I caught up with Chris Cooley today at the Comcast XFINITY Lab in Washington D.C. where he was helping to give a demonstration of Comcast's new and improved X1 sports app. To learn more about the sports app go to XFINITY.com or check out the following link.
Cooley was also kind enough to take a few minutes to answer several questions about the Redskins and his potential comeback to the NFL. You can hear the interview in its entirety via the SoundCloud app.
You can also read an abridged version of the discussion below. I'm still working on transcribing the interview, so check back here later to see an extended written version.
I've included minute markers for each of the questions so that you can jump between them if you would like.
James Dorsett - Question 1 (0:20): First, we'll talk about the Redskins. I'm just wondering- and this is hypothetically speaking-how would you handle the quarterback situation if you were put in charge of the team today?
Chris Cooley: I love hypotheticals. They're the absolute best. Look, I've went through this so many times and I've went through it with such an open mind this year. I really do believe that Robert starting and being great for this season is the best outcome for not only this coaching staff, but this organization, and watching how our fans react to him playing great is the best thing you can do.
But at the point we're at I think, he's not capable of running the offense that he's currently in and not capable of converting in this offense. More importantly, I don't necessarily feel like he's capable of not taking hits at any position on the football field and I think that he puts himself in danger a lot of times.
We've had so much talk about being a bad offensive line, but there's also statistically if you look at what Robert did last year. The fact that he was sacked per dropback more times than any quarterback in the history of the league and the other two guys that played weren't. So you wonder where you're going with the offensive line. He's a great kid and you hate the fall from greatness to what it is, but you also have to be realistic about a situation you're in.
If I'm a coaching staff I look at everybody around me. I look at all of the rest of the guys on my staff and I also look at the rest of the players on my team and I say what position is best to put them in. I don't know if you know 100% what the ceiling is on either of your other two guys, but I think you know where you're at right now with both of them as potentially higher or probably higher than where you're at with Robert. It's a very tough decision, but at some point you have to make tough decisions in the NFL. It's a production league, and they've definitely given him every opportunity.
Question 2 (2:13): Taking the quarterback position out of the equation for a minute, what in your opinion is the main strength and the main weakness of the Redskins’ roster? How can they use that strength to mask their weakness?
Cooley: I think you look at our defense this year as possibly being a strength of the team. McCloughan did a really nice job adding some talent. Joe Barry brings a new vigor to what they are going to do and to how they’re going to run a 3-4 defense. I like that they have maintained a lot of what they had last year in terms of style of play. Just add some additions to the scheme. You look for them to hopefully create some more turnovers. The loss of Junior Galette, it really actually is huge, because he was such a compliment player on that edge. I think that over the last two years he had the third most sacks of anybody in the league. That’s going to be big for you.
Offensively, there’s a ton of talent. The weakness has been the lack of ability to get the ball to the players of talent. If you can’t get the ball in their hands, then you can’t make plays. I've heard so many times through this preseason from Pierre and from DeSean that "we have to help Robert out; we got to make him better." Man, people don’t say that about Peyton Manning; they say he’s going to make everyone around him better. It’s got to be at least an even situation. When I look back through my career, when I said I’ve got to help our quarterback and help him make plays. It was because I knew that he wasn’t serviceable at the position. And so, your real question mark is just can your quarterback make everyone else better or do people have to make him better, and you got to take the best shot there. So we’ll see what we have offensively.
I think defense can potentially be the strength, but the talent offensively is really solid. You also have a big question mark on the right side of the offensive line. Are they going to be good enough in the run game to have an impact interior running wise?
Really another big weakness, an absolute huge problem for you is going to be the tight end position. If Jordan Reed stays healthy it’s not as big of a problem as it is, but Jordan Reed is a slot receiver. Take it whatever way you want. He’s a guy that’s a tremendous route runner. He is an absolute mismatch, because people are going to have to cover him, they are going to have to decide. If he’s on the field, which hopefully he will be, he’s a big plus. But the actual position of tight end in what is still a traditional west coast offense is lacking still.
Question 3 (5:05): The other day you said that all of the tight ends on the Redskins' roster are basically H-backs. I was just wondering how you would help the Redskins if by some chance they did sign you. Do you think that your biggest contribution would be as a blocker? Because that is kind of what they're lacking in right now among their tight ends.
Cooley: This is a tough question that I want to go exactly where I want to go with it; but I'm not because I realize what the outcome is going to be. And that's people saying that I'm a narcissist, which I'm actually really realistic with what I'm doing. But yeah, you say they're H-backs, Dixon: converted college wide receiver, Hamm: converted college wide receiver. I don't necessarily see the answer to that blocking tight end currently being on this roster. That's really not meant to be a slight to any of these young guys, because, they're all working hard. I just don't necessarily see this team continuing with a lot of these guys. They traded for Carrier, he's going to be there; but he's an H-back as well.
They're going to have to have someone come in. They're probably looking at someone that's on another roster right now. Take for example, like a Brandon Pettigrew. Maybe he gets cut from Detroit and you bring in that guy. McCloughan is definitely talking to agents and he's definitely working around the league; he's got some ideas that obviously are probably already in play.
For me helping this team, I don't have this idea of grandeur that I'd be the 2007 me. Obviously I'd hope for that and obviously to some extent, yes I do believe that. But I'd have to prove that to even myself and that's a big stretch to say that, so I'm not going to say that. But do I believe that I can come in the run game and block the edge? Absolutely. Do I believe that I can help create a stretch for some of your running plays? I certainly do. Right now in their base package they're going to use Tom Compton. Do I think that adding 20% of your eligibles back to base game plan makes a big difference? Yeah, I do.
So I think that I could help. But like I said, the answer is probably out there and I think they have an answer for it. It's just gotten into a situation where everyone making decisions is on a friend basis with me and it's almost awkward.
So, would I love to do it? Yes. I'll constantly say I'd love to do it. But does that mean that I'm done if they don't do it? No, it doesn't. It's funny because the Cardinals had called me a few weeks back and they signed someone; and I had 100 tweets like "oh, guess the comeback's dead". Then the next week, well the Redskins need somebody. And they don't do it and "oh, the comeback's dead". It's like "no", teams are going to progressively need tight ends as they make cuts in the next couple of weeks and throughout the season. I just want a shot to show that I can still do it and that's because I love it. That's because I just really want to and I'd truly regret not doing it.
Question 4 (7:51): There are some red flags that teams might see with you. You've been out of the league for two years, it's been five years since you had a productive season, seven years since your best year, tight ends that are 33-years old typically aren't productive receivers and you would be the fourth oldest tight end in the league.
My question to you here is, why would it work for you when it hasn't worked out for other tight ends in this case? What makes you different?
Cooley: First of all, the age thing is, yeah, I just turned 33. Absolutely, but I've also sat out for two seasons, so I didn't take the beating for the last two seasons and I've got myself in good enough shape to play. Am I a statistically high-end tight end? No, but I'm not asking to be that for anyone. I'm asking to come in and be a guy that moves around and that you can not drop off in terms of the way that you want to call plays or the way that you want to run your offense. You can ask a lot of me from an intelligence standpoint. I'll run any position that you want me to run and I'll be able to come in and block for you quite a bit.
Do I think that I can play 60 plays a game? Absolutely, I do. I've put myself through that entire situation, because the last red flag would've been that "was I hurt" or "am I hurt". I had a scope on my knee a couple of years ago and I didn't take the right amount of time off. It was constantly swollen and then when I was brought back I didn't play, and the image of me around the league was that, yes, I was hurt. So before I mentioned to anybody that I wanted to come back and play, I made sure that I ran hard for three straight weeks, every single day. If my knee was going to swell, then I would've never told anyone that I wanted to come back.
So let's just say for example, hypothetically, since we like that game, let's say hypothetically that the Buccaneers called me and they said we want to sign you and they did it. If they stuck their neck out there for me like that, I wouldn't want to put them on the hook if three weeks later me saying "my knee is all swollen up." That's where it came into when I was talking about with the Redskins. If I was hurt and went on IR, don't pay me. If you sign me before week one, I'll waive the right and if you want to release me, don't pay me. I'll bet on myself 100%. None of this was about money. This was about me playing the game and someone giving me a chance to play the game. So, I'll bet on myself on all of those red flags and I'll see what I have.
I guess now it's just the point where if it's not there, it isn't there. I didn't have it. But if I don't try and find out if it's there, then that's a problem. I believe that it'll be there. I believe that I can do it. I have no doubt. I've videoed everything I've done. I've gotten ready to play as much as I've ever done in the past, and I feel fantastic. That's all I can say.
Question 9 (17:15): If it doesn’t work out for you this season, then will you try again next year? Would your answer be different if you were to play this season?
Cooley: Yes, I would. I’m going to continue to work out the way that I’m working out, just because I like it. I took a year away from it, and I didn’t like it. So, I’m going to continue to work out this way. If someone gave me an opportunity a year from now, yes.
But as the season goes on my odds of playing for someone, if I’m not playing for someone, continue to decline at a drastic rate, especially with me expressing my utmost interest. If I say to every extent I really want to play and we get to Week 14 and no one has signed me, then probably no one is going to sign me next year. There’s going to be another draft, another group of players, it goes further away.
Again, I’m cool with all of it. It’s just that I have to express that I really want to do this, and I have to make a genuine effort to do this or I’m going to sit here at 40-years old and go "Man, I could’ve done it and I should’ve tried." So at least I know if I try, then I’m cool.
The remaining questions are below. Follow the minute markers to jump to any of the questions and hear the audio.
Question 5 (11:00): Looking at it from the perspective of the teams, would you understand if nobody signed you?
Question 6 (12:19): Is there anything that you are doing differently in terms of your preparation when it comes to working out, diet, etc.?
Question 7 (13:29): If you were signed by a team would you have any goals in terms of snaps or stats that you would like to meet?
Question 8 (14:51): Where did you "win" on the field throughout your career and would that change if you played this year?
Question 10 (18:33): Who are you picking to win the NFC East and the Super Bowl this year?