Transcriptions from Friday's practice
Head Coach Ben McAdoo
Q: What happened to defensive end Romeo Okwara?
A: Knee. Knee sprain.
*Q: Why an indefinite suspension for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie rather than a defined end date? *
A: Well, DRC sat down and we talked about reviewing it at the beginning of next week.
Q: Are there any terms he has to meet or anything like that?
A: No. We are going to revisit it at the beginning of next week.
Q: What was the tone of that conversation like?
A: He and I had a personal conversation. Personal and private, it is going to remain that way. But it was a conversation.
*Q: Has he requested a trade? *
A: Not to my knowledge, no.
*Q: What's the difference between him leaving the sideline and cornerback Janoris Jenkins leaving the sideline in terms of disciplinary action? *
A: We'd like to handle our disciplinary issues in-house. We do it on a case-by-case basis, and we generally don't like to broadcast how we handle it.
Q: If Rodgers-Cromartie didn't leave the building on Wednesday, is it fair to say you wouldn't have made the decision to make him inactive Sunday public?
A: There was a lot that went into it. We like to handle things internally, in-house, on a case-by-case basis, and we don't like to broadcast.
Q: How much of this is a fallout from the rule that was created after the touchdown celebrations from earlier this year?
A: Everything had led to this point. I don't want to speculate on what you're referring to. I'm not really sure what you're referring to.
Q: After the Odell Beckham Jr. celebration in the end zone against Philadelphia, you said you were creating rules to make sure guys would act appropriately. I was wondering if that factored into this?
A: Again, I'll refer back to my last point, we like to handle things in-house and treat them that way. We don't like to put people's business out, and how we handle our disciplinary issues, out in the public. We don't feel like that helps us as a football team. Holding guys accountable is important, but we need to handle that in-house as much as you possibly can. In this case, we didn't feel that was an option.
Q: Had DRC expressed any unhappiness with his role?
A: Again, our personal and private conversations will remain personal and private.
Q: Do you feel like your players know why Rodgers-Cromartie was suspended?
A: When we report to work on Wednesday, our sole focus is getting ready for the next opponent and because the timing was an issue in this situation, the players will be addressed and they will be kept in the loop at the appropriate time.
Q: So they haven't been addressed by you about this situation?
A: At the appropriate time, they will be.
Q: What is your message to the team this week?
A: We've got a great opportunity. There's nobody giving us a chance in hell to go win this ballgame. People don't think we can score a point without 13 (Odell Beckham). They think our defense has lost its stinger. Special teams isn't important to the whole locker room. So, we're going to find out what we're made out of on a big stage, and I think we have a good football team. You go back and you look at the first two games of last season, we found a way to win a game versus a quarterback who never played, against a team that was battling here at home. Then we lost three in a row, we were 2-3. This year, last three ball games we lost either in the last seconds of the ballgame, or the last series of the ballgame. And we had opportunities to win those games. We haven't found a way to win. We need to do that, that's my job. But I still feel we have a good football team. I believe in the guys in the locker room. We had a great practice on Wednesday and Thursday. It was a spirited practice yesterday with pads on. So, I'm excited to go see how we play.
Q: What gives you confidence that you can score without Odell Beckham Jr.?
A: Practice. Watching the way we practice and watching the way we execute in practice. Seeing the run game going.
Q: Production in practice hasn't translated to production on game day so far though, right?
A: Well, we ran the ball better last week. We had over 102 yards after contact running the football. We're doing some positive things in the games, we just have to play a complete game and play consistent football.
Q: Why did you not think immediately was an appropriate time to address the team about Rodgers-Cromartie's suspension?
A: The timing of the matters played a factor.
Q: In a situation like this, how valuable is it to have a guy like quarterback Eli Manning?
A: Yeah, Eli, he's gone about his business and prepared as he always has. As well as the other guys in the locker room. I haven't seen anybody blink, I haven't seen anybody flinch. We had a good week of practice.
Q: So, you thought the timing impacted your decision to not address the team?
A: The timing and details were an issue. If you're going to speak and address an issue, you want to make sure that you have all the details.
Q: So, you didn't think you had all the details to speak to the team?
Q: Will you go with D.J. Fluker at right guard this week?
A: Do you think I'm going to answer that question? You know me better than that, I'm not going to answer that question. We have eight guys that can go out and play this week. They can play at a high level, and we'll play the guys that we think are going to give us the best chance to win the ballgame.
Offensive Line Coach Mike Solari
Q: What has it been like for you with all the different offensive line combinations?
A: It's been challenging. It's been challenging with the offensive line. They're working hard and next man up mentality. And, again, just the changing of the different positions is an adjustment we're making. We're getting better. We're getting better.
Q: How do you think OL Brett Jones has done at center?
A: Brett has done well. Brett is a hard worker. He's always prepared. He's always working hard and did a nice job with learning the offensive technique and the fundamentals. Critical for the center. He's the kind of leader of the offensive line, making the calls because calls come from inside out and he did a good job. Doing a great job. He's improved every day.
Q: What's different when you have OL Brett Jones in the lineup opposed to C Weston Richburg?
A: Well, again, the key thing is – the nice thing about Brett – he works so hard preparing. He's just like Weston as far as his knowledge, being able to communicate. The most important thing is being able to communicate with that center spot because that's where all the calls come from – from the ID of the front to the blocking schemes and, you know, each of them have their own compliments what they can do best. But, again, the most important thing, they're solid football players.
Q: Why do you think your confidence in T Bobby Hart hasn't translated to the field?
A: I think he's getting better. Maybe a little bit inconsistent this last week and I think because of the time he – in between the games. I know the second game, he played also. But, the second play he gets hurt and he's out. So, again, there's a lapse there and in the NFL if you don't practice, you lose a little bit of your skill. That's something that we're working on hard with Bobby and Bobby has worked hard this week at regaining his techniques and skills.
Q: What kind of challenge does Von Miller present?
A: Unbelievable. Unbelievable. Again, he's one of the best and I think it's exciting to be able to play against him. It's exciting as a coach to prepare against him and he's dynamic. What makes him dynamic? His first step. His initial quickness. The other thing that's really impressive about Von when you watch him is all his moves. He can go right into a spin. He can go right into a power. He's got dip and rip. He's got it all. And it's awesome. And he's special. It's fun to watch.
Q: How much do you expect the Broncos to move Von Miller around?
A: They'll move him. They'll move him. Absolutely, they will move him. They have a very good football staff and they'll make sure, you know, they'll make sure they move him because they don't want you to bead in on him. They move him as well as from a defensive end spot to a three-technique. Over the guards – a three-technique. He's standing up. But, again, they move him so you can't lock in on him and double him and chip him all day long to help him out.
Q: Do you feel like you need to double Von Miller as much as possible?
A: Yeah, I mean, he's a guy you have to adjust for. He's a guy you have to change up. You double every time? No. I mean, no. But, again, he's a guy that you want to change up, whether you chip him, whether you slide to him, whether you double him with a tight end chip in, with a back chip in, will you slide your line to them. You have to change up your protection against him as well as moving the pocket, as well as your rhythm of throws.
Q: Is it similar to if you had one guy to be able to follow him all over the place, like a corner?
A: Right. They have the luxury on the other side. They have the luxury on the other side. Again, the key thing is we study each individual, each defensive lineman that we're going to face or an outside linebacker that we're going to face. We study their techniques and skills and try to learn and get a feel for them. So, again, every man is prepared for him whatever spot he lines up and you always trust your technique and fundamentals. That's the most important thing. Trust your techniques. Trust your fundamentals. Trust your teaching.
Q: There's nothing you can do to force Miller to go to the matchup that you would prefer, right?
A: Correct, that's in their corner. Again, we understand usually he does line up to our right, we understand that. But you'll see him also on the left. They move him in a little bit. But again, just like anything else, we always talk about footwork technique and skills. As a pass rusher, it's the exact same thing. It's the timing and the rhythm of which foot is first, the hand placement and so forth. So, you get a rhythm also as a better pass rusher on one side or the other. Again, he's talented, either side.
*Q: How frustrating are the breakdowns in fundamentals during the games across the offensive line? *
A: Well, how you fix it is practice. How do you fix it? As a coach, as a line coach, that's my responsibility, is drill work. You've got to make sure your drills – just don't do drills. Your drills are designed, your drills need to change to try to enable that person to achieve that technique, or that movement skill that they need. Each week your skills and your techniques change because of the defensive front. The alignments, the shades, the wider alignments, if there's variations. Tighter on the line of scrimmage, deeper off the line of scrimmage. So, your techniques, your assignments, your drills change. So, to answer your question, the key thing is to implement your drills on Wednesday and Thursday, so that's a Thursday in pads, where it's a look that you're preparing them to see. Or, it's a skill that you're preparing them to achieve.
Q: How much did you need to stay in left tackle Ereck Flower's ear early in the season to make sure he stayed confident?
A: Well again, Ereck's working hard, Ereck's working to try to develop the consistency in his techniques. And I think in his play, you're seeing improvement in some things that we really want him to do and it's coming along. Is it coming along quick enough? For a coach, you always say no. But Ereck's working at it. And as a coach, all you can ask from a player is to work at it, develop the skills, make it a habit. Not just where it shows up once in a while.
Q: Did you worry about his confidence?
A: No. I don't think so. Ereck's strong. Ereck's strongminded. Ereck's strong and I don't think that bothers him. He's looking forward and trying to get better – trying to help us win.
Q: What does D.J. Fluker bring to the table?
A: A physicality. A physicality as a young man. You just talk to him – he's exuberant with passion. He loves the game, but he's a physical, tough, hard-nose player and he brings passion. He's great not only on the football field for us, but he's great in the locker room. He's great in the classroom. What he brings as a pro, what he brings is just experience and he loves the game. We love the way he practices and we love what he brings to the table.
Q: Have you seen any drop off in Justin Pugh's play bouncing back and forth between positions?
A: I think Justin is really working hard. I think Justin is playing at a high level and I say that to you, you know, last year he was banged up a little bit. So, when he came back, like I just said earlier about Bobby (Hart) – when he came back there's a lot of days he missed practicing, staying sharp and so forth. But, he's playing at a high level right now and he's giving everything he has in his technique and fundamentals and finishing, straining, really like what he's doing in the sense of what he's bringing to the table. He's a finisher. And, it's just a matter of, you know, is lock into a position where you can re-find your techniques.
Q: That's hard?
A: That's hard. It's hard. It's hard. But, again, most important thing is – these guys here – they're working. They don't complain. They're trying to achieve what we're trying to ask of them as far as their technique and fundamentals and we're all working to get better.
Q: What's it like to have the conversation with Justin Pugh about moving positions?
A: Again, you know Justin. He's a pro. I mean, 'whatever you want me to do to win.' He's a pro. And, I'm trying to say not only is Justin, but all the men making moves and making adjustments and trying to get the best vibe on the football fields they're competing and to get better. The nice thing is, is they're competing and it's good. It's what you want. It's what makes us better.
Linebackers Coach Bill McGovern
Q: How do you plan on replacing Jonathan Casillas?
A: Next man up.
Q: How do you feel like Keenan (Robinson) has played?
A: He's getting there. It's like all of the guys, they're all still working at it. We're all trying to get better. There are things we see after each week that we like where we improved and there are things that we can keep improving on, so we are trying to get better at those things.
Q: You have given up eight touchdowns to running backs and tight ends this year, how do you make sense of that?
A: The way that they are attacking us. Different things they are doing. When you're looking at it, they are using more multiple formations, more tight end groupings. Those guys are going to be involved a little bit more. We've faced some talented receivers and tight ends and they've made some plays. But it's always something we're trying to work on, but that's the thing, we'll just keep trying to address it.
Q: Do you view it as one on one matchups? Have they been mental breakdowns?
A: If you're saying tight ends have caught a lot of balls on us, you look at it and say, "well they're checking down. They're throwing check downs to them." So to answer your thing, there are all different ways, the multiple groupings, the multiple tight end personnel groupings that they're using in some of their schemes now. They're the guys out on the routes, so if somebody catches the ball, they're likely to be one since they're not just playing with one tight end anymore.
*Q: What types of adjustments have to be made when you talk about the next man up because obviously some people can't do things others can? *
A: Well, just making sure he is up to speed with it, but they've all been doing the same things. The next guy might do certain things better than JC (Jonathon Casillas), so we'll try to feature those things in the game plan. But it's one of those things where we're asking all of those guys to do pretty much across the board the same thing as one another so it will be the next man's opportunity to go out there and play.
Q: Curtis Grant played a little inside linebacker, right?
A: He's played all three, he's played all three.
Q: Do you think he's a guy that can play that spot if you need him?
A: Yeah, in time, yes.
Q: Is there anyone else who fits into that spot?
A: Keenan can play it, obviously. Calvin (Munson) can play it. Curtis can play it. B.J's (Goodson) played it at times, but obviously he'll be a little busy hopefully in the middle. But other than that, those guys are really the candidates for it.
*Q: How do you think B.J has progressed since his injury? *
A: He's been solid. Again, it's being out on the field and working at it. Again, frustrating when you don't have him on the field on a regular basis, but it's good to have him back.
*Q: Does (Cap) Capi work with you guys? *
A: He's kind of one of those swing guys. He's one of those swing guys. He's got some ability on first and second down, like in run situations, to be able to play linebacker, but he's also got some pass rush ability so we're trying to work that into it, too.
Q: But he spends most of the time in your room?
A: Both. We try to split time with him.
Q: You've been trying to get a guy like him for a while, right? You've had a couple guys you've tried to do that with.
A: Well those body types are a little bit different, you know? If you get a grouping of them, they kind of fall in there in terms of an outside linebacker/d-end/linebacker and what can they do? And if a guy can handle it mentally and physically, great. The more you can do, the more valuable you become. But he's one of those guys that we're trying to work through that right now.
Q: When you follow the mantra of next man up, can you tell if a guy is scared to death or if he is excited and ready to play?
A: As you see the week progress, you see them get excited to play. I haven't seen anybody be scared or afraid of anything, but our guys are excited for the opportunity to go back out there and play.
*Q: What have you seen from (Devon) Kennard this year? *
A: Well, obviously, we're asking more of him. We got him more in the nickel package and everything else. A little bit more of a d-end, he's still playing the same. So again, he is another guy along the lines of, or Capi is more along his lines in terms of guys who split time in both rooms. But he can handle it. He's mentally sharp and we're just trying to use all of his physical attributes.
Q: Do you change anything when you have injuries in a position group and obviously where you guys are in the standings where it becomes more of a developmental focus?
A: No. No. No, we're trying to win this game.