Every morning, the fine folks at Sports Radio Interviews sift through the a.m. drive-time chatter to bring you the best interviews with coaches, players, and personalities across the sports landscape. Today: The difference is mental.
DeAngelo Hall joined 980 ESPN in D.C. with The Sports Fix to discuss the progression of Robert Griffin III in Washington Redskins OTA's, his relationship with Jim Haslett/Raheem Morris and playing safety in the Redskins defense this season.
Is Robert Griffin III finally the answer for this organization at the quarterback position?
"I hope so. I hope so. We don't want to put all the pressure on him. It's not just going to be Robert Griffin III has to take us to the promised land. I think it is going to take a total team effort. It's going to take the offensive line protecting him. It's going to take the offensive line mashing out some running holes, so some of running backs can actually take the pressure off. Our receivers need to be big for us. Our defense is going to have to get turnovers and give him an opportunity. Special teams…they are going to play a big part in his success as well. It's definitely not just him, but you can definitely see on that practice field he's out there and we are going against him. You can kind of see the specialness coming out of him. You can see the swag and the confidence and his ability to make plays. I've actually…I've talked to him even before we drafted him. I kind have already knew we were going to get him. We had a great chance to get him barring anything crazy happening at the draft. Me and him have been talking for the last 4 or 5 months now and I told him the scary part is his progression now as a quarterback and an athlete…seeing Michael Vick coming into the league. I feel like he's light years ahead of Michael Vick because he understands mentally what it takes to be great. Mike felt like he could go out athletically and be great. RGIII is like I know athletically I'm pretty good, but I want to be mentally great. If I can be mentally great and athletically good or great then it is scary. His ability to want to be that great quarterback now and just a great athlete is what is going to separate him from all the other guys out there."
What's your relationship like with Jim Haslett and new defensive backs coach Raheem Morris?
"I love those guys. I love those guys. Me and Has(let) talked a lot this offseason about what it took for us to be great. That's kind of how the change came about for me to play the nickel. I love Coach [Bobby] Slowik to death. I still pick his brain a lot and ask a lot of questions. He's the linebackers coach now, but I think the change that Raheem brought to this defense is just seeing things from a different perspective. Having a guy come from the outside and in and see how our defense and see the potential of his greatness and come in and make some suggestions and changes in coverages. To have our coaches actually listen and entertain the changes and say you are right on that and let's do it like that and play it like this. Raheem said we played it like this is in Tampa and let's kind of incorporate some of this too as well as some of the things you guys were successful with. It's being able to mesh those two and come up with a great product. That's what I feel like we have been doing so far. We have been able to mesh some of the things that Raheem has learned throughout the year from Mike Tomlin and Tony Dungy in that Cover Two scheme and kind of incorporated it to some of the things that Has has learned from Dick LeBeau and some of these other guys. It's scary. It's scary. Like I said I made the comment that I am going to be able to make a lot of plays like Charles Woodson did. I am not going to say I am going to be another Charles Woodson cause he's a Hall of Famer in his own right, but I am going to be put in position to be around the ball. I feel like if I am around the ball I am going to make plays."
Do you think you will be playing free safety at all this year?
"I could. I could. The way Raheem is just letting us go out there and play football we're able to play any position on that field. I played a lot of safety in these OTA's because we have been banged up. I have been out there making plays. I feel comfortable, but the nickel is position that allows you to play a little bit of everything. I can go down with the linebackers and bang and see emotions happen and rock and send my safety down for maybe zone coverage and I can play deep middle. I can go in on some run blitzes and pass blitzes and some fire zones. There are so many things we can do and that is the fun part and the scary part. At first we were kind of put in a box and this is what we are doing. Raheem has let the coaches know hey I am going to have my guys on the top of their games too. We are going to be able to do anything you guys want to do and what we need to do in order to win football games."
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