Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay and defensive coordinator Joe Barry give their thoughts heading into Sunday's 2015 season opener against the Miami Dolphins.
Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay
On where he expects Dolphins DT Ndamukong Suh to lineup:
"What we've seen so far from those guys in the preseason film that they put out there, we've seen Suh lineup on the right side. So, we're expecting him to be lined up over Brandon [Scherff]. We know it's going to be a great challenge for him and I think he's excited about that."
On his expectations for the tight ends:**
"Anytime that you lose two guys like Logan [Paulsen] and Niles [Paul], they are going to be sorely missed. They were great players, great influences on their teammates in terms of the way they worked and carried themselves each and every day, but I think Coach [Wes] Phillips has done a great job getting some of these guys that are just getting here – Derek Carrier just a few weeks ago, we just got [Anthony] McCoy, getting Jordan Reed back going – so we're very confident in them and excited about what they're going to do on Sunday."
On deciding how to split time between the running backs:
"You always want to try to be able to establish the run game and each game is kind of its own entity and you want to be able to see how it plays out. But Alfred Morris is a guy that's been reliable and productive for the last three years and he'll get the bulk of the carries, but what Matt Jones has shown is extremely encouraging and exciting for us. He's a guy that you definitely want to find a way to get him some touches, be able to spell Alfred and keep him fresh. So we're looking to get both those guys going on Sunday."
On QB Kirk Cousins' connection with WR DeSean Jackson:
"Just getting DeSean back within the last couple of weeks where he started to really practice, you're excited about seeing him and the way he moves around and obviously the big play ability that he brings to our offense. I think those guys were able to hook up on some good, big completions and long gains last year and that's something that you always want to try to find. We're always going to try to start with the run game see what happens off of that, but we are looking forward to hopefully being able to see those guys make some big plays again this year."
On if he has noticed changes in Cousins since Cousins was named starter:
"Kirk has always been a pro. He's very mature beyond his years. He's handled himself extremely well. I've always been impressed with him since he came here as a rookie. I've been fortunate enough to be around him and Robert [Griffin III] since they both got into the league. Just watching the way that he's handled both the ups and the downs has been very impressive for a younger guy, but I haven't seen any change in the way that he approaches his preparation. I think certainly it gives you a little bit of the ability to be more demanding on the field, doing some different things with, 'Hey, let's go work some of these routes with those receivers that you're going to be working with.' But his approach has been very similar to how it always has been."
On how the presence of Dolphins DE Cameron Wake complicates the matchup with Suh:
"That's a great question. That is probably why I haven't slept a lot this week. He's a great player. Those are two special players. They've got two players on the other side in Mitchell and Olivier Vernon that we think are outstanding as well. It definitely complicates some things. You always want to have a plan in place to try to potentially help guys out with some of those protection adjustments that you may or may not have to make. Like we were talking about with Brandon going against a great player in Suh, we know Morgan Moses has the same challenge in Cameron Wake and it's going to be exciting for us."
On if there has been a common theme in Cousins' turnovers in the past:
"I think the biggest thing is as a quarterback you always want to start with being a great decision maker, treating each play as its own entity and not feeling like if you're playing from behind you have to get it all back at once. Take what the defense gives you. We'd like to give these guys plays that have answers versus whatever defensive looks the defensive coordinator presents. Just take it one play at a time and be a good decision maker and I think that will eliminate some of those turnovers that we've seen in the past."
On the improvement in the running backs' blocking:**
"I think that's a big point of emphasis that [Running Backs] Coach [Randy] Jordan makes with those guys. Certainly the more game film that you get the better chance you have to evaluate. On a daily basis when we do put the pads on we always try to get running backs and linebackers going against each other in blitz protection drills. I think with the three backs that we're counting on with Alfred [Morris], Matt [Jones] and Chris Thompson, all those guys have showed encouraging signs. Hopefully they'll step up to the challenge if they're using those protection situations."
On if he prepares contingency plans if communication issues arise with the headsets:
"When that does occur it definitely throws a kink in some of the plans that you have. That's why you always want to be hand-signal ready and have some of those communication adjustments if necessary. It's happened with us before and you always have to have a contingency plan in place. It certainly makes it a lot more stressful in terms of being able to change personnel groupings, getting the plays in and out, especially within the framework of the play clock."
On if headset issues limit play calling:
"It does. A lot of these things, if you want to be able to call two plays at once, it limits your ability because of the time where you can't just press a button and get it in. You might have to signal it, which takes a little bit longer, or you might have to send in a substitution, give him the play. It definitely does take away some of the game plan with where you can't hand signal everything that you have."
On how QB Robert Griffin III has handled the last few weeks:
"He's been very impressive. He's handled himself very maturely. I've been impressed with just the way he's gone about his business each and every day. I think it's a credit to his character and the way he's handled himself through a tough situation."
On if there are things Cousins can do to help the offensive line against Miami's defensive front:
"Certainly, you always have a game plan to try to attack whatever personnel you're going against each and every week. I think the big thing that we talk about is being able to establish the run. It slows the pass rush down. He'll do some different things in the pass game and maybe a couple different schemes, protection-wise, but the big plan or the big point of emphasis that we make to him is to just execute the game plan. Whatever plays we're deciding to run, make sure you do a great job executing those based on whatever [Miami Dolphins Defensive Coordinator] Coach [Kevin] Coyle decides to play defensively."
On if they talked about Cousins' release as it relates to avoiding the pass rush:
"What you certainly do is you make sure, 'Hey, let's stay in the timing and rhythm of the play. Let's understand that there's probably going to be a little bit more push than some of the other fronts that you might play.' But as long as he stays within the timing and rhythm of some of these plays that we're trying to execute but certainly getting the football out of your hand and not being able to hold it all day against an excellent rush is a big point of emphasis for us."
Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry
On CB DeAngelo Hall's process of working back:
"To start with, he was great for us in the offseason. Really couldn't do anything, did some stuff individually and things like that but we kept him out of OTAs. I just loved his… it was my first time around him. I really loved his passion, he was into it. He was coaching the young guys. For me, never being around the guy, you never know how a veteran is going to act. He was great, he was positive. We get to training camp, we had a practice plan with him. I think you always have to do that anytime that you have a guy that is injured. Then he hurts the groin, then hurt his toe. But the thing I love about him is he kept battling and battling through it. He's been great, he is a true professional which is great to see."
On expectations for Hall: **
"I'm greedy, I have high expectations of all of our guys. If you make the 53-man roster, I think expectations are high. I think any player that's worth anything would be, he'd be upset if we didn't have high expectations for him. I think he's in a good place right now, he's having fun. D-Hall just wants to play football, that's all he wants to do. He's been able to do that the last couple weeks so he's got a big smile on his face."
"I think tackling is a major issue in the NFL right now just because of the way the rules are now. You really can't, from the time you play your last game, last year on December 29th or whatever it was, you really don't tackle anybody until damn near the first preseason game. You can emphasize it, you can talk about it, you can drill it. But, until you actually go out and tackle a dude, that's the only true way to do it. You don't do that really technically until preseason games. You might have some live situations for guys in training camp. But you usually do that with the third group, you never do that with the first or second group. The first time that veterans really get a chance to go tackle is the preseason. I think everyone has to fight through that. From a coach's stand point it's frustrating. In college you have spring ball, you have Saturday scrimmages where you go out and tackle. NFL you don't have that. We try to create drills for guys in the offseason, that nine-week period when we're out on the field. Try to be as creative as possible but there's no way to create a real tackle, unless going out and tackling a guy. You can't do that until the preseason."
On LB Preston Smith's development:
"Preston, I'm sure he'd tell you if you asked him, I'm up his butt every second of every day. He's a talented kid, he really is. But like most rookies they don't get it. One day he might have it and think he has it and the next day, he shows up and you've got to coerce him to get going. Preston's been, typical rookie progress. I think OTAs was good, I think training camp was good. I think he did some things in the preseason. But he's still a young player. I think he's a kid I'm very excited about. He's got a great skill set. He's a big man, you don't realize. You walk by him and you're like 'oh what is he 245-250'. He's 270 pounds. He's a big athletic kid that is just tipping the surface I think of how good he can be. "
On the secondary's communication:**
"I think that's always… when you come in with a new system; I don't think it's just excluded to the secondary. Every group, the D-line, the linebackers, defensive football is about communication. It's about 11 guys being on the same page… all the time. You can have nine or ten guys, if one guy is off, there is a kink in the armor. But, if all 11 guys are on the same page, communicating, playing as one, good things can happen. Especially in the back end, if the D-linemen screws up… shoot, the linebackers can cover for them. If the linebackers screw up, the DBs. If a DB screws up, there is nobody behind you. So, it's vital for every position to be able to communicate and be on the same page but those guys especially. "
On the pressure and ability of the staff to identify naturally good tacklers:
"Well, sure. When you get to this level that these guys are at, these guys are tacklers. You can't make it to this level, you can't make it to a 53-man roster and not be a good tackler. You know, I just think that it's, like I said before, it's really forced us to be creative because you can't go out and tackle. You have to be creative. You have to tackle medicine balls and you have to talk about vice leverage and you have to talk about proper shoulder and things like that. You have to constantly talk about it especially in the offseason because you physically can't do it. But I think, most guys, and it is something that obviously starts with Scot [McCloughan] and his crew in the evaluation process whether it's a draft-eligible guy or a free agent, you're always looking at what kind-of tackler he is. Most of the time, these guys, they wouldn't be at this level if they couldn't tackle."
On how he feels that things have come together with bringing a new scheme:
"I think it's obviously a progression like anything. You go through the nine weeks of offseason. You get the OTAs. It's a building process. Every day is better. You hope you build and stack a block on top of each other every day. Training camp's a process. We kind of broke it down into phases. We had the offseason. We had training camp, and then we had the preseason. Now, we're moving into another phase, but each progression of each phase, I think I've been satisfied with. Now ultimately, none of those other phases matter. Now, we've got to go to the phase of playing games and winning games but the progression, I like what we've been able to do."
On how DB Dashon Goldson earned team captain in his first year:
"I've been fortunate. I've been around some pretty special guys in my coaching career. Guys that I've specifically coached, guys, you know the Derrick Brookses, the John Lynches, the Eric Weddles, I've been able to be around guys like that. Dashon is in that mold. He really is. He is an absolute professional in the way that he works and the way that he handles himself in the meeting room. You can see that he's always taking notes. He's always talking ball out on the field. He's always discussing things. If something does happen in practice when the first group goes out, he's not over there just sitting on a cooler. He's grabbing the guys, talking, 'Hey, what happened? What was the breakdown?' I would classify him as a guy that's totally into ball…100 percent. The thing that's great about that is when your marquee, "star players" are like that, it's infectious. The other guys goes, 'God dang, look how Dashon acts. Look how he's into it.' As veterans, as a young guy, as Kyshoen Jarrett to sit there and see a veteran act like that, prepare like that and go about his day on a daily basis whether it's in the weight room, whether it's in the meeting room, whether it's on the practice field, it's impressive. He's been phenomenal."
On what challenges are presented by Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill:**
"The thing that I've been most impressed about him is that he is, I think as a coach, when you look at a player, whether it's your own player, you view other players, especially with young guys, you look for them¬¬, for a progression. You look for them to get better year in and year out. When you really look at the year that he had last year, compared to the year before, he had 28 touchdowns, only threw 12 picks, threw for 4,100 yards. I think he was right about at a 93 quarterback rating. I can't remember the previous year stats, but they were all improvements. He's very good. He can make all the throws. The thing that I think is the most dangerous thing, he can run. It's one thing when a quarterback can drop back and sling it, but when a quarterback can drop back and sling it and take off, it adds a whole other dimension. So, he's a very good young football player in this league. Like I said, to me, the thing that's been the most impressive, every year he's improved."
On LB Jackson Jeffcoat:
"Really, he didn't wait around to play good once Junior got hurt. Jackson had a phenomenal offseason. The last five months, I was very impressed with him, through OTAs. The thing that's cool is that training camp is about competition. You hope you get to the level where guys are competing their butts off for those roster spots. He did. Competition is all about showing what you've got. He proved it that he can make plays and he did make plays. Every week he made plays. He makes play every day on the practice field. I'm proud of him. Typical coach, I tell him all the time that he hadn't done anything yet. He really has, he rose to the challenge and competed and truly earned a spot on this team. He's going to make plays for us. There's no doubt about it."
On Goldson's demeanor:
"Again, I really didn't know him before. So, I obviously knew of him, he had, as you said, a decorated career. Quite honestly, I did not watch one snap of Dashon Goldson at Tampa Bay. Over the years, we watch every game. But it wasn't like I sat down and watched every one of his games last year before we signed him. Dashon Goldson's a dang good football player. I had no idea he was the type of guy that he is, the type of leader that he is. So, I really don't know, you'd have to ask him. I don't think he's built that way… that he thinks he has to come out and prove anything. He just loves playing the game. He loves preparing. As I said before, he's phenomenal as far as a leader. That's the thing that I've been really impressed with and I just think that's the way he is."