My Thoughts from Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan’s press conference:
On deferring possession at the coin toss:
“I’ve always been the other way. I’ve always taken the ball in the past. This year, I’ve done it because I saw a percentage I hadn’t seen before – that people that defer win well over 60 percent. I said, “Hey, that’s an interesting stat. Why not go with the percentages?’ I kind of like it, too. Coming out at halftime and having a chance to get the ball first kind of fires up the team at halftime. I know when we get the ball, we have a chance to go the distance.”
-My Take:I really hate the Washington Redskins deferring and have been shocked that they have done so this season. I had not realized those percentages, but I also have to wonder if it is a loaded poll. If perennial playoff teams like the Steelers, Patriots, Ravens, Colts (for the Manning era) etc. defer every time then of course it will greatly skew the numbers, since those teams win 10+ games a year, and would do so whether they deferred or not. Also, I’d be curious to see the breakdown of great to elite defenses in deferring. If you have a top level defense than deferring probably isn’t a big risk since you can have confidence to shut down your opponent. By deferring the Redskins are allowing their opponent to dictate the pace of the game, and forcing their weakest unit (the defense) onto the field. They run the risk of getting in a hole early, and that is exactly what we almost saw on Sunday. The Vikings offense came out and moved the ball highly effectively their first drive, before the defense limited them to a field goal. That put the offense in a hole and one that was made worse with two more field goals on the next two drives. The Washington Redskins are lucky they were able to hold them to FG’s, because had the Vikings gotten into the end zone on any of those early drives, it could have been a completely different ball game.
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On wide receiver Pierre Garçon’s foot injury:
“That toe is just quite sore. You could see when he’s pushing off and when he goes downfield, he’s just not anywhere close to full speed. I saw it in Wednesday’s practice and I saw it in Thursday’s practice. I talked to him and he was trying to work through it. It’s just a little painful, so hopefully with the rest and maybe a little bit of time off he’ll be able to go and the thing will heal up. We did have an MRI on it and you could see in the MRI that there’s some inflammation there and it was quite sore. We’re just going to have to give it some time and hopefully it can heal quick.”
My Take: This does not sound good for Garcon returning the next couple of weeks. While it sounds like a week-to-week situation, I find it hard to believe that there is any chance he’d be ready this week, and the week or two after doesn’t sound that promising either. My guess would be the earliest that he is likely to return is after the bye week, their Nov. 18th game against the Eagles. Before then there might be a chance, but I don’t think it is a good one. And if they did rush him back again, it sounds like it could force him out even longer.
On what it takes to be successful in red zone defense:
“Keep them out of the end zone [laughter]. There’s a lot of different ways to do it. Some people have a red zone defense and they don’t vary from it very much. A lot of people kind of switch it up on you – they run a lot of different varieties of defenses so you’re not really sure what to call down there. You have to be kind of creative. Last year, we were one of the best on defense in the red zone area. We didn’t vary very much in what we were doing and were very successful doing it. Yesterday, Minnesota was two-for-seven and it was a difference in us winning the game. They were two-for-seven, we were three-for-three. They kicked field goals at the two, four, nine and nineteen I believe. That type of defense gives you a chance to win.”
My Take: Look it is nice to commend the defense because they did make stops when they mattered most, but they don’t deserve too much credit. They allowed the Vikings (and every team this year) to pick up a ton of yards and points. While it is good that they didn’t give up any additional points to the Vikings, they can’t be proud of that performance. Minnesota may be a good team and an up-and-coming team, but they aren’t an elite offense. The Redskins going forward will need to stop better teams and players, and they really don’t look to be up to the task. Some of the Vikings issues on these red zone possessions were self-inflicted (i.e. dropped passes not seeing an open receiver, etc.), and could be attributed more to luck than anything else.
On utilizing a running quarterback:
“I think anytime people have to account for a quarterback where you put him in a number of different positions, I think it presents problems for a defense. If you always know where a quarterback’s at, obviously you can isolate on that one position. If a quarterback is able to roll out, possibly run an option or dropback pass and there’s some question where he’ll be, I think it’s advantageous to that offense.”
My Take: This I really am in agreement with as at times it appears the threat of Griffin running is more effective then when he actually does so since it can open things up in the defense. Teams still haven’t figured out how to handle these read option plays or how to contain Griffin when the pocket breaks down or in the red zone. It’s opening up a number of doors for the Washington Redskins and they should be commended for playing to Griffin’s strengths.
On the offensive line:
“There are a number of people that were worried about our offensive line. I was hoping that we would stay fairly healthy and I was hoping some of our young guys that we have – if we didn’t stay healthy – could mature very quickly. We have stayed fairly healthy, which is always a big advantage. I do believe we have some depth now, so if we do lose somebody, hopefully we can still keep on getting better and we just don’t fall off a cliff like we did a year ago. The offensive line is a group of people working together as a unit that give you a chance to be successful. Everybody’s got a piece of the puzzle – your offensive line, your tight end, your quarterback, your wide receivers. That’s why we’re very successful right now, because we have a group of people all going in the same direction. They know the system, they know each other, they’ve been fairly healthy there. They’re working together. The big addition has been [tackle] Tyler Polumbus. He’s come in and he’s done a good job of picking up the system very quickly and hopefully we keep on improving.”
My Take: Does Mike Shanahan realize he’s not in Denver any more, because the offensive line has not been good. Yes in terms of run blocking they are doing very well, but still a high percentage of runs are going for 2 yards or less. Showing a lack of consistency in their run blocking. The number of blocking penalties (not just like but WR’s and TE’s holding) has been very high and has killed a number of positive plays or situations for the Redskins. Finally in terms of pass blocking, Robert Griffin has one of the highersack percentage’s in the league (sacks per dropback), and that is despite the fact the Washington Redskins utilize so much quick passing that should be neutralizing the pass rush. Beyond sacks, Robert Griffin remains one of the more pressured and hit quarterbacks in the NFL (despite a very low number of passing attempts). Yes the line may have been better against Minnesota in terms of pass blocking, but overall it’s been a major struggle.