Miami Dolphins Transcripts – September 29 – Coordinators and Defensive Position Coaches

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Linebackers Coach Anthony Campanile

(I have a non-Italian food question if it’s okay.) – “I’ll let it slide. All right, yeah. (laughter)”

(LB Kamu Grugier-Hill – certainly he had a splash play last week. He’s a guy who seems to have his role increased by the week. What has he done to earn that playing time?) – “I think he’s just done a very good job in a couple of different facets. I think he’s done a really good job open-field tackling. I think that was evident the other night. I thought he did a good job in that element of the defense for us. He’s got pass rush ability, and like I said earlier last time we had talked in the summer, he’s just got a pretty diverse skillset. He has some coverage ability. Tough guy and has some pass rush ability. To be honest with you, I love coaching him and he can do a lot of things for us. We’ve been really happy with him.”

(We just Defensive Line Coach Marion Hobby on talking about LB Jerome Baker’s work calling out plays and helping communicate the defense. Now that you’ve been in the meeting room with him for a few months and three regular season games now, and being around him every day, what can you say about the way he approaches the film study and the way he communicates what he sees on tape to the rest of the guys in that room?) – “’Bake’ (Jerome Baker) is a very cerebral guy. Very high football IQ. I think he sees things pretty well. I think he’s done a very good job communicating through the summer and through the beginning of the season, so in that room – honestly it’s a great room to be in because there’s a lot of dialogue and the players are always asking good questions, giving good insight. And that’s fun to watch, the guys communicate with each other. Whether that’s Kyle (Van Noy), Elandon (Roberts), ‘Bake,’ Kamu (Grugier-Hill), Calvin Munson, Sam Eguavoen; everybody kind of contributes to that conversation and ‘Bake’ is just another one of those guys who I think does a very good job of that. I think Elandon Roberts does a great job of that, too.”

(I wanted to ask you about LB Andrew Van Ginkel. What is it about his skillset and his physical attributes that lend him as maybe turning into a pretty effective pass rusher?) – “He’s a worker bee. He works at it. Works at his craft every day. Always trying to do extra. Another guy who I think has a very good knowledge. He’s up in this facility as much as he can be and he has some really good length and he’s got toughness. He’s got pride. I think those things are essential for any football player, and I don’t mean them as blanket statements. I think he does possess those qualities and that’s why he’s been able to develop and made himself a better player. I think he’s playing off the guys he’s on the field with pretty well.”

(In two of the three games, LB Kyle Van Noy has played the majority of the game but not all of the game. Is that because A) you want to conserve his energy because he’s rushing the passer so much? Is it B) you have other linebackers you want to play? A combination of both or neither?) – “I think it’s always a combination you’re trying to get. We feel good about the guys we have in the room and guys are capable of doing a bunch of different things, so it’s also how the game is going each week. How much he’s pass rushing? How much he’s playing off the ball throughout the course of the game? So I think there’s a lot of factors involved in that, but he’s in tremendous shape. He’s another guy who takes a ton of pride in being in great shape, so it’s never been for ‘hey, I’m gassed.’ You know what I mean? It’s really just more so cycling guys in and that’s part of the rotation.”

(What do you see as the role of the linebackers in containing Seahawks QB Russell Wilson? What do you tell your guys as far as the most important things they need to do to make sure he’s not running all over the field?) – “I think that’s a team effort every week, whoever plays against Russell Wilson. I think he’s a great player and that’s one of his great abilities is to extend plays and make plays down the field with his arm, and keeping those situations alive with his feet. So I think he’s – we have a ton of respect for him as a football player. I think he’s done a great job of that and that’s really just kind of game plan specific in terms of what you’re going to do, what you’re planning in order to keep the guy contained, I would say.”

(You know what time it is. How are you doing today? All right, give it to me. I need your best ingredients for a cold cut sandwich. What was the best one you ever had? Where did you get it? Tell me the best ingredients that go into it.) – “Oh, that’s a tough question because my buddy used to own a great place in Jersey and then the cold cut sandwich is a little tough because you could go to Fiore’s in Hoboken and get the roast beef mozzarella with the hot peppers on a Thursday, and it would probably just change your life. You’re going to have some different feelings about the world after you have that sandwich. That’ll really make an impact on you for the rest of your life. That’s a great one. Then there’s another great place up on Arthur Avenue – one of my favorite places – that’s up my dad’s old neighborhood. So you’ve got to go a little prosciutto, mozzarella and then the roasted red peppers with some balsamic on the top. That’s phenomenal. That’s the Calabria Pork Store. That’s a great place up there.”

(That sounds amazing.) – “Yeah, it is amazing. You just ruined my day, honestly, because I wish I could go get one of those right now. But you know, whatever. (laughter) I’ll bear it. I found a couple good spots down here, though. There’s a lot of Northeast transplants, so it’s been good. I’ve been lucky. I’ve been lucky.”

(Hopefully you can Uber Eats or Door Dash something into the building.) – “No question. Forget it. I was at the Italian market on Saturday. No question.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Defensive Line Coach Marion Hobby

(A guy as physically imposing and big as DT Raekwon Davis you would hope that at some point he’d become a dominant run stopper. Can that quality be taught to someone of that size at all? What can be done to get to that level? I know we’re talking only three games into an NFL career so there can’t be unrealistic expectations yet, but…) – “But? (laughter)”

(But can that be done?) – “I think he’s getting better each game. He’s getting better every day in practice. He is a big pretty specimen, that’s for sure. I think he’s getting better. He’s very conscientious about his game, so I think eventually he’s going to be a really good football player. But let’s not make him Reggie White just yet. (laughter)”

(From appearances, from what we saw, DE Emmanuel Ogbah and DE Shaq Lawson didn’t necessarily have great opener at New England, but have been factors in the last two games. What have you seen from them in terms of them picking up their play?) – “We talked about the very first game and we ask them to grade themselves a lot of the times before we ever grade them. You can be your worst critic. Your worst critic sometimes comes from inside-out. I don’t think they were happy with the way they played the first game of the year and I think they took some pride in it and decided they’ve got to play better. It sure helped us out.”

(I wanted to ask you about, I know LB Jerome Baker is a linebacker, but he spends plenty of time up on the line of scrimmage as a pass rusher. I just want to ask how involved you are in working on his pass rush game and what you’ve seen from him in that area.) – “I think everybody knows that (Jerome) Baker’s been a playmaker around here for a long time and when the offensive linemen see Baker on the line of scrimmage, they all know he can really run. So a lot of times he’s stretching the offensive linemen out and getting better every day with his pass rush. Sometimes he’s calling the plays for us, so he’s like a coach on the field for us in those situations. But his speed is evident in those situations as a pass rusher and a penetrator.”

(DT Zach Sieler got himself a lot of playing time against the Jaguars on Thursday night and Head Coach Brian Flores told us that he basically earned the playing time by the way he was playing. What specifically was he doing well?) – “Everybody talks about how big Raekwon (Davis). Zach (Sieler) is a pretty big man himself. I’m not short or anything, but he’s a 6-6, 315-pound guy who plays with an outstanding motor. His motor never stops running. He gives such a great effort. His technique and stuff – he’s really active in there. He did earn his playing time. He kind of jumps out at you on game day.”

(What is the downside to a defensive tackle rotation? Educate me here.) – “What’s the downside to it?”

(Yes. I mean less snaps for everybody. Maybe higher level of play from everybody?) – “I think that’s the key. We talk about it early in the year is trying to keep those big boys as fresh as possible and getting them rotated in and those guys being honest enough to say, ‘hey, I’m a little bit tired. Get another guy in here.’ So you’re just keeping fresh legs coming in the game – great energy coming in – I think is an advantage on both ends. It’s kind of the happy medium. You want to have your best ones on the field in certain situations, but then also sometimes your best one is the freshest one.”

(DT Christian Wilkins had the really big first game where he really stood out on a lot of “splash plays.” We haven’t seen those the past two games, but how would you evaluate how he did in those two games?) – “I definitely know he didn’t get all the splash plays that he had in the New England, but I think he played well in the last two. Sometimes – I think ‘Coach Flo’ (Head Coach Brian Flores) said it the best: sometimes you don’t make the splash plays and you still have a good game. And it’s kind of what’s your assignment? What are we asking you to do? Sometimes the defensive tackles – they can get their hands on a lot of tackles and in some games they cannot because they’re running away from them or just the opportunities didn’t go their way. So sometimes as a coach, we have to grade them on what did they do in the system compared to the production because if not, those players, all they want is production and we’ve got to calm them down sometimes and say, ‘hey man, take it on two, being where you’re supposed to be is just as important as you knocking on batted balls or tackles for loss.’ So we’ve been pleased with the way he’s played.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Defensive Backs Coach Gerald Alexander

(I wanted to ask you in terms of S Bobby McCain’s transition to safety, how would you assess that that’s going and what do you look for from an impactful free safety?) – “I think Bobby’s (McCain) transition to safety is actually going great. One thing about that position and that responsibility that we put him in; a lot of the great things that Bobby does for us as a free safety sometimes isn’t represented on the stat sheet. So in that respect, I think Bobby has done a great job in regards to what we ask him to do and that’s communicating first and foremost – making sure that all 10 guys in front of him have the understanding of what the responsibilities are and what the adjustments are, what the call is. Being a leader and playing with a passion that he needs to play that also will generate the energy that his teammates need to play with as well. Being able to do that in the role that he’s in, I thought he’s done a great job. I think he’s done a great job so far and those opportunities to make splash plays within our defense are going to present itself where he’s going to be able to make those plays when the opportunities come.”

(I’m curious if a player like LB Jerome Baker at the linebacker spot and all the athletic ability that he has and his ability to kind of get depth on those drops into the hook zone. Does having a linebacker like that, does that change the way you do things or does it help your group in coverage at all?) – “I think it helps us in coverage with guys like ‘Bake’ (Jerome Baker) who has the athleticism to get the depth in zone coverage and have the speed to really break down on check downs and be able to make open-field tackles as well as be able to do some things athletically when we want to play some man-to-man and matching up on certain guys. I think that that’s a weapon for us defensively, being able to utilize his skillset.”

(There’s obviously a lot to like about S Brandon Jones in terms of intelligence, speed, tackling ability, how he prepares. If you look at numbers from a metrics side – Pro Football Focus – it indicates that he’s … a very high percentage of balls thrown in his coverage area – last year at Texas, this year so far. Where is he in his coverage skills and is that something that a player with his athletic ability can improve on substantially?) – “I think that’s a thing that he can definitely continue to improve on. I don’t really get the numbers part of the Focus Football or whatever; but just looking at the things on tape, there’s a lot of things that he can continue to do better in his development, whether it be in man coverage from a technical standpoint and being able to win with leverage or also from a zone perspective of really being able to understand the threats and having the vision to break on the quarterback. So regardless of what he did in his past as far as Texas is concerned, I think that he’s a developing player that has the tools and he has a great skillset that we’re continuing to build on a day-to-day (basis).”

(Seahawks WR DK Metcalf is averaging an absurd 25 yards a catch over 11-12 yards a target. How do you handle that A; and B, is it as simple as saying, “Hey, CB Xavien Howard go cover that guy for 70 snaps?”) – “For one, this isn’t anything that surprises me. I actually saw DK (Metcalf) at Ole Miss when I was at Cal my first year there, so him doing what he’s doing now is not a surprise to me at all. But definitely for us defensively, we have to be aware of that. Not only DK and his vertical presence out there on the field; sometimes it’s not just as easy as saying, ‘X’ (Xavien Howard) go cover him. There’s a lot of things that go beyond that because I think Tyler Lockett also needs attention as far as the coverage is concerned. They have weapons. They have guys like that. They obviously have a great guy who is engineering the offense with Russell Wilson, so we have to be smart with what we’re doing coverage-wise and I think first and foremost, for us to be effective in the pass game, we have to stop the run. We have to at least not allow the run game to get going, that also kind of generates their play-action package. And then when it is time for Russell Wilson to drop back and throw the ball, we’ve got to do a good job in coverage just kind of mixing in some of the calls.”

(I wanted to ask you, how did your players take to Head Coach Brian Flores saying as a press team and as a Cover 1 team, we have to cover better? I imagine you have a prideful group. How did they kind of take to their performances the first two weeks and then going into this week?) – “I don’t think Coach Flores saying that let us know that we need to do that better. I think that we look at our body of work and we understand the things that happen out there on the field and we evaluate it, and we try to continue to get better. Regardless of the result, if it was good or bad, we always have to get better. We have to get back in the lab. There’s so many different things that we need to do even when the situation doesn’t present itself as a ball that got completed. Something maybe happened at the line of scrimmage or happened in coverage where it may not necessarily have generated a negative play for us, but we have to continue to get better. And also, we look at that obviously as a challenge. We’re challenged to be able to play man-to-man and when that is something that is observed as something that has not been as successful as we would like, we have to just continue to get better.”

(You mentioned Seahawks TE Tyler Lockett earlier and he did jump off the tape when watching the last game, which I did. What are some of the coaching points when you face a player with Lockett’s particular skillset in the slot?) – “I think you have to have awareness of where is. A guy like that – they utilize his skillset and his vertical speed and really put him really everywhere. He can line up on the outside and do some things on the inside. He can really stretch a defense. So as a secondary, we have to be aware of where he is and if that’s coverage where we have the opportunity to get hands on him in the slot or obviously on the outside, and we have to make sure that we definitely have depth to the defense and zone coverage and even some single-high stuff. He has the ability to do some stuff not just vertically. They get him things on crossing routes and catch-and-run situations, and those are the opportunities where we are playing zones and we’re dropping off and staying back for the intermediate stuff. We have to have vision to break on the quarterback and be able to swarm him and be able to leverage him and be able to get him down on the ground and not allow those check downs to become rewards for the offense where they go for 12-15 yards when they were really designed to get tackled at five or six. So for us, we’ve just got to be aware of all those threats, whether it be Tyler Lockett who does a good job for them, DK (Metcalf), obviously the backfield – the backs. We know and accept the challenge that we have coming in on Sunday and through preparation, we hope we’re ready.”

(What did you see out of CB Noah Igbinoghene and his ability to bounce back this past week?) – “That’s no surprise. I think Noah (Igbinoghene) is a competitor. We knew that as his evaluation throughout the draft process. We know that this is a guy who again is a developing player, but he’s a competitor. You’re going to have days. There’s not a guy in the league in his career that hasn’t had a rough day at the office. So looking at it, evaluating it, figuring out what we can do to continue to get better throughout the week and accepting the challenge of a new opponent, and also looking at the things that we can do to get better throughout the week day-to-day, allowed him to have what is I guess a ‘bounce back day.’ But regardless of what the result of Jacksonville was for him individually, we’ve got to use this week to go back to work. This is a new opponent, a new challenge, a new thing that’s going to be presented to him in his rookie year. And we knew that. It’s no surprise, just for the mentality of the kid that we knew we were getting.”

(I wanted to ask you about the nickel position. We’ve seen three different guys in there three different games. Is that matchup-based? Is that practice performance-based? Is it just you trying to find the right mix? What’s going on at that position? Is it a weekly battle?) – “I think it’s a little bit of all of the above. I think we’ve kind of had a conversation of how valuable that position is and a lot of it is based on game plan. It might be based on matchup. It might be based on the matchup in the slot or whatever our defensive plan is for the given week. So of course, ideally you want a guy who’s kind of strong-arming the position and that’s your guy; but I think we have a couple of different guys with a couple of different skillsets that we can be a little bit more versatile with how we use those guys in that position based on whatever the game plan is and whatever the opponent is that we’re facing. That’s kind of the plan for the nickel position as of right now until noted otherwise.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Outside Linebackers Coach Austin Clark

(What did you like about LB Kyle Van Noy this past week? It seemed like almost every play he really brought the juice and the energy. Even on plays where it wasn’t him directly making an impact, he seemed very vocal on the field.) – “Kyle, his versatility is something that makes him really special and I think he played hard as hell. I think he elevated everybody’s game around him this week. It helped his production and he’s been doing a great job.”

(I wanted to ask you about LB Andrew Van Ginkel’s arsenal. He’s got the spin move, which can be pretty effective; but I noticed on the sack the last game – the critical sack – he just kind of used the power rush on the tackle. Do you think that maybe guys, because he looks kind of skinny, but maybe he’s stronger than he looks?) – “I think Van Ginkel put an emphasis this offseason on getting stronger and I think the way he uses speed, uses some of his finesse moves, uses his counters and then he mixed in a power move there late and it paid dividends for him. He’s been working his ass off and I think last week it showed up for him in the game, and that was good to see.”

(Now it’s three games into you coaching career here. How is it going for you?) – “It’s been alright so far. Obviously we’re on to a new week here and we’ve got Seattle to focus on, so I’m excited about them and excited about the challenge for our guys. I’m ready to go.”

(Correct me if I’m wrong, but one of the key parts of your job is figuring out ways to help your players figure out ways to create pressure on the opposing quarterback, right? That’s like a critical part of your role here right?) – “I wouldn’t say me specifically, I’d say it’s a collective effort. My role is to help everybody along the front and do anything I can there.”

(What did you notice the group did that enabled more pressure in the Jags game than previous games?) – “I would say a couple of different things. No. 1, it’s easier to rush the passer when you have a big lead towards the end of the game there. I think that made it easier. We’ve played some pretty good defense early on. We earned those opportunities where they are not in those 50/50 run-pass situations or stuff like that. I think to be honest with you, the players’ effort in that game compared to some of the other games I thought was much better. And then the guys getting comfortable playing with each other rushing. (Kyle) Van Noy getting comfortable with Shaq (Lawson) and (Emmanuel) Ogbah and guys like Zach Seiler, he really elevated his game, which I think helped the pass rush tremendously, any time you can get the middle push to help out your edge players. I think it’s always a collective, collaborative effort week-to-week and game plan wise, and I thought the players did a good job executing it.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Special Teams Coordinator Danny Crossman

(When are we going to see a trick play? It’s been three weeks. I’m ready to see some magic out there.) – “(laughter) Every week it depends on how the game’s going. We’ll see what happens in the future. We keep putting ourselves in good positions; but at some point, we’ll see what the future holds.”

(We talked about this a little bit last time, but can you walk us through your thoughts on how kick returns are becoming more rare and rare in today’s NFL game with them moving up the yardage? We spoke to WR Jakeem Grant yesterday and he sent a challenge to all kickers to let him return one and not to kick it nine yards deep deep.) – “(laughter) I think it’s a combination of things. Obviously the kickers are more powerful; they are stronger. I think especially earlier in the year, you see a much higher number of touchbacks with the heat, with the humidity or what have you based on where you’re playing around the league. I think some other teams are maybe just getting a little bit more comfortable with exactly who you have with your coverage units without having played preseason games. Just getting a little bit better of an idea of exactly who you have and what you have. Then you couple that with the amount of injuries you’ve seen around the league. People forget that it may not be the special teams player that’s injured, but when you lose an offensive and defensive player, the domino effect happens and now all of a sudden you lose two or three guys offensively or defensively and if they’re not linemen, those guys are playing roles in the kicking game. Now all of a sudden you have two or three more guys having to play offense and defense, so you have to protect those guys a little bit. I think like always, as the season goes on and the weather cools down and the ball doesn’t travel as far, I think you’ll see more returns as the season goes on.”

(Obviously just three games, but who are a few players who have done well on the coverage teams?) – “I think Sam Eguavoen has done a nice job. I think we’ve got to be more consistent as a whole. I think Andrew Van Ginkel has shown up. I think just overall, when you look at the whole unit, we just have to be more consistent in everything we do, and that’s going to come with time. I think if you talk to any coach, no matter what phase it is, getting that consistency and that common where we’re not as much playing the play but we’re playing the scheme, then we’ll be in better shape.”

(Football Outsiders has you ranked as the No. 2 special teams unit in the league and the No. 1 is Seattle. Your thoughts on the matchup this weekend of maybe the two best special teams in the league?) – “I think they do a really nice job. When you look at their special teams, I think it is a small fraction of what they are as a team and how they play the game. They play fast, they play physical they are aggressive and they have a good nucleus of players. I think anytime you talk about playing well in the kicking game, it always starts with your specialists. I think obviously the punter is having an outstanding year and has the ability to flip the field when they’ve been stalled or backed up, and put them in good field position going forward. They’ve only had to kick one field goal because of how they are playing offensively; but then Jason (Myers) has done a nice job with his kickoffs. They’ve got two quality return players. The biggest thing is they have a nice nucleus of veteran and young core players. When you put that all together, it gives you an opportunity for success. They are well coached, they are aggressive and it’s going to be a heck of a challenge.”

(Following up on that, I wanted to ask you about P Matt Haack and the season he’s having. He has 12 punts and he’s already got five inside the 20. What are you seeing out of him? I’m curious, do you compare him to other punter around the league? Where do you see him ranking?) – “To answer your second question, I don’t really compare guys because the situation is the biggest thing that puts a lot of those things into focus. We’ve done a nice job moving the ball, where we’ve been punting the football in terms of location, field positionally, gives you more opportunities for those plus-50 balls. Then the down and distance you’re punting the football in has a little bit of a determining factor of what type of looks you get. It’s hard to compare one thing to the next because there are so many things that are involved with what you end up with in terms of down and distance and field position based on what punt you’re able to get and what looks you’re getting from the return/defensive stay looks.”

(Your top two most played special teams players are S Kavon Frazier and LB Kamu Grugier-Hill at No. 2. I want to ask you about Kamu. How much did know about him before he signed here, and what can you tell us about him as a person? We don’t know him particularly well. Can you see his role expanding? It looks like he’s playing more on defense. Do you worry about the number of snaps if he plays a ton on defense and on special teams?) – “That’s always a concern, to find that balance and that mix; but I obviously knew a lot about Kamu before he came here. He was a very productive player in Philadelphia. High energy. No moment is too big for him. Wants to be in there and wants to make the play in the critical situation. We’re very happy with the addition of Kamu, and we’re very happy with how he’s playing. Hopefully you’re going to see him continue to improve and play better as the season goes on. I’m glad he’s on our football team.”

(How important is WR Mack Hollins to your unit and how has he played?) – “Very important. Like all of those guys, any of those guys you see playing three or four phases, they are critical to what we’re doing. They are the catalysts, they are the nucleus, they are the leaders of our group. That whole group of players, when you see guys playing three or four phases for us, we have a high degree of trust in them and we need a high degree of performance from those players.”   

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey

(These network studio shows on ESPN, NFL Network, have a lot of time to kill so they were all talking in recent days on whether QB Tua Tagovailoa should be playing. One former player, Ryan Clark, the former safety, made the point that even though QB Ryan Fitzpatrick should be the starter at this point, there should be a package for Tua to get him game experience just in case Ryan goes down, so he’s not thrown in first time and taking an NFL snap. Have you guys discussed that or do you believe a package for Tua every game would be disruptive to your offense?) – “I think that that’s a question for (Head) Coach (Brian) Flores. He talks about all personnel decisions and things that we are thinking and trying to get done during the course of the season.”

(I know that your unit matches up against the opposing team’s defense. I get that. But when the opposing team’s offense is averaging 37 points a game, do you feel like there is any since of we have to produce this game maybe more so than other games because they are going to score a lot of points and we need to do the same?) – “That would be assuming that they are going to score a lot of points against our defense. I think our offense has a lot of confidence in our defense. But the objective every week is to score one more point (than the other team). I don’t think we feel any more pressure one week than the next week. We don’t think about that. We think about scoring every drive. That’s what we think about. Until we accomplish that, we haven’t arrived. Our mindset is we need to score every drive.”

(What is the challenge for the offensive coordinator? What is the challenge like with TE Mike Gesicki trying to make the most of the very interesting combination of tools that he has?) – “You want to create situations where he has creases in zones when it’s zone defense, and then you want to get him in a position where he can win one-on-ones because most of the time he is going to line up against a strong safety or a linebacker. So you’re trying to create as many positions or places for him to line up and execute the things he does best. That is a challenge week to week because defenses are different. We have to go out and see how the defense is playing and then get it situated. Some weeks it works out and some weeks it doesn’t.”

(Have you seen enough from T Austin Jackson and G Solomon Kindley – three games of tape now – to say you know what, I know these guys are going to be good NFL players; in fact, I think they have what it takes to be in the NFL for a long time?) – “Well, obviously those two have played pretty well thus far. They’ve got a lot to learn. To say a guy is going to be a player for a long time, I wish I had that ability. I’d make a lot of money; but I don’t have that ability. They are playing well right now. They need to continue to improve, which they can. They do have that ability though. They do have the ability to become a very good player before it’s over with.”

(I wanted to ask about the other rookie offensive lineman, G/T Robert Hunt. It seems like since the first snap of practice, we got to see that Kindley was the starter and Hunt was coming off the bench. How would you assess how he’s developed since then and what does he need to do to get on the field?) – “Hunt has done a good job. He really has. He’s a good athlete. He’s a strong player. He’s a very strong man. He’s got some more learning to do, which they all do; but he especially has some more learning to do. To learn the speed of the game, we’re trying to work him in at goal line and get him some snaps and get him some plays, so that he knows better the speed of the game and what it’s going to take to play there. He’s another good athlete. The thing right now is the continuity and the communication with our offensive line has been pretty good. We’re trying to keep that going.”

(I wanted to ask you about RB Myles Gaskin. At what point in training camp or maybe before – I don’t know – at what point did he start to emerge as a guy who was going to be more or less a go-to back for you?) – “I’m not sure we had in mind who was going to do what going into training camp. The only guy we had any experience with – Eric Studesville, our running backs coach, knew Myles and thought he was going to be a good player. But we just kind of let it work itself out during the course of training camp the first couple of weeks. He’s been the most productive. The most productive guys play the most right now. That’s just the way it is. Whether that continues, we’ll see; but that’s the way it’s proven to be thus far.”

(I wanted to ask you, QB Tua Tagovailoa’s stop in college, he dealt with three different offensive coordinators. I want to know, his mastery of your offense, where do you think it is right now? And are there any principles or any schemes or anything that you incorporate in your offense that maybe resembles something that he’s used to seeing at Alabama?) – “There have been a few times where he said, ‘we did something similar to that.’ But every offense is unique and really it’s a language and it’s a learning process that he is going through. The great thing is he gets to sit there and listen to one of what I think is the greatest minds in football and that’s ‘Fitz’ (Ryan Fitzpatrick). He gets to listen to him talk about defenses, talk about protections, talk about all of that football stuff that you don’t really get in college. It’s a different game here than it was in college and he’s picked it up very well thus far; but he’s still got some more to learn, which I think he will tell you the same thing.”

(Do you think either RB/WR Malcolm Perry or WR Lynn Bowden Jr. are able to help you at this time or is there still too much for them to learn and polish to help you yet?) – “They both look like they are going to be pretty good football players. You would like to get them on the field and get them involved; but the guys we’ve got on the field right now are being fairly productive. You’d have to force something to make that happen and probably before we get through with the season, we’re going to have to count on one of those guys to come in and do something for us. I think that them just learning – Lynn hasn’t been here very long and Malcolm is converting to wide receiver, so they both have a lot of things to learn yet about the game. I think they have a chance to be good players; but when they get involved, I couldn’t give you a timetable on that.”

(Thursday went well. What are some of the things you took away, that you kind of learned, from Thursday?) – “I leaned this, and I thought this all along but I thought the players got a better sense of confidence of what we are capable of. That’s what I want them to come out of that game with, is ‘this is what we are capable of, guys.’ If we go execute and we do little things, we’re capable of putting points on the board and going down there three straight times. There is no rule against that. You can do that. Let’s keep that confidence level and prepare for this week and get ready to go for the next one.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Defensive Coordinator Josh Boyer

(Just wanted to ask you – I’m doing something on S Bobby McCain. What more can you get out of him and out of that position this year? He’s going to start his 12th game at safety. What do you expect out of that position in this defense?) – “We ask Bobby (McCain) to do a number of different things. I would say one, his leadership that he brings to the defense. I would say he’s a good communicator. He’s able to, I would say, pre-snap make sure that we’re aligned correctly, and I would say his reads and breaks based on what we ask him to do in the deep part of the field I think have been good. He had a big pass breakup for us a week ago. Bobby’s been playing really good football and like everybody, we’re hoping that we continue to improve. Really, the month of September in the NFL is really for improvement, and all of us are working hard to do that.”

(So last week obviously the result was different on the surface. Take us below the surface. What was different that made that defense look better and play better?) – “I think it starts with a team win. I think all three phases, we were able to play complementary football. We had good field position. We were able to win the time of possession, so the offense was moving the ball. They were scoring. We were able to get off the field and get some stops, get some turnovers. So it was a good team win. I thought the players played hard, so obviously the results were a little bit better for us.”

(Looking ahead to this weekend, what type of challenge does Seahawks QB Russell Wilson present and just what’s the kind of message to the defensive unit throughout this week?) – “I would say he presents an immense challenge, and he seems to be getting better each year, which is hard to do because he’s played at a high level for a long time. He’s very good at reading defenses. He’s very good at making all the throws. He’s very good at extending plays and making things happen that way, whether he runs or throws. It’s a huge challenge and he’s got a good cast around him. He’s got a solid o-line. He’s got a good group of skill players – the receivers, the tight ends, his backs – and then I think Coach Schottenheimer (Seahawks Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer) does a good job of mixing his play calls, and he can definitely dial up some calls against certain fronts, certain coverages that I think it’s all rolling for them, which obviously they’ve produced a lot of points in these first three weeks of the season.”

(I wanted to ask you about your linebackers. Obviously LB Jerome Baker and LB Kyle Van Noy are getting a ton of snaps. I don’t know if you consider DE Shaq Lawson a linebacker or a defensive end as an edge defender; but after those three you played a pretty good rotation of LB Elandon Roberts, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill and LB Andrew Van Ginkel. Based on what you’ve seen in film, could you just kind of give us your mindset of who does what well, how you decide a rotation with those three guys and are some stronger against the run than pass?) – “I think it starts with one, what do they do well individually? Two, what are we trying to structurally do from week to week? And then I think the play time, obviously if a guy’s making the most of his opportunities and we feel like it’s a good position to put him in, those will continue. If we feel like it’s a certain set or a certain situation that maybe somebody else is better, then that’s what we go with on that. I think all of those guys have had an important role for us. All of them will continue to have a role for us and again, like we’re asking of everybody, is to keep improving and we need to get better.”

(As a play-caller – it must having Patriots QB Cam Newton and Bills QB Josh Allen then Seahawks QB Russell Wilson in your first month – that must suck. How are you kind of preparing for this? Did you look at the month of September in your schedule and were like, ‘man, I have a really tough schedule coming up?’ Did you try to piece it all together like having a plan before the month started of each guy or are you taking this week by week and how do you take this challenge as a play-caller this week?) – “I would say for me individually, it starts with the same thing that we ask our players to do. You just try to take the day that’s at hand and try to get the most work and improvement that I can in that day. Obviously we look at the schedule. Obviously we go through teams in the offseason of what you think it could be, what it might be and again like I said, really, September is for improvement. I start with myself. I need to continue to get better. Our coaching staff – those guys are working hard to continue to get better. Our players – those guys are working hard. Different opponents, they bring up different challenges. I think it’s hard in this league to win on a week-to-week basis. So all those things you take into consideration, but I think it all starts with your work, your effort and your ability to improve over time because things don’t stay the same. They either get better or they get worse. So I think all of our effort and energy and time is at the day at hand. This week it happens to be Seattle, so that’s where our time and energy are spent. Then next week it’ll be somebody else.”

(I want to go back to a couple questions ago referring to LB Jerome Baker. He’s played well in 177 snaps this year – roughly 97 percent of the reps. He’s one of two guys that has over 90 percent of the snaps on the defense. I’m curious what is the common thread between those types of players that can play that much and what does Jerome do in your opinion to warrant that many reps?) – “I would say the first thing is he’s in good physical condition. So he’s able to take as many reps as we can give him, and he’s been productive for us. He works hard. He’s been all over the field. We ask him and he’s got the mental capacity that he can handle multiple roles, so that with the physical condition, we think we’re putting him in positions to succeed and he’s shown the ability to make plays. So that’s all a culmination of him being out there as much as he is.”

(What did you learn from those first couple of games as far as what went right and what went wrong in your ability to contain mobile quarterbacks? What did you learn from those games that you can apply to the challenge that Seahawks QB Russell Wilson presents?) – “I think you always go back and no matter what the game is, whether it’s the run game, mobile quarterback, pass game; you’re always evaluating what you’re doing. You’re evaluating your players and are we putting them in the right position. I think there’s definitely things that have come up that we’ve learned that some things that we can do and do well. And we’ll continue to roll doing those, and then there’s other things that haven’t worked out so great, and then obviously we’re going to try to stay away from those. But I think you’re always self-evaluating, always looking at things big picture of how you improve and how you get better. Instead of trying to beat your head against the wall and be like, ‘well this is the way it is and this is what it’s going to be,’ I think for us, we’re pretty fluid and we’ll be able to adapt week-to-week. I think again, like I said, a lot of it starts with me that I need to be better, and we’ll ask the players to be better. We’ll ask our coaches to be better and to continue to improve so that we put a pretty good product out there on the field on Sundays.”

(I wanted to ask you about CB Noah Igbinoghene. He seemed to tackle well on Thursday. He bounced back overall it seemed pretty well from a tough game the week before. What did you see from Igbinoghene in terms of bouncing back? The one play also if I can just ask, was that just a mental error when Jaguars WR Chris Conley got behind him? Did he think he safety help on that play?) – “Again, structurally there’s some things that happened and I’ll probably never talk about specific plays or we’re doing this or we’re doing that. I just – I think things sometimes can put you at a competitive disadvantage if you talk about scheme that way. But as far as Noah (Igbinoghene), he’s a mentally tough kid and we knew that when we drafted him. I would say I think the expectation was all of our guys – not just Noah, but everybody – all of our guys that (General Manager) Chris (Grier) and ‘Flo’ (Head Coach Brian Flores) have brought in here are physically and mentally tough kids, and they’re going to be able to handle adversity and bounce back. That’s kind of the expectation and good, bad or indifferent, we don’t dwell a lot on the past. We’ll study from it. We don’t dwell a lot on it. We try to get better from it and then move forward because another game is coming. So that’s kind of how we approach it. Hopefully that answers your question there.”

(I wanted to know, because everybody talks about Head Coach Brian Flores and this coaching staff – if you perform well in practice you’ll play or they’ll find a role for you that week. What does performing well look like to you guys?) – “I would say first of all, it probably goes back to an assignment thing. You can handle your assignments, alignment, all that; and then actually the execution of practice which is something that I know – I’ll speak for myself personally – I believe practice execution becomes game reality. So if you’re able to execute in practice, we should be able to go out there and execute in the game. I know as coaches we try to make it as tough as we possibly can in practice, so it’s actually a little bit easier in the game from situation to situation. That’s the thought. That’s the process behind it. So if guys perform well and they make the most of their opportunities in practice and in the game, it leads to more opportunities.”

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