The Washington Redskins (3-9) on Sunday play host to the St. Louis Rams (5-7) in Week 14 action at FedExField.
This week, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and defensive end Chris Long spoke to the Washington, D.C., media via conference call about the upcoming matchup with the Redskins.
St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher: On preparing for quarterback Colt McCoy:
"Well, there's plenty of tape. We've got Dallas and we've got last week. He's played well. We look at that, but when you prepare for an offense, you prepare for the entire offense and then you look at the individual
positions with emphasis obviously on the quarterback. There's enough tape for him. I'm just very impressed. I know he had a couple tough hits and some sacks, made some great throws. It's apparent he has a good feel for the offense. The more and more he plays, the better he's going to get. That's the case with any quarterback."
On how the Rams' pass rush has improved:
"I think our reputation from last year was part of our problem early in the season. Early on, we went like five weeks without a sack. The ball was coming out and teams were running it. They just weren't holding onto it. Of course, all pass rushing teams are at their best when you're playing with the lead and people have to throw. We take advantage of that here. I think it took us a while to settle in. Michael Brockers is playing well. Since we've increased Aaron Donald's play time, he's making more and more plays, we've been really pleased with what he's done. So, it may have taken Gregg [Williams] a few weeks to the talent that we have. There was a few times I think maybe Rob [Quinn] was out of place, but so far, recently, it's been very effective for us."
On the 2012 trade between the Redskins and Rams:
"Well, to take into consideration, I have three defensive starters that are playing at a real high level. Alec Ogletree is playing as good as any linebacker I think behind the ball right now the last few weeks. Janoris [Jenkins] is an outstanding corner. He has got two interception returns for touchdowns, and I mentioned Brockers. We were able to pick up our future – he's currently starting at left tackle because of the injury to Jake [Long], but Greg [Robinson] is going to be our future there at left tackle. I gave Stedman Bailey a game ball this morning for five catches and 100 yards, and then Zac [Stacy] is an outstanding young back. So, I think we made the most of the opportunities and we're building our team to compete in the division, and I think we're making strides. That was one of the questions we wanted to have answered this year. Unfortunately, we lost Sam [Bradford]. We've had some quarterback issues – not necessarily negative – but I'm really pleased with what Austin [Davis] did when he got the opportunity. Now, I think Shaun [Hill] has shown he can win games for us. We're building to compete in the division and because of the trade, we got off to a great start."
On balancing a "win now" attitude with patience:
"I think a lot has to do with the fact that unfortunately we've been without Sam for over half the time I've been here. I still think Sam is an outstanding quarterback and an outstanding talent. He finished the first year here, we were 4-1-1 in the division with him, and then we got off to a slow start but we were picking things up last year and then we lost Sam in Week 6 or 7. As we all know, the key to consistent play and staying in games is consistent quarterback play, and we just haven't had the same guy there. I'm really pleased with Shaun, glad we got him. I'm looking forward to finishing up the year with him and then we'll make our decisions when the season is over."
On if it was tough to make the trade in 2012:
"No, it wasn't difficult for us. We came in here, looked at our roster in detail as I did prior to taking the job, but had a couple months to recognize that we had a lot of holes and had a lot of work to do. So, it was an easy decision for us."
On if he thought he had taken advantage of the Redskins:
"No. At the time it was a good decision for them and it was a good decision for us. Both sides were happy with it."
On if he is "shocked" by the career of quarterback Robert Griffin III:
"You use the word 'shock.' I would never use that term. We played Robert early his first year and he was making a lot of plays. To get that team to the playoffs as a rookie is pretty impressive, and unfortunately for him he's been dealing with an offensive scheme change in addition to an injury. Those two things from a quarterback standpoint are just difficult to overcome. I think he's an outstanding talent and very hard to defend."
On quarterback Shaun Hill:
"Shaun started the season as our starter after Sam went down and then he had a quad injury at the end of the second quarter of the opener, and we went with Austin [Davis]. He healed up two or three weeks later and we decided to stay with Austin. But, since moving back to Shaun, I think Shaun's done a real good job for us. He's started three games for us, he's won two at home. 1) He's got great defensive support. We've allowed seven points at home here, and 2) the last two games between Denver and Oakland, I thought he made some really good throws, handled some difficult circumstances in San Diego, had a couple touchdown passes called back. Unfortunately, it came down to that last throw. That's just one of those things that happened. I think from our standpoint, having a chance to come back and beat the Chargers inside of a minute with a shot at the end zone, and then having to endure that difficult loss and bounce back the way we did, I can't speak enough good things about Shaun and what he's done for us."
On what he liked about Hill initially:
"We actually visited with him a couple of years ago and he elected to go back and be Matt's [Stafford] backup, which was fine but we felt with Kellen [Clemens] moving on that we want somebody with experience that
A look back at top images in games between the Washington Redskins and St. Louis Rams.
can come in and finish a game or start a game if need be. But, more than that, just be a support system for Sam. That's what he was. He accepted that role. Of course he wanted to play, but you ask Matt Stafford, Shaun was outstanding as a teammate of his. You game plan week after week and that's what we anticipated having here, but unfortunately Sam went down. Oh, and by the way, Sam's doing the same thing for Shaun right now. So, I'm just happy to have him around. He's very, very competitive, does not get rattled at all. He expects players to be in the right place at the right time. I think that was evident on some of his throws last week, especially the Stedman Bailey throw. He expects a lot out of the offensive players."
On if good defenses start with building the pass rush instead of the secondary:
"I'll start with the secondary. As far as the secondary's concerned, I think depth should be your major priority there, because over the years you know guys are going to go down, and that's all three positions – your safeties, your corners and your inside nickel slots. So you have to have depth, and that's what we did. At one point this year, I was playing with three rookies and they were playing well. I have a rookie corner that's playing and we've got depth there, so that's important. But I mean, if you have to start someplace, you have to start up front. You have to build yourself inside-out and inside-backwards with your backers. That was our philosophy with Brock and then of course I think people, when you look at what we did last year up front, I don't think people thought we were going to go out there and get Aaron Donald, but how can you pass up on an outstanding player? You can't have enough good defensive linemen, and we have got depth there and right now they're playing pretty well."
On keeping the team motivated:
"That's in their personality. They love to practice and they love to play. They love to compete. There's only one way you play this game. It's fast and physical with the expectation to win every single one, and that's the way we are and that's the way we started the year. We're not going to change that. So, I think our job as coaches is to get them to play hard, play smart, think they can win, rest them back up and bring them back the next week. We had practice last week when four out of our last five games were on the road against playoff teams, and that's a challenge. Our challenge this week is to win two in a row and we have not done that this year. We beat some good teams. When you talk about Seattle, San Francisco and Denver, you beat some good teams along the way and you nearly beat a couple of other teams. This is a good group. They're young, they come to work, they love to practice and play."
On if he changes his message when the team is out of the playoff picture:
"No. Sorry to give you a one-word answer to a long question, but no, there's no message. There's only one way to do it, you know? We're pushing fundamentals and technique on the practice field, working drills, studying film and working to improve."
On defensive end Chris Long's return:
"It's great to get him back. He's not 100 percent yet, but I brought him back just to get him off my rear end. He was just wearing me out to come back and play. Chris understands the game, he plays with leverage, he's a good run defender. It's great to get on the board from a sack standpoint. It gives us depth, it gives us the ability to keep our D-line fresh and waving them fresh because we'll play them all –whoever's active is going to get on the field and play. Our philosophy is, 'Play as hard as you can. If you're tired, come stand by me and don't be tired out there.' And that's what they do. They do a good job supporting each other."
St. Louis Rams defensive end Chris Long:
On what it will be like to play near home:
"It will be great. I always look forward to playing back close to home, and anytime you play a team like Washington or Carolina or even Philly, up there, it's a lot of fun because I've got a good number of people that will probably be coming to the game. I know we've got a couple of East Coast guys that are going to be needing a lot of tickets. That's a lot of fun. Anytime you get to play in front of old friends, that's a good time. But it's just going to be a big challenge and look forward to the challenge of not only winning on the road but playing a tough football team like Washington and it should be a great game."
On the challenge of coming back after a long layoff:
"You know, rehab is tough. Rehab is as mental of a grind as it is physical. I've never been through anything like that, never had to miss games. So I don't know, maybe some people it doesn't bother a lot. It really
Top images from Washington Redskins' practice on Dec. 4, 2014, at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
bothered me and I just was happy to be back. And you know, had my ups and downs in my first game back and I never expected it to be smooth sailing all the time but I am feeling better every day. I just got to a point where coaches felt I could help the team and it was safe for me to play and I was very appreciative of them letting me go out there and play last Sunday and it was a great team win."
On the challenges of staying competitive when out of the playoff picture:
"Well, I mean, if you're a real football player I don't think you need any extra motivation to be competitive. I think anytime you show up on Sunday and put your uniform on and play somebody that's trying to embarrass you out there – because that's really what can happen if you're not prepared – you've got to show up and play. So Coach [Jeff] Fisher does a great job of preparing us to play, every Sunday and we feel like we have a ton to play for. We don't pay attention to anything like a playoff picture or lack of playoff picture. Honestly, I haven't played those scenarios out. We just are going to try to win each game that is put in front of us and that's all we can do and Coach Fisher does a great job of keeping the team focused and ready for each challenge."
On what the team did to fix the pass rush in the last several weeks:
"Sometimes it's not so much what you fix. You adjust some things, and sometimes it's a product of what people are doing against you, you know. When we play teams the ball is out quick, there is no doubt about that. And then there are other defensive lines in the league that garner respect like ours does. It's a byproduct of I think what we need to adjust a little bit and we made those adjustments and then also just that sometimes teams are going to be getting the ball out quick and there is nothing you can do about it. But I know that guys like Aaron Donald, his addition has really helped us and you know adjusting to the scheme a little bit, it's never easy when you've got a new scheme. But guys are coming along really well right now and the important thing is we found a good groove."
On what he did to stay sane during rehab:
"I didn't. It didn't work. I went crazy, so there was nothing I could find really to keep me happy. I was able to lean on my teammates and be here every day and put in the hours and kind of simulate like I was preparing for a game, playing in a game each week and be there to help when I could, be there to help younger players if they needed help and just be at all the meetings and make sure I am available and visible because I think anytime a player is hurt they can do one of two things, they can just kind of bide their time or try to attack it and do everything they can. I just didn't want to be those guys that kind of disappears from the facility, especially being on that short IR. I just tried to stay as busy as I could."
On the impact of defensive tackle Aaron Donald:
"Aaron Donald has a really big impact. He is very good in the run game and obviously his strength is his pass rush. He is kind of a rare talent because he is a ready-made NFL defensive lineman in that he shows up and he is going to be productive and he already knows all the hand work and the techniques and he is ahead of his time. So that's big because that's one less thing you have got to worry about – trying to develop him – because he is already ready to work and he's already got a lot of what he needs to have down. He's a good guy in the locker room and we all like playing with him. So it's been a lot of fun. He is the type of guy that when you see us draft him you get excited and then you play with him and it motivates you even more for the future."
On the University of Virginia retaining Head Coach Mike London:
"Yeah, I am glad Coach [Mike] London is coming back. You know a lot of time people have all these ideas about 'This person needs to go,' or 'This needs to get fixed,' but they don't have a solution. I think the continuity there and giving him another year to kind of develop talent, bring in talent and form an identity will be good. I think a lot of people – we had an opportunity to be an eight-win type team this year. I know that there's a bunch of teams sitting there thinking that, but if you watch UVA's games, they were close a lot. At the end of the day, they've got to win ball games but if you just in August said this was the product that they were going to put on the field through the year, I think most people would have said, 'I'm pleasantly surprised with the way they were playing,' because a lot of people had them pegged for a two-, three-win season. So this year is going to be big for Coach L and I am excited for the future."
On how many tickets he has had to obtain for the game:
"Right now I think I have like – I am not in the fifties or anything like that, but I will probably have like 15-20 family passes or tickets. You know, you get a bunch of them like Saturday, people think – anybody reading this, call me earlier in the week because it's not like Saturday night I'm just going to pop down to the ticket office and get you a ticket. And these tickets do cost money, people. It's going to be great to see everybody and I've got a lot of great friends, old teammates and with my luck someone will show up Sunday. So it will be great to see them."
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