Amazingly, the Washington Redskins control their own destiny in December. They’ve been hammered by injuries and have an extremely young roster, but with rookies fueling the offense, Mike Shanahan’s team can make things very interesting in the NFC East if they can pull of a win at home against the division-leading New York Giants tonight.
Mike Shanahan joined Inside the Locker Room on ESPN 980 in Washington, D.C., to discuss the status of Trent Williams and London Fletcher, the padding his players wear in reaction to Williams’ thigh injury, the team’s issues with penalties, the great season rookie running back Alfred Morris is having and the team getting hot at the right time.
On having an extra day and a half to get Trent Williams and London Fletcher healthy:
“Yeah, we actually need the extra day and a half. Both London and Trent were very limited (Friday). They got some work, but that extra day and a half will help us.”
On Williams not wearing thigh pads and then suffering a deep thigh bruise:
“Let me kind of give you an experience — Ed McCaffrey. I look at Ed and I say, ‘Ed, your shoulder pads. I’ve never seen shoulder pads…’ It was just like there was nothing. And I said, ‘You have no knee pads, you have no thigh pads.’ … There’s a rule in the National Football League you have to have a pad, so I put my hand under — there’s a piece of Kleenex in there. That was his pad. It was a pad, so if the official did check, they would have a piece of Kleenex in there. What these guys want is they want to have an edge. Ed had never gotten hurt, I think very similar to a guy like Trent. When you don’t get hurt in college, you don’t get hurt in the pros, and all of a sudden you get a thigh bruise. I think if you asked him today, he would have wished he had, obviously, some pads in there. But today these guys, against the type of players that they go against, they want to have that quickness, they want to have the edge. And if a guy stays healthy, fine. But if not, obviously it sets you back as a football team.”
On not mandating that his players wear a more appropriate amount of padding:
“These guys are pros. I’m not going to emphasize to them what they can and can’t do, but I said, ‘Hey, it better not cost us playing time.’ That’s what I told Trent. I said, ‘Trent, you decided not to go with pads, you better be ready to go.'”
On the team’s penalty problems this season:
“It drives me crazy because I’ve been doing this thing a long time. And over the last seven, eight, nine years, I think we’ve averaged sixth in the NFL. … So to go to where we’re going right now does disappoint you. But there’s been a lot of successful teams that had a lot of penalties. You gotta overcome them. And hopefully we can get better and eliminate some of those penalties, but if we do have them, we gotta still find a way to win.”
On the emergence of Alfred Morris and the rest of the offense:
“If you’re going to be in the top five offensively, year-in, year-out, you’ve gotta have players. You don’t win in the National Football League, or you don’t become a top-five team, unless you have everybody going in the same direction. That’s what you have to have. You have to have guys like Alfred. You have to have guys like Robert. You have to have wide receivers that step up. Everybody panicked after the Pittsburgh game; we had 12 drops. Well, we had 12 drops against Dallas, or 10 drops, and we would have had the same amount of points. You gotta make those plays and everybody’s gotta play at the top of their game. So sometimes when one or two guys aren’t at the top of their game, you can look pretty average as an offense.”
On the team hitting its stride at a good time:
“The teams that are going to do something in December or the playoffs are the teams that start playing their best football. … Guys are stepping up on offense and defense, and when you do that, you win those games that you gotta win.”