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Interview: Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner

via Redskins

May 27, 2020

On the process of getting QB Dwayne Haskins Jr. up to speed on the new offense:

“Well, obviously we can’t see him doing it on the field with the virtual meetings, but we’re putting a lot of work in, obviously abiding by the rules that the NFL has set forth – four days a week, two hours a day. We’re kind of throwing a lot at them. In the beginning of every meeting, we do some quizzes, tests. Just test their retention. When we’re talking to him, he is speaking the language. It’s pretty easy to tell if they get it or not. Dwayne’s doing a great job. You can tell he’s putting the work in away from the meeting time, and he’s working at it and doing as much as he can. The physical side of it, you know, I know he’s doing a lot of it on his own. You guys, I’m sure, have all the seen the pictures. It looks like he’s in great shape. The time he’s putting in with the receivers, [WR] Terry [McLaurin] and [WR] Kelvin [Harmon], they all have been throwing together for some time now. That’s all positive. Obviously as a coach and with me, coming in new and putting in this new offense I’d love to have more time with him but it is what it is. I think that we’re doing a great job with making the most of the situation.”

On the wide receiver group:

“So I’m excited about it, it’s a young group. What we tried to do at every position but receiver especially, I shouldn’t say especially, is we tried to create competition. Bring in quality football players to create competition. Looking at some of the additions that we made, yeah, they might not be flashy names, but that’s not necessarily always the best route to go either. We brought in guys that are great competition, and the beauty of this is we don’t have to play anybody till September 13th, for real. So, we don’t have to set our lineup today, and in any one of our positions, let those guys practice, we’ll evaluate. At some point we’re going to practice. I’m pretty confident with that. Let these guys go, and we’ll evaluate and play the best players. Play the guys that give us the best chance to win. You talk about our draft, I mean obviously with [Antonio Gandy-Golden] but even with [Antonio] Gibson, you can label him as a running back, you can call him whatever you want but he played 80 percent of his snaps as receiver in Memphis. He’s a little bit of a guy that can give you some versatility offensively.”

On the importance of having at least one veteran in the wide receiver room given the WR Cody Latimer situation:

“I never got caught up in that. I just want the best players possible. I don’t care if they’re rookies or tenth year guys. We want them to compete and then whoever is the best guy and, again, we feel like gives us the best chance to win, we’ll put him out there. Sometimes yeah, that is better because they have a little savviness to them, they’ve played in games before, but it’s not a requirement in my eyes.”

On his sense of the running back group and what makes him most excited about that group in particular:

“You know, it’s kind of the same thing I said with the receivers. We want to add quality guys and create competition. It’s no secret that we took over a team that hasn’t been in the best place, right. It’s not like I’m saying anything anybody doesn’t know, 3-13 last year. We’ve got a long way to go to get better and I think the way to do that is to create competition on your roster. So we wanted to add guys we added a guy like [RB] Peyton Barber, [RB] J.D. McKissic, and then in the draft, you know like I said, [RB Antonio] Gibson is kind of a tweener type player. Just let these guys compete in practice and we’ll evaluate them as coaches and talking with [Head] Coach [Ron] Rivera and everyone in the building. Then we’ll play who we feel gives us the best chance to win. What we didn’t want to do is handcuff ourselves to where, ‘hey this is the guy and we’ve got to play him.’ It doesn’t matter, you know what I mean. Right now, we have options and we’ve got guys that are competing and whoever ends up winning the competition is going to be better for it because they’ve got guys pushing them.”

On RB Adrian Peterson:

“Well Adrian, I’ve got a ton of respect for Adrian. I spent three years with him in Minnesota. In 2015, he led the league in rushing. I wasn’t calling the plays, I was the quarterback coach, but that’s the offense that we’re going to run to an extent. It always changes with your personnel. With Adrian and his skillset, when he’s rolling, there’s a role for that type of back. I understand what you’re saying with the pass game stuff and he’s capable of catching check downs and those types of things. He’s great when you have him in there for play-action passes, when you’re trying to throw the ball down the field. I’m not concerned with that. I think, you look at it, we’ll evaluate all of our players and we’ll try to, that’s the beauty of offensive football is, you get to ask the players to do what you want to do. If someone’s not good at something, regardless of who it is, they don’t have to do it. With the exception of offensive lineman, they’ve got to block. But, as far as skill players, you can ask them to do the things that they’re good at.”

On if he wants to rebuild Haskins Jr. completely or if he sees some things he can build on from last year:

“I don’t think you ever at this point in people’s careers you want to totally rebuild completely. I think you look at him, and a lot of play in this league is confidence. Obviously, you have to have this skillset that we all believe Dwayne does, but it takes a while for guys to truly believe that they can do this and that they can play in this league. It is highly competitive, and it humbles everyone. I think just that adjustment period with Dwayne and working into that. What he did the last month of the season, he truly believed that he could go out and do that. Watching him and spending the time with him, getting to know him as I have over these past few months, you want to build on those things. Then, with other positions, you want to look at the things Dwayne does well and have him do those things. That builds confidence within itself. With that, you can expand on what you are doing offensively and what you would ask him to do.”

On how he can tell that Haskins Jr. is grasping the offense with only virtual meetings:

“I just think if you’re watching film, we can ask him a question about, ‘Hey, what is this coverage?’ and he will give you the correct answer. Well, why is that? ‘Well, a team might be showing two-high safety, but the WILL linebacker might be bumped over and it is obvious that the safety is going to rotate down late because they are leaving a space down there for him.’ That is something that we talked about a few days earlier and we picked up on it because he saw it. That is just a very simple example. Things like that. ‘Hey, what is this motion called?’ And he will answer correctly. ‘What is this called?’ and he will spit the answer out to you. It isn’t always like that, sometimes you have to go back over things but that happens with everyone. When you can have that dialogue and they can give you the correct answer and are repeating the things that you talked about in earlier sessions, that is when you know it is really starting to click.”

On if there are examples that have stood out to him in terms of Haskins Jr. showing signs of development last season:

“Absolutely. You look at him stand in the pocket; he doesn’t need a lot of space to operate. That is one thing that you worry about with players in college football. A lot of times in college football if you look at quarterbacks in the pocket, a lot of times there is no one around them. That is just not how we play the game. That was one of the first things that I looked at when I got the job. Looking at Dwayne’s pass reps and how he operated in those tight pockets. His eyes stayed down field. He was able to push the ball down the field in those 20, 30, 40-yard throws with velocity. Not needing a lot of space to generate with his body. He is a big guy and he is hard to bring down. I saw that firsthand in Carolina when the Redskins came down and beat us. He got out of a couple plays and extended plays that way just because of how physical he is. Those are the things that really stand out. You are going to make money in this league by standing in there and making throws down the field when it is tough. He has shown enough of that. His eyes aren’t going to go down, and he is not going to look at the defensive line. He is going to hang in there and execute the throws down the field.”

On what to emphasize when teaching a new offense to a team:

“We break it up as far as installs. We have gotten through I think so far six at this point. They are separated by play type and then we will do a situational install, so it is like a third and three and then we will get to a red zone install. We will then talk about a two-minute. We just break it down into chunks. First and second down is most of the game. Most of our information is going to be that, and we will break that up in different installs and talk about our run game and play-action pass. We try and just tie it together. If you install a run, then you install a play-action pass that looks like that run. You try and just group things together as much as you can. Everyone’s brain works differently so you have to deal with a little bit of that. I try and make it as grouped together as I can.”

On if there are any philosophies that he is trying to get across:

“For sure. Every position is different. We have done a lot of stuff split up. We have a really good group of coaches on this staff and I am familiar with the majority of them in Carolina. What they are first is teachers. They all know this offense like the back of their hand. I try to delegate to them and let them spend the time with their guys to teach them. I have been in and out of those meetings. We meet with the quarterbacks at one because Alex [Smith] is in Hawaii. I spend all the time in there. With the quarterbacks, the big thing there is just every play, explain to them what the objective is on that play, what we are trying to accomplish and what the philosophy is. That is something that we are trying to express to those guys.”

On what he expects out of TE Thaddeus Moss:

“I don’t think you can answer that right now as far as what he can do right away. I’m excited to get him in practice with all of these guys. We were lucky to get him. I’m glad we were able to sign him, obviously a very productive player and very productive in big games against high level opponents. I hate to just keep using the same answers, but same thing we talked about with the receiver group and the running back group. I mean get him in there, we acquired a couple other tight ends. We got [TE Jeremy] Sprinkle coming back who has been on the roster, a couple other guys and just put them in the mix to compete and see how that whole thing shakes out.”

On how he thinks the team’s personnel fits what he wants to do on offense:

“One of the biggest issues in football and the NFL is getting the ball out of the quarterbacks hands. As we know, we drafted one of them in [DE] Chase [Young] and we’ve got some other ones – those D-Linemen are scary and they get to the quarterback fast. If you’ve got a one-on-one matchup and it is man and you’ve got a one-on-one matchup and you like the matchup then get to the top of your drop, hitch and throw and take it and count on your guy to win. The counter point is we have to win, you have to win on the outside with those matchups. But to me, you’re not waiting to read through a progression you’re just saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got our guy against their guy and we’re going to take him.’ So that is kind of the point I was making there and goes to speak towards some of the philosophy things you were talking about. But it does, I think it does help Dwayne because he can get back quick in the drop and identify a matchup and then put the ball where he wants to. I think it makes it easy for all quarterbacks to recognize, ‘Hey, I might have a progression over here, but I have a matchup backside and I’m just going to take that.’ We don’t have that option on every play, but we try to do it quite a bit.”

On what players he needs to emphasize getting the ball to:

“I think that is yet to be seen now. Obviously there are a couple candidates: [WR] Steven Sims [Jr.] you saw what he did at the end of the year, [RB] Antonio Gibson talked about drafting him, [RB] J.D. McKissic is a guy who was a slot receiver at Arkansas State who played at Seattle and for the Lions and now is a running back but has done a couple different things. Those are three guys that really come to mind. Obviously we’re going to try to get the ball in [WR] Terry’s [McLaurin] hands but that is in more of a traditional receiver and throwing the ball type of sense. But we have guys that we feel like can fit those molds as far as just creatively getting the ball, not just like running back and receiver and we’re going to give a lot of people a chance and see how it shakes out.”

On what he learned in being the interim offensive coordinator for the last month of the season in 2019 with Carolina:

“I think just overall in general it was a great experience. Obviously the games didn’t work out the way we wanted them to and it was the end of a tough season, but just calling every play, putting the game plan together during the week. And it wasn’t something I did all by myself, we had a great staff, my dad was still there and he was still helping me as far as the end of the week preparation stuff. But just doing it and doing it at the end of the year and then understanding on game day everyone is looking at you and waiting for you for the call and just having the feeling of doing that was big and I think it is going to help me a lot going forward.”

On the Panthers having a rookie left tackle last season and if that give him perspective going into this season:

“Yeah that was tough. We had some injury situations so we had to shuffle some guys around on the offensive line and that always makes things difficult. Right now we’re in a situation where we don’t know. Right now I couldn’t tell you who our left tackle is going to be for Week 1 and we’ve got a couple candidates and kind of like a couple of those other positions I talked about we’re going to coach them. I think we have the best offensive line coach in the league in John Matsko. I’ve got a lot of respect for him and I know he’s going to get the most out of those guys. I’m going to really lean on him and then between myself, Coach Matsko and Coach Rivera we will decide on who is going to be the guy. I can’t say just because it is a rookie that it is going to be the same. Every player is different, every person is different and I think you just have to get to know the individual and coach them. The expectations don’t change. How you reach those expectations though can be different based on who the guy is.”

On WR Antonio Gandy-Golden and if not having the offseason program in person impacts the learning curve for the rookies:

“I’ve thought about that a lot as far as the offseason. I think we have to, just as coaches, be a little bit more specific with what we’re doing with these guys going forward just because we won’t have as many reps going into the first game. That’s just as a general sense. I’m excited about Antonio. The guy made all the plays. I know Liberty, but Liberty is still a pretty good level of football. They played against some top-level opponents, and those were some of his best games. Constant production. The guy plays fast, contested catches, all those things that you want to see. Now, he’s got to do it. He’s got to show it. Again, like I said, it starts in practice. Going forward, he’s going to have an opportunity to earn a spot to contribute. And then, as much as we use him or he does contribute, it’s really kind of up to him as far as what he can show he’s capable of.”

On the emphasis on versatility when targeting players in free agency and the draft:

“Yeah, I mean I think – not to give up too much – but I think you want to be as unpredictable as possible and you don’t want the defense to know what you’re going to do. I think you do that with balance and everything like that. Balance is not just run and pass. It’s getting all five – you have five eligible receivers on every play – getting all five of those guys. That to me is what true balance is, using all five of those guys in the run game or pass game. So, guys that are able to do different things, it gives you more options of how you can use them and more things that the defense has to defend. That’s where that is so important, and that’s why versatility is so important because it’s uncertainty for the other side of the ball.”

On Coach Rivera’s leadership:

“Coach [Rivera] is great. Obviously, he had a lot of history in this league as a player and assistant coach and then as a head coach for nine years. You know, I was able to work with him two different times. In 2011 when he first started with the Panthers, I was a quality control coach for two years and then a quarterbacks coach the last two seasons. The biggest thing with him is just the level of consistency you get on a day-to-day basis. The message doesn’t change. He talks about leadership, creating a culture, being accountable, setting your attitude, your preparation, your effort every day. It doesn’t change and the expectations don’t change. He’s fair but he’s firm, and guys absolutely understand where you stand with him at all times. There’s no secrets. He does a great job of communicating with the players. Again, holding the players accountable, holding the coaches accountable. That’s the kind of leadership I think anybody wants to be around. It’s not about him; it’s about the team and it’s about setting the standard. I’m just fortunate to be able to work for someone like that, and I’m very grateful to him for giving me this opportunity. He was the first person to give me a job in the NFL at all, so I’m grateful to him for that as well.”

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