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Chalk Talk: Shanahan Ready to Rebound

Andrew Hirsh:Obviously last Sunday's game was disappointing. What do you say to your guys after getting shut out like that?

Kyle Shanahan: It's tough on everybody. Nobody likes to be embarrassed like that. They were playing at their best, and I feel like we were at our worst. That's what happens when you play like that. The only thing we can do is look ourselves in the mirror and find out what went wrong. Thankfully we get them again in another week, and that's what we've been talking about. So at least we don't have to stick with that feeling all year long. We have a chance to do something about it, and hopefully we'll be better prepared then.

AH: People can react to losses like that in many different ways. How have you seen your players respond?

KS: I've been really proud of the players. We're all still in the tank from it. It was tough on us—especially on Monday. It's hard film to look at when it looks like that. It's as bad of a game as I've been involved in, as it is for most of the people in the room. But we came out with two good days of practice; guys have been upbeat. I think that says a lot about the character of our players. Guys aren't moping around. They're embarrassed and want to go out and do something about it.

AH: It seems like the same issues have been plaguing the offensive for the last few months. How do you continue to address these issues while keeping your message fresh?

KS: Turnovers have definitely been the main thing. That's what we have to get fixed the most. But to answer your question, you look at every facet of every thing. It takes one guy here, one guy there. Offense is about 11 guys being together in a rhythm, and that's happened at times, but lately it's been one guy off here, one guy off there. It takes the continuity of everybody trying to get on the same page. We're watching a lot more stuff together, trying to get back to gelling when we have all 11 guys moving together, because you're only as strong as your weakest link.

AH: The offensive line has been giving up more pressures recently, especially against defensive tackles. Why do you think that's happening, and how can it be fixed?

KS: When you throw the ball more, that's going to happen. We were a lot more balanced early in the year, so when we get into positions like we were in last week, the quarterback is going to get hit more. They're going to get more sacks. That's not something where we want to go. Obviously we're going to try to get better at protections, but we also need to stay out of those types of games where the defense has to defend both the run and the pass. When we get one-dimensional, it puts a lot of pressure on the O-line and quarterback, and that's something we have to avoid.

AH: We've talked a lot about Justin Hardy's development and his ability to learn a comprehensive playbook for the first time. Now that he has a few games under his belt, how do you feel about his progress so far?

KS: I think Hardy gets better each week. The thing I love about Hardy the most is the game's not too big for him. He's out there playing physical; he's not scared of the moment; he'll block. Now it's about improving his technique, improving his routes, getting him free on man-to-man coverage. One thing I can say about Hardy is he's gotten better each week, and I hope it'll continue these next three weeks and continue into next year.

AH: I've noticed that the majority of Hardy's catches have gone for first downs. Does that have to do with his awareness? Maybe the scheme?

KS: It's probably just the route trees he plays more. There's not enough tape out to say why that is, but we've gotten it to him for first downs on a number of times, and we have the confidence in Hardy to get it to him.

AH: Coach Quinn and Matt Ryan both mentioned this week that Jacksonville's defense is very similar to Atlanta's. How does that help you prepare for Sunday?

KS: You understand it; you've gone against it. It's a very sound defense. There's not a lot of secrets too it, like our defense. Tough eight-man fronts, tough to run the ball against and tough to get big plays on. They make you work for everything and we're going to be challenged. We're going to have to execute and make sure we get the ball in when we get in the red zone.

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