Coordinators Asked about McNabb… And More
By Lance Epstein
On Thursday, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott held their weekly press conference. Both were asked a ton of questions, but the topic that was most captivating and has been all week was Donovan McNabb.
Mornhinweg was asked about how McNabb influenced Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb. His answer was pretty simple. His quarterbacks got the opportunity see and observe how one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL goes about his business. He didn’t go into specifics, but he knows that they learned a ton from McNabb.
Besides discussing McNabb, Mornhinweg talked about the red zone offense and whether it is an overrated statistic, scheming for (Redskins DT) Albert Haynesworth and his talented wide receiver duo.
As for McDermott, he was asked far more questions about McNabb. Some of the questions included whether he had to some of the verbiage/calls due to McNabb knowing the defensive plays, is McNabb the hardest quarterback to gameplan against this year and does he have an advantage knowing McNabb’s strengths and weaknesses.
Besides the inordinate amount of McNabb questions for McDermott, he discussed the outstanding performance of (DE) Juqua Parker, Nate Allen exceeding expectations and Allen’s impact on strong safety Quintin Mikell.
Here are Mornhinweg and McDermott’s press conference quotes:
Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg:
"Alright, we'll wrap up the last game real quick. It was a good win. The second road game back-to-back and that was a good thing. I thought the players were real prepared, but we need even more. We'd love some things on the field to be better. We can do better there. We have quite a challenge this week. There are very talented players on that defensive side of the ball and high-level players. Now, of course they've switched schemes and made a change there. They're in a 3-4 defense now. They're a team that looks to disrupt, and so you have players being used in all different kinds of ways. And they have players to be able to do that. Number 30, S LaRon Landry, is an excellent football player, and so we have to account for him at all times. They have a very good front, an excellent group linebackers, and then they have some very good cover guys in the back."
On influences of McNabb in QB Kevin Kolb or Vick:
"Yeah, there has to be. They were together too long. Kevin certainly, and then Mike for a whole year, absolutely. I think those two quarterbacks were able to watch one of the very best in this league go about his business. And, as you know, Donovan's a heck of a quarterback, and has been for many, many years."
On the particular areas McNabb’s influence rubbed off:
"He's had great influence. I don't want to get into too much detail because Donovan has great strengths, unique strengths. And so, the fellas were certainly paying attention watching and learning from Donovan."
On being efficient in the red zone is an overrated stat:
"Well, that's a good point. You have to dig deeper than just looking at red zone stats. Certainly, the red zone is important, however, being able to get into the red zone correlates with winning more than just your red zone statistics. So, we understand that first. Secondly, our team's scoring outside the red zone. Has there been - and we've had some in the past that really distort the stats - has there been some victories kneeling in the red zone? Has there been some setting up for field goals in the red zone? Has that particular team, a couple of times at the end of half had a great drive down in there, ran out of time and kicked a field goal? That's a good thing, but it looks poorly. So, the red zone is a little cyclic that way because there's just, anyway we could go on for days and days about the red zone."
On red zone success meaning something at season’s end:
"Yeah, and statistics, that's for the past. You have to do it the next game. I mean, that's the way we look at it. It's a good thing."
On QB Michael Vick’s certain skills that makes him effective in the red zone:
"Well, he's always been pretty good in the red zone. He has a unique ability to pass the ball with all the different schemes you can do. And then he has the running ability as well."
On opponents playing Vick differently in the red zone:
"They play Michael differently in any situation. So, we're used to that and (Redskins QB) Donovan McNabb was unique in some aspects there, as well. And Brett Favre was unique. Steve Young was unique. I mean, you get a unique type of fellow there and they're going to play you differently, in many cases all situations."
On Vick’s skillset improving the third-and-long conversion rate:
"Yeah, that's a good point. That's a little cyclic too. I think a couple years ago we led the league in third-and-longs, converting third-and-longs too and last year we didn't. We weren't very good at it. So, I think that's a little cyclic too. You just don't get that many, so you have to look at it over a four or five-year span in many cases. But yeah, Mike certainly has done well in the third and longs and there are a couple reasons for that. I don't want to go into too much detail, but he's been good at that."
On Vick emerging as a leader on this offense:
"I think he's right in the middle of that. He's done a nice job that way. I think that's one of his strengths that has been overlooked. I think he does a good job with the leadership with this football team."
On Vick being able to elevated play so quickly, was he surprised and can he still improve:
"Well, I think he expected it. I expected it. I expected him to play at a high level. His challenge now is, and there's even more there for him, now, there's more, but his challenge now is to continue to play at that high level on a consistent basis. And he's all about business now. Its business and he's a real pro right now. He's a Pro Football player and he's going about his business in a certain way and it's paying off for him."
On Redskins using LaRon Landry differently than in previous years:
"Yeah. They're using him similar to the Packers using (former safety) LeRoy Butler way back when. LaRon Landry is all over the place. He is a heck of a player now. He has great instincts. He has a great feel of the game. He's a good pass cover man, as well as he's good against the run. He's an excellent blitzer. And so, you have to account for him."
On game planning for DT Albert Haynesworth:
"Absolutely, you have to account for him. This man is a big, strong, one of the best in the league. So, you have to account for him. You have to know when he's in the game. In fact, he blew one up on the goal line last week. He can really disrupt your scheme there if you allow him to."
On WR Jeremy Maclin's touchdowns are a direct result of WR DeSean Jackson being double-teamed:
"Well, there's been four, right. So, there's one there that was his. There was one there that could have gone to one of two people, and another one, one of two people. It's about half and half. He was the number two guy on a couple of them and he was the number one guy on a couple of them, yeah."
On teams being more concentrated on Jackson than in year’s past:
"Well, yeah. DeSean gets a lot of attention. Now, it's not always though because they have to play some other things. But yeah, DeSean gets an awful lot of attention."
On having difficulty getting Jackson involved with defenses focusing in on him:
"Well, no. That's my responsibility and I take that responsibility seriously. I like to use all eligible runners and receivers but get the ball into - and I think he's an elite player - I like to get it into the elite's players' hands a little bit more often. I think he's leading the league, or first or second in yards per catch, so that's a good thing. I'd like to get it to him a little bit more, but I think we're fine there right now."
On defenses keying in on Maclin more will open things up for Jackson:
"We'll get new looks every week and we get them every week. It's just the way it is, so it just depends on what they want to accomplish."
On FB Owen Schmitt’s first two games with the team:
"Yeah, well he deserves some credit there. He picked up what we were doing and I think (running backs coach) Ted Williams just spent an inordinate amount of time with him and still does. He's still learning just a little bit, but we ask him to do more than a couple handful of things and he did those just beautifully. There were a couple things there the first game; there were a couple things the second game, so he's continuing to get better. But, he really came in and had an immediate impact with us."
On keeping more blockers in against Jacksonville and RB LeSean McCoy handled blocking:
"I think LeSean had, the stats don't show it, but I think LeSean may have had one of his better games. There were a couple of things there now; there were a couple, two or three things there. However, he did an excellent job with his blitz recognition and picking it up, and for the most part he did a good job running with the football. He did some good things as well for us that you really don't see, so I think he had, maybe, one of his better games even though stats don't show it."
On continuing to use more protection:
"We'll pick our spots. I don't want to get into too much detail, but sometimes we'll protect, sometimes we'll scat."
On McCoy's improvement in blitz pickup is due to him being physically stronger or his mental recognition:
"I think they go hand-in-hand because if you know what you're doing, you recognize it very quickly, and then you can use your physical ability. I think we talked about that in training camp. I think that was a dramatic jump for him from last year and coming into this year. He's very comfortable. We game plan individual, specific game plans. So, it changes every week for him and he has to stay on top of that and Ted and (offensive line coach) Juan Castillo do a great job, and (tight ends coach) Tom Melvin do a great job with all that with him. So, he understands the process. He understands the week-to-week routine. He understands what the expectations are and he's done a pretty good job there, up to date."
On C/G Nick Cole to practice today:
"We'll see. We'll see. We're looking a little bit later in the week. However, I think he's just trying to calm that thing down. I think he'll be fine."
On G Reggie Wells performance last Sunday:
"Yeah, he did fine. He did fine."
On improvements along the offensive line:
"Well, this group has a chance to be very good. This group has a chance to be very, very good. And as you know, it's not about individuals playing well, it's about the group playing well as a whole, and that includes the tight ends and on occasions the backs. And they're working to get there and they've done a fine job, in most cases in these first three ball games. We have to tighten a few things up, and that goes for the whole group. There's more out there for us. There's more, better. We can get better and we try to get better every day."
Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott Quotes:
On having so many rookies on the team being beneficial this week with McNabb playing the Eagles:
"I think we've got a great group of rookies first of all. And I do think that they are very focused regardless of the situation, regardless of what's at hand this week. Aside from that, we need to make sure that they're up to speed on what Donovan brings to the table as a quarterback."
On knowing McNabb's tendencies helps game planning for Sunday's game:
"It works both ways. The biggest thing is, he's in a different scheme. If we were scheming the Eagles offense with Donovan, that'd be one thing, but we're scheming Coach Mike Shanahan's offense and scheme, and then Donovan's the personnel side of it that we have to take into consideration."
On over thinking a defensive scheme due to McNabb knowing the Eagles defense very well:
"No, we're going to do what we do. We're a defense that likes to run and hit, and that's what we're going to do. And to your point, we can get over analytical about this. He was here for a number of years. He does know, or have a good feel for our defense and he is a good quarterback."
On changing the verbiage this week since McNabb knows it:
"I think we've changed things every year to stay at the forefront of what we're trying to do scheme-wise. So things have changed enough where we feel pretty good about things from that standpoint."
On McNabb’s strengths, and how to counter it:
"We've been around him for a number of years now, and you guys know Donovan as well as I do. He's got a great arm, a very talented quarterback, one of the best in the league. He's a tough quarterback to prepare for."
On McNabb being the toughest quarterback to prepare for this season:
"He's one of the better quarterbacks to date that we had to prepare for. He brings a lot to the table from an arm strength standpoint and a mobility standpoint at the same time. Very similar to (Packers QB) Aaron Rodgers."
On McNabb in the Redskins offense:
"He's dangerous. They're moving him. They're using Donovan in a way that he's very dangerous. They roll him out off the bootleg, and get explosive receivers down the field and let him see the whole field, and not just half the field. And then he throws front side or he'll throw back side as well, so we've got to make sure we're keeping those receivers in front of us."
On his relationship with McNabb since they arrived around the same time:
"Look, I have a lot of respect for Donovan. He's a classy individual and a true professional. We all saw that here for a number of years, and he helped us win a lot of games. Aside from that, right now my focus is he's the opposing quarterback. Just like I'm sure his focus is that I'm the opponent. It's about game planning for an opponent right now more than it is game planning for a quarterback in this case."
On a different scheme affects McNabb or having the same tendencies as he did in Philadelphia offense:
"Again, I think you try to separate the two. You evaluate Donovan's skill set and what he brings to the table, and this is true of any quarterback. You evaluate what he brings to the table and his skill set and physical tools, and then you evaluate the overall scheme and how you prepare the defense for the overall scheme."
On where the defense is right now after watching Jacksonville film:
"I thought we came out and played good physical football, the brand of football that we want to see, for four quarters, which is a step in the right direction. We have a chance to be a very good defense, but if, and only if, we come out and play good, physical, hard-nosed football. Jacksonville is a good, solid football team. The score was probably not indicative of what they bring to the table. You saw what they did the first week to Denver. Our players played extremely well."
On the defense’s new attitude and sustaining it going forward:
"Well, number one, it's a credit to the players. They accepted the challenge last week and showed up for four quarters. The vision for the defense is just that. We take the field and you have a certain attitude about yourself and it's about a culture and a way of life and playing on this defense. We're going to continue to push until we get there for four quarters each and every game. Now, is that realistic to think that it's going to happen at the flip of a switch here? No, but that's the goal at this point."
On the Eagles struggling against Redskins TE Chris Cooley:
"Like you said, he's effective against a lot of teams, and the tight ends now are like wide receivers. He's a terrific short-to-intermediate route runner with a craftiness about him to get open, and Donovan looks for him, in critical situations especially, so he's tough to handle. Last year, I believe, is when he got hurt in our first game down there, so he's always given a fit."
On gameplanning being easier or harder to prepare against a player you are familiar with:
"Probably a little tougher, just from the standpoint of separating the man from the opponent. Like I said, being around Donovan, most of us have been around him for a number of years, and just have the utmost respect for him as an individual off the field, and tremendous respect for him on the field, in terms of what he brings to the table as a quarterback. It'll be a big challenge for us as a defense."
On DE Juqua Parker not starting, but playing the same amount of reps:
"It's about, I believe, and I'd have to go back and check, I believe it's where he started off last year. He's in the 25, 20-to-30 range, in that range there. So we're hitting our target right now with Parker and trying to keep him in fresh, just like the rest of the defensive linemen and keep him firing off the ball and productive at the same time."
On his early season success being due to being motivated by being with the second string:
“Parker's not a guy that you have to motivate. He's a very driven individual and plays hungry, which we've all seen the first three weeks. I just think it's about him being a key component of our defense, and leading that defensive line like he does. And I appreciate his blue-collar approach."
On this current stretch being Parker’s most consistent stretches with the Eagles:
"I mean he's been productive in each and every game. Just like interceptions, sometimes sacks come and go and you go on a hot streak or you go on a dry streak, and you've just got to keep on pushing, pushing, pushing. And right now, Parker is very hot right now."
On Parker’s reaction to DE Brandon Graham starting:
"Like I mentioned, Parker's not a guy that needs any extra motivation, and that's what I would hope if an individual is taken out of the starting role, that he continues to push and plays even harder. I think that was the case with Parker. He's an extremely-driven individual and hard-nosed football player, and a leader for the defensive line. I appreciate the way he's accepted his role right now and continues to be a good football player for us both on and off the field."
On what he saw of DE Darryl Tapp that made him active vs. Jacksonville:
"Like a lot of our players who had been inactive, he worked his tail off during the weeks leading up to last week. I thought, number one, that he handled himself well and gave himself an opportunity to be considered to be active for the game. (Head) coach Andy Reid makes that final decision, but number one, the way he handled himself when he wasn't active, his work ethic, and then he just seemed each and every practice, each and every week to continue to catch on to how we were doing things and the scheme."
On pressuring opponent’s quarterbacks and the impressive play of DT Trevor Laws against the Jags:
"That's been big. It's huge, because Trevor dedicated himself this offseason to becoming more physical and more sturdy. And that inside push is very important to us because of the speed we have outside. If you have speed outside, but the quarterback can step up all day, it doesn't do you any good. Trevor's had a good start to the season so far."
On rookie S Nate Allen has exceeded expectations:
"Each and every week's going to be a little bit different, but from a rookie standpoint, he's been extremely impressive. You guys have been around him, as much, sometimes, as I have, and he's a true professional at a young age. He just needs to continue to prepare like he's prepared to this point, and make plays for this defense like he's made up to this point."
On what he has seen form Allen that didn’t expect:
"We made it a big point of ours to get to know Nate as much as we could, prior to drafting him. And our personnel department, I visited him down there at South Florida specifically and spent a lot of time with Nate. You never know what you're getting in the draft as we all know. But in this case, we felt like we had a really solid individual character-wise, work ethic-wise, and a very solid football player. You never know for sure how it's going to turn out and I think he's been very dependable, number one, and trust is a big thing. The players back there trust him, and as a coaching staff, each and every rep he continues to earn more and more of our trust."
On S Quintin Mikell's play being better this year because of Allen's play:
"Yeah, and Quintin would tell you that he's extremely comfortable with Nate, and I think the two have worked well together. They continue to talk in between plays and in between sets on defense there out on the practice field, so it's been good for all of us."
On LB Jamar Chaney coming along and being the backup ILB last week and how much trust the team has in him:
"As far as Jamar, obviously our trust level is enough that we dressed him to be the backup middle backer last week. Each week will be different, but just like Nate, a very mature individual, almost beyond his years at this point, in terms of his NFL experience and continues to work his tail off, off the field to prepare himself in the event that he had to go in. We've got to be prepared if (LB) Stewart Bradley goes down, he's in there for almost four quarters of a game."
On LB Akeem Jordan taking a step up this week:
"I would say so. He continues to work hard at playing that new position. The players have faith in Akeem. I think the very first play he attacked the fullback and really set the tone for our defense for the day."