On what he consistently sees on tape from the Panthers.
“I see a really impressive team competitively. There’s a lot of fight and grit in that club. I think that Ron (Rivera), Norv (Turner), and Eric (Washington) all do a great job. I think they’re well respected throughout the league. When you look at them in all three phases, they present challenges – high challenges – for our team. Offensively, they’ve got a young quarterback that’s playing smart, tough. You can see him improving week-to-week with his decision making. I think they have a premier player in Christian (McCaffrey) who presents a huge challenge for us. A good offensive line, a good scheme, a lot of multiplicity. Defensively, I think it’s a staple of what they’ve done in the past. They’re multiple, sound, they play with really good gap integrity and discipline. They can rush the passer well. They get up the field when they attack with good aggressiveness. Yeah, we’ve got a lot of respect for the Carolina offense, defense and what they’re doing on special teams.”
On the impact of WR Terry McLaurin.
“He played at such a high level at Ohio State, being a two-time captain there. That speaks volumes for his character and his makeup, and it really reflects in his game as we watch him play. We’ve got him at the ‘X’ position. We’re starting to move him around a little bit more in formations. He’s been productive, consistent, efficient. He’s got a lot of detail on and off the field, and that’s what you love about him. Players of his nature have a very even keel. He doesn’t get too high, he doesn’t get too low, but he is highly competitive. You don’t see that display come out too often, but I just love the way he approaches the game. He’s reliable, he’s durable, you can lean on him for plays. There’s nothing too big for him. That’s the one thing that I love about him.”
On game planning for Christian McCaffrey.
“I think it’s not only the player, but I think it’s the team as well, the offense. They present a lot of conflicts in the run game with their motions, movements, and formations. I think John Matsko and Pete Hoener, guys that I’ve known for a long time, have always put together a really solid run game plan with a lot of different run concepts – whether it’s the ‘RPO’ game, the gap-trap game, with which Christian runs really well. They’ve mixed in a lot of tight-zone, mid-zone. The thing that’s always stood out when you look at the Panthers is that their specials and gadgets are as good as, if not better, than anybody in the league. Their off-balanced approached is really impressive, and then they can just line up and they can knock you off and snap you off the ball in their combinations. We’ve got a lot of challenges presenting us against their run.”
On the development of QB Dwayne Haskins.
“He’s learning, progressing, just understanding more each week, and I think that’s true of any young quarterback in the National Football League, especially for a rookie. When you have the opportunity to see new defenses on a week-to-week basis and be able to adjust and adapt to the nature of that play. It takes an incredible amount of preparation, and Dwayne is putting in the time, he’s putting in the effort. The coaches are working extremely hard to bring him up to speed to NFL caliber type play week-to-week against, really, some of the top defenses in the league that we’ve played: like Minnesota, and Buffalo, and San Francisco. It’s just an ongoing process, and I think that he’s continuing to learn the nuances of the game on a week-to-week basis.”
On concerns about Dwayne Haskins injuring his wrist last game.
“No, there’s none.”
On CB Josh Norman’s status for Sunday.
“He was activated last week. Josh is a great competitor and has contributed greatly to our team, and he’s fierce in so many aspects. We love everything about his makeup, and how he competes, and what he’s brought to our team. Quite frankly, we’ve got a corner in Fabian Monreau, who started for us last week, and contributed and produced two huge interceptions for us. He has an ongoing role on our team. We respected him greatly. His role can change from week-to-week. We have a good plan for him.”
On Norman battling hamstring injuries which limited him to a special teams role.
“It’s quite possibly. To his credit, he’s played hurt all year long. He’s a remarkable competitor where he can play through the threshold of pain, and not everybody can do that. We played Minnesota on a Thursday night, and he was still kind of rehabbing, lingering with some knee injuries, and he really battled through it. He came out in the pregame and worked out, and tried to give it a go, and he did. We were just going to use him in kind of a backup, emergency type role, and my God, he ended up playing about three quarters of the game to his credit. He has a tough mindset. Like I said, he’s a fierce competitor, and I know he’ll be there and help us if we need him on Sunday.”
On how much he develops his young players this deep into the season.
“We have a relatively young team on offense – and also on defense – but we have a young receiving core, with obviously Terry (McLaurin) and Kelvin Harmon playing the ‘Z’. Then, we’ve got Trey Quinn who’s a second-year player, who’s really playing just like a first-year player. Then, we’ve got Steven Sims who was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. We’ve got a lot of young players on offense. Then Derrius Guice, who’s a second-year player, but really didn’t play at all his rookie year because of his injury. Came back from injury in the first game this season and now put some back-to-back games together, and we’re trying to increase his production and improvement. We’re relatively young around a young quarterback. It’s an exciting future for the Redskins in that capacity.”
On the variations of different development amongst younger players.
“I think the veteran leadership on our team has been great. We’ve had a lot of support from our two veteran quarterbacks Colt McCoy and Case Keenum. They provide a lot of good leadership. Also, Alex Smith, who’s on IR, is in our building. He really has given Dwayne a lot of advice and direction relative to his progression. So yeah, I think it’s really important – especially at the quarterback position, but there are other veterans on our team at other positions that have provided that leadership and direction as well.”
On the rehabilitation process of QB Alex Smith.
“I am so impressed with what Alex does each day. He comes into the facility, his rehab is probably harder than most practices, and having gone under the number of surgeries that he’s had, just to witness his will, and his determination, and his courage day-in and day-out, that provides such a great example for everybody in the building, for each player. I’ve never seen anybody go through the injury that he had and come back so fiercely as he has, and how he’s attacked his rehabilitation, and how he’s worked extremely hard day-in and day-out with our strength staff and medical staff. He just provides us a great example, like I said, to everybody in the building.”
On the respect he has for John Matsko.
“Well, he has a wealth of experience, first off. He was always a coach on the cutting edge. He was with some great coaches in his past. I think when you develop different types of experiences and been around a lot of different coaches and systems, I just think it helps you, as a coach, to provide more knowledge and information to your players so they technically get better. You watch the Carolina O-line in the past few years as we have up here, it’s impressive. They have a great variety of things that they do, and they do well. Normally, you can’t do a lot of things, because it overloads a player, but they’re very capable of presenting you with a lot of challenging schemes. Then, they’re fundamentally – their techniques are excellent. They’re always exciting to watch. I always put them on in the offseason, cut them up and study them, and try to see what trends that they’re utilizing and the direction that they’re headed. I think John has always been one of those coaches that’s been demanding – precision, and also exactness in what they’re doing.”