June 9, 2021
Opening statement: “Good morning. Yesterday was a good day for us. We tried to change up what we were doing just for situational work. I thought yesterday was great. I thought they did a great job communicating. The first session was really high-rep, but then we finished with competition which was fourth down, got-to-have-it, 10-yard line, 8-yard line, 12-yard line, we kind of did it by the winner. The first group was able to succeed offensively. Then, we actually got to move it a little closer two yards. By whatever group won, then the next group would benefit from that. But it was essentially a got-to-have-it. I told (Offensive Coordinator Anthony Lynn) A-Lynn, and we know it, anybody in this league knows it on the offensive side of the ball, it is difficult to score when it’s got-to-have-it fourth down and you’re at the 10, the 12, the eight. Those are hard, man, because you have to throw it. Everybody knows it. You’ve got to get to the end zone. The defense doesn’t care if you dump it. You’ve got to throw it down to the back. We put those guys in a tough situation and I thought they responded. You’ve got to get on top of that stuff to even have a chance. You’ve got to be able to see it. Then the next one was 2-point plays, so now it’s a little bit more both sides of the ball, but it can become a little bit more difficult for your defense. You’re on the 2-yard line and there are a few things you can do. It’s just good to be put in those situations competitively and make them have to think that way and make the quarterbacks have to make a decision with the ball, and the defense to know the situation, ‘This is what they’re doing and this is what they have to do.’ So, it was great. Great work.”
“I’ll open it up for questions.”
On how S Will Harris’ interception in practice yesterday helps his standing: “It should help him. It was a good play by him. He read the quarterback’s eyes and flowed with it then went out and made a play on the ball. It was good. Again, he’s one of many in that room that I feel like is improving.”
On what Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs Coach Duce Staley brings to the coaching staff: “Duce, there’s a reason why I wanted him here. There’s a lot to it. It’s like I said before; he’s high-energy. He’s done it. He’s an excellent fundamental coach when you’re talking about technique and all of those things. Also, he does a great job with the technique of the running back when it comes to your reads, tearing the football. As it pertains to protection, he’s outstanding with those things working with the offensive line, telling those backs, ‘These are the calls. Understand where it’s going. Understand you have to start here. You’re working left to right. Know where you’re going here.’ Then on top of that, he brings juice to the practice. We talk about energy, but he really gets it going. If you don’t bring some type of energy as coaches and players, really, you hope that they begin to feed themselves. But if not, it’s our job as coaches to feed the wolf—or I guess I should say, feed the lion if you will. If not, you’re just going to have another day. You’re just going to be going through the motions. There’s always got to be some type of competitive spirit, energy that’s been injected into the practice by somebody. Duce does an outstanding job of that because the defense hates him. That’s already a step in the right direction.”
On DE Austin Bryant’s absence from practice: “He just had a minor, little injury last week. No big deal. We’re just holding him to be smart about it. We expect him to be ready to go for training camp, full, no problem. He’s been up before that happened. He’s done a nice job for us, but no issues there.”
On how he will balance competition at practice during the season: “There will be some things that we will do during the season. When it’s third-down emphasis, we probably will have some ones versus ones, two to three plays to finish the period. But I think you have to keep some of that stuff going. Look, you gauge where you’re at, too. ‘Where are we from a health level? What kind of game did we just come off of? Were we in an overtime game and those guys played 80 plays-plus?’ You’ve got to be smart, but I do think you have to keep some of that competitive spirit, good versus good, to keep them amped up a little bit. The other thing is you’re getting them ready for an opponent and during the season you’re working on that opponent. Then, to be able to say, ‘Man, here we go. It’s ones versus ones, Detroit Lions versus Detroit Lions.’ You kind of have to play ball. Now you’ve practiced against your defense, but it’s, ‘Hey, man. Just play your keys. Play what we’ve given you from the get-go. This is always the key to the test. If you live by these guidelines, it doesn’t matter what you do. Honor your roles and you’ll be just fine.’ I think there is something to that, too, about just these guys playing the look and reacting to it.”
On balancing installation with preparation to play the San Francisco 49ers Week 1: “I would say right now, our sole focus is on getting these guys fundamentally ready in terms of what we’re trying to do offensively and in our own scheme. We have to get our house in order before we can think about San Francisco, I know that. We’re expanding into some of these things with our guys. Some of these are guys we think can help us, that can create separation or potentially mismatch players. We’re beginning to expand what we think they can do a little bit or see where we can take them if you will. Right now, this is where we’re at. Let’s get our guys right. There will be time to start working on San Fran. Right now, it’s about us.”
On what a team needs to make plays late in a game: “Sean (Payton) used to always talk about that. You have to work on those in practice. You have to game plan those. You have to gain confidence from actually doing it and proving you can do it. It does have to start in practice. I think you have to be able to handle pressure. I think you can go around and around with this, but one is being able to handle pressure and be able to lean on what you’ve been given and what you’ve been taught and what the rules tell you to do. If we just hone in on those little things and as a staff, if we get them ready for those situations for once they’re put in it—look, Bill (Parcells) was one of the best. Sean did it, too, but you try to put those guys under an enormous amount of pressure during the week, in practice, so when they do go out there on game day, they’ve been given the hardest looks they can possibly have so they go out there and it’s, ‘Man, this is a lot easier.’ Golly, I remember Bill in practice would stand right behind the quarterback, or stand right behind the halfback, and he’d single out a guy and just go after him nonstop. When it was two-minute, he would be nonstop when the quarterback was here just badgering the quarterback. When it was a critical kick, he would just stand behind the kicker or in the kicker’s path to wind up for the winning field goal and just badger him to harden them a little bit mentally and just focus on what you’ve been given. Just focus on the job at hand. Don’t worry about the noise. Don’t worry about all the other hype and all the other hoopla and what’s been going on in the game. Just focus on this play. If you try to look at the whole big picture at once, that’s when guys run into problems. Just focus on this one play, one time. Just handle the pressure. But I think you’ve got to put them into it before they get into it.”
On his assessment of QB David Blough: “Look, I love the kid if I’m being totally honest with you. He’s just a little football player. And when I say that, I mean that in the highest regard. Look, he’s smart. He’s extremely smart. He knows where to go with the football, I love his timing. He knows how to command the huddle, he communicates well and on top of that, he’s a hell of a dude, by the way. He just is. So, he has not disappointed. He’s doing a good job. He’s out there competing with the rest of those guys.”
On his thoughts on Hall of Fame DB Charles Woodson’s career: “Look, I don’t know where I would rank him, I just know he’s obviously one of the best. I’ll give you one quick story; this was really kind of toward the end of his career when he was with the Raiders and I was coaching at Miami. I remember we were down in the red zone and I remember we had a play up where basically all we had to do was hold Woodson. The quarterback, (Ryan) Tannehill, just hold Woodson, flip back, and it was really a double move to the tight end up the seam. The tight end won, and we got the exact look we wanted, and we knew if we could just hold Woodson, we’d be just fine. I remember Tannehill (bump), and sure enough, man, Woodson – he kind of held for one tick, and I mean he moved – he was ahead of his eyes. Woodson was ahead of the quarterback’s head and eyes. So, when he flipped, we threw it and man, he went over there and made a last minute play and knocked it down. It was just his reaction. He was always one step ahead. He was not only athletically very gifted, but man, he was a smart football player. He understood the game well and he knew what teams were trying to do to him, what quarterbacks were trying to do to him. I remember we just knew we were going to have that play and we kind of had what we wanted, but my gosh, it was a hell of a break by him. It really was. He’s a heck of a player. Did it for a long time at a high level. He’s rare, that’s why he’s going where he’s going.”
On the health status of LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin: “That’s a minor thing as well. Just kind of got his heel a little bit. No big deal. He’ll be just fine.”
On how WR Quintez Cephus is looking: “I just think, there again, this is all about trying to identify the guys that are getting better and guys that we feel like we can begin to depend on and know exactly who they’re going to be or what they can be. I would say over the last four practices, QC’s really come on. We all see it; we feel like he’s growing right in front of us and that’s what you want these guys to do during this time. Shoot, I would just leave it at that. He really has. I do feel like the last four practices, he’s begun to really take off a bit, and that’s encouraging. That’s what you want as a young guy going into year two. He’s been a sponge with (Antwaan) Randle El and that’s how you get better – and he’s willing to work. He puts the work in.”
On what he’s seen from WR Victor Bolden: “As I said yesterday, it’s his ability to separate. And even some of the little things – not only just separation, but you can see him – he’s another guy that’s taken to coaching. Shoot, we had one-on-ones yesterday and one of the routes he ran, just the way that he worked the leverage of the defender but was also patient to get his depth and then come out of the route, quarterback friendly. Not only was it a really sharp route, to have the explosiveness he has but also to have the wherewithal to set the route up like he did, the patience enough to get the depth, it’s like a quarterback’s dream because you know exactly where the guy’s going to be, how he’s going to run the route. It’s kind of those things. You do see this quickness about him, this speed, but also there’s some detail to what he’s doing and that’s encouraging.”
On if there are time management lessons or other new things challenging him as a first-time head coach: “Look, time management’s always going to be something you have to work on and think about. I’ll be honest with you; from one of those, there were things that came up when I was interim that I learned from, but also being with Sean (Payton) those years in New Orleans. But look, I’m also going to lean on guys. We’ve got some guys on this staff that they’re well-equipped as well to handle this. These are things that over the summer I’ll be diving into and spend my time on. While the players are gone and everybody’s gone, those are some of the things that I’m going to put myself in those situations and how do we handle it, what do we want to do? Look, I’ve got guidelines that I live by and think about, but also, you have to put yourself in those and that’s what I’ll do. But also, I’m not going to do this alone. I’ll have people that can help me, and I can lean on a little bit as well.”

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