Head Coach Brian Daboll
Daboll: On day two of our preparations here with Tennessee, and we'll be in full pads today outside. And look forward to having a good practice.
Q: Is today your normal Wednesday basically? Is that how (it works)?
A: Yeah, today is normal Wednesday. So, first and second down day for the most part, and then get on to the next phase tomorrow.
Q: Why are you outside today? The grass is pretty wet. You see a lot of teams come inside when it's wet.
A: Well, we haven't been outside. If we were playing in 85 (degrees) and sunny, but there's a 60 percent chance of rain. We'll work the ballhandling, our footing. And we'll see what we do tomorrow. I thought for at least one day, get out there. Let the quarterbacks handle the wet ball, let the receivers and the skill guys, the returners, DBs keep their feet. That's the only reason why.
Q: Should we expect to see (Outside Linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeau) or (Outside Linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari), and if so, what should we expect to see them from them?
A: Yeah. They'll probably be out there. We'll see. We'll just keep rehabbing them. But they'll be out there I think today.
Q: Working or on the side with the trainers?
A: No. They'll probably do a few things individual with coaches.
Q: Do you have a better sense of their availability for Sunday?
Q: Looking forward to game, how unique is (Titans Running Back) Derek Henry?
A: Very. It's well documented what he's done so far. He's just a really good football player. I know him as a person, too. I met him down a few times in Alabama. Got a ton of respect for him as a man and certainly as a player. He's one heck of a player. You name it, he can do it.
Q: How comfortable are you with the amount of work your offensive line has had together. It has been kind of mixed and matched all of preseason. Are you comfortable going in? And you haven't named a left guard. To you, is that still A – a work in progress and B – a competition?
A: I'm comfortable with the players. They've been working hard. Everybody that we put out there, I'm comfortable with. That's why they're on the team. I'd say that you're never comfortable going into a game ever. You're always trying to cross your 'T's and dot your 'I's, and they have a very good defensive front, and we're going to have to play really well.
Q: With a guy like Henry, is there a way to slow him down?
A: Yeah, if he's not at the game (Laughs). We're going to have to have all hands-on deck and do the best job we can of running to the football and gang tackling, and you even see him on plays, he might have three or four guys on him, and somehow, he squirts through. He's just a unique player. He's very, very good.
Q: I realize that you're just focusing on the opponent that you're facing Sunday, but in some ways, this week is a 25-year in the making process for you. What are your emotions as you're going to be a head coach for the first time?
A: I'm just trying to do the best I can to help the players out in terms of their preparation, practice schedule, and really not focus on that. I'd be lying to say that I'm not honored, again, to be standing up here. But my focus is on the game and the players. There will be a time and place for that. I want to do everything I can to get ready for this game.
Q: Is there a routine you usually do on game day? And are you going to pivot away from that in any way because this is your first opportunity and getting a chance to coach?
A: No. I think those three preseason games, I know it's a different time 4:30, 4:25. But it's been pretty consistent. Maybe a little bit different from when I was a coordinator, but consistent on these last three preseason games.
Q: What are those differences from when you were a coordinator?
A: Well, when you're calling plays, it's just a different mindset. When you're calling the play and you have your call sheet and you're going through tons of different play calls. I'm going through tons of different situations and time outs and challenges and when to go for it on fourth-down, and just reviewing the stuff that I have to do a good job of before the game. And the difference when you're calling plays is there's a thousand things going through your head the night before and usually during the game. So, it's different things.
Q: How much are you still going to be involved in the play calling? What do you anticipate?
A: My job is to know all the offense, the defense and the kicking game and go through it with the coaches before the game starts. Obviously, there are adjustments that need to be made, decisions that have to happen quick when you're a play caller. But I certainly have input on all three of those areas. But you try to do that work before the game the best you can so that the play callers have not a lot of people in their ear; they can get it out quick to the quarterback or to (Safety Xavier McKinney) X, and those guys can have as much time as they can to process the call.
Q: I'm curious how much suggestion you plan to give in that regard because you've been a play caller. You said you don't want to hear too many people in their ear. So, where's the line for you – 'Okay I'll give suggestions to (Offensive Coordinator) Mike (Kafka) but also, I don't want to be too overbearing.'?
A: We try to map it out the best we can prior to the game, and then in between series I'll talk with all three of the coordinators about things that come up. But during the series when you're calling a play, you don't have much time to think. And the more you hear, I'd say as a play caller, the harder it is. Again, we've practiced it throughout preseason games; I think Mike needs a clear head. (Defensive Coordinator) Wink (Martindale) needs a clear head; (Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey) TMac in a different regard. So, I try to give my suggestions in between series or when you're planning for a game. And everything changes. I think there's good dialogue. Is it hard not to interrupt at times? Yeah. Certainly, it is.
Q: Will you miss not being the play caller?
A: I have so much on my plate right now. I loved calling plays. But I think Mike's done a good job. I have a lot of faith in him like we talked about yesterday. And I think he's got good rapport with (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones). That's the voice that Daniel's been hearing the last preseason games and every practice. And I've been pleased with Mike and really the entire offensive coaching staff.
Q: What kind of camp did (Cornerback) Adoree' Jackson have, and can you see him embracing the number one cornerback role that he's never really had to have in his career?
A: He's been out there; he's been dependable. He's made a lot of plays on the ball. He knows our defense. He's a good communicator. And he was another guy that… Corners, you're kind of out there on an island a lot of time. And I think his teammates really respect him, and he's done a good job.
Q: In your experience, when a guy is facing a team that gave up on him, cut him – like the Titans did with Adoree' – are there extra emotions for that player?
A: I don't know. I think you'd have to ask him. I think it's probably different for everybody. It's kind of the norm in this league for coaches and for a lot of different players that you know people on the other side, or you've been there before. And I certainly don't think about it when I'm going against other teams that I've coached for. But that's probably a good question for Adoree'.
Q: Do you see a difference in your players this week? You're playing for keeps now. Do they have like game face on, an edge to them and anxiousness?
A: No. They've been pretty consistent. We've tried to put as much stress on them as we can this spring and then obviously in the summer with a wide variety of things. And we preach consistency and dependability. I think those guys have done this. I don't want to speak for all the guys – I'm sure there's a heightened sense a little bit because it is the regular season. But you try to preach that and teach that before it gets to this point, so it feels like normal. But certainly, the opening day is a very exciting day for all of us.
Q: What do you think having a game plan smaller menu will do for Daniel on Sunday as opposed to what we've seen from him playing either vanilla in the preseason or in practices with the whole playbook?
A: Well, I'm not going to make a prediction. But I'd just say you have more time to really study the things that you're going to do in a game. You're focusing on certain players. It's a lot more detailed in terms of what you're trying to get accomplished. But Daniel, since I've been around him, I think he's got the right approach really every week. Certainly, we weren't game planning in the preseason, but the way he approached things, I've been impressed with.
Q: Were you surprised at all with his input – not the level of input? But was there anything – I don't expect you to give us the plays specifically – but were there things he said liked or didn't like that you scratched your head?
A: For this week? Or just in general?
Q: For this week.
A: I think there's constant communication on that. He comes up when people leave, and he goes through things with Mike and (Quarterbacks Coach) Shea (Tierney). Or he'll tell me something; you want to have the quarterback feel as comfortable as he can, and you also want to tell him some of the reasons why you're doing things you want to try to do against the opponent you're going against. But he's had really good dialogue with us; I think he's in a good spot.
Q: What do you know about him today that maybe you didn't know when you took the job?
A: I've heard he was a hard worker. I get to see it. He is at it extremely hard. He's here all the time. He's more on the quiet side, but he is ultra, ultra-competitive. He does a really good job in the huddle with his teammates when you just step out and listen to him. I think he's a good leader.
Q: Have you talked to him about the balance between trying to get extra yards, putting your head down, or risking himself? In the past, he's not shy to put his head into a linebacker and try to run him over, which in this league is a difficult way to live.
A: Yeah. I think you always try to be smart, particularly with that position. I'm not going to take his competitiveness away from him. I think that's what makes people good, too. But you've got to make executive decisions sometimes. And, obviously, we'd like to have him get down rather than take a big shot. But that's the nature of playing quarterback – making good decisions whether it's with the ball and you're running or you're throwing the ball.
Q: In your mind, do you know who your starters at left guard and (Inside Linebacker Blake Martinez) Blake's old spot will be, and you don't want to say it yet? Or are you still trying to determine who those starters will be?
A: I have an idea, but we're going to go out here and practice and let a few guys here compete at it. And by game time, we should be ready to go.
Q: What was it like coaching (Titans Head Coach) Mike Vrabel.
A: I was on the defensive side. I was a defensive assistant qc (quality control). It's not surprising where he is, how smart he was as a player. He was extremely smart, extremely dependable, extremely tough. He kind of was one step ahead of everybody. He kind of knew what the offense was doing quite a bit; a great leader. He played on offense and caught a bunch of touchdowns at tight end. I'm not surprised what he's done. He's had four winning seasons. He was a great teammate. He was a fun guy to coach. He was a leader. I can't say enough good things about him. He was impressive 25 years ago or whatever it was. It goes by in a split second, and obviously he's done a great job here. Last three years playoffs, AFC number one seed last year. None of it is surprising.
Q: In any way do you consider this a barometer to see where your team is going up against the number one seed and testing your skills off the bat?
A: No. Every year's a new year. We're just going to try to do the best job we can of preparing. We understand the difficult challenges that this team presents both schematically and, in particular, with the players and go out there and do our best job we can do on Sunday.
Q: You talk about focus. Do you leave the family home, or do you say, 'Come along and see my first game,'?
A: I don't really give too many instructions at home. I kind of take them (Laughs). Yeah, my wife will be there with the kids.
Quarterback Daniel Jones
Q: Is it nice to prepare for a specific opponent instead of doing what you've been doing in training camp and this spring for the last six months?
A: Yeah, it's been fun this week. You kind of switch into gameplan mode, you're preparing for certain looks, scheming up our offense to put us in the best position to make plays and succeed. It's about us, it's about us executing our plays and doing what we need to do as a unit and an offense. We're preparing for them, but we're really focused on us this week.
Q: What was practicing out there in the rain like knowing that you may play in these conditions on Sunday?
A: It was good. I thought guys did a good job handling it, did a good job keeping their footing and being clean with their cuts. I thought we did a good job handling the ball. It's helpful that we had those conditions today knowing that Sunday could be rainy.
Q: Obviously the relationship between the quarterback and the head coach is an important one. What has been the best part about working with (Head Coach) Brian (Daboll) so far for you in your development?
A: He's just always thinking, he's always thinking about a new way to run this play or a new way to motion something or shift something or set it up – and that's constant with him. It's in the cafeteria, it's through the hallways, obviously in meeting rooms. He's always thinking, coming up with new ideas. That's been fun, you learn a lot that way as I am learning the system, but also the way he thinks about football, how he sees offense and setting us up to be successful. It's been fun working with him.
Q: He's obviously talked about wanting to bring the best out of you. Is there something about his system in particular that does bring out the best in you and your skillset?
A: I think it's a versatile system. I think it allows the quarterback to do a lot in the pocket, outside the pocket, in the run game. It allows us to get into advantageous looks depending on what the defense does, easily getting in and out of plays. I think from all those perspectives, it's very quarterback friendly for any quarterback. I've certainly enjoyed working with him.
Q: For a guy that is entering his fourth season, do you still get butterflies as the season approaches?
A: Yeah, I do. I think if it's important to you, you get that excitement or butterflies a little bit. It's all a good thing and it helps you know that you're getting ready to go. Once we get out there and the ball gets snapped, that normally calms down a little bit and you get into the flow of the game. I'm excited to get going.
Q: Have you learned anything about your offensive line? It's been crazy, a lot of injuries and stuff. Have you learned anything in camp and in preseason that maybe you didn't know coming in?
A: I think they've done a great job. I think it's a physical group of guys who have done a really good job getting on the same page. (Center) Jon (Feliciano) has done a great job. Obviously he knows the system well from being in Buffalo and bringing everyone along and getting everyone on the same page, getting the calls straight. I think those guys have done a great job coming together. You see the chemistry playing with each other, communicating up there. I think they've done a great job.
Q: You just said something about how sophisticated the codes are that they have to learn. I'm sure the quarterback has to take in a lot of information. Can you empathize or understand how sophisticated it is?
A: Yeah, it is. It's a lot for them to remember. Code words and calls they've got to make in certain situations, it takes a lot of practice. One guy has got to be expecting it of the other guy and he's got to be ready to hear a call and know what to do immediately. We put a lot on those guys' plate, and they do a really good job handling it. It's been impressive.
Q: You're in your fourth verbiage for a quarterback, you've changed coaches so much. Has it changed again this season?
A: The verbiage, yeah. The verbiage is definitely different this year. That's something you've got to learn. It just takes time to study, memorize the words and how we are going to call things. The next level of that is understanding the concepts, the plays and getting used to seeing it against certain defenses and knowing what to expect.
Q: Did you like the fact that (Offensive Coordinator) Mike (Kafka) is going to continue calling plays?
A: Yeah, I think he's done a great job. I thought he did a great job through the preseason and in training camp. I really enjoy working with him, I've really enjoyed it.
Outside Linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux
Q: How are you feeling?
A: Pretty good, pretty good. I've been rehabbing. It's day to day right now. I've just been working, trying to get better to get back in shape and get it going.
Q: Do you think you'll play on Sunday?
A: I don't know. Right now, it's day to day. It could really go either way. We're just waiting to see where it is when the time comes.
Q: How hard will it be not to play, if you don't?
A: Now you've got to accept however we go. We're a team and (Head Coach Brian Daboll) Dabs is the person who harps on next play, next man up. So just giving in any way I can, realizing that if I am not able to play, if I'm there, then I have to be engaged and I have to help my team – contribute to the win.
Q: Do you feel like you got enough out of training camp to be ready? Obviously, you would have liked to have the extra two weeks.
A: Yeah, I feel like it's the consistent growth – there's never enough. Actually, I'll say no, because there is never enough. There's never enough time in the day, there's never enough time to practice. As long as I continue to take every day and continue to take the little moments to get better, I'll be good.
Q: You were running though, and everything is fine with the knee?
A: I'm doing a lot better. Continuous rehab and we just continue to push forward.
Q: Is there some kind of movement that you need to see where you feel that you're actually feeling healthy?
A: I've just got to be able to practice. If you don't practice, you don't play. Me just being able to get out there, get some work and do everything that I need to do the time I need to get my job done.
Q: Does it put anything extra on you or (Outside Linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari) that you're both down? Does that make one of you guys press to get back?
A: I feel like we're both pressed to get back because we both love the sport, and we want to get back. This is the NFL, we have a room full of guys who can get the job done, we have a room full of guys who are actually superstars. Supporting them and then also trying to get back and doing everything we can to get better.
Q: What did you think of the play? Did you think that was a dirty block?
A: I try not to think about the past. I talked to him, and I'm not really worried about it, we're moving forward trying to get better and make sure you play with good technique. It's football, it's a 100% injury rate. You've got to just be ready to recover when your time comes and be ready to be smart in different situations.
Q: How big of a sigh of relief was it for you when you got the diagnosis?
A: It wasn't really a sigh. My knee was hurting, don't get me wrong, so it wasn't really a sigh. It was just, this is what the results are, and I've got to go make a play, I've got to go make things happen, bounce back.
Q: Did you realize it would get as much attention when you shrugged the cart off and told the cart you were walking?
A: Attention from me walking?
Q: From us but yeah, of you walking off…
A: Or just the world? The hit?
Q: People seeing that you just basically said…
A: God is good, man. When you believe and you walk through His faith – I sat there and was hurting for a minute, but He gave me the strength to get up and walk it off, so I wasn't going to look crazy going off, I've got to go off like a 'G.'
Q: Do you know what you said in that moment? Did you see the GIF?
A: I saw him, he saw me and then next thing you know it was like I locked eyes with him and then he cut me. That was it.
Q: Did you see the thing going around of your face?
A: I mean, everything was going around. I don't know what wasn't going around. Memes and stuff are funny.
Cornerback Adoree' Jackson
Q: It seemed like you were making a lot of plays on the ball. Do you feel like you had one of your better training camps?
A: I feel like I had the most fun that I've had in a while. Just going back and playing football like I was playing Pop Warner. I will say it made me feel like a kid again being out there playing, running around with the guys. Just doing what I love to do.
Q: Does any of that have to do with embracing the role as the number one corner, undisputedly, for the first time?
A: No, I think it has more to do with just me being through what I've been through, understanding myself, overcoming some things and just honing back into myself and learning about myself over these past couple of years, going through life. I think that's what I give credit to.
Q: One of the things you've been through is that release from the Tennessee Titans. What are your thoughts on playing them Week 1?
A: It's going to be cool. I get to see a couple of my guys. (Safety) Kevin Byard, (Safety) Amani Hooker, (Running Back) Derrick Henry, and (Wide Receiver) Robert Woods. That's what I'm most excited about, seeing some familiar faces. A couple of the coaches that I know, built some relationships with. It's just going to be fun seeing them, chopping it up with them. Probably get a jersey after the game or two so that's going to be nice.
Q: Any hard feelings towards that organization?
A: No, not at all. That's the organization that drafted me, so I'm forever thankful and grateful for the opportunity that they gave me. At the end of the day, it just didn't pan out the way they wanted, and I wanted. That's how life goes. God gives you second chances to open another door when one closes and I'm here and I'm appreciative.
Q: What's the key to slowing down Derrick Henry?
A: I mean he's going to do what he does. It's crazy, back in the day there was something about a basketball player that was like, 'Yeah, LeBron James is going to be LeBron James. You may be able to cool him off for like one, two, three quarters but at the end of the day he's still going to get his points and get whatever he can get.' So, at the end of the day, just put 11 hats to the ball and just try to limit him as much as possible. I mean Derrick Henry, that's the top back in the league. Just go out there and play our keys and do what we know how to do and run to the ball.
Q: From being his teammate, is he one of those kinds of backs that you feel like as the game progresses, he grows stronger with it?
A: I feel like he can get you in the first quarter or the fourth quarter, he's the same back at the end of the day. From the start of the game to the end of the game, that's what playing with him and seeing the play from last year watching him through a couple of games, that he had. I mean, the first couple of games he had rushing for, once he got hurt, I think four more weeks, and that just attests to the type of player he is and what he's able to do.
Q: When you go out there the receivers you are going to face aren't going to be the same guys you faced down there are they?
A: The couple ones that I had, (Wide Receiver) Cody Hollister and (Wide Receiver Nick) Westbrook(-Ikhine). I played against them a couple of times during practice but other than that I know it's going to be all different faces.
Q: You faced (Wide Receiver Robert) Woods out there in LA?
A: What's crazy is me and Robert went to the same high school. So, I've known him. Played against him my rookie year in the league. Played against him last year when they came down here with the Rams. I'm not familiar with him, but I've played against him a couple of times.
Q: What about this defense suits you? It seems like you're having more fun, you're around the ball a ton. Is it just that man-to-man, straight coverage is kind of your game?
A: Just honing in to whatever they ask me to do. Just trusting in myself, believing in myself and buying into the scheme and things (Defensive Coordinator) Wink (Martindale) wants me to do.
Q: It kind of feels like if you're on an island and you're shutting down that island, you're going to get a lot of attention. Is this a defense that makes names for corners?
A: It puts you in a position to make plays and it's all on you if you're going to make them or not. It gives you an opportunity and it's about you capitalizing on them. So, I'm just thankful to be in the position.
Q: Can you sense an extra level of excitement? Game week being here, obviously a lot of optimism…
A: It's Week 1, so there's always a little more excitement because it's finally going against somebody for real. Preseason games you're going against people, but actually being out there for four quarters and battling against somebody else, and all the hard work you put in through camp is finally over. People that are here on the 53 and the guys on the practice squad are putting in that work to get you ready. So, week by week we're going to try to get better and win.
Q: You said you don't have any hard feelings towards the Titans. I'm wondering what was last year like for you, you're playing well but you're on a team that goes 4-13 and your old buddies get the number one seed in the AFC. Was there any part of like, 'Wow what could've been'?
A: No, I'm not going to lie I was shocked when they lost to the Bengals. I know those guys, I've been with those guys, guys that I've known, I was there for four years. I always want to root for the guys that I know and see them do well. Like I said, never any hard feelings at all.
Q: You wanted them to win the Super Bowl?
A: I mean I know players on the team, I know them. They're not in NFC they're in the AFC, so they can go ahead and do their thing if they wanted to (laughs).
Q: I'm saying once the playoffs started…
A: No, for sure. I wanted to see them do well just because I've known a lot of their guys for like four years.
Q: What do you recall about playing against (Quarterback) Ryan Tannehill?
A: He's a great player. He's got some dog in him. He can run the ball, throw the ball, he's very smart, accurate with his passing. Just an overall, I feel like a good quarterback in this league.