Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka
Q: Explain how like the play calling processes works as far as like (Head Coach) Brian (Daboll) says you're the one calling them during practice, but just the process to get to that point – the meetings and onto the field?
A: Yeah, it's been very collaborative as far as between myself and the staff, the offensive staff and Dabs, working together on what we want our players to do, what we want to do in the run game, the pass game, movement, screens, play action. And it's been really cool that way and really collaborative, and it's been fun.
Q: Do you feel like Thursday in the preseason is a little bit of a tryout for you?
A: You know, I look at it as an opportunity. An opportunity not only for myself, but for the players. Everyone out there is, those guys are, you know, everyone on there is working hard to make the team and show what they can do and show that they can build themselves a role. So, I'm looking to go out and do my job to the best of my ability and put the guys in the best position to be successful and show what they can do.
Q: What have you learned about play calling from the camp this year? I assume it's the most you've called plays or the longest you have.
A: Yeah, it's been great learning experiences between the situations we call in practice, and Dabs does a great job of mixing those type of things in throughout practice, whether it be in the red zone, two-minute, backed up, short yardage. We've thrown so many situations at not only just the coaches and play callers but also at the players. And I'm really proud of how they've responded to those things.
Q: How much of being a former quarterback is just like being an offense coordinator?
A: Yeah, I definitely think some feel to it. There's some correlation. Because as a quarterback, you're playing the game kind of the same way through the eyes of a coordinator. And you go to understand what his intent is as a play caller and why he's calling a certain play. And I think that helps as you get more familiar with the play caller and the quarterback. Once they get on the same page, I think that's where you really see things that are special.
Q: How's the – what's the biggest adjustment been for play calling-wise for you? Having never done it, obviously, you haven't done it in a game yet. Running through the spring and summer, what's been the biggest adjustment?
A: It's been fun. I'd say the biggest thing right now if just the coach to quarterback communicator. That's probably one of the biggest things that we've talked about. Just making sure I can get them the play fast, clearly. You know sometimes I get excited and amped up and might be a little too high with my volume. But I think that's probably been the biggest thing right now.
Q: Does he say that? Is he like, 'Too loud'?
A: No, I'm probably just screaming it too fast, and then all of a sudden it kind of comes out a little too muddled.
Q: Is there a little bit of a dichotomy? As Tom was just saying, it's kind of like an audition for you as a play caller and you have to take the opportunity. But we know preseason football, the goal is to be as vanilla as possible and not show anything. So how do you impress without giving away too much?
A: Yeah. There's a balance. Following Dabs' philosophy on what he wants to do on offense and put our guys in a good position to go make plays and show what they can do – we're going to follow that. And I think that's been the plan all along.
Q: How much of your time do you spend wondering what Brian wants called? And how much of you is saying, 'No, I'm my own coach. It's what I want,'? Is he giving you that freedom to navigate that?
A: We talk all the time about those type of things and how we want to run things. But when you're in a training camp mode, it's evaluation. You're evaluating the players; you're evaluating the scheme. So, there's a balance of that, but again, me and Dabs talk all the time about how we want to attack certain defenses. How we want to attack certain teams. How we want to use our players. So, that's been an open conversation since the day I got here.
Q: Mike, as far as that open conversation, it's been a couple months since you started putting that offense together. And Dabs told us you wanted it to be a collaborate idea. So, for you, what was that experience like pulling from your knowledge to have a guy who has already had a successful system? Are you guys putting things in that maybe you've done in the past that he didn't know?
A: Yeah, it was super exciting. I think Dabs has been around for a long time, 20 plus years in the league, so to be able to pull from his experiences. Pull from the experiences where I was from, that's been awesome. There's multiple way to run certain schemes. There's multiple way to teach it. Certain schemes, certain ways. So, we're mixing; we're kind of mixing and matching on certain ideas. But that's been the fun part. Because we're figuring out. We're trying to solve problems and make sure all our issues are covered. I love all the conversations we've had with our staff and with Dabs.
Q: Can you give an example of something that maybe you did one way?
A: I don't want to go into too much detail. But, in the protection game, there's certain things that I've done in the past and certain things that they've done in their past that we've meld together and made it make sense for the quarterback. Because at the end of the day, as long as him and the O-line are on the same page, I think we'll be fine. So, there's definitely a lot of communication between the guys that have ideas and then the actual execution of it and making sure it's simple and clear and has rules that can cover a wide spectrum of fronts and coverages and pressure. So, you try to cover all your bases but also make it simple and also make it beneficial to our players.
Q: Mike, after seven months, do you know what you have? Or will the preseason, or what happens on the field show you what you have?
A: I think every day you're going to evaluate. I mean throughout the entire season, today's no different. When we get to the preseason game, it amps up another level. And you're playing against not the same guys that you've been seeing for the last few months. So, it's definitely a different level of intensity. We've got an away game coming up. So, all those things are going to be new for some of our young guys and some of the guys we're introducing to the offense. So, I think that's going to be a good challenge for us. Right, we'll have some opportunity to look at that.
Q: How is (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) progressing? This is a whole new offense for him. Receivers talked about some freedom route choices depending on defense. Obviously, that takes a lot of communication with the quarterback. How is he progressing up to this point as far as communication-wise with his receivers?
A: I think over the last, probably, week to ten days, I think that communication really has gotten a lot better. In the meeting rooms, those guys are getting a lot more vocal. Not just the quarterbacks, but the receivers making sure that, 'Hey Daniel. Okay if it's – I saw it this way.' And then vice versa. Daniel saying, 'I think you should hit it like this, or show me this body language.' So, I think over the last week, week and a half, things have really gotten a lot better because they're opening up their lines of communication. That's what we're stressing to these guys: Let's talk. Not just receivers and quarterbacks, but O-line. Everyone's got to get on the same page.
Q: How is he doing overall? Because we've seen incomplete passes and say, 'Okay he missed that throw,' Maybe it might not be that. It might be that at times, I'm sure. How do you assess what you've seen so far in regard to performance?
A: I think Daniel's doing a phenomenal job. He's working. He's operating the offense. I like what he's doing as far as being a leader and trying to get these guys up and push the tempo of the offense. So, I like where Daniel's at.
Q: When you look at (Wide Receiver) Wan'Dale (Robinson) and (Offensive Tackle) Evan (Neal), two guys who are rookies who are obviously going to play a big role, do you have to constantly look at them as rookies and think they might be more advanced where you can give them a little bit more because they are going to be the guys that you use?
A: There's definitely a balance. You definitely want to be careful with the young guys, but we're still going to continue to run our offense and put them in positions so they can be successful. But you got to have a balance and understand that. They don't have a lot of ball as professional players, so we try and make sure we spend extra time with them in the meeting room and spend extra time with them on the field and show them certain looks on tape. So, you kind of go through that learning process and learning progression with those guys and understand, like okay, they haven't seen everything yet. But you can slowly build their library overtime.
Q: Are they a little more developed as rookies than maybe some rookies?
A: I think they're right on schedule.
Q: Where are you guys – you talk about evaluating, you talk about melding different offensive systems – where are you guys in terms of putting together the offense you want to have?
A: I think we're right on schedule. I think we're right where we want to be. I think we're still continuing to figure out some schemes that we're better at and things that we want to work on – whether it's run or pass game. So, I say we're right on schedule. I like where the guys are at. We got to put together a good day of work today, and then we'll continue to look forward.
Q: When you guys drafted Wan'Dale, there was the outside thought – analyst, media, fans – is he too similar to (Wide Receiver) Kadarius (Toney)? Now that you've had them, how different are they? How confident are you that you can play them both on the field the same time?
A: I'm not big on comparisons, but I think they both have a unique skillset. On the perimeter in space, I think that's where they're the most dynamic. So, I think that's where those guys have done a good job, again, of trying to learn the offense, where they fit in the scheme. And I think the coaches are doing a good job, too, of trying to figure out how they fit into our offense and where they fit. And that's super important as we keep on going and moving forward.
Q: When did the light go off for you in terms of coaching? And having had the experience of working with Andy Reid a long time, how fortunate do you feel that you have been able to learn at the feet of a master like that.
A: The light really went off for me when I was a graduate assistant at Northwestern. As soon as I got finished playing, (Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald) Coach Fitz had an opportunity to be a GA there, so he said, 'Hey. Come out. Try it out. See if you want to get into coaching.' And it was great, my alma mater. I was really familiar with the staff and coaches there and how they want to run the team. Coach Fitz runs the team. So, first week – pretty much within the first three days really – I knew this was exactly what I wanted to do. Loved every minute of it. You kind of see behind the curtain a little bit what the coaches have to go through to get ready for just a practice: scripting and carding and putting together the practice plans, and practice installs. And for me as a player, like being the third, second and third quarterback for most of my career – all of my career – that was something that was easy for me. Like, I had to do those type of things to kind of be in the back of the room behind the curtain, kind of watching, and trying to help out any way that I can to try to stick on the team. So, when I got into coaching it was like, 'This is awesome. This is fun. This is what I love to do.' So, I think that's where it really set myself up for, 'This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.' And now, having the opportunity to be with Coach Fitz at my alma mater, and having the opportunity to come back with (Chiefs Head) Coach (Andy) Reid and be with his staff, who again I had a lot a familiarity with, and with the offense, that was an awesome experience and one I'm forever grateful for.
Q: When it comes to the challenge of facing (Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale) Wink's defense, we've heard from the players in practice all the time that when you get in the situation when you guys start getting competitive, you're not necessarily calling plays against what you're anticipating from Wink. But when you hit a screen like that on Friday night, it's almost like, do you look at it and say, 'We'd use more than that if we're facing this defense,'? How much is it frustrating as you're trying to get things done?
A: You know, again, we're putting in our offense. We're trying to follow the practice plan that we've had that we set all the way in June. Those things are going to happen, and that's why Wink is who he is. He brings a lot of pressure, and he's multiple in those type of ways. But that's been a good challenge for our offense, but again, I think there's plays that we've had throughout training camp and in the scrimmage that look pretty good. We got him on one of them; they got us on one. That's part of competing. That's why I love about this team right now is everyone's competing. Everyone's trying to get better. They might get you one time. They might get us one time, but we're all on the same team. We're all working toward the same goal.
Q: Kind of building off that, Mike, did you see pass protection issues the other night in that scrimmage that concerned you, number one? How would you evaluate the state of your offensive line overall at this point?
A: I think the offensive line, one goal we have for them is setting the depth and width of the pocket. I thought they did that overall. There were a couple miscommunications that I think we can clean up, and again, because Wink's multiple, and that's the best thing. That's our best challenge that we've had all training camp was going up against Wink. And that's been a great test for not only the communication of the quarterback and the offensive line, but with our running backs, with our tight ends involved in protections. That's been an awesome challenge for us. Really, that's helped us. Even though that might not be exactly clean every single time, that's going to help us down the road in the long term, which is what I'm really excited about. So, I think, you know, you got to, you have to be able to evaluate this scheme – the integrity of the scheme and protection – and make sure that we're not just completely disregarding that part. We go back as coaches, and we look at that and we make sure we can have rules and answers for our guys so that if those things pop up, we can go and execute.
Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale
Wink Martindale: I'm excited, I'm happy with where we are at right now defensively. I think personnel and (Head Coach Brian Daboll) Dabs has done a great job of gathering some smart, tough, and dependable players. We're going to be on the process of the next three preseason games finding out who's the smartest, who's the toughest and who's the most dependable – because all three of those factors are what we're going to build on. I like where we are at.
With that, I'll open up to questions.
Q. What have you seen so far from the secondary, the youth part of the secondary, and that communication level?
A: I've told (Defensive Backs Coach Jerome Henderson) Rome, and I've said this already, I think he's the best secondary coach there is in the league. I love our first group of secondary players and now we've just got to keep building on depth of that secondary. I love how they compete; I love how they practice and I'm excited to see them play against another team. It's going to be fun to watch. That'll be a process and I'll keep you all up to date on that. I really love how they compete.
Q. Along those lines, how much fun is it to have a player like (Safety) Julian (Love) and move him around?
A: Yeah, I mean those guys you can move around are fun to coach because the number one thing is how smart he is – how football smart he is. He understands little things and it's a valuable piece to have when you're putting a defense together in this league.
Q. You are very well established in the reputation with how run your defense. Have you had to change anything based on the personnel this year? Or do you just kind of say "this is what we run" and we'll make it work.
A: I think you're always changing to your personnel. I think that's not only a weekly thing it's a daily thing. Finding out who's available and put them in the best positions that you try to put them in, and I think that's the strength of our package, it's very flexible in that way.
Q. We've seen (Outside Linebacker) Kayvon Thibodeaux running three a lot out here. What in particular has impressed you about him? How would you assess how he's done with the less obvious things?
A: I think that he's come in and went to work. That's what impresses me the most. He's just went to work and it's all about football and he is very smart, football wise. It's like I was talking about with Julian, he's a smart football player. I'm just excited to see where his growth takes him. He's got to keep working on his techniques and fundamentals. You see (Outside Linebackers Coach) Drew (Wilkins) over there working with those guys daily and he's not afraid to repeat a drill once, twice, sometimes four times. He knows he wants to get better, and he knows where he wants to be. I've been really pleased with him.
Q. (Linebacker) Blake Martinez aside, how do you look at your inside linebackers? Because there's a lot of youth there and obviously Blake missed a lot of time last year.
A: I think that the inside backers, I've told them this, it's open competition. Someone needs to go up and grab that spot. I've been real happy with what (Linebacker) Tae (Crowder) has done because he's had the most reps. He knows the things he needs to work on, but he's really standing out as far as running the football. The rookies are rookies. It's one of the toughest positions to play coming in. As a rookie, especially the MIKE-backer, where we are putting (Linebacker Darrian Beavers) DB at right now whenever Blake's reps run out. They've accepted the challenge and accepted me. That's a position I've coached in this league forever so I'm the toughest one. God bless (Inside Linebackers Coach John Egorugwu) Egs. Egs was with me before this so that's the good thing about it. He's been with me before, so he knows what I want and how I expect it to look.
Q. How thin is that line between coaching and competitiveness in terms of going against your own offense every day at practice?
A: I think we are all competitors. Starting with our head coach we just play off him. We all compete and it's a very thin line. You know what I mean? He even said something to me on Friday he said, 'I love the competitiveness but just stay with me.' I'm like, 'Alright. Here we go.' But it's been great. It's been great working for Dabs, working with Dabs, and all of us together as a defensive staff.
Q. I know you've done it in the past, but why a safety? Why (Safety) Xavier McKinney as your guy with the green dot and the play caller?
A: Well, I don't think that's written in stone yet. I've always thought that to survive in this league you've got look at everything and just because something's always been done one way, it doesn't mean that's the way you have to do it. That could change week to week on who we have wear the green dot. The biggest thing is to get them all communicating. If you look out there it's not just X, it's Julian Love has one, then we mix in some linebackers and things like that. You just reminded me I've got to turn in the green dot list for the New England game, thank you.
Q. Having a guy in the back and when you want to shift guys up front or you see something up front there's a little bit of a gap. Which, why I think generally the middle linebacker is the guy?
A: Well, here's the beauty of it. Generally, if you're just speaking of the National Football League, yeah. But that's not saying that's the best guy to wear it. It's one of those things where you pass it forward and the MIKE does what he would've done if he got the call himself. You're just echoing it one level. The other thing is too, is if (Defensive Lineman Dexter Lawrence II) Dex was going to play every play, Dex or (Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams) Leo was going to play every play, they could wear the green dot. That's how smart they are. So, I just can't tell you how excited I am for this season. It was great being out there at MetLife Stadium. I've been here as a visitor, but it was awfully great to know that this is our home and feel the energy because it's one of the best stadiums there is as far as the fanbase. It's real exciting.
Q. Speaking of the secondary we've seen that slot corner, we kind of thought it was going to be an open competition but (Cornerback) Darnay's (Holmes) gotten pretty much all the first team reps. Why is that?
A: I don't even look at them as all just first team. What I like about Nay is, 'A' he's been productive while he's in there and, 'B' he wants to go against the best every time he gets in the one-on-one reps, and I love his toughness. You know, I call him, 'Dirty 30.' I just love his toughness and I'm not saying he plays dirty. I'm just talking about how he embraces the grind of practicing every day, doing things right and asking the right questions. He's got some qualities that we haven't had before at that position.
Q. How has (Assistant Defensive Line Coach) Bryan Cox done so far in his kind of different role? What have you seen from that? Have you worked with him before?
A: I've known Bryan for 20-25 years. I know Dabs has worked with him at a couple different places. I think not only Bryan but the entire defensive staff, I think Bryan's done a great job of pushing on what we are saying, where we're going with it, and how we're going to do it. It's not his first rodeo. He is a great leader, he's a great teammate, I think he's got a great heart and he's a good person. Honestly, he's a good friend. I can say that you know I've already talked about Jerome, Drew's been with me for ten years and I think he's a star that nobody knows about in this league, Drew Wilkins. (Assistant Defensive Backs Coach) Mike (Treier) does a great job. Treier does a great job helping Rome in the secondary. (Defensive Assistant) Kevin's (Wilkins) doing a great job with Egs. Egs and I were together and Egs was with Dabs. But the bottom line of it is the whole entire defensive staff. Dab's done a great job of hiring assistant coaches and I love the process that he went through in doing it.
Q. One more green dot question.
A: I was hoping you would say one more question. I thought that was (Director of Football Communications) Dion (Dargin). (Laughs)
Q. Green dot. Is part of giving it to Xavier now, do you want to also see if he can do it?
A: Of course.
Q. He's an ascending leader, kind of almost saying, 'You can take your game to another level, you personally,' if you do this?
A: Yeah, of course. Everybody makes a big deal about the green dot. All we're doing is just echoing the plays and then we all echo it and communicate. You put it in different spots during training camp because you want to see everybody communicate. It's the same thing in the meetings. I know I run a different style meeting than everybody else. But it's because I want people talking. It's the same reason why I come up and ask them about their family and how they're doing. Just get them talking. It's a process and you get a defense that comes together because they all know each other and they're not afraid to communicate, they're not afraid to workout problems, they're not afraid to celebrate together. In building a unit that's what you do.
Q. How early do you start preparing for (Titans Running Back) Derrick Henry or is your mind not there? Are you already putting stuff in for week one?
A: Well, right now we're just evaluating players. I've been in the league a long time and have gone against him several times, so I guess preparing and remembering all the scar tissue from when he's hit some runs against us. I think that, yeah, we have ideas. We've worked on some different things, but not anything specific yet.
Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: What have you learned about (Punter) Jamie (Gillian) as his coach?
A: He's a hard worker. He's very coachable and he wants to do well. He's doing a great job. He's out working every single day and I look forward to good things from him.
Q: What are some of the similarities from a punt returner and a kick returner? Is there some crossover there or what are you specifically looking for when you try to separate the two?
A: Obviously, the tracking of the ball is a little different. The ball comes off the foot differently. You always want the same characteristics; speed, toughness change of direction and all that stuff. It takes a different body type to do kickoff returns, you want a sturdier guy back there in a perfect situation. At punt returner, you got to be fearless, you got to be elusive and you got to make good decisions. That's the things you look for when it comes to those qualities you want in a returner.
Q: When you brought UNKNOWN a little more on the punter. He has a body of work from Cleveland. Maybe he didn't do as well in his third year than his first year. How much do you study that and do you try and reinvent him a little bit because ne team left him behind and now you pick him up? You left a guy behind you had here for a while. Do you rework him a little bit to get him to do what you want?
A: The one thing you got to understand when you're dealing with young players – there is a process. There is a process involved. You have to be able to have patience and work through the process. He's here because he has talent. Most young players are here in this league because they have talent. Most young players that come into this league do not tear it up when they first walk in. There is a learning curve, there is a maturation process. Throughout that maturation process, you have to be able to find what he does well, learn how he ticks and then after you figure that thing out as a coach, then you work from there. He's fixing things. We've identified some things that he needs to work on and he's worked on them. He's been doing well.
Q: The Scottish Hammer is a great nickname. Is it accurate? Does he need to be less of a hammer at times?
A: He hammers the ball, he does. It kind of fits. His hang-to-distance needed to be improved and that's something that he's been working on as we move along. We want to make sure that the hang-to-distance, the hang is relative to the distance and you don't outkick the coverage. He's worked on that a lot and he's done a really good job. We'll figure it out as we go along these first games coming up and go from there.
Q: Are the analytics for that like 45 and five-second hangtime or?
A: That's the – we always want, say for example, if you kick the ball 40 yards you want at least a 4.0 (second) hangtime. If you kick it 45 yards, you want a 4.5 (second) hangtime. If you kick it 50 yards, you want a 5.0 (Second) hangtime in a perfect world. That's something that we've used as special teams coaches over the years. Just using that hang-to-distance ratio relative to the punt.
Q: You've obviously been here for a number of years, has anything changed now with a new head coach in? Does (Head Coach Brian Daboll) leave it to you more? How have things changed for you?
A: 'Dabes' trusts me. It's been really good. Kind of going back to how it was before when me and (NAME) were here. It's been really good. It's been fun because we got a new group of guys, there was a lot of turnover so now we're trying to start back from square one and get them to understand how important this third phase is and how it effects the game.
Q: Do you have someone in mind that you would you like to see as your primary punt returner? You guys really haven't settled on a punt returner for, it feels like, several years now.
A: We had. It's something that I talk about all the time, the culture you got. You know what I mean? Whoever shows up, whoever's out there is who we got. There's a bunch of guys back there working at it. We have a lot of options and this is the first time in a while that we've had many guys on the roster that can catch punts. They've done a really good job of – I will say this; our guys have done a good job of working over the years. The guys that we've got in, the (Wide Receiver) C.J. Boards, the (Wide Receiver) Darius Slaytons, all of those guys, (Wide Receiver Kadarius Toney) 'KT' and all of those guys catching punts. Now we have a bunch of options back there, we have six or seven guys that can catch punts and they do it well.
Q: I know you like working with (Linebacker) Cam Brown, how hard is it in the NFL these days to carve out a career for yourself playing only special teams?
A: Yeah it's difficult but it can be done. I don't think Cam is just a special teams only player. I think, I won't speak for (Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale) 'Wink', but I'm sure that there are some things that he does well that they can use defensively. Again, I said this a while back to Cam, I think his celling is so high and he's so athletic you find things for him to do. He's just a really good football player. He's a young player. The maturation process of young players coming through this league – you see them grow up on special teams, take those steps and then all of the sudden in their fourth or fifth year they take off. I've seen it happen before a lot. He's on his way and he's a good specialist player in the process.
Q: You've talked about your past and you keep going back to your days as an assistant. When you have that guy (Outside Linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux) or that kind of high draft pick that's only a specialist for a yead and you know you're not going to have him, I think of Jason Pierre-Paul when you used to talk about what he was like. Is there any part of you that allows you to think what would happen if Thibodeaux were in your core team and what he could be?
A: That situation between 'JPP' and 'KT' is different because if you look at the depth of the defensive line that we had back then. We had Mathias (Kiwanuka), (Justin) Tuck, (Dave) Tollefson. You had so many guys there was no reason for us not to use 'JPP' because he needed to get on the field and he needed to play. This situation is a little different with our pass rush situation. Obviously, you got to be smart in how you handle it and he is going to have some roles but we'll figure it out as we go along.
Q: I know the game this week doesn't count in the standings but you are playing a team and coach that is steeped in special teams knowledge. Have you studied (Head Coach Bill) Belichick over the years and seen what is unique to him and what his team does well?
A: You know, I study all the coaches. We literally keep a file on every special teams coordinator around the league. His teams are always disciplined. His teams, they always play fast because of the detail they prepare with. Going in, we're going to have to deal with (Wide Receiver Matthew) Slater and all the rest of the guys and those guys have been there for a long time and they are well coached. (Special Teams Coordinator) Cam (Achord) does a hell of a job with those guys. He grew up steeped in special teams, they are always one of the top-10 special teams units in the league and that's not going to change.
Tight End Daniel Bellinger
Q: What's the biggest adjustment been for you going from college to the NFL?
A: Just the speed, trying to read defenses. Just learning how different defenses work and of course just learning our system.
Q: How different is the system than what you are used to?
A: Just a lot more motions and stuff like that, before I'd just have to know my job like the Y and F positions, but now it's critical that I know everybody's job, the route concept, and the whole play and not just my route.
Q: Things got a little heated today, can you talk about that?
A: Yeah, temperatures were hot, you know when it's 95 degrees outside stuff is going to happen, but it just showed a good physicality for us today. I think it was a good sign for us just going out there and being physical.
Q: What was the basic theme when (Head Coach Brian) Daboll got you guys together? What did he say?
A: The theme of course was the physicality, just showing that we're a physical team and things are going to happen, again, when it's hot outside and guys are just putting their nose in the dirt and trying to play ball. But at the end of the day, he says that, 'losing teams do that,' so, at the end of the day we've got to come out there and be physical, but we've got to be smart as well.
Q: No threats like, 'You do it again you're going to run forever'?
A: Nothing like that, he liked the physicality part. He wants to keep going and playing hard, just play smart as well.
Q: What's it been like to be a fourth-round pick that comes in and is immediately working with the one's getting a lot of reps with that first team offense, has it been exciting for you?
A: Yeah, it's been exciting, I just do what my coach tells me to do. I go out there and just try to do what he tells me to do and try and compete. Again, just earn trust from not just my position coach but, (Quarterback) Daniel Jones, Coach Dabs, and really just try to do what they tell me to do and earn trust from them.
Q: Are you confident you can kind of show you're more of a pass catcher than your numbers were in college maybe?
A: Yeah, I'm pretty confident that I can show that and of course it's whatever they want me to do. If they want me to go out there and catch a pass I will, if they want me to put my hand in the dirt to block, I'll do that as well.
Q: What's the biggest test for you in your first preseason game, what are you really looking to evaluate yourself?
A: Definitely just make sure that I can calm down and understand that this is an NFL game, but get used to the speed, and adjust to that. I think I've been doing a good job at practice. Of course, when the game comes on its just a step faster. Just getting used to the speed of the game a little bit and kind of just understanding how things work in a game and not just in practice.
Safety Julian Love
Q: If you play more linebacker, they're going to make you put one of those Guardian Caps on.
A: (Laughter) No, it was in my contract that I'm not allowed to wear one of those. I can't go out like that, I'm too skinny for that (laughs).
Q: What do you like about the way you are being used? I know you were excited in the offseason before you got out here but now that you've been doing it for a couple of weeks what do you like about it?
A: It's fun. I'm always at my best when I'm around the ball. I think that third down and sub packages, I've always kind of been in that role but deeper, so being the guy up front kind of like how (Former Giants Safety) Jabrill (Peppers) has been used in the past is fun. Third down thing but early down, I'm just happy to be back there at safety holding it down and then I get to move up and do some fun stuff on third down.
Q: What is your impression of (Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale) Wink's system and how it fits you in relation to what you were just talking about? Do you like it? Did you know much about it before he got here?
A: I didn't know much about him or the system. I just knew that it was aggressive, and you were going to have to pressure a lot, a lot of man coverage. He really just knows how to scheme up some pressures. A lot of stuff, really, isn't a pressure. It's simulated to, where we might be only sending four, but he finds ways to get free runners to the quarterback, which I think is fun. If you are a free runner to the quarterback, that's what you want on defense, so I've enjoyed it. I've enjoyed getting to know him and know the system.
Q: Some defensive coordinators, like (Bill) Belichick back in the day, I've talked to players, and they can't wait for that Wednesday to see what he's got for that Sunday's game. Does Wink seem like that kind of guy that you guys would be stoked to see what he's got?
A: Oh yeah. Wink and then the crew he brought over, (Outside Linebackers Coach) Drew Wilkins, those two, they've got some stuff schemed up. We got a little taste of it from the scrimmage, we wanted to do some things. We are going to have some things for the preseason, but they have a plan. They have a plan already for what they want for the season. They have a plan for how we want to attack each week. Yeah, we're going to come in excited to see what they've got written up.
Q: Is it dangerous for (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) to lower his shoulder when it's tempo? I guess secondary, how do you feel about that?
A: No, I mean I'm excited to see him run that hard. It's something we want. He's Saquon Barkley. He's a number two pick. He's a guy who's big, strong and they call him, 'Quads.' That's the type of running we want, really. It got a little hot out there, obviously, but when you cool off in the locker room, that's the energy we want to see from him. I know we won't get caught sleeping again, when that comes.
Q: How do you like that (Linebacker) Tae Crowder stood up for you guys?
A: Yeah, I think as a defense and Wink, he wants us all to back each other up. Things happen. The intensity was raising as you guys saw today. It was bound, something was bound to happen. As long as we have each other's back and Tae is a guy who is going to ride with his guys and we're going to ride for each other. That's (inaudible) going to make up some great defenses.
Q: Do you think that there is a part of Wink that likes seeing that?
A: Yeah, he wants to see it in a smart way, obviously. He wants to see how we respond, and I think that we responded well. Things got intense for a minute out there today, but we responded well. That's all he wants to see; we want to do the right things to keep our guys safe and not do anything dumb or get anybody hurt. We aren't going to go out sorry, that's one thing.
Q: Wink said to us earlier today that he feels like his meetings have been conducted a little bit differently than others. Can you describe, you've been around other coaches as well obviously. How are his meetings different would you say? How would you describe them?
A: They're pretty fun. (Defensive Backs Coach) Jerome Henderson has some music going as you walk in, so Wink is in there dancing and no matter how intense, how good or bad the practice is – the one thing that is so different about Wink is that he really tells us, he owes us his composure. He starts the meetings all the same – kind of with a joke where he is laughing about something because the practice was the practice, we are going to correct what we need to correct. He's not dwelling on it all day and feeling sorry for himself or sorry for us. He's responding in a positive way and as a coach, that's what you want.
Q: Did you say he was dancing?
A: Yeah, he has danced a couple of times. It's rough, it's bad dancing but it's not the best (laughs). He's not the best. We want that energy from our coordinator.
Q: Is he dancing before every meeting or is it just on occasion?
A: No, just on occasion. When the mood is right.
Q: One more question about the fight. Obviously, a lot of it is natural to football, pushing and shoving. When a guy like (Center Jon) Feliciano tries to knee somebody in the head or throw a haymaker, is that crossing the line to you guys?
A: I don't know. I don't think any of us have crossed a line. I don't think, we know Jon and he's not crossing the line at all. It gets intense and things happen and we're going to respond. They can expect that, we can expect that from them. We don't take it personally or at heart. Everybody is in there in the locker room right now just going on as normal. You defend your guys – that's what it comes down to.
Q: For a coach to get involved, though. (Offensive Line Coach) Bobby Johnson is right there in the middle and got into it with I think (Linebacker) Cam Brown a little bit.
A: Yeah, we've got some young guys and you want to see coaches, players – it's not just a guys on the field thing. You want to see people defending each other – the defensive side of the ball, offensive side of the ball. When it comes to this Thursday, when it comes to Sundays, it's our whole team but in practice it's tough not to be offense versus defense against each other. So, you get some physicality. We've got some younger coaches, some guys who played the game. That's just the testosterone is high at times, and so it is what it is.