On Thursday, October 26, 2013, Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan addressed the media following an afternoon practice at Redskins Park in Ashburn, VA.
On where he has seen growth in quarterback Robert Griffin III since Week 1:
"I think he progressed each week. I think he got better each game since the Philly game. In terms of last year, I think he was in a lot more situations in these first four games that he wasn't in last year – you know, times where we had to throw it a lot more and go to some more dropback game and he didn't get too many opportunities like that last year. So I thought he did fairly well in those situations and he's gotten better."
On if there was a certain point where he saw Griffin III "get it":
"Yeah, I think you see it all the time. I don't think everything has been totally consistent, but I think you see it at practice. I think you guys have all seen it in the games. I think our whole offense hasn't been totally clicking altogether as 11 players and I think we're starting to get there each week and hopefully we get it more this week."
On the effect of not being able to establish the run early in games:
"It depends what type of game it is. If you can't get the run going early in a game and then you're down by a lot it's tough to get it going later. I don't think we got it going early versus Oakland. We were down 14 points but then we ended up scoring, getting back in the game, and, you know, it was a tight game at the end and we were able to keep going with the run and staying in a tight game and ended up pulling it out at the end. We got that balance that we are always looking for."
On what he saw from running back Roy Helu, Jr. against Oakland:
"He looked good. I think he's looked that way all this year. I think he looked that way starting about half way through his rookie year. We believe in Roy. We think he's a real good player and I was happy for him to come out there and get some good opportunities and do what he's capable of doing."
On if wide receiver Leonard Hankerson has won the "Z" position over wide receiver Joshua Morgan:
"I don't think we really look at it like that. I think he's been getting definitely more of the reps, and we've been going with him more, especially in these last two games, but we haven't deemed him the winner or anything and made anything cut-and-dry. We think both of them do some good things so we never designate who we're going to start because a lot depends on plays, a lot depends on what we're trying to do. He's definitely earned getting a little bit more playing time, but no, it's not cut-and-dry yet."
On what areas Hankerson can continue to improve in:
"He's done everything we've asked so you just keep hoping he plays good. You keep hoping he separates, and he's done that. He's made the plays when we've gone to him. You just don't want him to have any setbacks. He's been doing good in practice, and I think I've been encouraged with him the most. I think you guys have seen him have some success lately and I think it's helped him. I think he's gotten a little bit more confidence. He walks around with a better swagger and I think he knows he can do it and he wants to do it and he's excited to get that opportunity. Hopefully we'll give him some more."
On the importance of using running back Alfred Morris to keep the ball away from the Dallas offense:
"I think whoever we play you don't want to get in a one-dimensional game. That's always just a philosophy in football. If you make any team one-dimensional, it's hard to be successful, especially when you are going against an offense. That's important. Our main thing isn't, you don't just say you're going to keep the ball out of their hands by running it because that sometimes can be a quick three-and-out and even if you have three running plays, if you don't move the chains it doesn't really matter what you do – you're giving the ball back to them. The number one goal is to move the chains and score points. We always believe that the best way to do that, the best way to help your players, is to not be one-dimensional. We think by doing that is mixing it up and doing both. In every game we play in, we believe in running the ball and we know we've got a challenge because we're going against a very good defense and a very good offense and we know we're going to have to be good with it when we get our turn and take every advantage with it."
On if there are other ways to get Helu Jr. into games more:
"Yeah, I'd like to get Helu out there more. It's always a hard thing when you've got two guys you believe in and with the success Alf's had last year and how much we do believe in Alf, so we don't like to just keep rotating those guys all the time. I'd like to get Helu in there more. I'd like to get him more opportunities. You don't ever want to do that at the expense of another one of your good players, but the more plays you get, the more opportunities you get. You never know what week it will be. Just because a guy doesn't do much one week doesn't mean we're down on him, it just worked out a different way. When his time comes, we can never predict it as coaches, but you hope he's ready for it. He got that opportunity versus Oakland and I thought he was one of the main reasons we were able to win the game."
On the advantage of having five games of tape to study a new defense as opposed to playing against a new scheme in Week 1:
"It's a lot better. We feel a lot more comfortable when we have more tape. Who knows with the results and every game is different and you see what happens on Sunday, but when you have more tape on teams it makes you a lot more comfortable. We're in here all the time looking at stuff and when there's more to look at we're actually not driving ourselves crazy trying to just come up with stuff. We actually can see it on tape. The more tape you get to see of people, the more you can be prepared and the more you can help prepare your players."
On Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware's transition from outside linebacker:
"It looks like he's getting better at it every game. I know he hadn't done it much in his career but I've always thought he's one of the best players in this league. He still looks like the same guy to me. When he wants to come off the ball and rush that passer, he's as scary as anybody there is. I don't care whether his hand is in the ground or if he's standing up, there's not much of a difference to me because most of the time he's coming after the quarterback."
On if teams are blitzing young quarterbacks more:
"I don't know if they are doing more this year than usual, especially around the league. I look at it as a week-to-week deal. I haven't really sensed much more or any difference than the rest of my career. I have said, and we got blitzed the least amount last year that I've ever been close to a part of, but before that, the blitz has been the same pretty much my whole career. It depends what teams you play, what coordinators you play, and what they believe in."
On his philosophy when his offense's strength is the same as the opposing defense's strength:
"I think our strength is trying to keep people off-balance. I think teams are good in this league, especially Dallas. They have got a real good coaching staff, they have got real good players, and when teams know what you're going to do, regardless of their strength, when they know what you're going to do it's tough to go against guys. You just always want to keep people off. When teams are one-dimensional, you don't see many people succeed. You have got to do some unbelievable stuff, but we're always going to try to be balanced. Going against Dallas, I know they've been better versus the run, but I think it also has to do with these last two weeks they went against two pretty good performances by two pretty great quarterbacks that had some very good surrounding casts. I don't think that was really a knock on Dallas, it was pretty much a credit to how Denver and his [Peyton Manning's] weapons played and how [San Diego Chargers quarterback] Philip [Rivers] played the week before. I look at this defense as being very good versus the run and very good versus the pass."
On if Griffin III needed to prove anything to the coaching staff for them to open up the playbook more:
"Not really. The only real thing that we did different versus Oakland was we got into a little up-tempo stuff. We did a no-huddle a few times, but it wasn't any new plays. It was just huddling up at the line of scrimmage. I think that and [against] Detroit, we were able to do more stuff than we were the first two games because we thought we were in a game and we did better on third down versus Detroit so we were able to stay on the field and run more of our offense and be able to see the coverages they were doing and make adjustments when we saw that. Those first two games were so unusual that, we got down so fast, and not playing good at the beginning and it was very limited. We'd gone through two games and felt like we had only run about 10 percent of our offense, so it's been nice in these last two games to not be getting blown out in the first half so we can actually run an offense and be competitive."
On the difference in watching film from Dallas' 3-4 scheme last year and their 4-3 scheme this year:
"It's totally different. It's pretty much different even when it's the same coaching staff, but when you go from [former Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob] Ryan to [Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte] Kiffin it's night and day different in the fronts you're playing and the coverages and the philosophy. We don't really look too much into last year because it's some of the same players, even though they were injured with a few guys last year, but it is a totally different scheme."
On the difficulty of trying to have two pass catching tight ends on the field together:
"It's tough, and that's what I like about our tight ends, there's nothing that they can't do. But, I mean, it's tough to get two real pass-dominant tight ends who are neither liabilities in the run game. It'd be nice to go out there and just get great wide-receiver-type tight ends, and that will help your pass game, but then you're going to get a lot more pass coverages. The D-line is going to rush the quarterback a lot more because they know you're not going to be in positions to where you really have an advantage in the run game. You usually try to get a little bit of both. If you can ever get two great pass tight ends and two great run-blocking tight ends that do great at both, then you are probably going to stay in two tight end sets almost every play, but that doesn't happen very much."
On if he has seen anything in the Cowboys' defense that provides an advantage to opposing tight ends:
"They played a little bit more man versus Denver. [Broncos tight end Julius] Thomas made some good plays with it. [Chargers tight end Antonio] Gates got them on a couple. I forget his stats but he ended up having like 10 catches for 100 yards and he had one catch, the one that won it, that they threw right down the middle on a dancer where he took it about 40 yards. But everything else the defense was a big 'bend but don't break' defense. They make you work the whole way down the field. They got it to Gates on a ton of checkdowns in zone coverage and he got up the field because it's tough to get big plays on Monte's defense. It always has been. Gates did get one of them. They got them in a really busted coverage with a safety cheating one way, but besides that, when these guys are dropping in a zone and they're 'bend but don't break,' that's when you're going to see tight ends and halfbacks get a lot of catches. The way you win the game is those guys get up the field and move the chains and not make you punt because if you don't, it's going to always be fourth-and-1."