Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone.
2008 (the year) is wrapping up right alongside 2008 (the Redskins season), so today Executive Vice President/Football Operations Vinny Cerrato took a few minutes to address the assembled media about what’s gone on. I’m hoping to catch up with him a little later on to ask a few more questions, but here’s my full transcript of his general media session. Enjoy.
On whether there will be major changes to the coaching staff and roster this offseason:
“I think the coaching staff is up to Jim [Zorn]. Right now, we are in an evaluation process of the team, how we need to improve and what we need to do to get better than 8-8. I feel bad for the fans that we finished 8-8.
“The thing that we need to look at is how do we get better at home. You’ve gotta take care of the home field. We were 4-4 at FedEx. We have outstanding fans and great fan support there, so we have go to be better at home. To get into the playoffs, usually 6-2 and home and 4-4 on the road will get you in. 4-4 at home is not good enough.”
On what he believes the team’s biggest need is:
“I don’t know until we get through everything. You have to evaluate everything and it takes a while. It’s just been a couple of days and there are a lot of things that you need to look at, evaluate and then you want to put it all together before you make assumptions.”
On whether he thinks the team needs to get younger:
“I think we’ll look at everything and address everything while going through the personnel and evaluating. Let me just tell you what the schedule is – the coaches are off next week, but the scouts will be meeting and evaluating. The following week is the East-West [Shrine Game]. The following week after that is the Senior Bowl.
“On the 15th of January we’ll get together, all the personnel people, all the scouts, the trainers, the doctors. We all sit in a room and talk about every player, what he needs to do to get better, is there anything medical-wise. Any question that there is to ask will be done at that time. Everybody will have a chance to evaluate and get a good evaluation of each guy and what we need to do with each person.”
On how he expects to handle free agency this season:
“Our pro scouts have been evaluating each team throughout the year and the free agents. We give the free agent list to the coaches and we give them their books on free agents on, I want to say, January 22nd. They’ll have a couple of weeks to grade and evaluate their free agents. Then we sit down as a group and watch them all.
“Last year we were not active, but we will always look at free agency, trades and the draft to acquire [players]. Any way that you can acquire players, we will look at and see what is in our best interest. Last year it wasn’t because there wasn’t much [available].”
On whether he feels he did enough to make the team successful:
“I think if I’m standing here and we’re 8-8, I would much prefer to be standing on the practice field and getting ready to play. I can’t stand here and say we did enough because we’re not still playing and we were 8-8. To me if you are 8-8, it’s not good enough. You’re at home watching the playoff games on TV. You want to be performing in the playoff games, not watching them.”
On whether the 8-8 record will lead to any changes in his approach:
“Absolutely. I think you evaluate everything. You look back at everything, every decision and every situation. The only people who probably don’t have to do that are the teams holding the trophy. Everyone else is going through the same thing – what happened, why did this happen, if we would have done something different would it have given us a different result?
“To me, if you want to improve, you’ve gotta look at things that you did and how you get better because 8-8 is not were you want to be. What do you have to do to improve? Where did we make mistakes? How do we get better?”
On Jason Campbell’s evolution:
“I think he made good strides. I mean, his turnovers: he had nineteen last year down to, I think, seven this year, which was a huge improvement. And I think this year you saw him … in the New Orleans game, we’re down ten with seven minutes to go, bring us back to win. So I think this year he’s brought us back.
“I mean, even in the San Francisco game you say, we’re down 24-17, we get the ball, it’s our last drive. All right: can he do it? And he tood us down the field and tied the game. So he did bring us back from behind. St. Louis game, he did the same thing, brought us back from behind to take the lead. So I think he’s made progress, and I think he has improved.
“I think, what, over the first eight games his quarterback rating was over 100, so he did make some strides. Is he where he wants to be? No. Does he still have a high ceiling? Absolutely. So he’s still making a lot of progress.”
On if Jason Campbell is the quarterback of the future:
“I think that Jason’ll be back … you know, he’s the starting quarterback. And I think what you do is you just go year to year and you have to evaluate everything.”
On if there was disappointment in the lack of production from the second round picks:
“No. Because, if they would’ve been healthy – if Devin [Thomas] and Malcolm [Kelly] would’ve been healthy through training camp and not missed all of training camp – then maybe you could say something. But I think they made progress.
“I think that when you look at any receiver … I mean, take Roddy White from the Falcons. Everybody would’ve said after the first year – and he was a first round pick – that he was a bust. Had like twenty-something catches. And now, his third year, fourth year, he’s going to the Pro Bowl. So I think receivers, you’ve gotta give them some time. I mean, a couple guys did a good job this year. DeSean Jackson, and [Donnie] Avery in St. Louis, did a good job.
“Sometimes it takes receivers a while. They’re playing against better corners. They have a lot to learn about reading coverages. It’s not just go down ten and turn around, you know? You’ve gotta read the coverage, you’ve gotta read the safety, you’ve gotta read the corner, you’ve gotta read the linebacker. There’s a lot of things that go into it, so it takes receivers – you go back and you look historically, it takes receivers a while. And I think you’ll see great strides from this year to next. I think all those guys have to make big contributions next year.”
On Malcolm Kelly and his injury history:
“I think this: I think if he is healthy on the field, I think we saw in training camp that he can be an outstanding player. I mean, I don’t there’s any ifs, ands, or buts about that. And just, he can get his knee checked out, let Jim Andrews take another look at it, and see, but he felt good the last month, so … it’ll be something that we’ll probably have to monitor, but he hasn’t had a problem with it in a month and hopefully that we don’t have another issue with it.
“Because a lot of times, you know, I remember back when Curtis Martin came out, he was hurt every year at Pitt. Hurt all the time. And then he came into the league and then never had another injury. So let’s just see and see how it goes.”
On if the draft class contains starters:
“Yeah, I think absolutely.
“I think you’ll see marked improvement from all of those guys, and I think their contributions will have to be a lot more next year. I think we saw that Kareem Moore played a lot more towards the end, and Chris Horton started most of the year, and I think you’ll see more from Rob Jackson next year also. So I think that they’ll be things that … we’ll be expecting more from them.”
On if it’s tougher to make personnel decisions on veteran players:
“Right now we’re just going through a whole evaluation process and we haven’t even come to any of those types of decisions, but any time that you have a veteran guy who’s been around a long time, it is a diffcult decision. Just because a lot of times a guy in that position would be somebody that’s contributed a lot and meant a lot to the organization and stuff. So those are tough decisions.
“But nothing is – we still have a long way to go in evaluating and making decisions and doing everything.”
On if four draft picks are enough to accomplish what they want to:
“Well, we’ve gotta determine all our needs and those things first, and then you have to look at … first you’ll have free agency and all those things, and then comes the draft. So you just have to weigh everything.
“I mean, we’re picking at thirteen, and do you trade back? Do you take the player at thirteen? Last year we traded back and we accumulated, what, four other picks, five other picks, something like that. So you can gather more picks. So there’s a lot of options that go into it.”
On Jim Zorn’s first year as a head coach:
“I think probably a learning experience. Probably like a rookie player, you learn a lot, and a lot of things that come for the first time that you hadn’t seen or been used to dealing with that you got a chance to deal with, and you make a lot of progress from year one to two, because you’ve had an opportunity to learn a whole bunch, and I think Jim’s got a chance to see a lot of different things and go through things for the first time, and when you go through them for a second time then you’ve experienced it and you know the situation.”
On unexpected things about Jim Zorn:
“Nothing glaring comes to my mind, you know what I mean? I’d have to think about it for awhile, and we don’t have time right now.”
On moving from the thirteenth spot in the draft:
“I think you’ve gotta see what’s there. I mean, we don’t even know who’s gonna be in the draft yet, because the juniors haven’t declared, so you don’t know how deep the draft is, how good it is yet. You haven’t been to these bowl games, been to the Senior Bowl… there’s a lot of stuff that needs to go on yet and a lot of evaluation. Like I said, we’re just at the beginning of all those things, and that’s where we are. So I can’t answer a lot of questions because I don’t know the answers yet.”
On Jim Zorn’s strenghs and weaknesses:
“I thought he handled the quarterback, made great strides with the quarterback. And then after that Giants opening game, we came back so strong. We made some changes and came back strong. I thought that was impressive: we were down in the dumps after the Giants, and we came back and won, what, four straight.”
Tags: Offseason, Vinny Cerrato, VinnyCerrato
Posted in General | No Comments »