ML: “After watching the tape again this morning, it was a good victory. It was a hard-fought victory, which we knew it would be, on the road. They’ve got a lot of weapons and make you defend the entire field.
“Special teams-wise, we had a lot of miscues. One was when they get the bad punt off and we don’t get an opportunity to get up and field it, and they got a perfect bounce. The other miscue was being offside on the kickoff, where we got the touchback, then we allowed them to get the ball outside on us. We broke contain and they got the ball down the sideline. Those are things that you don’t want to have happen. Those are good lessons to learn and continue to evaluate on tape and show where you need to be based on what coverage we’re in on the kickoff.
“Defensively, we did a lot of good things, but got a little bit off-kilter there in the third quarter and tried to do a little too much. We got out of responsibility a little bit and allowed them to have two long drives for touchdowns and put them back in the game, let them tie it up. Then we settled down in the fourth quarter and had a couple of three-and-outs and got the ball back to the offense. That was good.
“Offensively, we made a lot of big plays. But we’ve got to do a better job on third down, and we still have to consistently take care of the ball. It’s difficult sometimes to overcome your turnovers and win. We can’t have turnovers on offense. Just be consistent. We attacked and did the things that we needed to do. Guys at the point of attack were able to make plays when they were called upon. We’ve got to continue to build upon that. Being diligent on third downs and winning third downs more often helps you continue to move the chains, which is a good thing because it provides more and more opportunities. Conversely, on the defensive side of the ball, we did a nice job of that.”
You were minus-one in turnover differential on the road, and one of your two giveaways was for a score. When you look at that, it’s pretty impressive that you still managed to come out of there with a win, right?
ML: “We got one (turnover), then spotted them one right back. But yeah, you don’t overcome those scores that often.”
Can you talk about the two instances late in the game where there could have been 10-second runoffs?
ML: “The first one should have been. It was a 10-second runoff situation, they just kind of missed that. But obviously it didn’t affect us. Luckily. But at the other one, they were right at the end, because the clock was stopped because of the incompletion, because of the spike. Then there is no 10-second runoff. If the clock had been running and you have a procedure penalty, then there would be a 10-second runoff.”
So those rules apply within two minutes of the end of the game? Or is it within the last minute?
ML: “It’s within two minutes, I think.”
So it would be a fourth timeout?
ML: “An additional timeout, yes. If you had a timeout, then they’d have to take a timeout in order to buy that back. They’d be charged a timeout. When you don’t have a timeout, you get that situation.”
Some of the young guys on the team are getting some playing time and, as you’ve said, are finding out what it’s all about:
ML: “We have a lot of players getting an opportunity to do a lot of things. That’s a good thing. They’ve got ability, and they’re going to continue to get better and better.”
You’ve said that some of the young guys yesterday, like
ML: “It’s when you’re at the point of attack. We talked about the same thing in a negative light against Baltimore, when we were at the point of attack and we didn’t make the plays. That’s what professional sports is all about. It’s what you’re paid to do. When you’ve got the ball in your hands and it’s your responsibility, you’ve got to get your job done. Everybody else is counting on you to do it. They’ve watched you do it, there’s confidence in you to doing it, now just go do it. Generally, you wouldn’t be put in that situation if you hadn’t demonstrated that you could do it in the past.”
Five different guys had their hands in big “chunk plays” for scores. To have so many guys able to make big plays, it has to mean a lot to the offense...
ML: “It’s the one thing that, when we evaluated where we were after last season, we felt like we needed to continue to improve on our football team. Do everything we could in our power to add – people or schematics – to promote more of that. It’s difficult to drive the ball 80-plus yards, particularly against the defenses we play against in our division, but it’s still difficult throughout the league.
“Obviously the Redskins are an AFC North-style defense. With Jim (Haslett) there, and the things they do, they were going to crowd the line with the safety yesterday and make it really difficult to get many running lanes. There’s always an extra guy in there, so our receivers were really called upon yesterday to go in there and dig that guy a bunch.
“But in order to do that, you’ve got to be able to make some (chunk plays). There’s a certain give-and-take with offense and defense, and if that’s what the defense is going to be for the day – the flavor of the day – we’ve got to be able to attack and go against what we feel is the weakness of things. Our guys did a good job responding. The quarterback (
ML: “Taylor did a good job yesterday. We just have to keep working hard. Obviously we had different guys back there again. We find a way to get different guys back there for some reason, two of the last three weeks. So I thought he handled the situation well because we fully expected Leon (Hall) to be able to go, and he wasn't. So we adjusted there right at the last minute. I thought he did a good job of handling it. He was in the right fits, the right spots, and that's what you've got to do.”
Mays went from getting no snaps last week to a lot yesterday against Washington. Did that have to do with something Washington was doing, or was it more about the effects of
ML: “Again, we've got to feel what's best for the situation. We've got some guys that all can make positive plays and positive contributions, and we're going to mix and match them as best we can and keep letting them play through the opportunity.”
How valuable and tough is
ML: “He's both. He's very valuable, a very tough man. Every football game he goes out there, every chance he gets to go out there, it means a lot to him and he takes it very seriously. He's an extension of Mike (defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer) out there on the field, in the huddle. And once the offense breaks the huddle, he's very good that way. He's good for the guys in the meeting room all the time. He's been a great addition.”
ML: “Yeah. He went in there and had a very aggressive tackle, a bit too aggressive. He got off the mark and he went. That's what you've got to see. He did a nice job keying in and doing it. It's good. He thinks he should be out there every play, and he gets a chance to prove that.”
How has the secondary done overall?
ML: “Really, the secondary had done some good things on the outside. We have to be a little more consistent on the interior part. I would still say the same thing, we've got to continue to do a better job, stay on the same page and we'll work at it again. I would like to be able to put the same guys out there again. It would be good. That would make it easier and it would make Zim (Zimmer) sleep a little better at night.”
What is Leon Hall's status?
ML: “He'll be day to day.”
Have you ever seen an offense like what Washington has developed?
ML: “Probably back in 2006, when we played Atlanta with Mike Vick. That's probably as close, but I think it's gone a step further because that scheme has evolved so much in college football that there's more to it. And they did a nice job of using (Brandon) Banks back in there as the pitch guy, so you put a guy with tremendous speed and you weren't sure whether you were going to get a three wide receiver set or you were going to get the option formation.
“So if I'm Mike Zimmer calling defense, I've got to be able to call defense defending the entire field, and our guys had to ‘click in.’ We didn't do a very good job of ‘clicking into it’ right away. The play Carlos (Dunlap) made there, everybody got all happy and giddy, but we've got to go back and do our jobs. So that's the thing that as you look at it, we had to just settle down and get to the sideline and understand what's going on and who's got what. Don't let the window dressing of the extra guy get out of sync. ‘This is how we practiced it all week, based on each front and coverage and here's whose responsibility it is.’ And communicate.
“But yeah, that's as much to it that I've seen. Now, it takes a wear and tear on the quarterback, that's the only thing. That young guy (Robert Griffin III) got hit a bunch. Nobody's ever been able to survive that for that long.”
They were basically running the option and triple option, right?
ML: “Yeah, it was basically the triple-option. Those guys have to be able to throw the football most of the time in order to win. But I’ll tell you what, standing out there on the field beside him (Robert Griffin III) pregame, he’s a big guy. He’s put together. He’s a special player.”
Knowing how far he can throw it, the last 50 seconds couldn’t have been very comfortable for you?
ML: “(Laughs) Yeah. I watched him heave one 65 (yards) a week ago.”
In deciding to run that triple option and leaving your defensive ends virtually unblocked, Washington seemed to open the door to getting their quarterback beat up:
ML: “It probably changed a little bit of what they were thinking when lost their tackle (Trent Williams). That kind of changes things. We know every NFL team has been in that situation where you go in and you have this and this planned, then this guy gets hurt and it’s not quite the same because you don't have the same advantage or standoff you were hoping to have. So you have to adjust a little bit on the fly. They did, we did. We were a little slower to adjust and our players to understand it than we would like, but once they understood it we were able to make the play on the dive and then get the quarterback handled and have somebody in position to play the pitch when they wanted to pitch it out there, which makes him keep the ball. That is what you are looking for is to be sound in your responsibilities and get them into the third-down situations a little bit. He then still ran. I thought we did a good job three or four times in the day, when he took off on third down, of getting him stopped before he was able to get to the first down. Those are good things. He's a special player. We are on to a different challenge this week.”
There seemed to be a sense of worry throughout the fan base after the first two games. With what you did yesterday at Washington, do you think it may have calmed that worry?
ML: “I can't really be worried or concerned what people worry about or are concerned about. I don't think it was any different than any other time. You lose a football game everybody expected to win, everybody feels bad about it. You lick your wounds you go back to work and you make it better. That’s all you can do. Unfortunately, 16 teams lose the opening weekend. I don't care if you lose by three points, or how we lost a few years ago – by a touchdown at the end to the game, and everybody thought the world had fallen in. So, I don't know how you can juggle other people's emotions and thoughts. I know what our responsibility is. It's a long football season. In the end it just matters what the record is at the end of the football year.”