Good Morning. How are y’all doing? Everyone good? We’re at the point in training camp we’ve been going against each other for a couple weeks. It’s nice to have a game. These games are critical for us in terms of seeing where our guys are. The biggest thing, obviously, is evaluating offensive players for me, for us as an offensive staff. I think, based on the way we practiced, that we have a lot of guys that have improved and are better now than they were two weeks ago. It’s been very, very competitive and our defense has given us a lot of different looks. I think our defense front is playing awfully well so they’ve tested a lot of our younger players, which has been outstanding. But like I said, it’s time for us to go play a game.
Q: What are you most interested in seeing in a game situation?
A: I always tell our guys, we’ve had the two night practices and it’s obvious if you’re in the stands or on the sidelines that the tempo, it goes up a little bit. And some guys rise to that and some guys struggle with it. Well in the game, the tempo goes way up and I don’t care if it’s the first quarter or the fourth quarter, guys have the ability or they have an opportunity to show if they’re going to respond to that or if they struggle with it. And that’s the thing you’re looking for. You want the things I said, we’ve shown improvement. You want those things to show up in a game.
Q: What was your philosophy as a head coach or now as an offensive coordinator about the preseason?
A: Anytime you go play, you want to win. And it’s the way we’ve all been brought up in sports. You go play, you want to win. I always tell our guys, “We’re not getting you ready to go play a game, we’re getting you ready to go win it.” Now there’s things that happen in a pre-season that can affect you one way or the other. So what we talk about with our guys is win you’re one-on-one match-up, win you’re group match-up on offensive line, win you’re match-up in terms of making good decisions, if you’re a quarterback, play winning football. And again, when you’re segmenting it, sometimes you can’t get the kind of rhythm that you would normally get in a game where you get 60 plays.
A: You got to talk to Coach Zimmer about that. But he’s been practicing at an awfully high level, so I’ll leave it at that.
A: Again, we get the next four games to evaluate those guys. But off today’s evaluation, where we’re at, I can see us using both of those guys because they bring different things. Last time we talked, I told you how I felt about Matt (Asiata) and he’s continued to practice at a high level. Jerick (McKinnon) is doing a nice job. I think you can all see him when he gets the ball out in space he can really go and he has done a good job running the ball inside. We’re just getting them all ready. Again, I was telling them, “If a guy can make a play, we’ll get you in the game and give you the opportunity to do it.”
Q: It seems like
A: I just have a different perspective than all of you and it’s not right or wrong, it’s because I look at it differently. We are doing a lot of things. There’s things we’re doing with Teddy that we would never call in a game. We’re trying to find out where he’s at in terms of what he can do. I think he’s playing at an awfully high level. Those two guys have, in competitive situations, have both had over 150 passes, each of them. That’s 300. That’s over half a season. They’ve each thrown three interceptions. One of them, for each guy, was a bad quarterback decision. One of them, for each guy, was a receiver either fell down or ran a poor route. And one of them, I thought, was a great play. So, if you throw three interceptions in 150 attempts, you’re playing at a high level. Now there’s no full speed rush. It’s not like a game, but I’m excited about what Teddy (Bridgewater) is doing. I’m really excited about how Matt (Cassel) is playing. We’re not going to win every play. If we had not thrown interceptions, you guys would be wanting to know what’s wrong with the defense and why aren’t we intercepting any balls. It’s us against a pretty good defense right now. I think they’re getting better and it’s been extremely competitive.
Q: What would you want to see out of each of the quarterbacks in the first preseason game?
A: You know in the first time playing particular for Teddy I just want to see him manage a game. He doesn’t have to be sensational, he needs to make good decisions, he needs to protect the ball, you know get our group in and out of the huddle, get us into the right play, get us into the right protection, that’s the biggest thing about managing a game and then you know he is going to make plays, I mean when he has had an opportunity out here he has made plays. He’s made big plays throwing the ball up the field, he has made big plays checking the ball down, so I think for a young guy his heart is going to be pounding, he’s going to have butterflies. I don’t know how many games this is for me but I will too. You know that is why this thing is so much fun and you know this is why you know we go do what we do and the way we do it.
Q: You mentioned Teddy Bridgewater but what would you like to see from the veterans?
A: You know we are going to get however long coach decides the ones are going to go. You know these guys are going to play football and we are still trying to get on the same page within this scheme. I would like to go same thing, it starts with managing the game but then I would like to go see us have good offensive production.
Q: How much do you want to see Teddy Bridgewater whether he starts or not, get some time with the offensive starters to get a better evaluation with that unit?
A: I like what our second offensive line is doing. We need to play Teddy with the first line. We need to mix a lot of players. I think we’re still trying to work that out in terms of exactly how we want to do it. I know Coach Zimmer has a plan in place, and then because he and I have been doing this awhile we’re going to be very flexible with the plan. There will be numbers of plays and we want to see Teddy play. He needs to play to get you know through that first time going out.
Q: What has been your assessment so far of the offensive line?
A: I think Matt (Kalil) probably had his best day yesterday and that is a key for us and missing as much time as he did with his injury, he is probably behind the other guys, but I think he is catching up and I think the other guys across the board are really having pretty good camps.
Q: Over the years what are the pros and cons of calling plays for you from the press box or down on the field or do you ever favor one or the other, or does it matter to you?
A: It’s probably less hectic at the top, that’s the upside of it. You can see things a lot better. When you are on the field you are depending on someone upstairs to help you. When you are on the sideline I think you get a feel for the game and how the game is going, where you are offensively as a team in competing against that defense, you can feel a little better. Now I just flip it and I’m going rely on the people downstairs and if Jeff (Davidson) says we are wearing these guys down we got to go, we can run it now then he is going to relay that to me, and obviously if we are having a tough time with his protection you know he is going to relay those things to me, so it’s still communicating.
Q: As an offensive coordinator have you always been upstairs?
A: I’ve been upstairs.
Q: How often do you look at last year’s offensive numbers and see areas to improve on or do you not even look at them?
A: It’s hard because you can be 14th in the league in offense and the 18th and 19th team is 10 yards a game ahead of you. Some of those numbers that people get caught up in don’t mean a lot. You can be way up in the league in offensive stats and be averaging 100 yards a game in the fourth quarter when you are way behind, so a lot of those number I don’t care about. We need to take care of the football, that’s the number one, that’s the number one factor between winning and losing. We need to protect the football, we need to win that turnover battle each and every week and that’s a team stat, but offensively, obviously, we have a lot to do with that and then we have to play great situational football. We have to play great in the red zone, we have to play great on third down, and as we have all seen in the last two or three years, if you don’t play good in two minute on both sides of the ball, you’re going to struggle. Those have been our points of emphasis with you know putting in our system.
Q: You mention the offensive line is becoming one of the hardest positions to play, how beneficial is it to go against Coach Zimmer’s defensive every day in practice with all the multiple looks he gives you guys.
A: It’s been outstanding, and we keep telling our guys this is complicated, it’s hard, we got to have everyone on the same page and when we have been we have been all right. When we have had mental errors we have had guys come clean. It gets easier in terms of recognizing and adjusting because this scheme is very complicated but still you know now it becomes more of a physical battle but I think because of the combination of the players we are going against, our defensive front is very good, I think our corners are playing well and going against this scheme is preparing us for when we see these type of things going down the road.
Defensive Coordinator George Edwards
Q: Can you just talk a little bit about getting Crocker out there and what he adds to the defense?
A: He adds a guy that’s been in the system for the last seven years, he’s the ultimate pro as far as preparation and those kind of things. He has a long history with Coach Zimmer in Cincinnati and I actually coached him while we were in Cleveland so you kind of know what you’re getting day in and day out with him with the inexperience we have in the room and the injuries and stuff we’ve had throughout camp and the offseason at that position you bring a guy in that has veteran leadership within the group that adds a lot to that room.
Q: What do you remember from your time in Cleveland with him?
A: Sort of what you see now he’s the ultimate pro and he always paid attention to the details of everything where there’s alignments and assignments and you knew he’s going to come and compete every day and you know that’s a good quality and that’s a good thing for us to have on defense which is what we have always been trying to do from day one which is to have that competition every day and he’s another one that come in and has that good skill set and will come and compete at that high level.
Q: With your familiarity and Coach Zimmer’s familiarity did it help out with the decision making in bringing him in?
A: Yeah like I said he’s been with Coach Zimmer for the last seven years there in Cincinnati and he’s been a major part, played a lot of different roles in the secondary form. From safety to nickel, he’s played some corner in the past. I mean his skill set allows you to move him around and anytime you have a guy with that flexibility at that position it helps you especially when you get in the 46 on a game day.
Q: Has anybody stuck out in the middle linebacker spot?
A: You know they’re still just working and competing hard. Jasper (Brinkley) has done a good job I mean alignments and assignments those kind of things we moved Audie (Cole) back in there, who has done a good job thus far moving him back in there the last three or four days. So from that aspect we are just excited to get them to the first competition here this week and getting a chance for them being able to get them out there and competing against someone else but where they are right now we feel good getting out there competing and understanding what we want to get accomplished out of the position.
Q: You think Jasper is going to be the guy on Friday who will play with the ones?
A: That’ll play itself out. As we get going it’ll play itself out here at the end of the week. But we plan on playing them they have to start over as the mike in our base package. It just depends on what they come out personnel wise and package we are in.
Q: How do you plan on handling the reps for the first and second teams? Do you have a series or two for the first?
A: All I can say is Coach Zimmer told them yesterday, right now, we are going into this game prepared to play and we are going to play as long until he is satisfied with where we are and we know we need reps with the new system. As you said it’s a lot of new players, a lot of young players in the system. In that aspect of it, he’s told them until he is satisfied with it and pulls them out of the game.
Q: How’s that nickel spot shaping up for you?
A: Captain’s back he’s come in and done a good job you know remembering his alignment and assignment and what we are trying to get accomplished at the position. He and Jabari (Price). Jabari has been in there (Shaun) Prater has been in there so you know we have been working three guys. They’re pretty good and they have done a good job at grasping the concepts we are trying to get accomplished there.
Q: Can you talk about how
A: As you said he’s been around in the spring, so when he came back in we started the install back over and he’s just working to make sure steady improvement. Continuing to be consistent with alignments and assignments, those kinds of things because we have thrown a lot at him and since he’s getting back in there. It’s really his first time through everything other than that minicamp we had at the end. So from that aspect, one thing you know he’s coming to work every day, he’s grasping what it is that we got to clean up the mental errors and the alignments and those kind of things, which he is working diligently to get that done.
Q: Coach Zimmer said last week you might see him as a rotation player, do you see that happening?
A: Yeah, right now that’s projected going in, but it’ll play itself out as we go through preseason. We are happy where he is and we like having him in the rotation. I think he brings a lot to the table there.
Q: What have you seen from
A: Mike has played all three positions in this training camp. Right now we are playing him at will linebacker. He’s played mike, he’s played sam and as a backup linebacker that’s sort of what we talked about before, you have to be able to play dual positions as we go into a game week. We have kind of given him that experience by working him at those different positions and he’s done a good job. Moving around that much at that position is tough, especially when it comes to alignments with the defense and stuff we’ve got in. He’s picking up what we’re asking him to do and he seems to be getting comfortable with where we have him at right now.
Q: How did you feel about Mauti at the mike?
A: He did a lot of good things. We were pleased with him especially in the coverage aspect of it, and those kinds of things. The inside run, especially running to the perimeter on some of the crack tosses and stuff, you really seem him flash with his speed, he is an aggressive kid, so from that aspect of it we liked what we saw out of him. He is another one that is in the mix, like I said right now we are just settling in to where we are going into this first week, but things happen and we are just trying to get guys prepared as we move forward.
A: I like it a lot, those are two guys that have a lot of ability to get done what we are trying to do, skill set wise, as far as pressures, as far as coverage. Anthony, we have used him in a load of different roles, from rushing to dropping, to a little bit of everything, so from that aspect of it we are just continuing to progress and trying to polish his tools as we keep working down the road at all those different positions.
Q: What did you see in Anthony that told you that you could just give him a variety of roles?
A: In college you saw what they used him for, you saw him dropping, you saw him rushing, you saw him playing on the end of the line of scrimmage, you saw him in a four down front rushing, playing the run and those kinds of things. The thing that stuck out is you saw him flash, you saw athleticism, you saw ability to be able to run and chase, he has pretty much come in and really concentrated on what it is to be a pro, as far as at the position and has done a good job which is what we expected out of him. Once you get him in here, you see how smart he is, usually if he messes up something he comes back and cleans it up and he has got it. From that aspect of it, you are pleased of where he is at right now as we keep progressing.
Q: Are you concerned about giving him too much?
A: You are always worried about that, especially for a guy that has only played defense for two years, but like I said he comes in, he studies, he is preparing in the classroom, he can transfer it over to the field, he seems to be lining up and playing with it naturally, and being able to handle what it is we give it to him assignment and alignment wise.
Q: Are you guys going to continue to put him in one-on-ones assignments in the preseason as an end?
A: We have been using him as an end throughout camp, if you look back he has been in one-on-ones pretty much about every day, there has probably been one that he wasn’t. From that aspect of it, that’s part of his job as far as what we are asking him to do, he still has a long way to go as far as working the tools, and working with our defensive line coaches as far as what we are trying to get accomplished. From that aspect of it, we started him off from day one doing those things, knowing he could be a part of that as far as his jobs.
Q: As a coach, how do you teach being a pro to a player?
A: It’s a process to where, when you are watching tape, what am I looking at when I am watching tape. I’m not just looking at it to follow the ball, or look at the game. You’re trying to pick up things from your opponent, by splits, by formation. You know recognition wise, to where when you get ready to play them, it speeds up your reaction time as far as you’re anticipating what it is you’re going to get. It is just like anything else, you still have to line up and play, but understanding splits of receivers, understanding the splits inside between two and three, the depth of the running back. There are a lot of nuances that we go through in teaching these guys how to go through and look at tape, and pay attention to the detail of what it is No. 1 what we are trying to get accomplished, but also what the offense is going to try to do to counter what we are doing.
Q: Is it impressive to see him make changes that quickly?
A: Right, no doubt about it. That is the big thing with it, he pays attention to the detail in his note taking, and like I said he can transfer it from the meeting room onto the field, a guy that hasn’t been a pro that long, to come in and already have that skill set as far as being prepared, I mean that is just a good situation.
Q: How do you see the safety situation next to Harrison shaping out?
A: Again, we are still rotating guys in there, we are still working, that is going to play itself out as we keep moving down the road here through the preseason, but you know that is the way it is during the season. Again, guys are going to get knicked, guys are going to get injured, guys are going to miss time, so we just got to keep pressing whatever situation comes up and the next guy has got to get in there, and we have to keep moving down the road with it.