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Kyle Shanahan Full Transcript: 06/12

Posted Jun 12, 2013

On Wednesday, June 12, 2013, Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan addressed the media following a minicamp practice at Redskins Park.

On if it has been tough to coordinate without Robert Griffin III this offseason:

“No, it’s not tough to coordinate. I mean you do the same stuff. You work everybody no matter who’s in there, doesn’t matter what quarterback is in there – we’re really working the same plays and everything. You do some plays more with one guy than the others, but you’re still working with all of them. The thing that’s frustrating is you know your eventually you are going to play with them and you’d like to work with them and practice with them, but you can’t do that. So it’s part of the injury and you’ve just got to wait and be patient and get ready when he comes back.”  

On if tight end Jordan Reed will be set back by not being able to participate:

“I don’t know. You don’t know how much of a setback it’ll be. I mean, we haven’t seen him out there yet, but I think any rookie who comes in, there’s always a time where they’ve got to get worse before they get better. You know you throw a lot at them, they try and take it all in and they usually struggle and then by the time they come back to camp you hope that they’ve been through it and can start getting better. When you miss all of OTAs as a rookie, you hope that he’s really learning mentally and getting those reps, but putting his body through it for the first time will be in training camp. So you hope that learning curve will be fast, that the mistakes he makes will be… You know he will make some and you just hope that he can learn from them. If you’ve got a guy who’s got the right mind and they’re working at it. you know you can overcome that, but it’s definitely a challenge for him.”  

On different the offense will be this year:

“I really can’t answer that until I see the defenses that we face. There’s nothing that we’re going to do that says, ‘Hey, we’re going to do this or we’re going to do that.’ The thing that’s awesome about having a guy like Robert [Griffin III] is Robert’s capable of being great at anything. It doesn’t matter whether it’s dropping back, play pass, bootlegs, zone read, options, it really doesn’t matter. He’s capable at being great at all of it. That’s what’s fun when you coach a guy like that, that you really don’t have to force anything. We’re going to do whatever the defense gives us. If they give us that, we’ll take it. If they take it away, I enjoy throwing the ball and doing other stuff too.”

On tweaking the offense to stay ahead of defenses:

“Oh yeah, you do that every year, you do it week to week, you do it quarter to quarter. That’s something you’ve always got to stay ahead of. You like to anticipate those things so you’re prepared going into a game, but every once in a while a defensive scheme will surprise you in the game. You’ve got to recognize it and hopefully have a plan in there to adjust, and to counteract and call a play that does what they’re doing, and if not you got to discuss some stuff on the sidelines or get a better game plan the next week. That’s really the basis of my job is trying to always anticipate that stuff and practice the players through all situations, so whatever the defense presents, we’ve got something we can come at them with.”

On if he was pleased with the number of called quarterback runs last year:

“Yeah, I was real pleased with it. I think it really helped us. I mean, it’s about a third of our running game at the most. The majority of our running game is outside zone like it’s been since I’ve been coaching and I know it has been that before that in the Denver scheme with the zone blocking. As far as the zone read and everything, it’s opened up a lot. Those aren’t really designed quarterback runs. They’re designed to give the ball to Alf [Alfred Morris] and when the whole defense is not accounting for the quarterback and taking everyone else, that’s when he goes the other way. So, I kind of enjoy the zone read because really, your quarterback’s not taking it unless there’s no one to hit him. If there is someone to hit him, you’re usually handing it off, so the zone read is something I feel in the long run helps the quarterback.”

On limiting Griffin III’s exposure to injury:

“When you think about last year, we’ve got to get better at coaching certain things, as I think we did throughout last year, situations on how you can account for the free hitters when you don’t have a man for that player and when the only guy who’s not accounted for is the middle third safety about 30 yards away. I think we got better at that as the year went. The last game we struggled with that would about Cincinnati, which I think was about Week 4. But as far as that stuff, I think some of the zone read stuff is the least he got hit. It’s the scrambles and stuff like that where, when guys aren’t blocked and stuff, there’s seven guys in coverage who are coming at him from all directions going airborne to hit somebody. Those are the times when I really get worried.”

On if he thinks Griffin III’s decision making on the zone read exposed him:

“No, I’m not saying that. I mean, you just look at all the zone read clips. Not many big hits happened on that because usually everyone’s blocked for you. You know who isn’t blocked and look at the big hits, look at what plays they were. The three injuries were pass plays. They weren’t the zone read. The zone read is something I learned throughout going through the year that I think really helped us. It’s the least pass rush I’ve ever seen as a coordinator. Guys just sitting there just scared to death just watching everyone else not moving. And I really enjoyed sometimes being able to drop back and not have four guys just teeing off on the quarterback all trying to hit him in the pocket.”

On the execution of the zone read and keeping Griffin III healthy:

“He stayed healthy last year running the zone read, so I feel pretty good about that. The thing is, you really hope no one gets hurt. It’s hard to control injuries and that’s why you  don’t ever want call quarterback power and stuff like that. I see a lot of teams do it, but I’ve done it once and I’ll never do it again. Well, tell defensive coordinators I might do it. I don’t think that’s that good of a play anyways. But when you do the zone read, everyone’s accounted for and there’s not many free hitters in it.”

On his maturation as a play caller:

I think just obviously experience helps – I mean, the more years you have as a coordinator, the more situations you’ve been through, the more players… The job of the coordinator isn’t to reinvent the wheel. It’s to try to figure out the best way to put these talented players in a situation that they can be successful. You have different players each year. You have a different group of guys and you go against different coverages each year. You know, stuff that was good for me in Houston isn’t always good for me here. Sometimes it was, but it changed the next year. Sometimes it changes each week. Each year that I get, the more different things that I’ve learned trying with different players doing stuff, the more it’s made me more confident that if you’ve got the right guys and you can teach them really every facet of how you can attack a defense, I think that a system is overrated. What is your system? We’re going to attack the defense… Everybody in the league runs pretty close to the same plays. It’s just when you call those plays, how you call those plays, versus what coverages. I don’t plan on having an exact system the rest of my career. I plan on understanding football, understanding defenses, teaching our players all that, and let’s see what they’re going to do. Let’s attack that hole in the defense, whatever it is.”

On his role in Robert Griffin III’s progression with decision making:

“I’m Robert’s coach so it’s my job to help him with everything. It’s not just Robert. I think it’s every quarterback who has ever played the game. I mean, guys have got to get used to sliding, knowing when to fight for yards and when not to fight for yards. I think it’s harder for guys their rookie years because the speed of the game is a lot different, where you used to have a little more time to slide. Now people get up on you a little quick. And when someone gets up on you quick and you slide at the last second, that’s when you get hit under the chin and stuff. You’ve got to slide early and anticipate things. It’s not just Robert, it’s all quarterbacks. I think a lot of rookie quarterbacks, it takes time to get that feel. They learn through experience and I think Robert had a lot of experience last year and I think he’ll definitely be better from that. We’ll keep harping on it and I think it’ll come natural for him.”

On if Griffin III has issues throwing the ball away:

“With Robert, he’s so confident that he doesn’t have to. I don’t think he had to in college very much. Whoever that guy was there, he would just outrun him or just make him miss. Some guys, most of the other quarterbacks on our roster, have been throwing the ball away since high school. They weren’t going to outrun that guy. But Robert has outrun that guy his whole life and now all of the sudden, ‘Oh, that guy got me. He had a better angle on me.’ Now you’ve got to learn, ‘What do I do on this?’ Well, some guys have been doing it since eighth grade. Robert’s just starting to do it and I think it’ll get easier for him with reps.”  

On the versatility of the pistol formation:

“That’s the whole key to the pistol. I laugh when people talk about the ‘Pistol Offense’ because you can run the zone read out of the pistol, so it gives you the threat to run the zone read. The good thing about the pistol is that it’s the exact same as your entire offense. The quarterback is taking about three steps back behind the center, so instead of reaching his hands under the center, he’s just reaching out to catch the ball. But the back is still behind the quarterback so you can run your entire offense. Nothing changes. I think that’s the key to everything. The zone read is a good play, but if defenses know its coming then I don’t care how good it is; people will stop it. The whole key to the zone read is just the threat of the zone read. We want to run our offense. We want to do what we’ve been doing, but you better honor the zone read because it is a good play. If you aren’t honoring it, you’re usually going to get 15 yards before contact.”

On the importance of continuity on the offensive line:

“I think that’s everything. Obviously, you want real talented guys and the more talented the better, but when you can have five guys work together, especially at that group, they’re all moving together. They’re adjusting to stunts, they’re blocking combinations together. When people move, then five people have got to adjust together. When we have our guys in there, we have been our best. Even two years ago. I think we started out the year, I don’t remember what we were – I think were top five in rushing and then we lost a couple of lineman and had to move some guys around. We went about five games there where we were the worst. This year, we kept them all healthy the whole year. I feel like we did exactly what we did two years ago in the first month of the season, but the guys stayed healthy. Our back did a hell of a job and you guys saw the results.”

On his expectations with Fred Davis and Pierre Garçon being healthy:

“I expect a lot. Those are two of our better players. I was real proud of the guys, our tight ends who stepped in in place of Fred and really stepped it up. They were always good role players for us and we threw them into starting roles and I don’t think we missed a beat. There’s things that one guy does better than the other, but when it’s all said and done, at the end of the game, those tight ends really helped us win a lot of those games. They are one of the main reasons I think we did as well as we did in the run game, and when we called their number in the pass game they didn’t disappoint us.”

On what a healthy Garçon can bring to the offense:

“Oh, Pierre was huge. I mean you guys saw how different it was when Pierre got out there in the second half of the year. Whether Pierre was getting the ball or not, just the threat of having him out there opens up a lot of stuff. When you have a guy like that, a true No. 1 wide receiver, it makes all of your other wide receivers better. And when you have a true No. 1 wide receiver, with other receivers that can hurt you, it’s again tough to worry about a tight end. When you’ve got a bunch of guys out there that are really players, it opens up everything. Whether they are getting the ball or not, it helps in every way possible.”

On how much of Alfred Morris’ success was tied to the threat of Griffin III:

“I think a lot of it was huge. The threat of Robert running was, to me, the thing I enjoyed the most throughout the year. I go crazy thinking about blitzes every week, how we’re going to pick all this stuff up. About halfway through the year I’m starting to realize that we’re not getting any of these blitzes that I used to see. It takes a lot of stuff you used to worry about, you don’t get. The threat of a quarterback running makes defense play sound and makes them play 11-on-11, as opposed to 11-on-10 like they’ve been doing my whole career that I’ve seen. Just the threat of a quarterback who can run, especially in the running game with the zone read and everything, it, whether that’s working or not, just the threat of it, opens up everything else.”

On people who say Morris’ success is only a credit to Griffin III and the zone read:

“People who say that just don’t watch tape. They just read stats, I guess. I mean, just watch Alfred. Alfred’s a beast. I think one guy or about three guys all year tackled him on the first tackle. That guy runs as hard as anyone I’ve ever seen. Most of his yards came on outside zone, not the zone read, so Alfred is as good of a back as I’ve ever had. He’s the real deal.”

On if it is important to differentiate the backfield with different types of runners:

“My main thing is there’s no absolutes in anything. There are some ideal situations you would like. My main thing is if Alf [Morris] is not in there, I want the best running back who’s not Alf in there. I don’t care – he doesn’t have to be his exact opposite. Just ‘cause Alf’s a guy who runs hard and stuff, doesn’t mean that we have got to go get a guy who’s just fast and different than him. I want the best back, the second best back in who is not Alf if we’re running the ball. You can get some guys who can isolate maybe in the pass game a little different and use them a little differently, but when you’re spelling a guy, you want a guy who comes in and moves the chains and does the exact same things he does and we can keep those same yards per carry and stay on the field.”

On wide receivers Leonard Hankerson and Joshua Morgan:

“I’ve been real impressed with both of those guys. I think Josh battled through injuries all last year. He got hurt the year before we got him at San Francisco, had some screws in his ankle. He got those screws taken out in January. I think he had the surgery on his wrist. I want to say he had like three surgeries, but he played all year hurt for us. He’s a tough guy so he’s able to battle through it. I think it’s showing out in OTAs. He’s feeling healthier. He’s cutting better. He doesn’t have to think as much. I think he’s got a better feel for the offense and I think we’ll see a lot better from Josh this year. And Hank, Hank’s just working every day too. He’s trying to step it up. Hank’s been as good as anyone at times, and sometimes he has his little bad moments. He’s been very consistent through OTAs and I think Hank can be as good as he wants to be.”

On if anyone has separated themselves along the offensive line:

“No one in particular. Right now. OTAs, you know a lot of our backup guys we’ve had – [Josh] LeRibeus and Mo [Maurice] Hurt who haven’t been practicing – you know they’ve had some injuries out there, so they haven’t been out there throughout OTAs. And then the younger guys coming in, OTAs, to me, more for those guys is learning for our 10 OTAs practices so they have a chance to compete in training camp. I don’t try to judge new guys too much right now. They’re at a disadvantage. They’re moving slower because their mind is thinking a lot more than the veterans, but you hope you can put them through it in OTAs and everything to where they learn it enough. They go through those reps so when training camp comes and we’ve got some more pads on, we can hit a little bit more, we’re going into some preseason games, these guys have a chance to compete and aren’t just thinking all the time.”

On tryout wide receiver Donté Stallworth:

“He looked like the same guy I remember. He’s a very good football player. I love Donté.”

On if Stallworth can help the team:

“Yeah, definitely. Donté helped us a lot two years ago. I would have loved to bring him back last year too, to come compete for a roster spot. He ended up signing with New England. We saw he was available and I don’t know if we signed him yet, I hope we do."

On quarterback Pat White:

“We needed to get another quarterback. You know we studied the guys in the draft and stuff. We needed to add another quarterback for the roster and the one thing about Pat was just me reading that he was trying to come back in the league. I really liked Pat coming out of college and I really liked him as a quarterback. When I was at Houston, I evaluated him. I had a high grade on him and he was a guy I was always interested in. I know it didn’t work out for him in Miami. I went back and watched the tape and stuff and the few plays that he had and I didn’t see any reason why – you know a lot of people had him rated high coming out of college, and I didn’t see enough in his first year that would make you think that the guy was done. He got thrown in some situations where he almost was treated more like a Wildcat quarterback, but Pat’s definitely a quarterback. He’s not a Wildcat quarterback and I think Pat could play and I was just excited. He’s somebody I would have hoped to have about five years ago. Just to see him now, he’s come in and he’s the same guy that I thought he was going to be coming out of college. Pat’s got a lot of upside and it’s always hard when you’ve been away from the game for a while, but he’s working as hard as anyone and I think he’s gotten better each practice.”

On quarterback Kirk Cousins commanding the huddle:

“Kirk’s a very good leader. It comes pretty natural for him. He’s very A-type personality. I mean when he’s in there, he’s about his business and he can push that tempo fast. He calls the plays well. He gets along with everybody, but also he jokes around a lot too. Guys laugh at him. He’s always himself. He’s not going to change for anybody and I think guys really enjoy being around him.”