Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher
I'm excited. You have to speak about where we are at right now. Right now, we are into phase two of the offseason program and I am excited to get to work every day. You come in and there is young guys and a great mix of veteran players in meeting rooms. These guys have been just outstanding through phase one and phase two. Meetings, on the field, the work that we can get in. It is a voluntary time.
I think it speaks a lot to the attentiveness, but more importantly, we use the phrase in our meeting room to be where your feet are. It is so important that we are not just here working. Everyone is working. It is what we are doing and when we are doing it. I have a lot of excitement when I come to work with how this group is working. The how they are doing the what. The how to the what. It has been really fun these last few weeks. We are going to continue to stack days, meetings and individual periods. We will add them all up when we go play someone this fall and see where we are at this first week. You come into this phase coming out of the acquisition phase. I am sure there will be some questions in regards to that. We go through the free agent process and I don't think it is ever through true intent that we were able to sign two Arizona guys. We have a chance to add Antoine Bethea, a guy who is one of the highest character players I have ever been around, smart, intelligent and an unbelievable leader. As you have an opportunity to wrap your hands around him and embrace him a little bit, you will see what I am talking about with him. I was talking to him the other day and I was joking with him telling him that as time goes on, I get more gray hair. As time goes on, he gets younger. That is just when you see his play, that is what it has been. The years in the league have progressed for him. He has played fast and played young. That what impresses me about him.
We had a chance to get Markus Golden in here and Markus unfortunately somewhere around 18ish months ago had a pretty significant knee injury. Don't ever forget that before that he was one of the best pass rushers in this league. People had to plan for him. I know that because I was one of the guys calling the plays for him on defense. I saw what he was able to do when he was healthy and running around. I love how he is moving right now and I love his work. He is a guy that is going to play exceptionally hard. As I sat here a year ago and talked to you about one of the identifying qualities we needed our defense to look like was it took relentless, work relentless and play relentless. I think that is probably the epitome of Markus.
Through trades and other things that happen, you get other players, including Jabrill Peppers. Jabrill is a highly talented and ascending player in this league. A guy that has the flexibility to play strong safety and could come down in the box and play some money. He is a really talented blitzer and when you watched his tape in Cleveland, you saw all the different roles he played. You saw snaps where he plays nickel, high in the middle of the field, high and outside, where he plays down low. A guy that has a lot of versatility. A guy that when he learns this system, he is going to have a lot of fun playing in this system. You start stacking up those guys and you get into the draft. When we talk about the draft, the question probably will be and is about six. I am really excited about the guy we brought in at six. If you want to ask me if I would have love to have Josh Allen or Ed Oliver, I think if you lined up 32 coordinators and however many hundreds of defensive coordinators there are that have ever coordinated and said hey, you get picks one through five in the draft and you get to draft anyone that you want, I have a feeling they would take all defensive players. You can't talk about team and not be about team. You can't talk about building culture and not be about that. You can't preach to your players as a coach and not be about that life, right? Whoever we have, we are excited to have. That is not a company line, it is personal opinion.
Look at the two guys that we were fortunate to get. One of the biggest humans that I have ever seen, moves as quick as he can move. A 330-pound guy that is going to come in and compete, help us be the type of run defense that we want to be. Also, don't forget the guy ran about five flat at 345 pounds. That does not happen very often. A lot of people got to see him move at rookie minicamp. We are excited to have him. Then, Dave and our ownership, they work a deal and get us back in the first round and get a corner in DeAndre. The thing I would say about Baker is that he played in a very, very tough league. We all know how long it was before he gave up a touchdown pass. He competed and covered some of the best players that have come out of that league on offense. His tape speaks for itself. One of the best, if not the best, tackling corner in the draft, period. Excited to have him. He did an outstanding job at camp this past week.
You start there and then you go through the steps. Those are the guys that we brought in. We brought in ascending, young, talented players to add to the mix of guys that we have here. At this point in time, once you get past the draft guys and go into year two, no one is a rookie anymore. There are two jobs at hand. The number one job as a coach is to get your players better. That is my job and our position coaches' jobs, get guys better. Number two, you are not a young player anymore and you still need to get better so our players have a job, they need to come to work and work every day. We are going to have that mindset. We are going to back that mindset as a defense day after day and that is how we are going to continue to build something special on defense.
Q: When you look at this defense and see the new faces, what can this defense be if it all fits in the way you want it to?
A: I am hoping it can be an aggressive, attacking defense that dictates. As I look at where it is at today and moving to tomorrow, I believe that is what it can be.
Q: Can it be better than last year? You don't have Landon, Vernon or Snacks.
A: All those guys, I love them, I do. Those guys know that. Part of the NFL is that sometimes guys move on. We all know that. I wish those guys the best except for when they are playing us. The truth is that OV did not have a resume until he built it. Lorenzo Carter has to build his resume, Markus Golden has to continue building his resume. That is the only way that happens. OV was not just day one, came into the league and was a dynamic pass rusher, he had to build that. The only way the guys get a chance to do that is on the field getting snaps. Getting their butt coached off and taking it.
Q: Janoris is kind of the elder statesman in the secondary. As a coordinator, what is it that he can pass on and teach these kids?
A: That is a great question and I'll say this from coach Shurmur: Hope is not a strategy. I'll say that because this: as I have watched through phase two work, Janoris has been not great but unbelievable with our young guys. He has had great, teachable moments where as a coach you just have to let it go. You are starting to go coach the young guys and he is already on it. I see the ownership in year two that he is starting to take with those guys. It is outstanding and it is going to help us be a better defense and not just those guys be better players themselves.
Q: Where does Dexter fit in on the defensive line?
A: He is going to come in, compete and try and be a starter. We have a young room with some flexible players. A year ago when Snacks left and Dalvin was playing a little more nose, we ended up really at times playing some right and left with B.J. One was a three technique and one was a nose in our sub stuff. All those guys have had the flexibility and they do have the flexibility to play three. It will be competing each week to see who gets the most snaps, who will be the starter in different packages. I love that part about it. You go sit in that room and they are sitting in there watching some tape from our phase two work the other day, they care about each other. You can sense that in the room. That is exciting because they don't just want their success but they want success for us. There is going to be something different because of that.
Q: What was your experience like on draft night? Were you in a position to argue for a defensive player?
A: First thing is, Dave Gettleman does a great job, and this does not happen everywhere, but through the process, he wants to hear your opinion. He cares about what coaches' opinions are. He wants to hear about how you are going to use guys. Those decisions in terms of hearing my voice, that is not a draft night. We have had those conversations and meetings to set it up. You know that when you get to draft night because you have been through it before, you know that whoever we pick, he is our guy, whether he is an offensive guy or defensive guy. The emotion gets taken out of it at that point in time. You have had the conversations and given your opinion on the player, the individual player as we would talk about them. The emotion gets taken out of it. There is great communication and it is clear communication.
Q: You knew when the sixth pick came up that you weren't getting a defensive guy?
A: At any pick as they come, you don't sit there and say I know I am not getting this guy and I am getting this guy. You know the conversations that you have had, so you are good with it. You have had the opportunity to have the conversations and that is what is great about here.
Q: First impressions on Jones?
A: A guy that was very decisive on where he wanted to go with the ball. He took great command. Things get hairy on defense in minicamp because guys are still learning, so there were defensive looks that he was getting that aren't real defensive looks. There is that because guys are learning things. You never saw the guy get flustered. You saw him handle everything with poise. I have been some places and have seen some good quarterbacks between Indy and Arizona. You see a guy that is in that mold.
Q: Where do Chandler and Haley fit right now?
A: Right now, Sean is working with the safeties and Grant is working with the nickels and corners in terms of positions. That is one of the unique things in terms of where we are at. There is a lot of competition in a lot of rooms. There is more competition in more rooms than there was a year ago. That is a good thing. Competition brings success. As you don't have it, some guys might not be crossing their T's or dotting their I's the way we need them done. The nickel spot is going to have a lot of competition. The corner spot, obviously, will have great competition. At each of those levels, we can go through it and there will be competition. That is what is unique coming out this offseason even through training camp, as opposed to last year.
Q: Is Love a guy that you have to determine where to fit him in during training camp or is he one of those guys that you can bounce around?
A: Initially, you will get him in and teach him a spot. Early on, it is a really good opportunity for us to get a look at him at a few different places and see maybe where we feel his natural fit is as we move forward. Naturally, he is a nickel. What is the second position, is he a safety or a corner? Time tells with that and more reps tell us that. You have to be smart and pretty intelligent like he is to be able to handle that.
Q: What does the competition say in terms of the talent level in terms of building now compared to last year?
A: I don't know if it speaks to talent level, I just think it speaks to competition. I don't know if that means you are super talented or not talented or the reason you have competition is because you are not talented or vice versa. I don't think it has anything to do with that. I don't think that is a narrative at all. I think that is a great thing, not a good thing.
Q: Do you see Peppers as a Collins-like player that does not come off the field often? What was your sense of him?
A: My evaluation is two things. I flew from Arizona to Michigan and spent a bunch of time with him when he was coming out. I thought he was a dynamic kid and the people that were around him loved him. I got multiple texts from coaches that worked with him in Cleveland and it was not something I asked for, this was after we traded for him and they said that we were going to love him. He is going to work exceptionally hard and is going to be about what it is supposed to be about. You see him out here, we are doing stuff against the air and he is moving, sliding and running around. He is in a stance and sometimes you want to be like, slow down, this is on air. He is exciting.
Q: Is Sam Beal full go?
A: Yes. We are in phase two so if he had pads on, I don't know where he would be, but he has done everything here at phase two at this point.
Q: X-man and Connelly?
A: X-man coming off the tape, I loved the way he played. Saw a guy that could flip and had athleticism to move in space. If you are picking a prototypical outside linebacker, he has some of both of those skills. He has the rush skills and has skills in his hips to open, change in space and change who the rusher is. Connelly is really smart. It is funny because today I was showing a cut-up to the vets and you try not to do that. You try not to show a rookie to the vets too early, but I was showing the cut-up to the vets. This is a guy from the rookie minicamp and it was a concept and a route and he played it exactly the right way. It was a great example. Smart and tough.
Giants Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: When evaluating special teams players, do you look at specific positions and see how many different places they can fit or what various roles they will have in the special teams room?
A: "Yeah, they do everything for us. From (QB) Daniel (Jones) to the last guy in the rookie free agent class. They're all going to work at some capacity on special teams. When we get those guys in, it's right now we're in the meeting room learning techniques, fundamentals, and just building off of that."
Q: What will Daniel be doing on special teams?
A: "He'll do something eventually. He might hold. He's very athletic. He'll do something eventually. They all contribute in some form or fashion."
Q: He won't be that high on the depth chart, will he? (laughter)
A: "Maybe not -- but definitely on it. All the rookies are on it."
Q: You bring him in on the punting team, would you? (laughter)
A: "It might happen. You never know."
Q: What do you like about (S Jabrill) Peppers about as your return guy?
A: "High energy, the guy is a for sure ball handler. Can make all the cuts full speed. He just brings juice. I've known the kid since he was 16 years old. I recruited him when I was at LSU. Jabrill is a special athlete. He can do anything -- run the football, catch the football, whatever. He's just a great athlete."
Q: Will he have both kick return and punt return responsibilities?
A: "Yes, he's going to do everything."
Q: Is that a heavy workload for a guy who might not come off the field?
A: "That's football -- he's a safety in the NFL. Those guys primarily do everything. When you look at them, most of them are three-core, four-core guys when they play. That's just the reality of it, especially a young safety with a lot of energy like Jabrill."
Q: How happy were you when they brought back guys like (WR) Russell Shepard, (LB) Nate (Stupar), (CB) Antonio Hamilton, guys like that?
A: "Those guys were the foundation of what we did last year. Whenever you can get veteran leadership and you can have continuity, that's the most important thing. When you get guys that have done it before, and they've done it at a high level, and you can keep them in the same spots -- it's no different from having an offensive line with continuity, a secondary with continuity, it's the same thing. A core group of special teams players. They're no different from anyone else. You got to have that continuity if you want to have consistency."
Q: How do you think (LS Jake) Carlock performed at long snapper?
A: "Yeah, you did a good job. He is what he is. He's a young guy with a lot of potential. He can run, he's very athletic. So what we'll see what happens with Jake. We're excited about the chance of working with him."
Q: (P) Riley Dixon had a pretty good year last year. What did you see from (P) Ryan Anderson that made you guys want to sign him as a tryout guy?
A: "Ryan is a lefty. Whenever you can bring a lefty in, and you can get a righty spin and a lefty spin is always good. Ryan has a lot of potential. His maturation from last year to this year has been huge. He came here last year to our local day. To see him again this year was a big difference. You can tell he's been working on his craft, and he's been working hard. It's good to have him in to have a little competition. It's always good to have two guys in where they can kind of compete against each other. It makes it better."
Q: We think of his ambidextrous throwing abilities?
A: "It's crazy, isn't it? He can throw righty and lefty. He's a very athletic kid. He was a three-sport All-State athlete in high school. So, the kid is very athletic. I think he was like the all-time leading three-point shot maker, or something like, that in high school. The kid is talented. He has some ability."
Q: With the Pro Bowl season (K) Aldrick Rosas had last season, how much do you have to coach him right now?
A: "He's no different than any other player. They've all got to be coached. He just needs to stay along the same lines he's been doing. Make sure he's working hard and just more fine-tuning the details. Being able to be a shot maker as far as kickoffs are concerned, and things of that nature, and just staying consistent with his field goals."
Q: What role do you see Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey? Quarterback? Tight end?
A: "He's going to have a chance somewhere, right? We'll put him out there. We'll find a home for him. He's athletic, he's a tough kid. We'll find a home for him. Those types of kids in college that are athletic quarterbacks, they always kind of find a way. They'll figure out something. They're athletic, they've always competed at a high-level, so they'll find a way."
Q: Is fullback an option for him? (Dungey)
A: "Who knows -- you never know until you get them out there in pads and really see. This is the shorts Olympics right now. Everybody looks good now, but until you put the past on, you really don't know."
Q: Can a versatile player like that help you add to kind of what you guys already do on special teams?
A: "Absolutely, anytime you can get a big athlete that's tough, that's smart, that's played the quarterback position, anytime you can get a style of athlete like that, and he's coachable and is willing, a lot of good things can happen."
Q: Does that open up the playbook for you?
A: "Anytime you got a quarterback that can throw the ball, absolutely. He can give you options. He's a versatile player, and we'll see what happens to him once he gets here."
Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula
I will start this. Just coming off the field, that comfort feeling for me as a coach and I can only imagine for our players already about being here a year in the system, I think we are light years ahead of where we were at this time last year. One of our goals as we talked during the off-season is to kind of pick up offensively where we left off with those exceptions of at the end of games closing it out. Finishing. There's a lot of good stuff to get at the end of the year. This time last year was my first time with Eli, you know, and seeing him in the offseason, I thought he was in really good shape. I think he's in better shape now than he was. You know, having the young guys a year into the system with Barkley, with Shep, and Evan Engram and those guys. Just seeing their comfort level, for me, it makes me feel really excited about where we can go.
Q: Throughout your career, have you noticed that? Is there a dramatic jump in year two in terms of how the offenses produce?
A: I think so. I'd probably have to think back, but that first year when you get together, there's a lot of, you know, 'Hey, how do you want to do it?' Now, we can go back, 'Hey, how did we do it last year? How can we do it better?' Plus, the fact that guys aren't thinking about formations, they're not thinking about movements. Now they're thinking, 'Okay, what is my job now after the ball is snapped? How do I react against certain looks?' That's the goal. That's where we want to get. The quicker we get to that, the faster we'll play and hopefully the better we'll play because of it early.
Q: What makes you think that Eli is in better shape? What do you see that illustrates that?
A: I just think that he's moving around pretty good. His arm looks fresh. And maybe even with him, it is kind of maybe the comfort level of being a year in a system and kind of knowing more of what we want. I think he's throwing the ball well and moving around good.
Q: Golden Tate is a guy who wasn't here last year and the Eagles struggled to integrate him into their scheme, but from what you have seen from him now, what is he going to bring to you guys and what is your first impression?
A: I think he is going to bring productivity because he is really good with the ball in his hands, versatility, and flexibility. You can put him inside, you know, we know with Shep that Shep can play both inside and out. Now, we have two guys that can do that. I think when you have two guys who can do that, you become less predictable and I think it gives you another guy when the ball is in his hands, he's pretty good.
Q: You were at Daniel Jones's Pro Day while we were with Pat and Dave in Arizona. What was your report back that day? Because I think Pat came and worked him out a couple of days later. What was your report?
A: I think he had a great pro day. Of course, we liked him all along. You know, when you see a guy throw the ball in person, I was down there at the Combine as well, but just another exposure. He throws the ball very well; he's got a quick release; good touch. And then when he got here I thought everything was actually a little bit better. His arm was even stronger than I had remembered. His release was even quicker I remembered.
Q: You were in Carolina when Cam was in his first year. What are some of the challenges that Daniel Jones is going to face and how much will sitting and learning help him?
A: Well, I think the challenge for any young guy is the speed of the defense. If he's throwing a deep ball outside to a receiver, he's got to understand that most likely the free safety in the NFL is going to get to that ball a lot quicker than what he saw in college. The definition of a guy being open in the NFL is a lot different than maybe it is in college. There's going to be a lot of tight coverage, where, he's still open and you've got to throw it. I think the obvious reasons for him with Eli as our starter and sitting, you know, he's going to be learning from one of the best ever in regards to preparation. It's not just the normal stuff, but the day-to-day operations, the routine, the schedule, and then all of the details of the position. You see it in practice and then see how it manifests itself on game day.
Q: How would you describe your approach with a young quarterback? How do you kind of try and handle them and what do you try to accomplish early on?
A: I think with all of them we try to push the envelope early. First of all, you want to kind of see how quickly they can pick things up, how quickly they can retain now with not as many reps as they would in college. And then kind of go from there. We want all of the young guys to play catch up. We understand that there's a learning curve, but we still want to test that a little bit. I think that helps us gather information down the road on what kind processor these guys are, talking about Daniel now, as well. At that position, going from the meeting rooms or walkthroughs to the practice field and the game field.
Q: Mike, as the OC and Quarterbacks Coach, when you guys make an investment in a guy like Daniel at 6, how does your day to day change as far as coaching and installing the offense, but also kind of trying to help bring him along.
A: It might get a little busy, but it's a good busy. We've got to make sure that with all of our guys, and the guys listed first on the depth chart, are knowing and feeling really good about what they do, but everybody else at some point, they need to be ready to play. Our approach as coaches, and especially with quarterbacks, all of those guys need to be ready to play. The test for those guys is they're going to have to do it without any reps and be expected to play well.
Q: Do you do like an extra period after practice with them? Do you do extra film individually with them?
A: As much as we can, within the rules obviously, during the certain periods of the offseason and then training camp and then within the time frame of when we're not slowing everybody else down. We've got enough resources where he's going to be making sure that he and all of the other guys are going to be learning as fast as they can and kind of do a little bit more than the veterans would do.
*Q: What have you learned in your limited time around Daniel Jones about his makeup? *A: He's a solid person. He's really smart. The way you tell that is not necessarily by, alone, how he is picking things up, but by the questions that he asks. You'll say certain things, and then all of a sudden, you'll get a question and sometimes you forgot to be detailed in talking about it and he'll ask that question reminding you. Or another question, on a deeper level, in regards to all of the looks that we could see, and a rookie usually doesn't ask those things. Our first exposure was the Rookie Minicamp and I thought he did a really good job. The things that were different for him, and like any rookie, that we do that were different than he did at Duke. He was so well coached at Duke, but we'll have a couple of little different things. We'll be under center a little bit more than they were. The things that he was new to, you could kind of see how quickly he picked them up. Maybe the first day it wasn't quite as sharp, but the next day it was like he had done it for a long time.
Q: Eli has, by all accounts, been good with rookie quarterbacks throughout his career. He has never really had a guy who has been labeled as his eventual replacement. Have you talked to Eli about that and how do you expect that he will handle having a guy behind him that might take his job?
A: Most of you guys probably know Eli better than I do; been around him a lot longer. You can imagine, it's like another day at work. I can remember when we were getting ready to draft Daniel and I called him. I could barely hear him because he's got his youngest in his arms, the baby. He might've been changing a diaper. 'Oh yeah, coach. Great. See you tomorrow." That's how he is. That's how his approach is. I always saw that before I got here with the Giants and he was in front of the media and he is that way every single day.
Q: What does a guy like Golden Tate add to the receiving room?
A: He's got learning to do. Sometimes the older guys have a little harder thing, because sometimes they are so used to having this thing called this way for so many years, and now it is called exactly the opposite. He provides the experience, the knowledge, the route awareness, sudden changes that you might not have to make that are kind of hard to cover all of the time with some of the younger guys. He is going to bring that to the table. And like I said, he is really good with the ball in his hands, so getting him the ball, he can lower his shoulder at times and make guys miss. Not necessarily defensive linemen, but DBs that are trying to tackle him. I think he is going to be a good weapon for us on all downs.
Q: How do you expect it to change how defenses play you guys without Odell Beckham?
A: I think kind of based on last year, not as much as you might think. I mean, there might have been certain teams that had an all-out double team, but other than that, there really wasn't much, and part of that probably was because of Saquon. I mean you got to be careful doubling receivers when you've got a back like that.
Q: As Barkley goes into year two, what did you tell him that he needs to do better that you want him to take up a notch?
A: He's so conscientious. I mean he'll ask you that question. For all young backs, going from college to the NFL is they're probably being asked to protect a little bit more, so that was probably an eye opener for him. Especially earlier in the year and then he got better at it. And then also, we will continue to work on the route running because we want to build him where he can pretty much line up anywhere and do some of the things wide receivers are doing. When you have the ability to move guys around like that, it is hard on the defense. A lot of players from year one to year two take a big step. That being said, when you have a really good year your first year, you've got to make sure that you don't try to press and make it even bigger and always go for the big run, so to speak. Just be disciplined in what you're doing and his comfort level, like a lot of the other guys, is really high and it's kind of fun to watch.
Q: One of the question marks heading into the offseason was at right tackle. Are you guys set with Chad or are you looking to sign someone?
A: I mean I can only speak for the guys that are on the team. The other questions are for Dave and Pat. I think Wheels has done a really good job this offseason with our exposure with him. Again, I have only been around him for a year, but I think there is a big difference even with him and his approach. I think he, along with a lot of other guys, got better as the year went on. We all know that we were nowhere near good enough early in the year. We did a lot of good things even though it wasn't good enough at the end of the year, but we were really, really close and trending in the right direction. He was one of those guys that falls in that category.
Q: You've dealt with a lot of young quarterbacks who have come from various schools, various draft picks. When you look at Daniel, if he was in a different circumstance, is he a day one starter in this league, you think?
A: I think he'd be ready to go. That's my personal opinion. I would say this: times have changed. In the years past, whenever you draft a guy, even if it was that early, those guys would traditionally not play until their second or third year. But probably ever since six or seven years ago, you started seeing more guys playing early. But I think he has that capability. Obviously with any young guy, whether it is Daniel or whoever you have, I think you have to make sure that those guys, you find out what they can do best and get them on the field doing that to start with and then go from there. I think he's got that capability.
Defensive Backs Coach Everett Withers
Q: Is it good to get back to the NFL level?
A: I always thought I would end up back at the NFL level. It is good to get back and around some elite players and athletes.
Q: Do you work more with the safeties or the corners?
A: Both. We try to intermingle with both groups. Overall teach it and split them up. Some days, Henry (Baker) may take the corners and I'll take the safeties. Some days I may take the other. We try and split it up and not pigeon hole one guy.
Q: Reaction when you bring in all of these young corners?
A: It is exciting when you bring in all these young men. That is the biggest thing. Talented guys that can play. We are adding Sam Beal into the mix too. You take a guy like Janoris Jenkins, a guy that has been in the league for 10 years and look at him more as an assistant coach. He has taken that role so far this offseason and has done a really good job.
Q: What is it that Janoris is doing well?
A: I think when he is in the meetings, he has such a vast amount of experience in this league that he can help guys not only schematically but understanding the game, splits of receivers and those things. He has done a really good job in the meeting rooms and on the field so far.
Q: He has to want to do it though right?
A: Of course. He has been awesome. I am excited to see him in his role as we get through minicamp, OTA's and training camp.
Q: How excited are you to work with Jabril?
A: I am excited. He has a lot of ability and does a lot of things. Our role right now is to try and help Jabril schematically. Help him grow into what we do and add things into his playbook. He is a guy that comes to work everyday with a lot of energy. He has been really fun to watch so far.
Q: What is your familiarity like with Bettcher?
A: We were together at the University of North Carolina for two years. We stayed in contact over time. He was in Arizona and I was at Ohio State.
Q: Is his scheme unique?
A: I think everyone has their own statements to whatever they do. I don't know if it is unique. I think the matchups are good and it is a fun defense to play in. I am excited to be a part of it.
Q: How does DeAndre Baker fit into it?
A: He is a really talented guy. When you watch his tape, he is a guy with a lot of competitive experience. To have another guy over there next to Janoris, he is talented enough to go over there and be a factor over there opposite Janoris.
OL Coach Hal Hunter
Q: Everyone is talking about right tackle. Are you set with Chad there? Is George going to push him? Is there going to be a signing?
A: I don't really know what's going to transpire from here on out. I know the people we have signed right now are under contract. So right now, my plan is for George (Asafo-Adjei) to line up at second right tackle when he comes back and go from there. The one thing that we talked about and we talked about in our room all the time is the best players are going to play. Who are the best players? They are the players that play the best. I've had the experience of having veteran players play. I've seen a couple different places. I go back to San Diego when Marcus McNeill started for me and was All Pro his rookie year. Jonotthan Harrison started for me as a rookie at center at Indianapolis. Louis Vasquez started for me as a rookie at right guard in San Diego. What I'm saying, is that just because you're a veteran player, a rookie, a second year player, if you are the best player at that position at any time, we owe it to the organization and the team for you to be in that line up. We all compete. We know and understand that. Right now, Chad (Wheeler) is starting off at right tackle and it is up to him to hold that position. It is up to everyone else to beat him out. I have told everyone, it is my job to make you the best player you can possibly be and then it is my job to get him to beat you out. If you coach the guys technically and schematically, the ultimate thing that you want them to do is for them to be able to go out there themselves and be able to determine who is going to play. We all sit there and watch the same tape. Whoever the best player is should play. That could only be in terms of the best player in that group everyday.
Q: How do you feel going into this year?
A: I feel good. I think we are ahead of last year because we are a year into the system. They understand the fundamentals and the system more. It is not just five guys, it is who you are playing next to. Nate (Solder) and Will (Hernandez) are starting to get much more in sync than they were last year. Will is adjusting to the speed of the game. You come in and I don't care where you play, the speed of the game is fast. They have adjusted to that. We are back with two quality centers competing. Pio (Halapio) is back in the lineup so he and Spencer (Pulley) will compete at that one. You have to love Zeitler. He is a tough, hard nose guy. I have seen him play. I watched him play when he was in Cincinnati's offense. He is a good football player. He brings a real toughness. He is all business. Just be careful when you shake his hand.
Q: What did you see in George when you drafted him?
A: My son works at Kentucky. He works in the football office down there. We found out from the inside out – he talked about what a quality guy he was. He was probably the most respected guy on the offensive side of the ball. He talked about how he competed with Josh Allen on a day-to-day basis. He talked about his character, work ethic and his toughness. All of those things peaked interest. You watch him on tape and see that he has a lot of athleticism and power. He has a lot of toughness and plays in the best football conference in the country. We have some technical work to do. He is a rookie and you have to tell him to do something once and he goes on and does it right the next time. He picked up the offense much quicker than I thought he was going to. When you compare our offense to their offense, we have a lot more volume to it with a lot of the things that we were doing. We need to continue to work with him technically to get him up to speed but you have to like everything about him. When you read him, that is one of the first things that I found out. He had committed to Kentucky early and is a man of his word. When all those other schools came in like Alabama, that is legit. Those people tried to come in and recruit him. He gave Kentucky his word and didn't go anywhere. He has some developmental potential.
Q: Does Pio have a way to go still?
A: He made good progress during camp and great progress during the preseason. The way he was playing in the beginning of the Dallas game, that was shocking. He was playing really well. When you sit out all that time, you get so far behind physically and technically. Now he is back in the swing of things and he looks good. He is only scratching the surface. He is smart, tough and strong. He has athleticism and needs to continue to play at the position.
Q: As a group, how does Zeitler's skillset affect the group?
A: His attention to detail. It is a lot like Nate. Nate Soldier's attention to detail, he put so much pressure on Will Hernandez to play because his play was tied into Will. It is the same thing with Zeitler. He is very demanding of guys around him in a positive way. You demand in yourself what you demand in others. I love that about him. I love everything about him, his personality and what he brings. He is so fun to coach.
DL Coach Gary Emanuel
*Q: On Dexter Lawrence's versatility *A: We think Dexter will develop into a three down player. They all are developing and working on their craft trying to get better against the run, against the pass and all those kind of things. In the game right now, most teams on first and second down are throwing the ball.
*Q: On if Dexter's ability to stop the run excites you guys? *A: His ability to stop the run excites everybody. For a guy that size to move as well as he does, you have to get excited about that.
*Q: How about Chris Slayton? What do you see from him?
*A: Chris is a great young man and we think Chris has a great upside. He would be a guy who is improving their technique with what little we had out here at the rookie minicamp. He's an inside guy who brings some versatility. He can play the nose position, he can play the 3 technique and he's an interior defensive line player. I don't think we'll see him much on the edge but he has a great capacity to improve out there in the interior.
*Q: In some of your young guys from last year, how much are you hoping they develop for their next year? Guys that came in and gave you a lift. *A: Well the guys who came in, B.J. Hill and RJ McIntosh are the two young guys, along with Dalvin. Dalvin's only in his third year so he's a young guy too but all those guys are working hard in their overall technique. They're working trying to improve their hands, eyes, and feet and basic fundamentals against the run. Along with improving that pass rush so we just want those guys to keep developing like they are. They study the game really well, they love football and they are great guys. Fun to be around.
Tight Ends Coach Lunda Wells
Q: What is the most important thing for Evan when he is at the highest of the highs in his game? To make that more consistent, what does he have to work on to be more than a flash here?
A: Obviously, he needs to stay healthy. You know, being on the field. Second thing is just kind of letting the game come to him, playing a little more calm, more relaxed. I think as he realized what he was being asked to do, he started to play a little more calm and a little more relaxed, especially at the back end of the season, which in turn allowed him to play some of his best ball. And like always, you kind of always want to be climbing during the season and then at the back end of the season playing your best football in December. So, that's kind of the trend we are trying to do. Build on December and get better throughout the season.
Q: Did the injuries, I mean to read into what you're saying, maybe he pressed a bit too much?
A: No. I mean, when you have injuries it sets you back. You miss field time. Sometimes you miss a little meeting time and it just kind of sets you back schematically. Then mentally it is always lingering in the back of your mind. He's moving forward and progressing really well and we are really excited about him this season.
Q: How much more comfortable are you in year two of this offense and then also coaching the tight ends for the second year in a row?
A: The word comfortable is a word that you use, but I always try to say that I am trying to make it better. You know what you did last year, go back and reanalyze how you taught them what you taught them and refine it when you need to and then when you don't you just continue to be persistent and consistent and keep building on that.
Q: What can (C.J.) Conrad be in this group? Where does he fit? What's his skillset? What do you like about him?
A: I like Conrad. He's tough. He's smart. He can learn. He's not a blazer, but he's instinctive in the pass game. It didn't take a long time to figure out that this guy is very determined about being a really good player and I like that about him. He takes coaching very well. I really like that kid from what we saw over the three-day rookie minicamp.
Q: Is he the kind of kid that you put him in the room you already have and he will kind of be a sponge with the guys that you already have in there?
A: Yeah, he is one of those guys that will fit right in with those guys. Easy going, again, loves football. He's a good guy for that room.