot of hours in the classroom with a quarterback that you never had 10 years ago, a chance to learn the system. A lot of these guys are coming out and are ready to go. Theyre used to a good passing attack, theyve thrown the ball quite a bit and are a little bit more prepared.

On if the brace on Robert Griffin IIIs knee limits his ability in any way:

Hes wearing it so we can protect him. He probably doesnt have to wear it, but the doctors thought it would be best for him to wear it to protect it so we dont further injure the LCL. Like I said last week, he still can run well.

On how valuable a great running game is to the passing attack:

Everybody has a little different philosophy. A lot of teams have been very successful over the last five or six years not having a great running game, but usually good enough to get in the playoffs, some even with the ability to win the Super Bowl. Thats always been my philosophy, to have a balanced offense. Especially if bad weather occurs, youre able to have a little bit more balance. Thats always been one of my philosophies. There are a lot of different ways to do it. If you have the skillset to go back and pass all the time and be effective, so be it. When there are injuries, you want to go back and have that running game and I think its a big part of any system.

On cornerback Cedric Griffin:

He looked like he has been away for a few weeks. I thought he had a good day of practice, but well evaluate him day-by-day.

On if Wilson would have been drafted by the Redskins if he was available in the fourth round:

Thats why we dont talk about all of the different scenarios that could happen. I cant tell you how many times we are going to pick a guy in the second, third or fourth round and the guy gets picked up just the pick before. I did like Russell. I liked the way he handled himself. I liked the way he played. If you really went back and took a look at all of his games through college you can see that he had the ability to really run the football extremely well, even though he didnt have to run it very many times because his big offensive line had him well-protected.

On if there are enough similarities between Griffin III and Wilson that both teams defenses are familiar with their style of play:

I think everyone has a little different scheme. We do have a lot of similarities over the zone-blocking scheme and theyre running a little bit of the zone-read as well. I think it helps both defenses so theyre a little bit more aware of the zone-scheme compared to not knowing it at all.

On playing at home relative to playing in Seattle:

You always want to play at home. Youre in front of your fans where its toughest on your opponents. The big difference is crowd noise. You have a hard time getting a jump. If you are an offensive football team, you have silent counts most of the game. Its very hard to audible. For their defense, we have the snap counts, especially a team with that rushes the passer as well as they do. A typical home field advantage.

On what has allowed the team to have success with long passing plays on play action passes:

You just explained what its all about in the play-action game. You have to have a good running game. When the defense doesnt know whats occurring, whether its a run or a pass, thats where the big plays come. Thats why you like to have a good running game, so you can get some big plays in the passing game. Thats one of the reasons why weve had some of the success in yards-per-play this year. We havent run it as many plays on people, but the yards-per-play is one of the reasons why we have had that type of success off the play-action pass. If everyone is on the line of scrimmage, youre going to have some big plays.

On what Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris do to help play-action:

Theyre effective in the running game. The more effective they are, the more they have to commit to the run. It could be off a quarterback keep. It could be off of a play-action pass. It could be off bootlegs. There are a lot of different ways to offset tendencies. I think thats what most coaches try to do. If you have a running game, you use play-actions off of it on first or second down. Usually the great offenses are up there consistently in third down because you have to make third downs. Weve gotten better since the midway point. We were very average. Over the last half we have improved in that area. That comes with experience. Im really pleased with the guys on how weve stepped up a little bit over the second half of the season.

On Griffin III as a natural leader:

Everyone has different ways to lead. Its not always a loud guy, but its a guy who everyone respects. So when he comes to work every day, everybody respects what he does and how he handles himself. One of the first guys in and one of the last guys to leave. He leads by example. Hes going to go out there and have the game plan down and be prepared. He understands that hes not the only guy out there. He understands the responsibilities that the team needs. He can pick a guy up and at the same time he can demand perfection. For a young guy, not a lot of people can do that. They cant focus the whole season. As weve talked about, hes a bright guy. He understands what its like to be a leader in life. What I mean by that is trying to bring everybody into the fray, offensive guys, defensive guys and people look up to him.

On if leadership is an area in which Griffin Iii can excel even if hes injured at this point of the season:

I think what he is doing is showing that guys play hurt. Theyre telling their teammates, You know what, Im going to play. Im not going to let you down. I think thats one of the reasons why he wanted to play in the first game [against Cleveland]. He understood that a number of football players on our football team who are playing hurt. He did not want to let anybody down. When he sees London Fletcher, Trent Williams, guys who can hardly even walk, he wants to be in there. Thats why he was mad at me. I said, You are injured, you are not hurt. Youre injured and you cannot play when youre injured. This is not the best for you and your future for me to put you in this situation. I think his teammates appreciate that he wanted be out there, and if I were to let him, he would have gone out there, or I should say if the doctors would have let him. Hes that type of guy. Once you have a guy that is going to put his body on the line when that might not be the best thing for himself or the future of him, they gain respect very quickly.

On tight end Niles Pauls 48-yard kick return:

Any time you have a return like thatwe needed a big return. It was a three-point game and he takes us out to midfield. Its the difference between winning and losing. He broke a couple of tackles there and thats what we were hoping he would do. Im not sure the last time, or the first time, he returned a kickoff. That was against Baltimore in the preseason game. It was right at the end of the game and he almost broke that one and we thought it was going to be a squib kick and he picked it up and he did a heck of a job. Hes got a lot of ability and hes going to keep on getting better and better.

On if Griffin III was set to start from the moment he was drafted:

When you took a look at film and you had a chance to evaluate him over a season or a three-season time frame, I know I wouldnt be fooling anybody by having three or four weeks. I wanted him to get every rep from the start. It lets everyone know that he was going to be our quarterback because you could see that he had skills most people dont have. What you dont know is how he is going to handle himself. Youre hoping that he comes in and does the things that will give him a chance to be successful. He did all of those things. You could see, the more you gave him it was not very hard for him and he picks things up very quickly. Not a lot of people are able to do that because a lot goes into a playbook in the National Football League. There are a lot of check offs, a lot of audibles. He was a student of the game. He worked extremely hard to put himself in the position that he is today.

On if he noticed an extra level of excitement or emotion from the players and staff for a playoff game:

Weve been in this situation now for seven weeks. Every game has been a do-or-die, so were kind of used to this scenario. The only thing we talked about is now instead of playing for the NFC East, youre playing to win the Super Bowl. For everybody, its either a three-or four-round fight. For us, its a four-round fight. We have to take care of business in round one to get to the next round. We just talked about that very briefly, but again, business as usual. You want to still have your best practices. You want to do a great job every day to give yourself the best chance you can to play well during gameday. Thats what were working for. One day at a time.

On players having coaches who have playoff experience:

Im hoping that it helps. Hopefully they have confidence in us to give them the best plan possible to give them a chance to win. Thats what coaching is. Giving those guys a chance to go out there and be prepared so they dont have to think, they can react. We understand that were going up against a talented football team that is on a five-game winning streak and who has probably played its best football. It should be a great matchup.

On Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who announced his intention to retire at the end of the season:

To me, hes a guy when you look at all of the guys that prepare and guys who play at the highest levelthe only way you play at that level consistentlyI look at him and [Ravens safety] Ed Reed the same way. They knew what was coming before it came. Their preparation was off the charts. Thats why I think he has so much respect, not only by players and coaches, is how hard he prepares and he seems to always know whats going on and did play at that level consistently for a lot of years.

On Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and if his style has changed during this coaching run relative to his first coaching experience in the NFL:

Pete has always been very excitable. In fact, I almost had a chance to hire him in Denver when I was there as a defensive coordinator and he just left New England. I almost had him, but at the last second he went to San Francisco. He wanted to live in the West Coast. I got Greg Robinson at that time. He was on staff, so he and I go back a long time.

On Carrolls excitable style of coaching:

I think you have to be yourself and thats what Pete has done. Hes been himself. Everyone knows they type of job he did at Southern Cal. Hes a guy who is very enthusiastic in everything he does and a good friend.

On if it helps that some of the Redskins players played against Seattle last year:

We just didnt have a lot of receivers that played on our football team last year that played against them. Yeah, for the guys that did play against them, like Santana [Moss], I think it does. Very talented guys, great size, they play a lot of man coverage. Theres a reason why youre the No. 1 defense in the National Football League, at least in points. Thats the best stat you can have is point production. Theyve been consistent the whole year. We have our work cut out for us. Were looking forward to it.

On why practice was held in the bubble today:

We did it last week and the weather was way too windy last week for two days. This week, just to make sure. It was cold out today. And sometimes what I like to do when you have a lot of walkthroughs, you may have so many plays that youre trying to get to perfection and we had 40 of those. Everything else was more of a walkthrough to get the legs back along those lines. Thats what we did and thats what well do sometimes. Well go inside for those types of practices. You always get out once or twice to make sure youre practicing in the same environment, but sometimes its good to focus without guys trying to go by the heater. When there are no heaters outside, people want to come in a lot quicker than I wanted them to go in.

On if Griffin IIIs accuracy was affected by the brace on his knee:

No, not really. Being 50 percent sounds like its not very accurate, especially for him, but they challenged us a little different way last week and we didnt throw the football as much. Sometimes games are going to occur like that. When you run the ball 30 to 40 times, it all depends on what defenses are doing. Sometimes were going to run the option a little bit more, sometimes were going to run keepers more, sometimes were going to run drop-backs more. Its all predicated on what the game plan is from the defensive perspective. We thought the best way to win was to control the tempo of the game, hold the ball, try to limit the amount of reps that Dallas had and we thought we could control it a little better on the ground better than throwing. That was our gameplan going in. Just by what they were doing from a defensive perspective, one of the reasons why we werent as successful.

On what he looks for in a potential offensive lineman:

We look at people, number one, who have an offensive line mentality. That means that they love playing football. They give you everything they have. Were actually looking at people who are a little bit quicker than most, who have the ability to get downfield and be able to block linebackers and secondary guys. Its not very often when you get a guy like Trent Williams who is that talented. For the most part, were trying to get guys that are quick enough and take pride in locking onto defensive linemen and they work as a unit because youre only as good as your offensive line. When they take pride in not having a missed assignment and guys knocking linebackers down, defensive ends down, and theyre not really happy unless guys have 100 yards rushing, then you know you have the right guys.

Source: Washington Redskins Media


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