Head Coach Pat Shurmur
Q: Opening statement:
A: You saw we released (G) Pat Omameh. It’s always hard when you release a veteran, especially a guy like Pat. Probably one of my favorite people that I’ve met doing this. Sometimes, it’s about the player. Sometimes, it’s about the situation, the numbers, and all that, but we wish Pat well.
Q: Why did you all decide to release him at this particular moment?
A: As you go through the season, you have to make moves to your roster. Some people question why we put (WR Quadree) Henderson down earlier, and now we’re putting him back up.
Q: What makes a cutting a guy who has actually played the right move? You have let guys go with experience and have inexperienced guy on the roster.
A: Pat came in and to his credit, he’s been a good soldier. We moved him around. We brought him in. We were going to play him at left guard. We signed him before we knew we were going to draft (G) Will (Hernandez), so he moved over to right guard. He battled for us. You just make changes, and that’s just the way it goes. We’re constantly looking to try to get the right combination of guys. We don’t have a problem playing young players. We’ll constantly change the roster, and then the players that are here, we’re going to continue to develop them. That’s why they play.
Q: Can you put your finger on why it didn’t work out for Pat?
A: I think he came in and competed and battled. Nothing in particular.
Q: Will Hernandez is a rookie who hears a lot of criticism about this offensive line. Do you have to talk to him about not listening to any outside noise?
A: No, we don’t worry about the noise. I think what’s important is he goes out and plays. He gets better each week. He has more good plays, and less bad plays. I’ve talked about this before, when you have rookies out there doing it for the first time, they tend to get better faster, or at least in our eyes. He played his best game last week, which is encouraging. He gets better each week.
Q: Does this mean (G) Jamon Brown will start on Monday?
A: We’re getting him ready to go.
*Q: You are trying to go out and win every week, but if you are trying to give a lot of new, young guys playing time and maybe the results don’t go the way you want, how much patience at an organizational level is there for that? *
A: I don’t know what type of question that is for me. I’m trying to go out and win a football game with the roster that we have. We’re constantly looking to upgrade the roster. That’s probably a question for somebody else.
Q: When the decision to waive Quadree (Henderson) back on Tuesday was made, was it in the back of your mind that you hoped that it would work out the way it worked out and that he would be back up here as your returner and not down on the practice squad?
A: For sure, and we had to do that. That roster move was to make room for (DL) RJ (McIntosh), that we had to move up at that point. We hoped that he would clear and then be available for us, like he was. Put him on the practice squad, and now we bumped him up.
Q: So sometimes it’s worth a risk in that situation to –
A: In some situations, you have to do that. I think every – you can probably go and talk to every head coach in the league and they’re dealing with working their roster because of injuries sometimes and sometimes it’s because you’re just trying to get the better players.
Q: I guess how everything shook out, you might just say why not just waive Pat (Omameh) for RJ.
A: There’s other reasons for it. Again, we have short term reasons, there’s some long term reasons, and certainly sometimes like I mentioned, it’s not about the player that’s getting released. It’s about the whole total roster and I think that’s safe to be said about this move.
Q: Do you like Odell (Beckham Jr.) saying he wants to win out?
A: Yeah. I worry about this game and winning the first game, but no, I think it’s great. I think that’s the important piece. You go out, you fight to win every game and then at the end, you add them up.
Q: Has the league been in touch with you at all about the air quality and contingency plans?
A: I heard something briefly. Pat (Hanlon) mentioned something about it because of the fires, I guess, but I haven’t heard anything officially from the league yet. I haven’t.
Q: Defensively, Curtis Riley – what has led to him taking what seems like he’s taking some wrong angles on some plays and it’s probably where some of the big plays have been allowed on the defense?
A: I think it’s – we’ll have to talk about which one specifically, but I think it’s important when you’re a safety, you got to be able to play the backend of the field, you got to play the middle, you got to play the half, and when the run breaks out, you have to take the proper angles. He’s taken the proper angle many times and it’s just something you work on.
Q: I don’t know how quite to ask this, but you invested a lot of time in a guy like Ereck (Flowers) or Pat Omameh in the offseason. Is it hard to admit a mistake, for lack of a better term?
A: I don’t think it’s admitting mistakes. I think it’s working with players and then trying always to put what we consider to be the best players on the field. Anytime you work with someone, it’s not time wasted. I guess I don’t understand the basis of that question. It doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out, you move on.
Secondary Coach Lou Anarumo
Q: When a player of (CB) Janoris Jenkins’ caliber struggles, how do you approach him and help him get back to his top level?
A: I think the nature of his position is going to be one that, especially in this year when you look at all the offensive numbers around the league, they’re just off the charts – record-setting in the history of the league. So, I think that more balls are going in the air. The challenges that corners face each week are becoming increasingly more difficult. You just keep working on the guys being consistent. I think he’s had really good stretches, and like everybody in the group, we’ve got to be more consistent at times.
Q: How did the (CB) Eli Apple trade go over with you guys?
A: Other than just getting other guys opportunities – giving (CB) Grant Haley extra snaps, (S) Sean Chandler, guys like that. We’ve gotten (CB) B.W. Webb to go outside and be a factor now. That’s really the biggest factor on the guys.
Q: Do you trust Sean Chandler enough to play both the nickel corner and free safety positions?
A: I think all the guys that are out there have a chance to be successful. Right now, his role will be probably a little bit closer to the ball, but we’ll have certain packages where he does multiple things.
Q: With Chandler and Haley, what have you seen from them in the past two weeks, and what type of opportunity will they have in the next eight weeks?
A: I think it’s a great opportunity. I think they’re young players. Certainly guys that we look forward to seeing over the next few weeks. I think that they’re both great guys. They’re hard workers, and they each bring different individual skill sets. They’re tough guys. They can run, they can move. They’re very competitive. So, we’ll see how it shakes out.
Q: How has (CB) Tony Lippett been?
A: Lip, we drafted down in Miami I think in ’14 or ’15, I can’t remember. He was the Big 10 leading receiver that year, I think. He played the last three games at corner. As it shaked out, Lip wound up starting for us in ’16, and went to the playoffs that year. He had four interceptions, he did a good job. He’s still coming off the Achilles. He’s doing a good job here now. We’ll see how it goes over the next few weeks, and hopefully get him up and running.
Q: What do you attribute to some of (FS) Curtis Riley’s struggles? Because he is new to the positon?
A: I think that you don’t want to miss any tackles. I think that when you look at where he is, it’s his first time starting. He’s eight weeks into it. I think that his numbers and (S) Landon’s (Collins) numbers when you look at where they’re at as a group, the two of them, they’re in the top-10 I believe in tackles amongst the safeties in the NFL. While those runs are on us in the back end, like those 20-plus yard runs, we got to get them on the ground. He knows that, certainly can take better angles for sure, but I think the newness to the position a little bit, and we just got to do a better job overall at that.
Q: The fact that Haley and Chandler were here with you so long, but you didn’t throw them right into the fire, are you seeing that benefit now?
A: I think it’s like anything else. You got guys from spring ball in college, to the OTAs. If they can go through the whole process, it’s a huge difference because all the little things with the limited amount of time we have with the guys that have been able to go through the full process, it’s not brand new to them. It’s like any young player. Right now, they’re focused on ‘what’s my job?’ and as soon as you can get them to, ‘okay, I know what my job is, what is the offense trying to do to me?’ That’s when you really start to see those guys be better players. That’s young players, first and second-year guys. As soon they can get out of ‘what’s my responsibility’ and focus on ‘what’s the offense trying to do to me’, that’s when the guys start to make plays.
*Q: it seems like they might have a little bit more confidence than guys who maybe would’ve been thrown in Week 1 or Week 2 because you didn’t have a choice, but it seems like by waiting you’ve kind of set them up for more success than maybe failure. *
A: It has kind of played out that way. I just think that anybody that’s in that role or again, like you’re saying, has been there is going to have a chance to be more successful.
Q: What kind of challenge is it facing a guy like (Nick) Mullens who only has that one game tape?
A: We go back to where we watched the preseason stuff and you got some snaps on the guy, he had a heck of a game against Oakland and he’s an NFL quarterback and he’ll present different challenges for us. We’ll be ready for both guys, however the game shakes out, but had a heck of a game last week and their whole offense – Kyle Shanahan does a great job in moving guys around. We’ve had enough tape to watch on. We get it back from going back to the preseason and seeing what he’s done along with the Oakland game.
Q: How much is it Kyle Shanahan’s system and not necessarily Mullens or (C.J.) Beathard?
A: I think, certainly, he does a good job helping those guys and he’s got good weapons around him. The tight end does a good job and certainly the receivers that they have, but they’re running a lot of their offense – it’s not like it’s that cut down or scaled down. I’m seeing a lot of what he’s done over Kyle’s career, to be honest.
Q: You touched on Landon. How would you evaluate his first eight games?
A: We’re asking a whole lot of Landon. As you can see, he’s lining up all over the field as a safety, as a linebacker, different spots and doing different things. I think that he’s done, like all of us, he’s had some good games and some games that I think or some plays that he’d like to have back, but I’m happy where he’s at. Go back and look at some of the things we’ve asked him to do. You go back to the Carolina game and 22 (Christian McCaffrey) had one catch going into the fourth quarter and a lot of that was because of who was covering him. (Alvin) Kamara – different things like that. We’ve asked him to do certain things I think that his skillset allows us to do, so I’m happy where he’s at.
Q: I know you weren’t here in 2016, but it almost seemed like the expectations for him got raised so much because he made so many big plays, but it’s more like down after down he still is kind of dominant –
A: He’s a safety and he’s going to be – he’s done a good job tackling people and safeties, by nature, they’re going to get their interceptions, but it’s going to come. We’ve got him closer to the box this year a little bit, so the opportunities may be not as great. We’ve got him covering tight ends, covering backs, so I’m happy where he’s at.
Q: Do you feel like B.W. Webb’s attitude is a good example for a guy who seems like he’s playing hungry, no matter what?
A: Yeah, I’ve had no problem with any of our guys’ attitudes. I think that they’re all doing a great job fighting, competing and B.W., in particular, is a guy that, like you said, he’s coming in and just been from day one since he walked in here, ‘I want an opportunity’ and he’s made the most of it, so to your point, he’s a guy that the younger guys certainly can look up to, a guy that’s bounced around a little bit in this league and now has played well for us.
Q: How important has Michael Thomas’ leadership been? It’s one of the reasons that you guys brought him here. Obviously there’s some adversity going on with the record, how important has he been to the defense?
A: Yeah, Mike’s a calming factor. I’ve known Michael for a long time and that’s part of his make-up. He doesn’t get rattled in situations like this or during a game where things are happening, so you can’t put a price on that. He’s done a great job mentoring not only the younger guys, but even the older guys that have been around here, just, ‘hey, this is the way we go about our business’ and there are times where you just got to let everybody relax and stay consistent and be the same guy every day and Mike’s done a good job with that.