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Redskins' Shanahan, Griffin III Talk About Opening the Season Against the Saints

Redskins Executive Vice President/Head Coach and QB held conference calls with New Orleans media members on Wednesday to preview Sunday's game


Washington Redskins Executive Vice President/Head Coach Mike Shanahan
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Can you talk about the development process of Robert Griffin III during his time in Washington?
"It starts out, obviously, with our offseason program. That was pretty well organized this year. I think everybody got a chance to spend some time with their draft choices in the eight to nine week period. I think it was better for most teams overall than it's been the last couple of years, so I thought that was pretty good. (It was a) Typical regular summer schedule once you get to camp and go through the practices. Overall, I thought it was good."

Is it difficult to keep young guys from getting too hyped before a season opener?
"I think everybody gets pretty well hyped for the first game of the season, no matter who you are, players or coaches. I think you are right. For a rookie coming in, getting an opportunity to start, especially on the road against a great football team, it is always added pressure. It is something that hopefully he (Griffin) looks forward to."

Do you feel that there is any way for the Saints to replicate what they have done offensively under Sean Payton the last couple of years in Sean's absence?
"You just take a look at what they have been doing over the last number of years, not just last year. They have been very effective, efficient, almost number one in every category. That is a combination of a lot of people on the same page. They will continue to do that. They have a system in effect, both in the running game and in the passing game. They have a philosophy, they've got their players back and that is what you try to do as a head coach. Sean (Payton) has done a great job of implementing that and having his coaches follow in his footsteps."

What was your relationship with Jim Haslett before you hired him?
"I knew of Jim in his playing days and his coaching days, but we had not spent really any time together at all until the year I was out (of coaching). I spent a little time with Jim, just talking some football. When the opportunity came, I talked to Jim, I wanted to go to that type of defense. He was available and it worked out."

How do you feel like you are going into this game at the running back position?
"To be honest with you, we haven't had a lot of running backs. Most of them have been hurt. We didn't get much of a look. We got a little bit with (Evan) Royster but he was hurt most of the preseason. (He) got a few reps. (We) got a chance to evaluate some of the young guys with (Antwon) Bailey and (Alfred) Morris, different guys that had just come in. We have some guys from last year, with (Roy) Helu Jr. and Royster, that are proven guys that I thought played well when they played last year. I thought Alfred Morris came in this year and did a good job as well."

Do you get a sense of how good of a player Robert Griffin III can become down the road?
"Anytime somebody starts with their quarterback, the first thing you do is try to give him a good system and a good supporting cast, I think very similar to the situation that Drew (Brees) is in right now. Drew got a lot of experience when he was in San Diego and Sean (Payton) gave him a great system, a great supporting cast and he just took off. You are hoping you can do that for your quarterback in a good system. Any quarterback would love to be like Drew Brees."

What do you think about your prospects defensively this year?
"Well, you just hope you are getting better. We got better (last year), we got an addition in free agency and the draft and did the same thing this year. Hopefully we make the same strides this year that we did a year ago. Obviously, when you are going against a team like New Orleans (and) how good they have been, it is really amazing to see the stats on what they were able to accomplish last year."

What is your opinion on the Saints keeping five running backs on the active roster?
"I think it was a great move because if they didn't keep all five of them, one of them or two of them would have been claimed. They are going to keep the best 53 players on their football team from their perspective and not lose any. It is really a tough decision. Sometimes you keep a few more players at one position because you are a little bit more loaded. Just looking at the running backs, I like all of them."

What have you learned about Robert Griffin III that you did not know during the scouting process?
"I don't think anybody knows anything about anybody until they start working around him or working with him. We had a little idea, the arm strength, the capabilities throwing the football, the obvious things you can see on film. Until you work with somebody on a day to day basis, see their work ethic or work habits and see how they react with the players (you don't completely know). You get a much better feeling of that, obviously, over summer camp and the OTAs."

How has he progressed in learning your system so far?
"He has done a great job. He is a worker. Even though he is very talented, he spends all the time that he needs to study, prepare and do all of the things that you 're hoping a quarterback would do."

Do you curb expectations for him or does that matter from your perspective?
"I think if you take a look at the quarterbacks that have been selected early, a lot of them have had success right away, in the first year. I think that has a lot to do with the supporting cast, not just the quarterback. If you are going to have a quarterback that is successful early, especially in his first year, if you go through history, number one they have a great running offense and they have a great defense. They go hand and hand. You can't put all of the pressure on the quarterback, not in his first year."

What will Robert Griffin III have to do this Sunday against the Saints to be successful in his debut?
"For any team to win a football game, especially on the road, you can't turn the football over. You have to minimize penalties and mistakes, especially with that type of crowd noise and you have to get turnovers against a great offensive football team."

Do you feel that Robert Griffin III has an advantage since it is his first game and the Saints don't know how he will be utilized in this offense?
"Honestly, we aren't really sure what the Saints are going to do. They have a different defensive coordinator there and (there is) no telling what they have been working on. I think it goes hand and hand with all first games of the season, there are some unknowns but I think most people can guess what direction a team is going."

Will you have to keep his emotions down because he is opening his career in front of his family where they were born and raised?
"I think he is going to be excited like all of our young players. I think they have been in this environment before even though not on the NFL level. They will be excited, ready to go, and hopefully they will handle the pressure well."


Washington Redskins Quarterback Robert Griffin III
Conference Call With New Orleans Media
Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Can you talk about what you think it will be like playing in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and what you think the crowd noise might be like for you?
"I've been to games at the Superdome before. Both of my parents were born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, so I know what it's like to be a fan of the Saints and the atmosphere that it will be like once we step into that stadium and that dome. It's definitely going to be loud. They are going to be pumped up, ready to go. It's just our job to go out and execute."

How much preparations have you guys had in practice for the noise?
"I don't think you can truly prepare for the noise that you will get at any given stadium, but of course you can do your due diligence and make sure you're practicing with the loudest noise you can possibly imagine. That's what we have been doing for the last couple days and really just working on communicating when you can't hear each other. Because that's what it's going to be like at certain points throughout the game. The crowd's going to be into it and they're going to make it extremely hard for us to communicate. It's our job to know what we have to do, not only just knowing our offense, but knowing it without even really having to communicate clearly to each other."

You won't exactly be going up against Drew Brees, but how tough will it be to open your career up going against a quarterback like Drew and trying to match up with an offense like the Saints point for point?
"We believe in our defense. We've said it all along that we believe we can have a top defense in this league. By no means, do we say we're going to shut Drew Brees out to zero points. Of course we would love that. Besides from thinking about it, it's not my job to try to go out and match Drew Brees. He's a great quarterback. He's done great things for that city and he's an experienced quarterback, so he's going to come out there ready to go. It's just my job to lead my team."

What is the challenge like to have to play against an offense led by a quarterback like Drew Brees?
"That's what I'm saying. I won't have to play against Drew. That's our defense's job. It will definitely be a cool experience. I guess you could say that. It would be the same as saying that I got the opportunity to play against Peyton Manning or Brett Favre, because Drew's definitely a great quarterback and you can't take that from him. Nobody can. He's proven that time and time again."

How do you feel like your game translates to the NFL?
"I think it translates. That's why I'm here. Coach (Mike Shanahan) brought me in to be the quarterback for this team. They believe in me. I believe in myself. The team believes in me, so I don't know what else to say to that question than yes it does."

How hard is it to get ticket requests for friends and family knowing that your parents are from here?
"I have quite a few ticket requests. Unfortunately when you're the road team you don't get very good seats. We'll see where they're at or if I can even see them, but they'll definitely be there cheering us on."

Do you have a ballpark number of how many people from your group will be coming to the game?
"No, I don't have a ballpark number. My whole family lives in that city. Before I got drafted (by the Redskins), they were Saints fans. We'll see who they're fans of when I get there."

Would you describe yourself as a passer who likes to run second or is it one read and you're gone?
"You take what the defense gives you. If they're going to allow you to run the ball, you're going to run the ball. If they're going to allow you to throw the ball, you're going to throw the ball. That's how I've always approached it. I'm beyond the days of trying to argue whether I'm a running quarterback or not. The thing you have to do is go prove it on the field. Last time I checked, I've thrown for a lot more yards than I've run for."

Could you have asked for a better first career start considering a lot of your family lives here in New Orleans?
"It will be special for me to have my whole family there and to be able to watch the Griffin name on the back of a jersey in the NFL for the first time. For my family, it will be huge. It will definitely be a great experience going to the Superdome to play Drew Brees and the Saints in my family's hometown, whether I can claim it or not. We'll see, but it's definitely going to be fun. ."

What kind of memories do you have of visiting New Orleans?
"I remember visiting New Orleans before Katrina. I came back and visited my family a lot and also remember New Orleans after Katrina and just the devastation that occurred and how many of my family members ended up having to move to Texas, where I was at, to homes and shelters for a little bit before they went back and just to go back and see the devastation to their houses, how many of them lost their houses and had to start over. It was extremely sad. I do have great memories of it from my childhood, but as of lately, I haven't been back as much. The last image in my head is from Katrina."

Do you have any type of personal relationship with Drew Brees given that both of you played high school football in central Texas?
"No, I don't. I know Drew's a Texas guy who also wanted to go to Baylor, but Baylor didn't offer him a scholarship and he ended up going to Purdue. Asides from that all I know is what I know as a fan of the game, just watching him play, going out there and playing with a chip on his shoulder and doing things of that nature. But other than that we really haven't talked that much and I definitely wish him the best."

Have you met him before?
"Yes, I have met him before."

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