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Interview: Washington Football OC Scott Turner

Every week All-Pro Reels will bring you day by day coverage of the Washington Football Team through the eyes, ears and lenses of our content creators.

ASHBURN, VA -- October 21, 2020

On the injuries at receiver:

“The first thing is you try to evaluate and see who’s going to be healthy. You’ve still got to kind of gear your game plan to what you expect from the defense. Then, you’ve just got to work with the younger guys. We talked to them today and said: ‘Hey, guys are going to have opportunities. That’s part of what this league is about.’ [WR] Cam Sims had an opportunity he didn’t think he was going to get at the end of the game. He made the most of it. Guys have to step up. Then, we’ve got to do a great job of preparing these guys that haven’t played as much to make sure that they know what they’re supposed to do and they’re able to play fast and execute.”

On the spacing on routes:

“There have been some times where we’ve had to make some adjustments. Maybe a guy will slow down a little early or maybe make a break a little short and the spacing will be off. But I think for the most part, it’s been good. I think some of those things you talked about with down the field, that’s something that we’ve talked about. Obviously, we’ve talked about it in these sessions with getting some throws down the field. Last week against the Giants, their defense is really geared toward preventing those types of throws. They had only given up 13 throws over 20 yards going into our game. I think we had three, which is about the average of what they had been giving up. Certain defenses are going to give you certain things. It’s not wise of you to try to force it, but that’s definitely an area we need to improve.”

On the third down improvement:

“It’s hard to say. I think as a group we did a really nice job of executing. I felt like we had a good plan for what we expected. They did a lot of really max coverage type stuff where you kind of have to extend the plays, keep some stuff alive. [QB] Kyle [Allen] did a good job of that on a couple of those third and fourth down plays. You’re going to have to do that. They’ve got a lot of guys in coverage. You’re going to have to extend the play a little. We protected well for the most part up front, that’s part of it. But I thought that was a step forward. We have not been good, obviously, on third down. To get to over 50 percent, extend drives, keep the ball, keep our defense off the field, that was big. Obviously, the turnovers were an issue. We had one turnover on third down, which can’t happen. But I felt like we improved in that area.”

On how the Dallas-Washington rivalry feels this year:

“Yeah, I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it. When you’re right in the middle of it, you just kind of think about your next opponent and the different challenges those will bring. That kind of thing being in this league, the time you really feel the rivalries is just on game day. I think the fans bring a lot of that into it. It’s just kind of a different energy. A lot of it is it’s been a rivalry that’s been around a lot longer. Places I’ve coached before like Carolina-Atlanta—your divisional games – you kind of get the feel for that increases more when you get to game day. I think we’re so caught up in the plan and how we’re going to attack these guys and their specific players. I think COVID does kind of give you a little bit different feel.”

On the receivers this week:

“We’re going to evaluate who we have as far as who’s healthy. We have [WR] Terry [McLaurin] and Cam and [WR] Dontrelle [Inman]. They practiced today. We’re going to continue to evaluate the help from our other guys as the week goes on, and then we’ll just have to make adjustments and be flexible to move people around, like I said, get people to step up and maybe get some guys to do things that maybe before they weren’t able to do.”

On if the offense will be limited with uncertainty at receiver:

“Yeah, you just have to be a little more specific probably. I wouldn’t say it limits it. You just try to take the burden off of younger guys, not trying to ask too much of them. There’s always a fine line. You want to give yourself a chance to be successful, but not do too much where you’re putting your guys in jeopardy.”

On coaching Allen after turnovers:

“We always just watch the tape. You start at the beginning and you evaluate every single play. Kyle, he’s a fighter and he’s a competitor. But at some point, you’ve got to know when to say when. Obviously, you’re pointing out the turnovers. A lot of that has to do with decision making. On third down, he’s done a great job late in the game. He got some pressure on them. The first thing you have to do is protect the ball. He’d be the first person to tell you that. Trust in the rest of your team that we’re going to get a punt off, we’ll pin them, it’s a tie game. So, we talk a lot about: ‘Play the game, don’t play plays.’ I think just understanding situations is big and know when to say when.”

On if the Cowboys game is an opportunity for an offensive breakout:

“What I’ve told our guys week in and week out is that if we trust the process. If we continue working and trying to get better, then that quote unquote breakout game is going to come. Or, we’re just going to start consistently performing at the level we expect to here. That’s really more so. Every game is going to present a different set of challenges. This game against the Giants last week, we were able to keep the ball and move the ball. Now, we turn the ball over. We’ve got three field goal attempts; we’ve got to make those touchdowns. We’ve got to finish drives and then we’re not even having this conversation about the other aspects of the game. You can’t turn the ball over. Going into this game, this team presents a different set of challenges. I understand everything that you said, but they’ve got some good players over there. I know they’re working and talking about trying to improve and get better. We’re just trying to play our best, focus on ourselves and play as well as we possibly can. I think the rest of that stuff takes care of itself.”

On the offense against the Giants:

“I think, not comparing it, but I think we did a nice job of like you said functioning as an offense. I think, like I said, we’d like to finish some of those drives we had. We can’t turn the ball over. The prior weeks, we had some different sets of challenges as we addressed earlier. I think we’re headed in the right direction. It’s better not to be confused with good, and we have to get better starting with myself and the coaches and everything. I feel like we’re working in the right direction. The energy and enthusiasm that these guys come to work with every day is outstanding. I think that, ultimately, we’re going to get to where we want to go.”

On maintaining his positivity:

“I wish I was always positive. Everyone has their ups and downs. What we try to do is just be honest with ourselves. I try to look in the mirror and be honest with myself. We try to focus on the guys that we have and what they can do and not worry about what guys can’t do or what kind of limitations we have. Nobody ultimately cares. This is the National Football League, and we’ve got to get ready to play Dallas on Sunday. We’ve got to put forth what we have with the guys that are able to go play and go see what happens. Me being upset or feeling sorry for myself or: ‘Shoot, this isn’t what I expected so far.’ That doesn’t get us anywhere. As a group, that’s what I’m talking about. As far as a group, guys have rallied and they’re working hard. Hopefully, it shows up on the field as I expect it to.”

On having versatile running backs in the passing game:

“I think you look at everything. I think if you’ve got guys that have done things in the past like that, then that’s definitely an option. We’ve lined guys up out there so far this year. So, that’s definitely something that we get into. Again, we’re going to do everything we can that we feel gives us the best chance to win. Part of that is trying to put the best 11 guys on the field. I think that we’ll look at every opportunity we have.”

On having a head coach that likes to go for it on fourth down:

“Well, [Head] Coach [Ron Rivera] does a really nice job of communicating that stuff with me so it’s never a surprise. Also, I’ve been around him a decent amount so I kind of understand when it’s coming. It’s not just on a whim. All of these things are calculated. There are algorithms and all that stuff behind it. So, there’s a little bit of an idea of what you’re getting yourself into. So, sometimes on third down—you never want a fourth down. We know the risk involved of going for it on fourth down. But, the way that we talk about with the quarterback sometimes, you’re in that situation where you may go for it on fourth-and-short, instead of trying to force the ball into a coverage-deal, we might take more of an underneath throw where if a guy doesn’t break a tackle, now you can potentially go for it on fourth-and-2, which gives you more of an opportunity to keep a drive alive. I can factor that into my third-down calls as well. Sometimes if you know you’re in that area where you might go for the fourth down as well, I can factor that into my first and second-down calls based on where that firstand-10 where the ball is, knowing that you have an extra down. It all kind of comes together. You want to definitely keep that in mind. Like I said, you don’t even really want to get to third down. You really want to get the first downs right away. But knowing you have that extra down is good to know.”

On the excitement of going for it on fourth down:

“Yeah, absolutely. When Coach says we’re going for it on fourth down, he’s letting us know that he believes in us as an offense. He knows we’re going to get it done. We had two fourth downs, we converted them, and then obviously on the two-point conversion we didn’t get it done. You feel like you let him down and you let the team down. But absolutely, anybody that’s a competitor is going to step up and relish those situations. If you coach in this league, you play in this league, you do it because you hope you get into a situation like that where it's on your shoulders.”

On RB Antonio Gibson as a receiver:

“As a young guy and just kind of learning the play and starting to play. Again, only playing six games so far in this league, it’s kind of that fine line I was talking about with some of those other guys. You want to give him enough to be successful, but not give him too much where he doesn’t play fast or he’s overwhelmed or he makes mistakes. Again, Antonio’s got an interesting skillset as do a few other guys on our roster. He’s done a couple things at receiver so far. That’s definitely something that we would like to expand on because he does have the physical tools to be successful there.”

On if Gibson can do more at receiver after primarily playing the position in college:

“Yeah, the thing about it is with Antonio—or any of our guys, especially our young guys—it’s not always just the physical. It’s not: ‘Can he physically do this?’ It’s: ‘Can he mentally do this? Can he mentally do it at a high level as well as all the other things you want him to do?’ You just kind of pick and choose your spots and make sure we do a great job preparing him and not putting him in a position where we’re asking too much of the guy.”

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