“As a head coach, you’re dealing with different personalities at every position, so I don’t even think about that,” he said. “Everybody is their own person.”
‘Best of both worlds’
“It’s two different type of gurus,” Orakpo said. “One is offensive-minded and one is defensive-minded, and you kind of get the best of both worlds, especially in the way we make up blitzes.
“Any time a new week comes along and we want to put in a new blitz, he’s always asking Mike how they would block it and what they would see. Sometimes we take that to the field. We have one designated period where, OK, this is the way we’ll block it and this is the way we’ll attack it, just kind of feeding off each other.”
Those interactions begin in meetings early each week. During game plan preparations, Shanahan and Haslett discuss the Redskins‘ and the opponents’ strengths and weaknesses regarding personnel and scheme. The final product this season included many positives. Washington allowed a total of 24 points and scored a defensive touchdown in two victories over the division-champion Giants.
There were hard times, too, though. After the Redskins surrendered 33 points and 407 yards to the Carolina Panthers and dual-threat quarterback Cam Newton in October, Shanahan lamented that the defense was unprepared.
“If I ever say we didn’t do a good job of preparing, I mean we didn’t do a good job of preparing,” Shanahan said. “We didn’t give them enough reps in practice. Usually it doesn’t happen very often, but I want the players to know that, hey, it’s not just your fault. It’s our fault.”
And so both coaches have moved into the offseason with a realistic outlook on the defense’s progress and what remains to be accomplished.
“We know what our ultimate goal is, and if you don’t have a defense you have no chance,” Shanahan said. “You’d better make sure you do have your front seven, your front eight. That’s where it starts. I think we’re there with our defensive front.”
“You have a head coach that wants to win another championship,” Haslett said. “He’s given us a lot of good pieces on defense to move forward, and he still knows that we need a few, just like offense. Everybody needs it until we do it. As long as we’re all on the same page and we all want to win games, there’s no reason not to stay here and try to win a championship. That was one of the reasons I came in the first place.”
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