November 25, 2015
Good morning. We’re excited to prepare to play the Washington Redskins in the division. Redskins are 4-6, as you know—2-4 after the first six games, and 2-2 in the last four. Two outstanding wins at home—down 24-0 to Tampa Bay, they came back to beat them 31-30 with an outstanding two-minute drive at the end of the game. 14-14 tie with New Orleans, they defeated the Saints 47-14, they were plus-two in the turnover ratio and Kirk Cousins had the distinction of having a quarterback rating of 158.3, which is the highest you can get. They lost to undefeated New England on the road, they lost to undefeated Carolina last weekend on the road in which the turnover ratio was minus-five. As I said, they’re tied for second place in the NFC East and they have a very talented offensive team with many weapons. Cousins has a 89.8 quarterback rating and a 68.3 completion percentage with an 80 percent completion percentage in the last two home games.
Their defense features an outstanding front. They’re 12th in the NFL versus the pass. Ryan Kerrigan leads the team with 4.5 sacks.
They have outstanding special teams play, they’re third in the league in kickoff return with two touchdowns; unfortunately we were one of them, the 101-yard return by (Rashad) Ross. There was a 99-yard return by (Andre) Roberts against Carolina. They’re second in the NFL in kickoff coverage. They have a blocked punt against the New York Jets for a touchdown.
I have three players that will not practice today—(Justin) Pugh, (Larry) Donnell and (Mark) Herzlich will not practice. The other guys on the injury report will all practice limited.
Q: Is Justin improved at all?
A: I think very little.
Q: Where is he in the protocol, is he still in the first step?
A: I can’t tell you that, or I won’t, one of the two. He’s still in the training room. You ask me that every time.
Q: The Redskins’ record is much better at home than on the road. From what you can see, is there any great difference in how they’re playing at home as opposed to the road?
A: Just the fact that they’ve been very successful. But they’ve played some pretty good teams on the road, too.
Q: Do you tell your team, “This is for first place” or do they understand that?
A: Oh no, I tell them and they understand it. We try to make everything absolutely clear, absolutely understandable, the circumstances, as we go along. The six-game season, one game at a time, this is the most important game of the year, right here in the division.
Q: Any difference between Kirk Cousins from the first time you faced him?
A: Well, I think he’s much more confident. I think the rhythm with which he goes about his business, particularly in the play-action pass game, is outstanding.
Q: Your team is 5-0 against this team the last three years. Do you think your players have a lot of confidence against this team, this quarterback?
A: I certainly hope so. But you have to earn it every time you play. Past records mean nothing. We’re in the division.
Q: Is there anything schematically that you think sort of lends you to having success against them?
A: Could be.
Q: Larry Donnell is not practicing.
A: Continues to have the issues.
Q: He has spasms?
A: I don’t know if it’s spasms, but he does have issues, obviously.
Q: How much do you think you can get out of Weston Richburg today?
A: He’s going to be limited and we’ll see. We expect to hope to have him take a limited number of snaps but take some snaps, and we’ll see.
Q: How realistic is it that Hakeem Nicks could step back in or do you even need him to step back right back in?
A: Well, we’re going to have to find that out. That’s what this week’s practice is all about. We’ll have him on scout team doing a lot of things so that we can see how he plays in that regard. And then we’ll have to judge how fast he comes along with learning—the experience, etc., will help him but, nevertheless, it’s a different offense.
Q: How different is your defense if you assume that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie continues to play at a high level that you can go back to bookending that with Prince Amukamara? How does that change it?
A: I would hope that does pick us up considerably.
Q: You talked about the safety position and the middle of the field being a weak spot of the defense. Have you contemplated making changes there and what goes into that decision?
A: No, we just try to take the information that we’re able to gather in the off week where we can research ourselves and do a good job of teaching our players where some of the vulnerability may be and correct it.
Q: During the bye week, we talked to Dave Merritt. He seemed to suggest maybe Landon Collins is getting to the point where you’re concerned about overloading him with information. Do you feel the same way about him in his rookie year?
A: I don’t feel that way now. I understand what he’s saying and that’s always been something that we’ve kept our finger on because he’s a young safety and he does have communication responsibilities. But we’re deep into the season, we’re in a very important time of the year for us. I think that whatever we prepare in the plan, I think Landon will be able to execute it.
Q: How do you deal with potential discouragement with Landon? He obviously had a play that was replayed a million times against the Patriots and also some other struggles in coverage.
A: He’s a pretty tough, resilient kid. I think he realizes what could be done to improve that. All I’m interested in after the fact is how we correct it. I think he understands that, or I hope he does. It’s one of those things to get a beat on the ball and have good judgement back there just like a center fielder in terms of how your body reacts and whether you turn and run or whether you’re close enough to backpedal. I think it’s been said before, so it’s not new news that one of the things Landon likes to do is kind of creep up and he’ll have to learn to stay deep.
Q: The league had a conference call with all the trainers last night in light of the Rams’ situation with the quarterback. Did you hear from your trainer?
A: I haven’t heard anything about that today, no.
Q: Your first- and second-year players—the rookie players obviously have not and neither have your second-year—have not been through this kind of playoff push yet. How do you think they’ll handle this?
A: I think they’ll handle it. Obviously, they’re still young and the experience is new. I think the excitement of being involved is something that will help them, if you will. It’s kind of been that way, to be honest with you, for a few weeks now since we’ve talked in that regard, back really quite a few games ago.
Q: Do you sense that this whole team senses the opportunity?
A: Yeah, I think so. I thought they practiced well Monday and I thought they came back off the bye in pretty good shape. Their morale was outstanding, so we need to continue that.
Q: What do you tell them about the difference of the importance of the games at this time of the year?
A: To be honest with you, it’s an awful lot about fundamentals and about technique. Again, not having any kind of split-focus, but focusing on the most important thing, which is the next snap, the next play. Play your butt off and I’ll let you know what the score is.
Q: On the safeties for a second… when you have Prince and DRC both out there at the same time, how much can that help that group and the middle of the field in general?
A: Well it can, but you still have to abide by your initial responsibility according to the coverage. I hope I just confused you well enough to move on from that question.
Q: It’s been a while since anyone in this building was in this position this late in the season. Is this fun?
A: Yes, it is. It’s a lot of fun compared to where we’ve been the last couple of years. And it is for you, too, and I appreciate that fact.