*Transcriptions from Friday's practice: *
Head Coach Ben McAdoo
Opening Statement: Alright. Let's open it up.
Q: Did DE Olivier Vernon have a set back?
A: We decided to leave him in for treatment on Thursday.
Q: How much did he do the previous day?
A: He was limited. He did more than he did previous weeks, but he was limited.
Q: Could WR Sterling Shepard play more outside with the way your receiving corps is now?
A: Yeah. He could play outside depending on which personnel group is on the field. We're confident in all those guys, whether they play inside or outside.
Q: What do you think is a challenge for the defense with a quarterback like Russell Wilson, who can throw on the run and rush?
A: Yeah. I think when you look at Russell, he's very capable in the pocket, first of all. He has good instincts on where to go with the ball. Trusts his read. He's been in the same system his whole career, has good rhythm in his body, good timing, good accuracy, can make all the throws. Where he's deadly is when he can create at the back end of the pocket. He's good at the top of the drop where he can set it, reverse out and come out on top of the ends on either side or step up and come out. Last thing we want to do is give him a vertical lane where he can step up and run through the defense. So, he's very dangerous when he can create. He can make all the throws and when he moves and he can do it both sides – left and right.
Q: What do you attribute to the success in the run game in the last three games?
A: I think we've played physical. I think we've had more attempts at the plate. Been able to rush the ball into the fourth quarter and that has helped.
Q: How much has RB Orleans Darkwa earned more opportunities based on what he's done the past couple weeks?
A: Yeah. I mean, he's running the ball well when he's had his opportunities. He's done so really since he's been here. He's a physical back. He's a big back. He has good instincts on where to go. He can read the hats up front and tie it into the scheme. He's done a nice job.
Q: Has he earned more playing time by doing that?
A: He got 21 carries last week. That's a healthy dose.
Q: How much of an impact has OL D.J. Fluker made the past three games?
A: He's playing physical. The thing we like about D.J. is he gives you everything he has. He's a physical player. He's tough. Has great enthusiasm for the game and glad we have him.
Q: Do you regret not getting OL D.J. Fluker in there sooner?
A: I think we brought him along at just the right pace.
Q: How do you think OL D.J. Fluker's energy and enthusiasm helps?
A: Anytime you have big guys with enthusiasm and a passion to play the game and to be physical and come off the ball and run the ball, it helps.
Q: Is there anything that you think OL Brett Jones has given you in the run game?
A: Yeah. I think, you know, obviously Brett prepares very well. He's a smart player. He's cerebral. Studies the game. He's physical. Plays with good pad level and he has some thickness to him and he finishes.
*Q: Since you weren't calling the plays, would you say that you had the opportunity to spend more or less time on the defense or special teams? I assume you're usually more involved with the offense. *
A: Everyone gets a piece of me.
*Q: When the defense is on the field, are you able to do more because you're not planning the next series? *
A: I think a lot of times you trust your gut when you're calling plays. A lot of the preparation situationally is done in advance. So you look at the game through a different lens when you're not calling. I think you always need to think ahead, whether you're calling the game or you're in my position to manage the game. But I think your personality can come out a little bit more and you can move around a little bit more instead of playing the play caller and the game manager ahead of the game. I think there are advantages and disadvantages of it, but I can interact with the players a lot more this way in all three phases.
Q: What about the operation with Mike (Sullivan)? Obviously you're on the headset, but there is not enough time to say, "I don't like that play," right?
A: Yeah, I mean I can veto anything that's called, but you have to trust the man that you empowered to call the game. You have to empower him to call the game and let him set it up.
Q: How much would you say you interacted with him and suggested things in between series?
A: I'm always listening, I always want to hear the other coaches and their input. You always want to go back and make sure you know where the breakdown was or why you were successful in certain things. But you just want to keep the lines of communication open, just be a part of the conversation in all three phases.
*Q: I know you say this is one of 16 games, but is this game more important to build off of last week so you get to the bye with two wins? *
A: We prepared well Wednesday, we had a good practice Thursday. We have to have a tremendous day today mentally and take care of ourselves physically and have a good speed day tomorrow. We need to take it one day at a time.
*Q: Is there anything that you do differently pre-bye? *
A: Well, we just came off a night game on a pseudo west coast trip for us. So it was important for us to make sure the players had their rest at the beginning of the week so they could get fresh so we could have good, quality practices on the field and play well on Sunday. So we'll take care of our bodies when it comes time for that. We had a good week of preparation so far and we need to continue it.
Defensive Line Coach Patrick Graham
Q: How much is on DE Avery Moss to step up?
A: A lot. Luckily, he's been working pretty hard since we got him and studying really hard. Kid's a smart kid. Smart kid, has a lot of natural ability and what we've tried to do as a coaching staff and also himself working with him and even like OV (Olivier Vernon) talked to him. Trying to get him to play to his abilities better and just try to emphasize the things he does right like the explosiveness, the get off. Things of that nature. Being violent with his hands. I mean, he knows that we're counting on him a lot now. He has to grow up in terms of a football player. I think he's pretty mature as a person and professional, but I'm looking forward to him getting an expanded role and playing more.
Q: What did you see from him last week?
A: Last week, what you saw from him – you saw the explosiveness, you saw whether it was the violence with the hands, the get off in the pass rush. The thing that was missing probably you would say is just the experience. Like, OK, you need to finish here. Alright, you need to get into your transition quicker. And, all the things he can do is just the process as a young player, like being able to process it and being able to execute out there on the field at a faster pace. But, it'll come. It'll come out. That's why we like him.
Q: Can you tell him just to go out there and play and try not to think about it?
A: No. You have to be careful doing that like you know, you want the game – they play the game out there between the white lines and we coach them. We try to give them some tools, try to cut down the variables for those guys and what we do is we go back and we watch the tape and say, 'OK, see here you could have transitioned quicker. Alright?' And just try to bring it to his attention because, again, I can't control what he sees out there on the field. I can point it out as a coach. You just hope that with time and with reps and practice, more importantly, that the transition speeds up for him, but he'll be OK. He'll be OK.
Q: How pleased were you to see the run defense this week with DT Damon Harrison?
A: I'm a D-line coach. If I wasn't happy with – but, you know, we got a big challenge this week, though, too. But, I mean, I would be lying if I told you that I wasn't happy with the way we played the run. It's the same challenge that's going to come up this week versus Seattle. They got a good O-line. Those guys play very hard. Their O-line coach gets them to play hard. Those guys – they're executing what their coach wants them to do. They play with a mean streak and I got a lot of respect for those guys and then you put that with the ball carriers that they have that are dynamic with the ball, whether it's the guys with speed or (Eddie) Lacy with just power. But, the key from last week that we had that we're trying to carry over to this week – we have to constrict the space on the field. Whatever it is in the run game, you got to just constrict the space so there's less lanes for them to run through and do a good job of that and I think when we went back and evaluated last week, you know we're moving on. That's what happened – the space in there was constricted and we just got to do a better – keep working on doing a better job of that.
Q: How can you contain a guy like Russell Wilson with his ability to extend the play?
A: Man, I remember Russ when I was a coach at the University of Richmond. His brother played for us there and he worked as our ball guy a little bit. He was a little guy. We tried to offer him like in eighth grade. This guy – I mean I couldn't contain him out there in eighth grade, but we're going to try our best. I mean, the thing is we got a plan to try to work around that, but he's an elite player. The guy has been a good player for a long time in this league and he's dynamic with the ball in his hands whether it's run or pass. But, we have a plan for it. I'm not going to get into any specifics, but he's not the only person we have to defend out there on the field, either. We're going to play our defense, defend the field how we know how to in the situation and see how it plays out.
Q: How unique is Russell Wilson's drop back?
A: His launch point changes, but unique – like he's different. He's definitely a different player, but I hate when a question about unique or the history of the league, I mean, there have been a lot of players like that. Whether it was Randall Cunningham or even when Aaron Rodgers was dropping back, but our plan for Russell is just to try to keep everything in front and just, you know, he's a challenge. He's a challenge, but he's a good player. So, whatever they're coaching him to do or whatever he's doing as a player, wherever his launch point is, I mean, we got to adjust to that. It's tough. He's a tough guy to defend. That's the honest truth there.
Q: What gave you the confidence to give DT Dalvin Tomlinson such a big role?
A: Dalvin – I mean, the kid is smart, he's tough. And then more importantly, the thing that he does that I give him a lot of credit for and he's just following the role of his leaders – Snacks (Damon Harrison), alright. This guy practices like it's the most important thing other than the game, which is as a coach what you tell them. Practice is the closest thing to the game, so you have to get that right and that's what he does every day. Whether it was training camp, whether it was OTAs. Like he had a little spell on OTAs where we had to teach him and even Snacks was. We had to get him like, 'Hey, this is how you got to practice even though there are no pads on.' And, I think that transition and seeing how he's grown there as a practice player gives us as coaches the confidence to put him out there on the field. And then, in the classroom, his work he does. All of them – all the guys are working like that, but just to be on it. Whether it's the tendencies. Whether it's the techniques that guys are using against him. Noticing different things with different players. I mean, that's what makes him smart, tough and then he executes it out on the field. But, I would say (Jay) Bromley, Rob Thomas – all those guys have improved in that aspect. That answers your question, hopefully.
Q: When DE Jason Pierre-Paul has the type of game he just had, what kind of an impact does that have on the other guys?
A: When JPP – when his juice is energy, it fuels the team, I think. Especially on the defensive side of the ball. He's a pleasure to be around because when that energy comes, like, it's contagious. Me personally, I'm a nerd and a D-line coach, like I'm usually in a bad mood. It just is what it is. I mean, I go home, I have to take a few minutes to get out of my bad mood. I'm miserable most of the time. Not in a bad way, but it's not like I have everything wrong with the court. Just that's my mood. His energy when he has the juice, it's just contagious and guys get excited. I mean, we were joking on the sideline. I said, 'Can you please get another sack? Get it up to three.' He's like, 'Coach, it's already at three.' I was like, 'Whatever man. Get four then.' You know? His juice is always a positive, man. Guys will feed off that, but we need it to be every week. He needs to be consistent and he knows that and he's working towards that and I think last week were some steps in practice, especially, in practice, that are going to help transfer onto the field.
Q: Did you have to get into DE Jason Pierre-Paul's ear last week about getting back on track?
A: You would have to ask him specifically about that, but I'm always in their ear. I mean, he did three sacks – I'm still in his ear. That's what he would tell you, like, 'Pat's always in my ear.'
Q: Did you have to change your approach at all though?
A: No. I told you. I'm always miserable. Nothing is good enough for me. They know that. They know their coach. I've been like that since day one. They're like, 'What's wrong with this guy?' But, that's me. I don't know what to tell them. I don't do that with my wife though. That would be stupid.
Q: Do you do more with LB Devon Kennard now that you're down a couple healthy defensive ends?
A: I'm not going to get into the specifics, but you guys are at the field. Sometimes DK is talking to me. Most of the time, DK is talking with Bill (McGovern). Spags (Steve Spagnuolo) has DK sometimes. We as coaches – I do what the head coach, Spags has me do and then whoever I need to talk to, to talk about whatever the part of the things that happened on the field that I have to help them with. That's what I do. But, DK makes his rounds, whether it's with the linebackers coach, D-line coach, coordinator. I mean, he makes the rounds, so that's what he does.
Q: How do you think LB Devon Kennard has done when he's doing things on your side of the ball?
A: I think that DK is one of the more consistent players I've ever been around in my career. So, in terms of just the way he approaches the game and again, as he spends more time with us in the room just in terms of what we're teaching and how we go about our weekly process, I've seen him grow in that because he has the linebacker element. Then he has the defensive line element. So, it's a different process how we go about it. How we prepare for the week. You know, big picture as we narrow down specifically to the people by the end of the week. OK, this is what they run. But, how's he running this? How does he do this? So, we go through that with him and I've seen him grow and mature with that process and it's a process I learned from older veteran players I've coached before.
Tight Ends Coach Kevin Glibride
*Q: How much does Evan's (Engram) role change with all of the wide receivers being out? *
A: It increases. That's certainly the case. But really his role was going to be large no matter what just with his skill set and what he brings to the table. The other guys' roles are increasing now as well.
*Q: Can you elaborate on what he brings to the table? *
A: The obvious one would be in the pass receiving game. Speed, quickness, good hands, agility, run with the ball after the catch, his explosiveness. That's what he brings to the table as far as being dynamic. What he does still pretty well and can continue to improve is his run blocking. Whether if it's at the point of attack or on the back side. Where he does need to improve is his finish and that's certainly been addressed. He knows it, he understands that our team needs him to finish better and certainly he takes everything to heart, so he will finish better.
Q: Does he remind you of anybody you have seen over the years?
A: I'd say if you had to compare him to somebody, I would probably say Jordan Reed from the Redskins. That would be the best comparison. But again, he's a young player and he's developing. But the sky is the limit for him.
Q: He had a lot of big plays last week on catch-and-runs. Why haven't we seen as much down the field as we expected.
A: Based on coverages.
Q: How does running more two tight end packages impact your group?
A: Well, they are all excited, I know that. Each week, everything is going to be game plan specific based on what the defense tries to do and take away and where you can gain an advantage. But with having less receivers and having the fourth tight end up with Matt LaCosse, they're all fired up. They're excited for each other, they feel like they can help impact the game in a positive way for our team.
*Q: Do you feel like teams are playing you differently because of Evan Engram? *
A: Not necessarily. Coverages so far have been pretty comparable to what we study going in and the defensive coordinators have stayed true to their colors for the most part. There is always adjustments because they study us like we study them. So whatever they feel like they can gain an advantage, they will and make adjustments that way and then we can counter-adjust right from there.
Q: Do you expect him to be more of a focal point going forward?
A: I certainly hope so. He is one of our weapons.
Q: What did you see from Matt (LaCosse)?
A: He had nine plays. I thought he played pretty well. The one ball that was thrown to him was a low throw, but maybe he could have made a catch, potentially make a play on that play. But I thought he could have gotten out of that route a little faster.
*Q: How did he handle being a healthy scratch the first five weeks? *
A: He's a team guy. That's the one thing you can certainly say about all of those tight ends. They're team guys. So whatever was going to help the team, he was okay with.
*Q: How has Rhett Ellison come along? *
A: He's been very impressive, to be honest with you. He really does a great job in the run game and he's very precise in the pass game as far as his route execution. He hasn't had that many opportunities with that many balls thrown his way, but when he does, he continuously sticks his foot in the ground, gets north and south, breaks a tackle and puts us in a good position, whether it's to get a first down or gains the first down.
Q: Does that surprise you because it seemed like in training camp you guys thought he was going to be more of a pass catcher than he has been?
A: No, it's just strictly based on coverage dictation. The coverage dictates where the football goes. When he's been asked to do those and he's gotten those opportunities and the coverages dictated that it has gone his way, he's performed well.
Q: Where do you think Jerrell Adams has improved the most?
A: I'd say his confidence in the passing game. There is still some slight hesitation in the run game, but once he knows what he's doing as far as his footwork, how to get his job done. Once he locks his hands on that defender, he really what we call 'pounds his arches' and gets great movement on those defenders. So that's held true this year as well. The more confident that kid gets, the better off he is going to be. And it is improving.
DE Jason Pierre-Paul
Q: What is the key for you as a pass rusher when going against Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson?
A: You've got to keep him contained. He's a fast guy, played with him before. We've got to keep him contained and do your assignments well.
Q: How do you keep Wilson contained?
A: Easy, just rush the quarterback. He's a tougher quarterback, he makes things happen. If you look, he's a special kind of guy. He can be falling down and he throws the ball downfield and gets it complete, so we really have to get there. We've got to stop the run first.
Q: How much can you build off of last week's game?
A: We play one game, one at a time, especially me. I take one game one at a time. I don't look about what I did last week, or what I'm about to do. I just take it one game at a time and whatever opponent is in front of me, I figure him out and that's when I get to work.
Q: What do you think about the opponent this week?
A: I'll figure him out during the game. That's how I basically play, I'll figure him out during the game because anything can switch in the game.
Q: With the injuries to Olivier Vernon and Romeo Okwara, how do you think Avery Moss has responded to increased opportunities?
A: He's doing a good job. For a rookie, he's stepping up big time. He's got a lot on him, but you've got to step, when it's your time to step up, you've got to step up. So, he's doing a great job. I try to coach him up here and there on the field, but I think he gets it.
Q: What kind of advice do you give Moss?
A: Don't try to think too much, don't try to think too much about what's going on. You're going to mess up, that's just the part of the game, but at the end of the day, if you mess up one 110% and then just thinking and then the play passes you by. That's football. React.
Q: Do you think that Defensive Player of the Year is still attainable this season?
A: That's something that every year I try to get. But, sometimes injuries occur. So, that's my strive. I'm not really after it, but at the same time, whatever my play can help me get, can help me get.
Q: Did your shoulder hurt you earlier in the year?
A: My shoulder hurts me every year, man, but I'm out there [laughs].
Q: Would you say that you 'bring the juice' to the team, as Defensive Line Coach Patrick Graham said?
A: Honestly, I feel like, me personally, I'm going to bring the juice no matter what. At the end of the day, we've been counted out. I've been counted out plenty of times, but nobody can tell you when it's your time. But as of right now, I'm going to continue playing football the best way I can – stopping the run