On Monday, Dec. 16, 2013, Redskins HC Mike Shanahan addressed the media following afternoon practice at Redskins Park in Ashburn, VA.
On the decision to go for two:
"I think if you look at my past history, I've done it — I believe we were 1-1 at the time, it was the only other time in Denver where I've gone for it [and it] was the difference in winning or losing the game at the end of the game — but it totally had to do with the type of defense that we thought we would get. And I was down there with the official, right there on the two or three yard-line, and if we didn't get the right defense I was going to call a timeout and we were going to kick it, but we thought we had the right defense and it just didn't work out."
On what he takes away from the performance of quarterback Kirk Cousins:
"I think you always go through every game, you look at the positives and the negatives. We like quarterbacks to be very tough on themselves and you are always looking to play the perfect game, so as a quarterback you go back and look at the things you did poorly and hopefully you don't make the same mistakes again and the things you did well, why you did them well, and go through the mental reps as much as you can."
On what he liked from Cousins and what he wants him to work on:
"I think the things — you look more at the negatives, probably, than the positives. I think anytime you have a couple of interceptions you're going to take a look at why did you have those interceptions? Is it the footwork? Is it leading the receiver? Is it making a bad read? Were they covered? Do you throw it away? Or, if you have a fumble, were you stepping up into the pocket? Did you give your linemen a chance? Should you have shuffled side-to-side? All of those types of things where you're at least giving the quarterback a chance next time to not put himself in the same situation."
On the reason for only allowing one sack:
"I think anytime you throw the ball as many times as we did and you have one sack, I think a lot of people are doing the right thing. Like I said, what you're doing is you're looking at that film and you're studying it and you're making sure you do go through the proper footwork, the proper reads, and the better off you are, the more success you have."
On people saying the coaching staff did different things for Cousins and how much the game plan changes when going from quarterback Robert Griffin III to Cousins:
"First off, I'm not really sure what people mean. I think the obvious things are you don't run the zone read as much. You've got [quarterback] Robert [Griffin III] who has that speed and the ability to make some plays running the football and can do some things off the play-action pass, but other than that we have the same offense. You have the same dropback, you have the same ability to run quarterback keeps or half-rolls or bootlegs, waggles, different types of screens depending what the defense is giving you, so that's part of our offensive scheme."
On Cousins' success in end-of-half or end-of-game situations:
"Well, that's what you like to see. You like to see how people react under those situations. Kirk did do a good job, especially at the end of the game. Even at halftime I thought we did some good things. That's part of the maturation process of a quarterback. You like to see him in live situations. You can practice it all the way through your OTAs, you can practice it through minicamps, which he had a lot of reps, but can he take it to the field? I was pleased with how he handled himself."
On why he was able to be successful in those situations:
"I think it's repetition, getting a chance to feel comfortable with a two-minute offense, and, like I said, I think he did a pretty good job."
On the health of tight end Jordan Reed:
"What we did is we brought him in on Saturday and he still had a headache so… He had one today as well. So we'll take a look at him each day, go through the protocol for a concussion, and hopefully one day he'll wake up and say, 'Hey, I feel good, I'm ready to go.'"
On if Cousins' mistakes were related to his lack of experience:
"Anytime you have mistakes, regardless if you're a 10-year vet, 15-year vet, or a one or two-year vet, you want to be hard on yourself, look at your mistakes, evaluate it, and [you're] hoping that through practice, through the repetition of game situations, that you can come back and, put in the same situation again, you prevent yourself from making that mistake. So that's why the repetition is so important."
On the headaches Reed has been experiencing:
"Once you get a concussion and you get treated accordingly, we just evaluate him every day and I've asked these doctors before with different sports, how long does this occur? How long has it occurred? Some doctors will tell me that it could be two or three months. It's not just two or three days that I'm used to dealing with football players. Especially with soccer, there's a lot of concussions in soccer and they've got a lot of tests, a lot of evaluations, and I've talked to a couple of our doctors and they've said in soccer they've seen it go for two or three months."
On if there is a point they would send Reed to a specialist:
"He is seeing some specialists. We have him seeing specialists."
On what contributed to the distribution of passes on Sunday:
"You just never know game by game what defenses are going to give you. That's what you keep on working for is trying to work for that perfection, and we didn't get the perfection we wanted because we had those turnovers. But we did do some good things in the passing game. We did make some mistakes, and all you do is, regardless of how many balls receivers catch, you want to find a way to win the football game and ultimately that's the key."
On if he has thought about sitting fullback Darrel Young to rest his hamstring:
"Well, I don't think you have a choice right now. We sat him down for two and a half, three weeks. Usually that's plenty of time to get a hamstring back, and DY was going to go in there on running plays but he didn't feel like he could excel in any pass plays. He set himself back a little bit. I'm hoping it's not as serious as it was before. We'll test him out here over the next couple of days and get a better feel for him."
On how much he factors field position into his defensive evaluation:
"You take a look at how you play defensively, and we gave up that first drive — anytime they go the distance of the field and they have three consecutive third downs, you're disappointed, but how we played the rest of the game was very impressive. Like you mentioned, they didn't have to go very far with all of their drives. Yeah, that's a part of the evaluation process. Anytime you're averaging over four yards per play on offense, that's total, you're playing some pretty good defense. You give up 240-something yards, you're giving up two-and-a-half yards per carry, they're not passing the ball very well, and the only way you lose a game like that is by turning the football over, which we did."
On how he thinks Griffin III will respond to people saying the offense looked better with Cousins in the game:
"I think Robert has a lot of confidence in himself and he should. He's got all the ability in the world and he will get better and better every day. And I think that's one of the reasons why we decided to not play him anymore – for the last three games. We want him to go into the offseason fully healthy, be able to get all the reps that you normally get in the offseason and give himself a chance to get better. We thought that was more important than the reps in the last three games. Kirk has had that ability to do that in the offseason and that's one of the reasons why we decided to make the decision that we made going into this game."
On if there's any update on tackle Trent Williams:
"No, I won't have really an update until Wednesday. It's kind of hard to tell so quick."
On if he anticipates the Cowboys making adjustments since they'll have film on Cousins:
"You always anticipate adjustments, but usually a defense will run what they feel good about. They may have a game plan against a young quarterback to put a little bit more pressure on him, blitz him a little bit more, put him in situations that he hasn't seen. Rather than playing maybe just a base defense like they may do against a veteran or maybe drop more people in the three-man rush compared to a four- or five-man rush, so a lot of different things coordinators will do. You're just not sure what they're going to do but you got to be ready for everything."
On the reason for having so more turnovers this season compared to last season:
"That's really hard to put a finger on. That's one of the reasons why we've had the record we've had. The one stat that we look at all the time is turnover ratio. And things you work on in practice – trying to separate, having the defenders try to separate the ball all the time regardless if it's a running play or a passing play. You know same thing on the other side is stripping the football, but when you don't do those things you lose, and that's what happened Sunday."
On the message he thinks the two-point attempt sent to the players:
"I think everybody's got a different feeling when you do something like that. You just kind of have to go with your gut at the time. And we had talked about it before, as we were going on the drive I said, 'Hey, just be alert for the possible two-point if we score.' And one of the reasons we did it is we had a timeout remaining. If we got the wrong defense – or what we thought would be the wrong defense – we'd have a chance to call a timeout. So you just kind of get a feel and unfortunately we didn't execute."
On if Cousins playing well makes it difficult to say this is Griffin III's team:
"I don't think it does. The thing that you want on your football team is you want competition – legitimate competition. The better players you have, the more people compete. When you look behind your shoulder and you know that guy is pretty good, that makes you work a little bit harder in the offseason. It makes you work a little harder during the week. And when there is no depth, you don't have that competition. You look over your shoulder and say, 'Hey, I don't have to push myself that hard.' So I've always believed that true competition is the biggest motivator you can have regardless who you are, because everybody knows that we're going to play the best players at the end of the day, so that competition – regardless of the position – is great."
On reports claiming he has no intention to resign at the end of the season:
"Well first of all, I think it made it very clear – you know one of the reasons why I kind of got off the platform [yesterday] I thought I had answered all the questions – but I'll go back to saying the same thing I've said before. I'll get a chance to sit down with [Redskins Owner] Dan [Snyder] at the end of the season after the next two games, and I'll give him my opinion on the direction that I think the franchise could go. He's going to give me his idea of what he wants to do – he's the owner of the football team. But all we can do at the end of the season is communicate, and I think we have that type of relationship where we can talk and be honest to each other. But we're not going to do that until the end of the season."
On if it is accurate that he has no intention to resign after this season:
"Oh, yeah, that's accurate."
On reports about Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan:
"We talk about when you have three wins all the noise that goes on and I've said numerous times that I'd like to concentrate on football, but maybe I could say it the best this way: It doesn't matter if Gary Kubiak was my offensive coordinator, Mike Heimerdinger, [Defensive Coordinator] Jim Haslett – a coordinator is a coordinator. They've got a job to do and they're going to do it. If they don't do it, the chances are they're not going to be a coordinator for long. That has nothing to do with anybody in particular, but they've got some autonomy there relative to their position. If it's Jim, if it's Kyle, obviously I get involved with all of the football matters and I will be heavily involved in both sides – offense, defense and special teams. At the end of the day, it's my responsibility to be accountable for everything that's done."
On if there could be a legitimate competition between Cousins and Griffin III:
"Robert is clearly our starting quarterback, but I'm going to still emphasize this: The better players you have, the more competition you have, you get better as a football team. I've always felt that way. If players know that you will always play the best player regardless of signing bonus, regardless of draft choices, that you are going to look at them as who performs, then I think as a head football coach, then you've got respect by your team. If you're going to play somebody just because you drafted him in the first round or the sixth round or the seventh round and you're going to keep him there just because you drafted him or you sign a guy with a big signing bonus, you lose respect by your football team. The teams I've been on, the great ones, have always had that type of competition regardless of what their position was or the money they made or where they were drafted."
On the reasons for Cousins' success against Atlanta:
"We've had one game. Let's not get carried away with numbers, OK? We've had one game where we lost the game. Let's take a look – we're got Dallas, we've got the Giants. We talked about our game plan coming in. He gives Robert a chance to be healthy going into the offseason program. It gives Kirk some valuable experience as a football player. We've got some competition at a lot of different positions for next year and the best players will play."
"Again, let's not get carried away with one game, OK? It's one game. That's all it is. Let's take a look at game after game after game. We saw what Robert did last year. We knew he had an ACL. We knew he had an LCL. He had rehab the whole year and, you know, he put up some pretty good numbers this year, maybe not in comparison to the first year. But let's not get carried away after one game."
"You know, I can't control that. You know that as well as I do. All we can do is concentrate on the Dallas Cowboys or the Atlanta Falcons. I thought our football team did a great job of concentrating on the job at hand. I thought the coaches did a great job of preparation during the week. As I've said, I've never been associated with a team with seven turnovers to have a chance to win on the last play of the game. It's kind of unheard of when you're minus five in the turnover ratio. I think we got our players really playing right now very hard despite some of the distractions. I think they're handling it very good. I can't do anything about those reports. I can guess where they come from. I know there's a lot of people in my past or maybe Coach Haslett's past, or there's Gary Kubiak, hey, not everybody's happy, and when you do have three wins, it can be a little bit tough. A lot of things do come out, it's part of this business, but you've got to be tough enough to work through it, and I think our organization and our football team is tough enough to work through it."
On how the distractions would look from the vantage point of the ownership:
"You'd have to talk to Dan Snyder about that. He'd give you a better answer."
On prioritizing having a quality backup Cousins or using him to acquire a draft pick:
"I think that's what you do is you sit down as an organization, as a staff, as an ownership, and you decide what's best for the organization, but that's part of your plan in building a football team."
On having fewer sacks on Sunday:
"I think that's what we've been talking about – same answer, everything's a little bit different. Sometimes it could be the protection, sometimes it could be the routes. At the end of the day, let's take a look at somebody's body of work over time. I think we've seen what Robert has done over his first year, and he's done a lot of great things this year. Kirk's had one game this season. We know he played pretty good against Cleveland, did some great things with Baltimore. I'm very proud of the way he's handled himself. I was very proud of the way he played, even though he made a few mistakes, but he did a lot of great things. So let's take a look at the last couple games, how he plays, and then we'll sit back and decide what's in the best interest of this organization."
On tight end Fred Davis:*
"It was a nice catch that Fred made, kind of a tough catch, with the quarterback keep, and he took advantage of the opportunity. You always want to see these guys step up and play well, and I thought Fred did a great job."