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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 -- December 2, 2020

On RB Peyton Barber:

“Peyton’s a great guy. He works hard every day. I thought he had a really nice camp for us. He did some things in the first week. I don’t look at a lot of the stuff that you see being said about the yards per carry or stuff like that. He’s a short-yardage and kind of four-minute type back for us. Those yards are hard to come by in those situations. He’s done a great job of moving the chains. For him to have a little bit of success and a little more yardage, especially in this last game—I was happy for him because he does. He shows it every day. Some of those games where he didn’t have production, a lot of it was situational. We were down, we were throwing the ball a little more, so we were using some of those other guys. For him to do that was great. I was talking to [Head] Coach [Ron] Rivera and we’ve won four games, in three of those four games he’s gotten first downs that have given us the chance to take a knee at the end of the game. Those are big, big moments.”

On the importance of momentum and getting players back from injury:

“This is a tremendous challenge for us, obviously, at Pittsburgh. I think they’re about to kick off pretty soon and go play with the change of schedule and all that. But they’re a very good team and we’ve got our work cut out for us. I think momentum is a very real thing. It’s just confidence, guys building confidence and feeling good about themselves and continuing to work and grow. I made the point to you guys for a long time that we want to keep just getting better every week and play our best football in December and January. That’s what we’re working and striving to do.”

On what separates WR Terry McLaurin from other receivers:

“He has a tremendous work ethic. He takes everything one day at a time. He really trusts and believes in the process. He really believes in our coaches and what he’s being told to do schematically and fundamental-wise. He just soaks it all up. When he makes a mistake, he doesn’t make the same mistake twice. He focuses on the fundamentals. His skillset, he’s obviously very strong and fast. He can separate. He’s getting better. He’s getting better at the techniques of just route running, but really just the process of him trusting the process and coming to work every day. That leadership stuff has really just come about naturally because he’s built so much trust with his teammates and then they have such respect for him based on the work that he puts in and the production that he has.”

On examples of McLaurin’s work ethic: “Nothing really different, it’s really just the consistency. It’s day in and day out. He has a certain routine he goes by before and after practice. He just leans on that. He trusts his preparation. Everybody makes mistakes. He doesn’t let that bother him. There’s nothing that pops in my head, it’s just really more so the consistency he brings to his approach.”

On play-calling now compared to the beginning of the season:

“I think we’re growing. I think we’re growing as an overall offense, and I’m part of that. I think our communication has been pretty good. I think when you play with three different quarterbacks, there’s going to be little differences with each guy. I think overall, though, we’ve done a nice job of not having to use timeouts, not getting too many delay of games, stuff like that. There’s been some things we have to get better at. Our quarterbacks do a good job of communicating to the offense. Just as far as myself, every game is going to present a different set of challenges. You’ve got to get yourself ready for that. You’ve got to recognize what kind of adjustments you’ve got to make as the games go on. One thing is you’ve got to know when to say when. You’re not going to win the game on every single play, but you can very much lose it if you make a mistake. Just to be patient. Be patient when you need to be patient and then be aggressive when you need to be aggressive and just taking your spots.”

On TE Logan Thomas:

“I think, sometimes those things as far as the versatility, they just come up that way for whatever reason. The other thing is Logan—we wanted him to be comfortable being a tight end. He’s been kind of a backup player that’s played in certain spots, and he made it clear pretty early in camp that he was going to be our guy. We wanted to just let him focus on playing the tight end position and just do as well as he could. He’s gotten better. He’s gotten better as a receiver, as a route runner and as a blocker. As that role has gone on with more comfort, we’ve kind of just expanded the things because he does have a unique skillset. We try to use—if our guys can do something well, we try to use them to do it. Obviously, you can’t do everything so you pick and choose the spots,”

On how the offensive line has held up so well:

“Well, we’ve obviously had to shuffle some guys, but that’s nothing new with what people deal with in this league. Injuries happen and injuries up front happen because those guys deal with a lot of contact. I think our offensive line coach John Matsko has done a great job of getting all those guys ready. Then the players—they stayed prepared themselves, and they’ve stepped up and rose to the challenge when their name was called. I think there’s a lot of credit to go around there. The biggest thing is just you’ve got to prepare. If you’re a player in this league, you’ve got to prepare as if you’re starting whether you are or you’re not. If you’re on a roster, at some point you’re going to get an opportunity. What you do with it kind of dictates what opportunities you’re going to get.”

On if there are statistics they use to evaluate the offensive line:

“Yes there are, but really what we do—and we do this with every position—is that we evaluate every single play. We evaluate every play, and then players are graded accordingly. If you’re making too many mistakes— mental mistakes are the worst, obviously—and then physical mistakes, sometimes you’re going to get a bad matchup. If those things start showing up too often, then you kind of have to make a change or make an adjustment or find out why those things are happening. It’s not just so much a number, it’s more so just the: ‘Hey, these are the techniques that these guys are supposed to be using. Are they doing them? OK, they’re doing them, then are they successful doing them?’ Then we go from there.”

On the impact of not having a preseason on the offense coming together:

“I don’t know. I think that did play into it, but I’ve never thought about that just because it didn’t seem to do me much good. We try to do everything we can to try to win each week. I thought we had some opportunities early on some of the things that could’ve gone a different way and things maybe would’ve played themselves out differently. I think as the season’s gone on, our offense has improved. I think I’ve improved. I think you get a better feel for the players. Maybe that does have something to do with the fact that there wasn’t a preseason or there wasn’t an offseason either. I thought we had good work in camp. I thought we had an opportunity to start a little better than we did. There’s nothing you can do about it now. Now, like I said, we’re just trying to build and improve on the future going forward.”

On if he gets into a zone while calling plays:

“I think there are momentum swings in games where it’s a lot easier to call the plays when you’re getting first downs and the ball is moving as opposed to when you’re not gaining a lot of yards. The trick plays, we’ll call them. There are things that we work on. There are some things that we see and that’s why we get to it. We ran a reverse in Detroit on the first drive and we lost 10 yards. That doesn’t deter you from trying again, that’s just part of the deal if you’re going to call those plays. You’re going to have to potentially live with the consequences because those are high-risk, high-reward type situations. I think our guys, the ones we ran the last week, they executed them well. It does come down to, obviously, the timing on when you call those things but also the execution. Then just trusting your players, and we’ve got a lot of trust in our guys just based on the preparation we see week in and week out that even if it is a bad look, we’ll protect the ball, we’ll get to the next play and then we can overcome it. If we do get the good look, then we’ll take advantage of it.”

On the importance of converting third downs:

“It gives you more opportunities. That’s one thing, we did not start out well this season on third downs. We knew we had to get better and we made some adjustments and we have. We’ve improved in that area significantly. When you convert a first down on third down, you at very minimum have three more plays. In those three plays, that gives you a chance at an explosive play or just to gain more yards and like you said, keep the offense on the field. I think that’s really given us the boost to really move the ball.”

On if Thomas looks like an NFL tight end:

“Body type, he 100 percent looks like a tight end. He has since we’ve gotten him based on the film from when he played for other teams in the past. It was just about learning the intricacies about the position and then just feeling more comfortable. To be honest, I don’t know if he’d been in a backup role, he probably wouldn’t have gotten the development. He needed to be out there and play 50 to 65 snaps a game, which is what he’s been doing. I think that’s where the type of person he is, where he was determined and the work—‘Hey, I’m going to get better at this’—that’s where the growth has come. It’s been just kind of fighting through the struggles of playing tight end and blocking defensive ends, going out, winning on releases and getting separation on tops of routes. He’s learned throughout the course of the season. I think that’s where a lot of that improvement has come from.”

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