A: As a quarterback plays games, obviously, he gets more experience and feels more comfortable with himself, the system, different defenses he’s going against. You’re hoping each game that he plays he feels more comfortable not only with our system, but with defenses in general.
Q: Is it challenging for a rookie quarterback to face a team for a second time…the Giants will be his first taste of that:
A: Yeah, I think it’s a big challenge for any rookie quarterback to play in this league, especially going against a division opponent the second time, when they kind of get a feel for him, and the football team. Yeah, it’s a big challenge.
Q: How would playing a team for the second time affect the way they prepare for your unique offense?
A: It’s really hard to say. The Giants are very sound in what they do. They make adjustments very quickly. They’re very sound, very talented. They have the ability to do a number of things, so you’re really not sure until you play what direction they’re going to go.
Q: Are you surprised by RGIII’s ability to take care of the ball?
A: Yeah, I would say for a young guy, you’re always trying to eliminate turnovers; you are for veteran guys as well, as we all know. You’re trying to keep them away from giving that ball away. Yeah, I would say that’s the one trait that you’re hoping a quarterback would have.
Q: When you lose in the manner you did to the Giants in Week 7, do you use that as motivation for this game?
A: Well you have to find a way to win and if you don’t find a way to win, it really doesn’t matter. You take a look at it; you can go through all the good things that happened, but at the end of the day, you have to win the football game. You’re hoping that situations like that don’t come down too many times. We did a lot we should’ve done, but any time you have four turnovers, you take a hard look at yourself, and you say, ‘Hey, you can’t win with four turnovers even though we did some good things.’
Q: What have you done to prepare during the long week (Thursday – the next Monday)?
A: My experience with that is that I’ve always given the players off Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Then, we come back Monday and have a good practice; obviously it’s geared toward the Giants, but not totally. Because you had a Monday night game, Tuesday is your day off. We had a normal Wednesday, Thursday, Friday schedule, just like you have for a Sunday game. We have a normal Friday practice on Saturday. We have two Fridays, and try to heal the body a little bit, especially this late in the season.
Q: Do you look at this game as a “last stand” to stay in the division race?
A: Well, yeah. We put ourselves in a situation, starting off 3-6; we knew each game was a pivotal game, games you had to have. This game is no different.
Q: Has RGIII look confused at all this season?
A: You know, he’s handled himself quite well. I’m sure at times everyone’s confused, for a half or a quarter…you make adjustments, but he’s handling himself extremely well, I think, over the first 11 games of his career. He works extremely hard and it’s a new experience for him. He’s picked the offense up pretty quickly; we do a number of things with him. He’s just fun to coach and fun to be around.
Q: Thoughts on your rookie running back, Alfred Morris:
A: Yeah, he’s a guy that you could see in preseason, even the first preseason game, we had ourselves a starter. He has all the qualities that you look for in a running back. He’s a downhill runner. He’s got the ability to make people miss, the first person miss. He’s very strong. He’s durable, knock on wood. Very humble kid, wants to be in there every play. He’s what you’re looking for.
Q: Did you anticipate using him as much as you have?
A: Well, to be honest with you, I never really know what a guy can do until you get him on your football team. At times, we used the heck out of Terrell Davis and Clinton Portis, but through my years, very few times do you have a tailback that has the ability to play three downs, or wants to play three downs. It’s a load on a guy and he loves playing, wants to be in there every play. He does a great job picking up blitzes. He’s what you look for in first, second, and third down. I don’t know if I ever anticipate that because it’s hard to find those types of guys, but when you do have one, you know you have one.
Q: How does the Giants three-safety formation affect your offense?
A: Obviously they’re great players; you’ve got to really execute because they’re safeties, but they have the ability of corners. Usually you don’t find those types of athletes; guys that can defend the pass and do the run at the same time. One of the reasons why they were Super Bowl champs.
Q: A couple of weeks ago, there was a little confusion about whether you were writing off the season. Since that time, you’ve won two games and if you win this Monday night, you’re kind of back in the race. Does that surprise you at all? How did you take that?
A: Oh, I don’t worry about things like that. First of all, if you know me, I don’t care if we’re 1-14, we’re going to play that last game and play the best players. So, that statement is ridiculous to start with. What I meant by it is that when you are down, you’ve got to have your football team play your best football. I think we had 46 guys on our team and 26 of those guys have been with me for one or two years. We’ve got 20 guys who will find out how they play their best football in the second half of the season. You always want guys to step up. You look at all the positions and that’s what I look for, how guys play in the second half of the season. I said the guys who play that way will be the guys who will be with us for years to come. I’ve had a chance over the last couple of games to take a look at the Philly and Dallas games for guys who haven’t been with us, how did they play? You take a look at our wide receivers, Santana Moss is the only guy I had coming back. I was going to get a chance to see how Pierre Garcon, (Leonard) Hankerson, Aldrick Robinson, or Josh Morgan, how they played. They haven’t been with me, or (Dezmon) Briscoe. You take a look at some of your free agents that you bring in, how are they going to step up? Of course, one of those guys was Brandon Meriweather. He, of course, played fantastic before he got hurt right after the first half of the Philly game. Part of that is I want to see how some of the guys that I haven’t seen play in the second half of the season, how they’re going to play. I’ve been very pleased in how they’ve played over the last couple of games.
Q: How quickly was Robert Griffin III able to assert his leadership?
A: Well, I think what you do to be a leader, you just go about your business and that’s what he does. He’s a professional and he wants to be the best at his position. He’s going to work, he’s going to do the little things the right way and he’s very conscientious. People can see his ability, but until you’re around somebody, you don’t really know what his work ethic is going to be. You see that on a consistent basis. How he prepares, comes to work, how he handles himself after victory and how he handles himself after defeat. He’s got the mindset of the guy that has all of the things you’re looking for, all of the intangibles to be your quarterback for years to come.
Q: With Robert, in coaching him in practice, do you ever see remnants of his track past? Or, his past as a hurdler? Do you see parts of his athletic past come out?
A: Well, yeah. When you have a guy that’s in that 4.3 range that can run, but he’s not looking to run, unless we have a designed play for him. He’s not a guy that looks to run first, he’s going to read defenses, he’s going to go through his progressions and get you in the right play, right check off, right formation and do the things that you feel like it takes to win.
Q: So much is made in this league about tendencies, changing tendencies and how the game has evolved. When you look at a game like this between a Mike Shanahan team and a Tom Coughlin team, does preparing for a game like this change because you guys have always done what you’ve done and the systems have been in place for a while?
A: I think everybody has a game plan. I know Tom does, as well as me. You always put little wrinkles in here to give somebody problems, but at the end of the day, we understand that your players are going to find a way to win the football game. You want to make sure that whatever you do, they feel comfortable with it and you’re just not changing to change. You might be doing something to give your team a little bit of an edge or a little bit of adjustment to help you from an Xs and Os standpoint. You want to make sure that they believe in what you’re doing and they can do it well.
Q: What does (Ryan) Torain bring to the Giants? Specifically, what can he bring them, in terms of his knowledge off what you do?
A: I’m hoping that he’s not doing anything this weekend. Hopefully, he’s sick, he’s not playing very well.
Q: Do you allow yourself to get excited about the future seasons with the young people you have?
A: Yeah. I’m excited, because I feel like we’ve got all-new wide receivers and I feel good about it. Except Santana Moss was the only guy returning, the offensive line is new and you take a look at our quarterbacks and our backs. Defensively, we’ve made some tremendous strides, especially after losing about five or six guys that were addressed on our defense. That’s part of the NFL, just like the Giants. You’re going to lose some guys, you’ve got to have guys who will step up and hopefully put you in a situation where those guys will be the guys who will be replacing those guys just as well. I feel good about where we’re at and the direction we’re going in. Hopefully, we can keep it going.
RE: The Redskins’ offensive line and the scheme getting all of the credit for the success of the running backs:
A: Well, we believe in the running game. So, we’re going to run the ball just like teams that whatever they believe in, obviously, do it. I think Alfred Morris is such a talented guy and I just like that he’s in our system, because he’s going to make some plays and we’ve got another couple of guys that I think have some great ability, too. He has separated himself and when I hear people talking about guys like Terrell Davis, you know, he was such a unique guy. You don’t win Super Bowls unless you have a guy like Terrell Davis. For people who say he was a really good back and not a great back, those things tend to bother me. It is what it is.