Redskins Head Coach Mike Shanahan
Q: What has the season been like for you in your first season down in Washington? Any disappointments or surprises?
A: It's a process going through your first year. You get a chance to evaluate your football team and players. Your offense, defense, where you're at in the end of the year. What direction you think you need to go relative to the draft, free agency. More importantly, we'd like to finish up this season on a right note just like we did last week.
Q: Moving forward with Donovan McNabb, what are your expectations?
A: I think I've been through the Donovan thing enough. Everybody knows where he's at right now. I'll speak more on the Giants rather than just repeating myself over the last three weeks.
Q: Coach Coughlin thinks you're playing better with Rex Grossman in there. Do you feel that way?
A: Everyone is going to have an evaluation and that's what we're doing is trying to evaluate where we're at with Rex over the next three game timeframe. Come next season, we'll make a decision with what's in the best interest of the team. It's part of an evaluation process that I had when we were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.
Q: What have seen from the Giants in the last five quarters that is different from the first time you played them?
A: If you look at the Giants, they're playing well. When you take a look at Michael Vick and what he did in that last five, six minutes of the game, there is only one person who can make those plays. Every other quarterback could be sacked and the game would've been over a number of times because they had the right defenses dialed up but the guy just made some unbelievable plays that most human beings can't make. Same thing is relative to Green Bay. You had a hot quarterback who got out of the pocket and really threw on the run with some very skilled wide receivers that made some great catches. They had two teams that were playing very hot. There is a reason why when you look at the Giants, they're really almost in the top five in every statistical area on offense and defense and there is a reason for it over the last 15 games. They're very well coached with a lot of good players.
Q: When you look at your situation moving forward, do you have a feel for how this thing will go for yourself?
A: I think everybody does. In your first year, you get a feel for who your football team is and you get a chance to evaluate everybody within your scheme. You always want to finish the season on a high note, but yeah, you feel a lot more comfortable now than you did at the beginning of the season because you never went to war with any of these players.
Q: Does it feel strange that the Giants could go 10-6 and miss the playoffs but a team under .500 from the NFC West can get in?
A: I've been down that road, too. One time, it was 11-5 and we didn't make the playoffs. You look back and you say, "How does that happen?" Over the years, I think the system has worked out pretty consistently. The winner of the division obviously this year doesn't look that way, especially with some of the teams and the way they're playing and with a 7-9 team possibly winning their division. Over the years, it's been pretty well proven that it's a pretty good system.
Q: There is a lot of talk about whether Coughlin is coaching for his job. Do you have any thoughts about that?
A: Yeah, you just kind of scratch your head. They have one heck of a football coach that's won very consistently and just won the Super Bowl a few years back. These people understand. If they watch the game film and they watch Michael Vick in a few of the plays, you just have to laugh as a coach and say, "How does a human being make those many plays?" He's the only guy who could bring a team back like that. I don't think I've seen a comeback like that with one player being the difference in the many years that I've been in the league. I think you take a look at Aaron Rodgers and a few of his escapes and his ability to throw on the run. I think the people in the profession know what a great job he does and why they won a Super Bowl a few years back.
Q: Is that something you've ever thought about? Coaching for your job?
A: I think you're always coaching for your job. That's your mindset in this league. You don't think about what you've done in your past. You always want to do a good job representing your organization and your team. This is a very competitive business. So, you're always fighting for your job.
Q: There's so much talk about winning the locker room or losing the locker room. Is that overrated?
A: I don't think communication is overrated at all. I think you'd have to explain a certain situation to get into detail on what you're talking about, but I think you've got to be able to communicate as a head coach, you've got to be able to communicate as a coordinator or a position coach – it's the key to coaching, but there are so many situations when people talk about a locker room.
Q: Well, to say that a coach has lost the locker room.
A: Well, what I look at from a coaching perspective is, are players playing hard? Are they giving it everything they've got? If you see a team playing hard, then you feel pretty good about the people that you have there. Maybe the plan might be a little bit off, maybe somebody has a little bit better day, but if you've got your guys playing for a full 60 minutes to give your team the best chance to win, you feel pretty good about it.
Q: When you evaluate the Giants, do you see a team that is playing hard or do you see a team that is coming apart?
A: No, they're playing hard. That's why I gave you those situations with both football (games), people could look at it and all of the sudden they really don't look at the film and find out how freakish those plays were that Michael Vick made or Aaron Rodgers made and that's why from a football perspective or a coach's perspective, you look at it much differently.
Q: Is it possible for a guy like Vick to play a 16-game schedule the way he does, playing physically and putting himself at risk?
A: I can speak for Michael Vick's year – it's been an incredible year. He does things that most human beings can't do and he's come back after being away from it for a couple of years and has had one of the best years that I've watched a quarterback have, both throwing the football and running, so the guy can make plays and if you take a look at, like I have mentioned, that fourth quarter, you can't find a guy that has made those types of plays against a good football team. They just don't do it. I'm talking about having guys sacked, having guys put away and just a tremendous athletic ability to get out of a tough spot.
Q: Would he be your MVP?
A: I can't pick an MVP in the division – it just kind of goes against my pride. (Laughs) No, he'd be right up there. I think he would be my MVP.
Redskins Quarterback Rex Grossman
Q: How has the Giants defense changed since the last time you saw them?
A: They mix up their coverages pretty good, so you never know. Every team in this league gameplans for a certain offense. You see that definitely with the teams that they've played like Philly, Green Bay. In Minnesota, they weren't facing a veteran quarterback so I definitely think they do a good job scheming up whoever they're trying to play.
Q: Do you guys think you have a good opportunity to play spoiler this weekend?
A: We're trying to end this season on a positive note, and we want to play well for ourselves, for our team and our pride and to win another game in the NFC East. The fact that the Giants may have a chance to go to the playoffs or not doesn't really become a factor in our brain.
Q: Do you feel like you've been in the middle of the McNabb-Shanahan situation?
A: I'm just excited that I'm getting a chance to play. I'm getting a chance to prove that I can play and play at a high level. However it comes, I'll take it.