With the team's practice prep for the Carolina Panthers almost complete, here's a list of the best quotes of the week, as compiled by WashingtonFootball.com, presented by GEICO:
10. Offensive coordinator Scott Turner on adjusting to changes across the offense this season:
"I think it's been something that we've all worked at. We've got a great staff here and it's helped. We have conversations all the time about what our players do best and what we can do and help them to do those things. To me, I don't even really give it a second thought. It's part of the game. The injuries are a part of the game. There's always going to be different things that come up. You just always survey the situation that you have then try to make the most of it. I feel like, for the most part, we've done that. Obviously, there are areas that we can do better, and we can continue to work to improve as much as we can. We've got a group of guys that do a great job of attacking each day and trying to get better. Some of our guys haven't had much experience, but they've worked at it and gotten better as the year has gone on. That's really all you can ask. You learn about guys the more that they play."
9. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio on players becoming more comfortable with each other and the defensive scheme:
"To me, it was always about us teaching, players learning, us developing a trust for one another and an understanding for where we belong and accountability and stuff like that. That's where we spent our energy and spent our time. We've worked really hard in preparing for the season. My whole thing is to be consistent. I'm stressing the same things right now that I stressed on day one of training camp. We'll continue to do that. I think we have developed trust and we have developed a little cohesiveness that comes through developing reps. We've maintained a high standard from the get-go. We're getting closer to approaching that, but we still have a way to go."
8. Del Rio on if he has found depth at any positions:
"I would just say we just keep grinding. It's got to be next man up. What else are you going to do? The next player available, that's who we plug in and go. We try to teach and encourage and include the depth of our roster throughout. They are getting reps, they are getting practice time, they are getting attention and coaching. Even guys that are playing on practice squad, as coaches, I like to remind our assistants don't forget to get those guys and grab a couple plays from practice. Make sure that they understand that they are being watched. Even when it's not our defensive snaps, it might be offensive snaps. They should still be developing their ability to help us as players down the road. Inevitably, you're going to be calling on people. We've continued to work at it. I think in doing that, you find out some guys are prepared and they're ready to go. They get called on and they can perform."
7. Rivera on if he imagined the season would turn out like it has:
"I didn't. Like I said, honestly, when we first started the season I was thinking how we could grow this team, how we could develop, what it would take. As we started in the first few weeks, I could kind of see how it would play out. I just thought we had some things that I thought were going pretty well. I thought some of the development and understanding of what we were trying to do was coming along. Then like I said, once we got really past a certain point -- again, I think the Thanksgiving game with the energy the guys played with, that was exciting. That's a thing that's also been really good, too, has been the energy. The energy level has been outstanding. By that I mean their tempo, their enthusiasm, their willingness to do things. Those things all were really cool just to watch it develop and grow. We still have a way to go. We really do... We played hard. That's one of the things we talked about early on. If you do anything, play hard. Playing hard really just resonates with your teammates. It resonates with your fanbase. They can take pride in the fact that we're not going to quit. We're not going to give up. We're going to compete."
6. Head coach Ron Rivera on if he appreciates the potential to clinch the division more with the challenges of this season:
"It probably will honestly. It probably will. The biggest thing, again, more so than anything else is you want to win because you want to show everybody you're a good football team. I don't care what the record is because if we win and get into the playoffs, we've accomplished a lot. I do think we can make some noise. But again, we've got to take care of business first and foremost. We've got a big game on Sunday."
5. Quarterback Alex Smith on if the potential of clinching the playoffs Sunday factors into his preparation to play:
"To be playing meaningful games this time of year, you're doing everything you can to get out on the field and play through whatever you can. To have the opportunity that we do at hand -- yeah, these are essentially playoff games at this point with everything that's' on the line. You're doing every single thing you can throughout the week to be out there. So, yeah, absolutely. We're exhausting everything."
4. Rivera on if the division race has expedited the culture change he wants to implement:
"Yes, I think that's a great question because I really do think that's part of it. I think the fact that we've had something to play for every week has kept that energy level high. I think that really kind of shows just how important it is to play hard every week. Every week we talk about: 'Hey, we control our destiny.' Every week we talk about how we have a chance. I think that is important because, especially with the young guys, they see it. As long as there is hope, I feel like: 'Wow, you know what, I've got a chance. We've got a chance.' We're going to continue to compete. I think that is going to help expedite our growth and development, and I think it's helped with the culture.
3. Smith on if he is preparing to play Sunday:
"For me, I'm absolutely planning on being out there. I'm doing every single thing I can to make sure that happens. There is a progression there as the week goes on. Just taking it literally—I know you guys probably hate hearing this—but literally just trying to every single day take a step toward Sunday. I felt like today went well. I've still got some treatment to get and to keep going. Then, it's onto tomorrow."
2. Rivera on going against his former team:
"My thoughts are that we need to win the football game. We've got to go out there and we've got to want to play to our abilities. We've got to want to play our best and we've got to want to win the game. It is, it's the most important game we're about to play because this one takes another step. We have to go out and do those things. To me, the emotions of the game is, yeah, I was there for nine seasons but this late in the season is different. If this had been our opener, believe me it would have been a highly emotional game. But it's not...The emotion of this game for me is this organization. This organization right now is more important than my personal situation. I mean that because we have 53 guys downstairs and a group of coaches that we want to get into the playoffs, they want to get into the playoffs, and we want to do it for them and for us. We have to focus in on the game."
1. Rivera on the potential of clinching a playoff berth this weekend:
"Honestly, I'd be excited. I really would because we got into the playoffs. That's really the best thing more so than anything else is that we got into the playoffs. That's really it more so than anything else. That's what the goal has been. I'll be honest with you, that's what the goal has been since about Week 5. The first four were about seeing what we were as a football team, kind of feeling it out. But then looking at it -- kind of like the second question -- Week 5 was really where I thought, 'Hey, you know what, we have a shot for the playoffs because of the way the division is. Nobody has started out 3-1 or 4-0.' I just thought, 'Wow. There's a chance.' That's kind of what we're working toward. That's kind of where I would love to have the focus stay. This is about the organization winning and getting into the playoffs, not Ron Rivera winning and getting revenge. That's the last thing I want this to be. In all honesty, I do owe that franchise a lot. It was my first opportunity as a head coach. We got to where we got. We were in the Super Bowl. To me, this is not about that. This is about this organization growing and developing."