Redskins tight end Chris Cooley has played for two playoff teams in Washington (only he and Santana Moss can say that), but there’s something different this time around. Of course, one more hurdle remains Sunday in the form of the Dallas Cowboys before Cooley and Moss can make the postseason here for a third time. Cooley answered a few questions Friday from myself and Rich Campbell of the Washington Times.
Q: Because of what happened with you this summer, is this run even more special?
A: It’s been really special because it’s been a united effort as far as the group we have. You’ve been around long enough to know there haven’t been distractions. There hasn’t been any outside influence. It’s been a locker room and a staff that have kept working, kept believing in what they wanted to do and really played for each other and worked for each other. You see that with the players. You see that with the coaches. It’s been pretty cool for me to see a staff, guys like Kyle and Haz, put together game plans week after week after week for their players. That has to be hard for a coordinator to put all pride aside to say this is what I want but this is what my players do best and it’s pretty cool to see that effort from the staff and the players response has been terrific. This is the best that we’ve worked since I been here. There’s no one that doesn’t want to do it. There’s no one that has a problem with going out and practicing hard. The expectation is there to work hard. The expectation is there to play hard. We’ve had some good leadership and it’s translated throughout the season with guys like Pierre blocking downfield and getting after guys and the way that’s spurred our receivers and the way Alfred’s run the ball. We have so many plays that get so much more yardage just because guys are playing harder than the team we’re playing against. We’re doing things right and that’s what’s really cool. I think when I left the thought was we had the chance to do things right. We had unbelievable talent and cohesion for a group in training camp. It’s the first offense I’ve been in for three years and it felt like it as opposed to change, change, change, replace the quarterback. We did have a new quarterback but we had the o-line back we had the staff all back. We had everyone work together. It was like oh man this is coming together fast. What’s crazy is that for as much as we’ve [done], it’s nothing. We’ve achieved nothing and that’s’ really unbelievable. I thought for sure this team gets to 9-7 – and that’s when we’re at 6-6 – then we’re in the playoffs. That’s the way it looked at the time. So what’s wild is to think you go on this run win six games in a row and beat a lot of good teams and it still might not be enough. It’s pretty wild but looking at what we have to do this week is no different than what we’ve had to do 6 weeks in a row.
Q: You talked about the staff and the game plans, is that something different than you’ve felt in the past in terms of tailoring it more to the players?
A: When we got here it was like we have to install a base game plan and that’s the way it’s always been. I don’t know if there was time to learn your players, learn the adjustments. We’ve made drastic adjustments to our offense and our defense. Watching what Haz has done throughout the year.. What those guys are doing is so impressive.
Q: Because they’ve gotten to know the players from being here so long?
A: Right. The way I think about it is if I’m learning my offense there’s stuff I want to do, there’s stuff I believe and there’s stuff that I like. To all of a sudden say everything I believed in an offense might not be what we’ll do this year might not be what we’ll do this year. I have to change. Things I believe in on defense I will make changes to or adjust and adapt. It’s cool they can look at themselves like that and make those changes.
Q: The thought of winning a [division] championship here, what does that do to the emotions?
A: To be honest with you, a division title is cool. That’s great. That’s cool. That’s no one’s goal. The goal is to win a Super Bowl. If we win a division title and lose in the first round no one gives a damn… I don’t think this group of guys cares –90 percent of this team haven’t been playing for the Redskins long enough to think that they haven’t won the division in 13 years. We’re here to win. We’re here to win it all. I’m here to win it all. If this was my last year forever I wouldn’t pat myself on the back 5 years from now and say yeah I was part of a team that won the division.
Q: You’ve been part of other playoff teams, what do you see from this team that could get it to the point that they could do more?
A: The only thing I can compare compare to is ‘05. In ‘07 we put games together but we weren’t the team we were in ‘05. We were good enough to have a chance and that’s all you can ask for. Everyone, when you get in the playoffs, every team is good enough to have a chance. There’s no saying we’re going to do it. There are no guarantees. But you have to get hot at the end and if you get hot at the end and win no one cares that you were 3-6. That’s the cool thing about it, we’re good enough to have a chance.
Q: Do you look far ahead for yourself and what your future holds?
A: I don’t know what I want to do so, no. I’m just trying to enjoy it and be a part of it.
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