December 1, 2022
Opening Statement: “It’s hard to believe it’s already December, but I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving. It was almost like a little bye week for us there with a few days off, being able to look back at what we’ve done well over the middle third of the season, and where we need to keep going, but I think (Lions Head) Coach (Dan Campbell) said it. We’re seeing progress as a team right now and see the same thing for us offensively. Hopefully, we’ll continue to take strides and keep going for the next six games here.”
On how he has seen the offense improve in the recent stretch of games after starting the season hot offensively: “I do think, and it hasn’t been huge jumps, but I do think our situational football has improved. We’ve had some four-minute opportunities that we’ve closed the game with the ball. Third downs have improved over the last few weeks. Short yardage, I think we’re getting that turned around a little bit as well, so there are some bright spots to be had. I think the biggest drop off from the start to where we are now is just the lack of explosive plays. I talked about that a couple weeks ago, and I want to say we’re probably down three or four a game from where we were those first four or five games. If we can generate a few more explosives, I think we’ll be more dangerous as an offense combined with better third down, better short yardage, better situational football, two-minute, four-minute and then continue to be a pretty solid red-zone team.”
On adjusting to injuries on offense and how he prepares with a fluctuating offensive lineup: “Yeah, it’s every week we see who’s available, and how best we can utilize them, and really, this week’s no different than that. It’s a challenge, not just for me but the entire staff, finding out who it is, who‘s going to be up, who’s going active and making sure they’re all involved in some way shape or form in the gameplan. We like the ‘everyone have a role on offense as much as we can.’ So, it’s been a challenge. I think we’ve done a solid job of doing that, of trying to highlight the guys that we feel really good about each week.”
On what has jumped out about Lions WR Jameson Williams after seeing him practice for the first time and what he brings to the offense once he is able to play: “Yeah, I’ve only seen him really full speed, that was yesterday, and certainly the speed does pop out. Hopefully we can keep getting him more reps, and as he’s getting acclimated, and we’ll see where that takes us. But honestly, I’ve been more impressed in anything – once he gets in between those white lines, his demeanor is all about football. It’s what we thought we were getting when we drafted him back in the spring, and that’s held true. The guy loves the game, and you can just see him light up, and he’s all about ball.”
On what Lions WR Jameson Williams needs to show in practice to get reps Sunday: “To me, it’s developing chemistry with the quarterback. I mean shoot, yesterday was the first time I think (Lions QB) Jared (Goff)’s thrown the ball to him, routes on air or competitive setting. That takes time. That takes time. It’s different than you acquire (Lions WR) Josh Reynolds middle of the season, and instantly, that connection’s there. So we’re in a race to develop that as fast as we can, push that envelope, and that’s just time on task. That’s really all it is.”
On if being a head coach candidate this offseason is on his mind: “It’s not. It’s not. I don’t even want to talk about it.”
On his role changing from tight ends coach to offensive coordinator last year and what the upward trend means for his future: “Yeah, I mean it’s – this whole thing looking at last year at this time until now, like I said, I haven’t had a chance to reflect, but it’s certainly been a whirlwind, putting in some different roles. And as I’ve always done, just trying to do the best job at whatever I’m asked to do. But yeah, future will take care of itself. I can’t worry about that right now. I’m worried about us as an offense, continuing to get better and score points, help us win games.”
On if it feels good to hear he is seen as a top head coach candidate: “I’m not worried about any of that.”
On what jumps out about the Jaguars defense: “It’s (Jaguars General Manager) Trent Baalke’s style, which mean this, when he was in San Fran, in my mind, he’s a prototype guy. He’s going to acquire guys on their defense that have size, length, speed. They’re going to fit certain criteria, and generally speaking, if they’re not within that, he really doesn’t want them, so when you look at them particularly up front, they are that. They are long, they are strong, they are quick and they could give us some issues. It starts with the front for them with a lot of the teams we faced over the past few weeks. In a lot of ways, it’s strength-on-strength when you look at it from our perspective, but they do a great job. They’ve got two great edge defenders with (Jaguars OLB) Josh Allen and then the rookie, (Jaguars OLB Travon) Walker, he’s coming on long. And then they have depth as well. They’ve got some really good pass rushers that could potentially wreak some havoc. They’ve done that all year. I don’t know if their sack numbers are up, but the pressure numbers are there, so we’re very aware of that. The middle linebacker (Jaguars LB Foyesade Oluokun) 23, is a heck of a player. He might be playing some of the best ball in the League in my opinion, certainly that we’ve seen on tape. He’s smart, he’s instinctive, he’s fast, he’s downhill, physical, and then they’ve got two young linebackers that they’re bringing along, and you can see them getting better every week. And then on the backend, the safeties, (Jaguars S Andre Cisco) 5 and (Jaguars S Rayshawn Jenkins) 2, aggressive. Aggressive, aggressive, aggressive, so teams have struggled, and I don’t know if the numbers really back this statement up, teams have struggled a little bit in the run game, and I think the outliers are missed tackles for them. And so, I’m sure that’s something that they’re trying to address, but when they miss a tackle, that’s where the average goes up in the run game, so we’ve got to do a great job covering these guys up hat for a hat.”
On what he has seen from Jaguars OLB Travon Walker so far this season: “Yeah, he – he’s a guy that the length I think is the first thing that shows up. For tight ends trying to block him, if you don’t have long arms you’re really going to struggle because he’ll get into your chest. He’ll lock you out and he’ll disengage pretty easily. I think he’s come along as a pass rusher. I think the fact that they have some other guys helps free him up and give him some opportunities there in terms of the pass rush. But yeah, they mix it up. He’ll drop into coverage, he’ll rush, he’s a good run defender and I’m sure they’re excited about his potential going forward.”
On how he balances putting his focus on his current job and making sure that he is prepared for a future head coaching opportunity: “One hundred percent of my focus is on my current job, point blank. Point blank. All I care about is beating the Jacksonville Jaguars.”
On if he regrets calling the third-and-1 play in the last offensive series against the Bills last Thursday: “It’s the classic, if it doesn’t work you’re disappointed and you have to always think, ‘Hey, is there something better?’ In hindsight, there’s a – I wish we would’ve hit it. Comes down to that, so we went into this game last week, we went into the game with a certain mindset of how we were going to win, how we were going to score points against a really good football team. And I think we held true and a lot of that, really the aggressiveness that (Lions Head) Coach (Dan) Campbell had us going with on offense, I think it was a big reason why we were close there in that fourth quarter and came up one play short.”
On the balance between being safe and aggressive on critical play-calls and if they could have run on third-and-1: “Sure. Sure is.”
On if he needs to re-evaluate letting Lions QB Jared Goff throw on third-and-short after a few misses this season: “I’ve got total trust in the guys out there to execute the play call. So, I’m not going to overanalyze, ‘Hey, can he or can he not make this throw?’ (Lions QB) Jared Goff can make pretty much every throw in this League, that we’d ever ask him to do. I’ve got confidence in that.”
On how Lions QB Jared Goff has evolved when facing more pressure: “Truthfully, I feel like earlier in the season, the weeks where we were struggling the most, call it New England and Dallas, it might have gotten in his head a little bit. I don’t think it phases him now. I think he’s a – he knows he’s going to get hit each week. That’s part of playing the position in this League, particularly when you drop back pass. So, he’s aware of it. I think he’s done a heck of a job being able to work the pocket, avoid and find some clean throwing lanes. So, once again that’s our point of emphasis. Continue to move, find that soft spot, not get too deep in the pocket to allow the edge rushers to affect us and I think he’s taken that criticism to home from weeks ago. And it’s shown up over the last few weeks for us in a positive manner.”
On how Lions WR Jameson Williams may fit into the offense and if he compares to any other receivers in the League: “I think back in the springtime we had a pretty good vision for how we’re going to use him and that hasn’t changed, especially after what I saw yesterday. So, we’ll see. And it’ll be a little trial and error too. Is he (Dolphins WR) Tyreek Hill or (Dolphins WR Jaylen) Waddle from Miami, I don’t know if he’s quite like that. He’s a little bit – he’s unique. And so, we’ll find out. We’ll find out what he’s capable of and same thing we talked about in the springtime and the summertime, all the wideouts we’re going to get them outside of their comfort zone a little bit and see if they can surprise us with showing us some things. So, we’ll do that with him as well.” 

December 1, 2022
Opening Statement: “Obviously, (Lions Head Coach) Dan (Campbell) had made a statement about even though we lost this game, there’s a number of positives that came out of it, and I do agree with him. The one thing I talked to the defense about right after that game was, man, there are a number of barriers that we’ve been trying to knock down throughout this year. The first barrier was trying to get a win on the road, and we did that. The second one was getting back-to-back wins, and we did that. We knocked that one down, and then the third one was trying to get three wins in a row. And we did that. Here’s the next barrier that we have to get ready to pass is can we can comeback of an ‘L’ and be the same team we were when we were on that win streak, like that’s the next thing that we’ve got to prove that we can do. And I know that’s a team deal, but defensively, can we be the same defense that was being on the field and stopping people in crucial situations, and that’s going to be a huge test for us. And the guys are really looking forward to that because that is a barrier that we have to be able to break, and I’m looking forward to it because that tells you a huge sign of who we are and how far we’ve come, and the improvement that we’ve made as a team. Practice yesterday was really spirited because they believe in that, and they understand that, and they want to show the world that, listen, there’s not too many ‘72 Dolphins running around this League where you can go undefeated, but there are teams that can take an ‘L’ and come right back and be the same team they were when they were on the win streak, so what we’re trying to prove.”
On what he sees from Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence and how he has upped his game the last three weeks: “I’ll tell you this, he’s been doing a really good job of getting the ball out of his hands, understanding exactly what the coverage is. And they do a good job schematically of forcing you to show your hand for the most part. And he knows exactly where to go with the ball. And I’ll tell you what, the skill players that they have, they do a good job of not only getting open but just running with the ball after they receive the ball because there’s so many of these shorter passes that he’s getting out that every now and then, you’ll see him try to throw a shot on you so. Man, we have to do a really good job of tackling. We have to do a really good job of getting in this guy’s face and try to take away his first target and make him try to progress throughout the route concept and try to get to his second or third options.”
On making sure the defense is paying attention to pre-snap motions: “Yeah, through pre-snap, motions, condense splits, like all those things, they do good job of that. And that goes to the offensive coordinator and (Jaguars Head Coach Doug) Pederson and what they’ve been doing.”
On what Lions LB James Houston can do to build off his two-sack debut: “Keep learning, keep learning. Thing is, we know that he’s a good pass rusher. There’s a lot of other things that go into it to be a good football player. Here’s the deal – and I know you guys are putting him out to be the next Lawrence Taylor, I got it, but man, this player has skill. He still has a ways to go, and we’re going to make sure we protect him from himself and from all this, everybody out there just trying to do all the hype right now. And that’s our job is to make sure we give him the best chance to be the best football player he can be, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
On how he has seen defenses evolve to contain mobile quarterbacks and how his defensive philosophies have changed: “You know what? And I told our guys this, it’s – because you hear all this talk about all these different mobile quarterbacks, but if you just come in with the same mindset of, man, condensing the pocket, pushing the pocket, that takes care of a lot of that stuff. For the most part, you still have guys trying to run around the edge because they think this is just a speed League and just run around the edge, when for the most part, that’s the easiest block in the world for a tackle to be able to do that because all they’re going to do is run you right past the quarterback. But to be able to play with power first, and when you talk about the evolution, that’s the – man, play with power first and then allow speed to help you in that situation. So, if you can condense that pocket, that takes away a lot of the running of the quarterback. But you’ve also got to push it also, and our guys are trying to do a good job of that. And they’re trying to understand that because everybody comes from the background of, ‘I have to run around the edge.’ And that’s one thing we’re trying to help with (Lions LB James) Houston in that situation, and he’s understanding that because when you saw his second sack, that’s exactly what he did, right? And then he got off him and made the tackle.”
On how tough it is to contain the Jaguars’ receiving corps: “The thing is they have different types of receivers. They went and got (Jaguars WR Christian) Kirk, who’s more of the shifty, quick twitch slot receiver. Then you have (Jaguars WR) Marvin Jones, who does a really good job catching the 50/50 ball, and then you have the shot with (Jaguars WR) Zay Jones. So, man, they have a track team out there, and the goal with the tight ends with (Jaguars TE Evan) Engram who’s a former receiver and then, I was with (Jaguars TE) Dan Arnold in New Orleans who’s a receiving tight end. So, they have a ton of weapons, and the thing is we have to be ready to match them because there’s going to be some man-to-man situations in this game but also some zone so. We’ve just got to bone up and win our one-on-ones.”
On the importance of staying the same and not faltering after a loss and how it is different than last year in terms of the defense rebounding after a loss: “It is a growing team. Again, I think you guys think that we should be in the Super Bowl with all these new players. I was just talking to our staff. When you look at it, we had two mainstays this year to be honest with you. That was (Lions LB) Alex (Anzalone) and (Lions DL) Alim (McNeill). We basically had a whole new team. You add (Lions DL Aidan Hutchinson) Hutch on the edge, you have (Lions DL Josh) Paschal on the edge, you added (Lions DL Isaiah) Buggs on the inside. On the linebackers, you add (Lions LB Malcolm Rodriguez) Rodrigo. In the back end, (Lions CB Jeff Okudah) Jefe was really a new player for us. You have (Lions CB) Mike Hughes. You have (Lions CB) Will (Harris) now, who’s playing the nickel for us, then you have two new safeties so, man, trying to get that continuity is tough, but that’s the way of the League now. So, we’ve got to do a good job of teaching and making sure our guys understand schematically. So, I guess to answer your question, it’s trying to continue to get our guys to understand that because when you get a new group of guys, man there’s an understanding that comes with that also, and that’s what we’re trying to create now.”
On if the defense has shown growth in resiliency over the course of the season: “I would say that. I would say that. I think the way that we played the last three games, the three-game winning streak, it shows that because we won games when we were on the field, and that’s growth of our young group, so I would agree with you on that.”
On Lions LB Alex Anzalone’s importance as a mainstay from last year: “Alex is a calming storm out there for the guys, and they really, really trust him. He’s going to get you in the right call. There are opportunities where he has to make a call, when you do these hurry-up offenses. For the most part, I can get him a call, but there’s sometimes when he has to make a call, and there’s a call that we have that everyone knows, but he does a really good job of relaying it to everybody. And like I said, they really trust him, and he’s a really good leader, and people lead different ways. He’s not the one that’s going to give you the ‘rah rah’ speech and anything like that, but the way he comes to work every day, the way he operates in the middle of the huddle with those men. They really can look him in his eye to know that he’s – like he’s one of them. And that’s the most important part that Alex brings to the table.”
On how Lions S DeShon Elliott has rebounded after being benched for a game early in the season: “Well, I would say this, and that’s to any guy on this defense. You guys have heard me say this before, man, you’ve got to earn your keep. And this is not a team to where you just play. This is not Pop Warner football. Yeah, he wasn’t doing the things that we needed him to do early on, and we had to make a change, and he came back. And he understands those changes, and he worked on those things that he had to work on. And he’s gotten a lot better. I’ll tell you what, the communication with him and (Lions S) Kerby (Joseph) last week was outstanding. That was the one thing that we really needed to grow on, and that was one thing that we worked on quite a bit in these last four weeks of getting those guys on the same page and make sure you get that communication out, and everybody has to be on the same page, everybody. Everybody’s connected, and he’s done a good job of that in the last couple of weeks, so he’s been doing the things that we need him to do. He’s making a lot of tackles. I mean Kerby is doing a really good job of making plays on the ball, and in this system, it’s meant for the safeties to make plays.” 

December 1, 2022
On if Jaguars WR Jamal Agnew is a good enough returner that they may want to avoid kicking to him: “I don’t know if I would say we don’t have to kick it to him, but I do know that I have a lot of respect for him. I loved him when he was here when I watched him play here. Obviously, when I got here, he was gone or a free agent, didn’t come back here. I think really highly of the guy I would definitely say that as both a punt returner and a kick returner. And I would also say that I feel like he’s starting to play some of his best football. And then I also think that anytime you talk about a good returner play you also got to talk about the core guys that are helping him out, and these guys do a nice job. These guys’ got a competitive roster, a lot of talent over there, they’re well coached, the (Jaguars) head coach (Doug Pederson) I know gives these guys plenty of time on special teams. I obviously worked for him, so he’s going to give them plenty of time and plenty of players and resources. And they do a nice job, so obviously for us it’ll be a big part of the game. We’ve got our hands full with them. I do know that the guys in our room are excited to play though.”
On his relationship with Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson: “Yeah, I’d say it would be hard to have a bad relationship with him. No, I mean it’s great, we won the Super Bowl together. He kept me on board when he came in which he didn’t have to do. Gave me a chance to work for him. He was very supportive of special teams. He put a big emphasis on it, he gave us a lot of time practice-wise, players, whatever we needed he gave us. And then, just a great person, him, his wife, he’s got a couple of kids, his three boys, they’re great guys. And I enjoy their whole family, my family enjoyed their family, great people. I think the world of him as a coach and a person. And I’m definitely grateful for what he’s done for me for sure.”
On if he thinks what Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson is trying to build in Jacksonville is similar to Detroit: “To be honest with you, I’m not trying to avoid the question I’d just say it’s hard for me, I don’t really look at it that way. I know when he came into Philadelphia we were trying to build something. We obviously had a down year the year before and he did a great job rallying the players and obviously does a great job calling offensive plays. He’s just a great guy to be around, I mean he was a backup quarterback obviously for a long time, played in the League for a long time. The players can really connect with him that way like a lot of those backup quarterbacks. I think they have a unique way of being able to rally the whole locker room, everyone kind of likes him, but they’re also kind of ready, they know what’s going on. But likeable, they support the starting quarterback, like you see all that stuff in him.”
On Lions LB James Houston’s first snap on special teams recovering a fumble: “Yeah, we don’t like that play, but we were glad he made it. Yeah, that was good. We didn’t like the fact that the ball came off us, but it was great that he picked it up for sure. I thought he did a good job for us. He played a handful of plays, a little bit of punt return, a little bit of kickoff and for his first time out there obviously his defensive performance I think was probably even better than that. But anyways, done a nice job and we’ll try to keep seeing what we can do with him here.”
On Lions WR Kalif Raymond and his performance in the punt return game this season: “Yeah, I think a – I don’t know, I feel like we may have talked about this, but I’m not positive. But I think sometimes it’s just chances and opportunities. You have to get enough of them and leading up to that point. He really hasn’t had a ton of opportunities for a bunch of returns. And so, anyways he definitely got one in that game and did a great job with it. You could tell – I feel like really the first punt return of the game you could tell he was on a mission to make something happen with the football in his hands. And he really did that on the first one. Obviously, the ball came off him, but – and then the second one same thing. I mean, you could see he was going to catch that ball. Those two gunners were coming down on him, they had two pretty good gunners out there and those guys were coming down on him. You could tell he wasn’t going to fair catch it, and then here he goes. And he obviously did a great job making those first two guys miss and getting away from them. And man, he came wheeling around the corner, he was coming downhill. He was definitely playing with a purpose, so we hope we can continue to build on that.”