Here is a little bit of what was heard around Redskins Park today.
Kyle Shanahan knows that many think that he has his job just because he is the son of the head coach. Dealing with that is nothing new to him:
I got it when I was little. If I started at point guard on my fifth grade basketball team, it most likely was because of my dad. I’m used to getting all that. I think it comes with the territory. I think that’s human nature.
I think I’ve been real competitive my whole life. I think that’s why I’m a perfectionist. I think that’s that’s why I work really hard at what I do. That’s why I try to make sure that I’m on top of this game. There’s nothing I feel like a player can’t ask me that I can’t help him with. It comes with the territory.
When you don’t have success and your last name is the same as the boss’, you’re going to get that. It doesn’t bother me, it drives me.
Jim Haslett was happy that the team could bring in defensive end Kentwan Balmer since it is unusual to find 25-year-old first-round picks sitting around in November. He think that Balmer will pick up the defensive system quickly.
We don’t ask them to do much at least in the base stuff . . . I just think, for the future, over the next eight games and next year, it’s a good chance [to take]. It’s hard to find guys that are 6-5, 320 sitting in the street . . . He’s a first-round pick. Obviously he has some talent. But he has some issues that we dealt with and we understand. He understands there’s a clean slate here. He has got to prove to us that he wants to be a player.
The reputation for having a less than ideal attitude precedes Kentwan Balmer to Washington. From what Mike Shanahan said, he was very blunt in his message to the defensive end.
“To be honest with you, I don’t really go into a lot of detail – just tell the person that we’re aware of his background and you’re going to start out with a clean slate. Hopefully, he comes in here and does what he’s supposed to do and, if he does, great. And if he doesn’t, he won’t be here a while.”
Usually, when asked about a previous stop in the NFL player will put on a happy face and find something nice to say. John Beck was not exactly salty when talking about his two years with the Dolphins but here’s what the normally loquacious Beck said when asked if he had any fond memories of Miami:
“Not that I can think of first-hand, off the top of my head.”
(apparently he’s not even a fan of dog tracks)
After rookie wide receiver Leonard Hankerson spent the first part of the season in the role of the Invisible Man, he is suddenly getting playing time and accolades. Here’s what Beck had to say about him:
“I just know that he has done a great job of impressing not only the players and the coaches, but everybody during that time from the preseason until now. And that’s why he’s getting an opportunity to play, because we know that Hank can play, that he can make plays. He made some plays for us and we look to him to continue to get better… It hasn’t just been the past couple weeks. He’s been having good practices for a long time because he’s very capable. He had good practices in the preseason and he’s definitely stepped up. We’re excited to have him out there.”
Hey, who needs OTA’s and training camp? Evidently Tashard Choice can come in and have the offense mastered in a week, at least according to Shanahan:
“You just don’t know for sure, but, last week, [Choice] had a chance to go through almost every game situation and so he couldn’t play, but that’s kind of good. So he had a chance to go through all of the mental aspects of the game plan and, today, you could see him adjust fairly quickly and he looked pretty good. I would say there would be no difference in the next couple of days adjusting to our short yardage, goal line, red zone. He should be ready to go – pretty sharp kid.”
Here is some of what was heard around Redskins Park today:
Left guard, right guard, no big difference right? It's significant, says Will Montgomery, who is starting a left guard this year after playing right guard most of 2010.
“It’s a lot different. Your footwork is all switched around, your dominant hand’s all different. It’s a mirror—it’s all similar but it’s different . . . Playing right guard and center are similar because your right hand is down. With your left hand down [at left guard], it’s just a little footwork, a little hand work, hand placement. Little, small nuances with the technique.”
By the same token Keyaron Fox has found himself pushed out of his comfort zone playing different inside linebacker spots. He usually backs up London Fletcher at the Mike position but against the Bills he spelled Rocky McIntosh at the Jack spot and played in some dime packages in passing situations. What’s the difference?
Your gaps, your splits, your coverage, your reads—it changes a little bit . . . Last week [in practice] I was all Mike and during the game I played all dime and Jack . . . I’m a lot more comfortable in Mike than I am right now at Jack or dime. The Jack and dime are a little bit easier positions to play because you’re not making the calls.
Kyle Shanahan talked about how he has to alter his play calls and simplify the playbook when younger, less experienced players are in the game:
“Yeah, we definitely do. It’s a different game plan every week with the amount of stuff you take in. You have to do what players can do. I don’t think we had a lot of mental mistakes, but we have to get them to play faster and get them to play better . . . You obviously want to be able to do everything that you want to be able to do, anything that comes to your mind. That’s what coaching is – you have to think of what your players can do best and try to put them in the best chance to be successful.”
Kyle realizes that he will be under the gun any time the offense performs poorly and especially when his team gets shut out. He even hears it when he gets home:
“That’s life. Any time you get shutout, I expect to get criticized. I expect it from you guys, I expect it from my wife and I expect it from myself. It’s embarrassing. I’ve never been shutout before and I don’t want it to ever happen again. But it is what it is and you’ve got to man up and deal with it. Really what matters to me is whether the players believe in me or not – that’s really what it all comes down to. If the players have confidence in you and they believe in what you’re doing, then you have a chance. I believe in these guys and I think they believe in me and we just have to go to work.”
Jim Haslett says that the notion of halftime adjustments is a myth:
“We make them all the time. That halftime stuff is a bunch of baloney. People say you go in at halftime and make the adjustments – you make them throughout the whole game. One time when they were empty, we were checking to something. I think you make them throughout the game because you work on things you think you’re going to get, but you don’t know until you get there. So that’s something you make during the game. Halftime – you’ll go over the stuff you need to work on, but 12 minutes, think about it, by the time you get in there and go to the bathroom and come back, you’ve got about three minutes. It ain’t like you have a big strategy program. You make adjustments throughout the game.”
By Rich Tandler
Here is what we heard around Redskins Park on Wednesday:
Fullback Darrel Young says that the offense shot itself in the foot while getting shut out against the Bills:
We’ve just got to believe. It’s what we worked for in camp. We shut ourselves down, it wasn’t what Kyle called. We just have to execute it at the end of the day. We felt like we were in the best position from a coaching position, from the scouting report but we just didn’t execute on the field and that’s what made the loss so bad.
Young said that everyone needed to step up and take responsibility for the pass protection issues, including the running backs.
It’s our fault, too. Everything is collective. It’s not from the quarterback position, it’s not from the line position, it’s not from the back position, it’s everybody.
Young was impressed with how Beck handles himself while having a rough day in Toronto and how he wanted to immediately learn what went wrong so he could start to improve:
Anytime you’ve got a guy like that who’s still believing after getting sacked nine times in the game, he came in Monday and watched the film. I think he wanted to come in Sunday, he said that on the plane ride home. Anytime you’ve got a guy like that it’s just a matter of time before we’ll be successful.
Anthony Armstrong is good at running vertical routes but he know he has to diversify his game and be a well-rounded receiver:
It’s real important to have the whole package to your game so they can’t predict what you’re going to do so they can’t put a bead on what you’re doing every single time every time you get out there. I need to be versatile and show different routes and different abilities and that definitely will help. . . We’ve been rotating a lot of different guys in there, everybody’s been.
With five offensive players who started the season now on the sideline, John Beck has had to try to get an offensive attack going with a lot of new faces in the huddle besides his own.
“There has been a lot of change and with change comes time to adjust. I feel like we’re doing everything we can to speed that process up with the people that are coming in because we feel confident in our teammates. We’ve been with these guys. When the step in and get an offoprunity, we do feel comfortable with them. It will continue to grow and that’s the way we look at it. Let’s continue to get better each and every day and that’s why each day of practice is so important.
By Rich Tandler
Here is what was heard around Redskins Park on Thursday:
Brian Orakpo said that the main reason that the Bills have given up the fewest sacks in the league (7) is that Ryan Fitzpatrick gets rid of the ball so quickly. That kind of attack can annoy defensive linemen:
We have to do a good job of not being frustrated. On film, we see a lot of defensive linemen get frustrated because they can’t get there . . . We’ve got to get our hands up and bat the ball down . . . As a d-lineman, we preach on pressure and sacks. When you’re not getting there your psyche is not in it . . . You just have to be mentally prepared.
Against the Panthers, Orakpo went in unblocked and got a blindside sack of Cam Newton. To the surprise of many, Newton held on to the ball. Orakpo explained that because he is a southpaw.
You want to get the guy down. Most of the times the hits I have, the one on Bradford I able to get my hand in and get the ball out, the one on Kolb I had this big old hit and the ball came out. I was kind of having the same mindset when I was hitting Cam. He’s a bigger guy do he was able to take it. The thing about me is I’m not right handed so the technique is not quite there yet. As I progress it will get better and better. . . When you’re coming that free you really want to get the guy down.
Kyle Shanahan talked about the strategic aspect of the game when asked about other teams getting a book on John Beck:
The more you put on tape as the year goes, the more that you have got to adjust. It’s not just game-to-game, it’s series to series and half to half, so I think that is the game of football. It is a chess match and you always want to stay one step ahead. Any time a team takes something away, you’ve go to go back to something else.
Mike Shanahan agreed with Chris Cooley that it was crazy that the NFL did not permit injured players to rehab with team doctors and trainers during the lockout:
I agree with him 100 percent. I think that anybody that has an offseason surgery, you’re used to your training staff and the rehab process and if you’re not able to go through that process, I think it really hurts the players and sets people back.
Jim Haslett said that if it’s not one thing, it’s another when it comes to stopping the other team’s rushing game:
Two weeks ago, we had a lot of missed tackles. This week, there were a lot of mistakes that led to big plays. I think the quarterback has scrambled on us for 120 yards the last two games. The first play, when [Cam Newton] took off and ran, we had a sack but our nickel didn’t set the corner, set the edge, and he took off and ran for whatever it was, 30 yards [it was 25 actually], and that adds up. But we’ll do a better job.
So when the Bills’ offense is humming, Ryan Fitzpatrick (7th round, Harvard) is throwing to Stevie Johnson (7th round, Kentucky) and handing off to Freddie Jackson (undrafted, Coe College). The fact that these guys were overlooked and underrated helps motivate them, according to Fitzpatrick.
It’s something that we’ve bonded over. And I think everybody understands and appreciates the opportunity that they’ve been given. We’ve all had to work so hard to be given this opportunity. I think everybody has earned the opportunity to go out there and play. I think these guys now understand that being undrafted, being a seventh-round pick, being the lowest guy on the totem pole for so long, these opportunities don’t come by every day. It’s taking advantage of that right now and living in the moment and putting all that extra time in the film room and on the field and I think that’s a lot of the reason why we’ve been successful this year.
Here is what was said today around Redskins Park
Fullback Darrel Young was impressed with John Beck’s demeanor in the huddle:
I love the guy, I see the confidence in him. If the guy comes in the huddle and demands perfection as he did, you can’t go wrong. There was no time on the field where we were thinking we can’t complete this. He did a good job with the decisions he made.
Santana Moss appears to be taking his broken hand in stride:
I wasn’t disappointed. That’s life in this sport. I took it for what it is. Anytime you break something or hurt something you’re going to give it time to heal. It’s a long season. I’m going to deal with it, do what I’ve always done, think positive and then hopefully something positive will come out of it.
Moss did not know much about the injury to his hand:
Somewhere. I’m not a doctor, somewhere on my hand, you know. The metacarpal or something like that.
John Beck would like to follow the career path of Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who went from the scrap heap to being “the guy” in Buffalo. Turns out, Beck knows the guy:
Ryan and I actually grew up together. We’ve known each other since we were seven years old, eight years old. So he’s a guy whose story I know because we played all sports against each other, so I’ve followed Ryan. I’m really happy to see his success but there is [similarity] because I know his story that he just kept working and, at one point, he was out of football and then he got picked up by the Cincinnati Bengals and played in, I believe, 12 games or 13 games for them that year. It’s just a good example—if you keep working, good things can happen.
Beck does not see leadership being an issue with players like Moss, Cooley, and Hightower out.
“I feel this team has a lot of very high character guys and, at times, when somebody needs to step, it’s the guys with high character that always do. I’ve already seen guys emerge on this team try to step up and take more of a leadership role because there has to be. When you lose guys that are your captains, your leaders, you can’t just go on without a captain or a leader. Guys step up and I’ve been able to see that in the locker room already with some guys and I’ve seen some fire in the younger guys. I don’t think they’re saying ‘uh oh, now it’s my turn, what I am going to do?’ They’re saying ‘okay, this is my turn and I’m going to go out there and prove that I can do it.’ And that’s how you have to be.”
Mike Shanahan said that in his view, the Redskins have a 61-man roster including the practice squad so having only two tailbacks on the 53-man roster is no big deal.
“Well, you look at it as two up, I look at it as four up. You can change any time. Just because a guy’s on the practice squad doesn’t mean he’s not getting ready for the game and he’s not ready to play. You can change that any time you want to during the week. I look at it as a 61-man squad. We have four tailbacks, not two. We’re going to try to put together the best team we can and, sometimes, you feel like you need depth at a certain position over another. Sometimes, it’s availability of people who are out there, but there’s a lot that goes into it. We’ll make the best decision for the team.”
A look at what we heard today at Redskins Park:
Kyle Shanahan said that he had input on the quarterback position but not the final word:
“I think it goes like anywhere else. I’m the offensive coordinator, so [Mike Shanahan] obviously asks for my opinion. I don’t think there’s a coach on our staff that he doesn’t ask for their opinion. I think he talks to a lot of guys, but when it comes down to it, it’s definitely his decision.”
Offensive line coach Chris Foerster didn’t think that a lack of continuity due to injuries had anything to do with the line’s problem’s against Philly:
“We didn’t execute as well overall as a group. That led us to not having success on offense so I don’t think it was necessarily due to continuity. As a group, we just didn’t play well.”
Will Montgomery, who moved from center to guard on Sunday, would be happy to make another switch if asked:
“If they want to stick me at wide receiver, I’ve got pretty good hands, played some tight end in high school and got two catches so whatever they need me to do, I’m ready.”
Although both Michael Vick and Cam Newton are athletic, mobile quarterbacks, Jim Haslett doesn’t think that playing Vick helps prepare for Newton:
“They are not the same type of guy. Cam will run, [but] he’s not really Michael Vick 4.3 [second 40-yard dash] speed. He’s a big body that’s hard to get down. He’ll stay alive and obviously he’ll throw the ball. I think they are two separate entities.”
Mike Shanahan revealed that there was a backup plan had the team lost another offensive lineman against Philly:
“[We] probably would have put Logan Paulsen in at either the guard or tackle position… That’s kind of a bad situation to be in. That’s happened to me before.”
DeAngelo Hall said that you have to play defense a little differently when the offense is not putting up a lot of points:
“It’s definitely kind of frustrating. That one play you could give up another time when the offense is rolling, we’ll get it back. Just playing more cautious, really concentrating and focusing in on what you have to do. When that side of the ball is struggling you can’t give points up.”
Haslett said that Jarvis Jenkins looks like he might be ready to play in a month (note: he can’t, his placement on injured reserve ended his season.)
“He’s still around. He’s in meetings. He’s working out. He’s running up the steps today for me. He looks great… Yeah, I think he’s gaining just because he’s in the meetings and paying attention. We’ve had a couple of guys here last year – a guy went on IR and we didn’t see him all year. He went home or whatever. I love the way Jarvis prepares to play the game and the way he’s done his rehab. If you probably gave Jarvis another month, he’d probably be ready to play. I mean he works hard and he tells me what he does at night… He ran up the steps today and it was impressive… He just can’t plant and go side-to-side.”