Interview: Washington Football OC Scott Turner
ASHBURN, VA -- September 2, 2020, Washington Football offensive coordinator Scott Turner met with the media after practice on Wednesday afternoon.
On RB Antonio Gibson’s role against the Eagles: “Antonio’s done a great job in camp so far as have a lot of our guys. When we—I’m going to be vague right now so I’m going to apologize in advance—when we have our skill guys that are active, they’re all going to have roles. We’re going to use them all. We’re going to figure out kind of based on what Philly does on offense and what our guys do well, and that’s how we’re going to plan to attack the defense.” On T Geron Christian Sr.: “Geron’s gotten a lot better. I think [offensive line coach John] Matsko and [assistant offensive line coach] Travelle Wharton, our line coaches, they’ve done a really good job working with him just on some fundamentals and technique and just understanding the way we’ve set our protections as well as the way we block in the run game. He’s made progress every day. I think he’s going to go out there and play well.” On what he’s seen from QB Dwayne Haskins Jr.: “Dwayne’s been great. Ever from the second that we were able to start working with the players, he’s attacked this thing full steam ahead. Even before that, before we were allowed to do that, he was in here rehabbing and everything like that. We told him to focus on himself physically, obviously because we couldn’t be around him because of the quarantine and everything. He did that. You look at his body; he looks totally different from what I remember seeing of him last year. And then as far as our playbook, the way we approach the quarterback position, the way we go about our quarterback position—he’s bought in 100 percent. The guy’s made a lot of good plays. He’s gotten better every day at practice. I told him today: ‘Now the real work starts. Now you’ve got to gear up. We’ve got to bring it every week and you’ve got to play better so you’re playing your best football at the end of the season.’ You don’t just stop getting better because he was named the starter.” On any messages of Head Coach Ron Rivera’s that he’s been emphasizing: “Talking about decision making, we say: ‘We play the game, we don’t play plays.’ That’s something that we talk about with our quarterbacks. Every play’s not going to work. Knowing when to say when, whether it’s throwing the ball away, tucking it and run or even protecting the football and taking a sack. Those plays are just as big in games as the big chunk plays or the completions because it allows you to get to the other plays. That’s something that competitors, young and old quarterbacks, a bunch of guys have issues with that. They want to make every single play work. The key in this league is to eliminate the negatives, and then when the defense does give you the opportunity to make a big play, take advantage of those. But that’s something that we preach to all of our guys, obviously Dwayne included.” On the tight end group: “I think that’s another group that’s really improved. It’s guys that maybe their roles were smaller in the past in places they’ve been. I think they had to adjust to kind of be in—talking about [TE] Logan [Thomas], [TE] Marcus Baugh, [TE Jeremy] Sprinkle—guys that now their roles have gotten bigger and the pressure that that brings to you on a daily basis to perform. [TE]Coach [Pete] Hoener, our tight ends coach, I think has done an outstanding job with them. Again, those guys—Marcus made a hell of a play today in practice. I don’t know if he makes it a couple weeks ago. It’s just the confidence and being out there. I think they’re ready to go. Overall, we talk about our guys and there’s a lot of people in that situation. These guys are hungry and they’re professional athletes and they’re excited to play. I’m excited for them.” On what he will show in his play calling: “I don’t know. I mean we have a good idea about what we have. We’ve been able to practice. We’re going to obviously learn more when the real games start, you kind of figure it out a little bit more. We have an understanding about what we have. We’re going to try to get these guys to do what they do well and let them loose and go play and not be hesitant. We’ll make decisions. You’ll see. I think you’ll have an idea.” On the biggest influences on his offensive scheme: “Obviously, my dad [Norv Turner]. [Former Carolina offensive coordinator] Rob Chudzinski is someone I worked for in Carolina when I was there the first time with Coach [Rivera]. Obviously, I was quality control coach then, so you work really closely with the coordinator and you kind of get a feel for how they put a game plan together. He’s a guy that does a lot of good things. I really learned a lot from him. Then I was able to work with my dad for years. But, I also try to really study a lot of the guys, a lot of the guys that are successful, look at as much tape as I can at all levels of the game. I just try to think what could fit us. What could fit the players that we have?” On if anything surprised him about Haskins Jr. this offseason: “No. I kind of had a decent idea of what type of player he was. I didn’t know him as a person. But, I heard good things. Everything is good. The one thing I guess that surprised me, I thought he could really throw it just watching film. But he impressed me just with his natural ability to throw a football. He’s a natural passer. He’s got a quick trigger. He doesn’t need a lot of space to do it. Some of the plays that he made in tight quarters throwing the ball, that’s kind of what jumped out to me over the course of this camp.” On how Rivera has handled the offseason: “It’s as I expected. Coach is as stable and steady as they come. It’s the same guy every day. He doesn’t get too high or too low. He’s very demanding of us as coaches and of the players. The expectation level never changes. He doesn’t panic. There’s no panic level in him whatsoever, it’s just steady. If an issue comes up: this is the plan, this is how we attack it and he expects everyone to be on board. It’s great. You couldn’t ask for a better guy to work for than someone like that.” On where the offense is right now: “As of like now, just being able to just go against our defense, I think we’re at where we would expect at this point. We’d obviously love to have preseason games, love to see them play in a game setting. We did a nice job of simulating something like that this past Saturday I thought. But, I don’t think there’s anything else we can necessarily do until we start hitting and tackling for real. If it’s third down and you don’t get it, you’ve got to get off the field and let your punter take a football. You play in the real flow of a game and those situations come up. We’ve practiced all of them, we’ve done them all in the situations. Yeah, in a normal situation you’d have more reps in that because of having a normal offseason and maybe a little bit more extended training camp. We’ve got to deal with the cards how they’ve been dealt. For the practice time we’ve had, I think our guys have done an outstanding job as far as attacking that situation. We’re ready for that next step.” On how Haskins Jr. responded to the challenging offseason:
“I think he’s just a football player. He loves football. I think that’s one thing that I learned about him. He loves the game. He loves going out there and playing and being with his teammates. He never blinked. He said, ‘OK, you guys want me to compete? OK, yeah’ He’s going to go play and he’s going to respond and get himself in the best shape possible. I think there have been some negative things that have been said and I think he saw some of that and it fueled him a little bit. I think he’s a naturally motivated guy anyway because he likes to win. He’s a competitor. So, I think that’s what it says, really that he’s going to compete and he’s going to do what it takes to win.”
On if the uncertainty of offenses this season is negative or positive:
“I can’t even tell you because there is, it is a give and a take for sure. There’s going to be a little bit of uncertainty. But, Philly I know that they’ve got their defensive coordinator back and their same head coach and stuff, but who knows. They could’ve done offseason study. They’ve gotten new personnel. They could’ve changed stuff based on their personnel. So, they could have the same deal. I think the negative, obviously, is we’ve got young guys. Playing in the NFL in a game can be a little bit intimidating. Even though it’s preseason, it’s for real. You’re playing against other professional players. So, you don’t get that and get that out of the way. We’re going to have to go and guys are going to have to be ready to go. There’s no adjustment period. It’s kick off and we’re playing on September 13.”
On his 15th birthday celebration at Frostburg:
“Those guys are great. I was a smart aleck kid. I deserved it. I deserved every bit of that. My birthday on August 7—so I’ve said, I turned 38 this year and at least 30 of those have been at training camps. It didn’t take long for those players to figure out it was my birthday. My 12th birthday was my dad’s first year, that was in ’94. Every single year they were going to find me on the seventh. There was different variety. I got put in the trash can once. I got taped to a bench one time. The hand truck, that was the biggest one. I think that was the last time I was there at training camp because for high school the camp started a little bit earlier coming after that so I wasn’t able to be there. It was fun. Like I said, I deserved it.”